goldsmiths • jewelers • gemologists

Brazil Adventure

Page 5

A GPR survey is a two-man operation. With one man walking a checkerboard grid, the other watches the computer. Bond prefers surveying existing tunnels for two reasons: First, because these areas did produce gems, and second, because working inside a tunnel allows a three hundred sixty-degree scan. Also, burrowing through hardrock is tough going and expensive. A week's digging yields about nine feet of tunnel. Bond's next attempt near the old Colonel Murta aquamarine mine proved more successful. This time he found the pockets, but none contained gems. "We proved that the technology will delineate pockets". At this point Bond ran out of money.

Prospectors are optimists by profession. Bond now has an investor whom we met and has "mine owners standing in line"! He is excited about the prospects. The technology seems appropriate to the task, and on the face of it GPR may just prove to be Brazil's salvation. So if the NASDAQ and the DOW have you breaking out in hives, perhaps you should consider an investment in high tech mining. Something of a risk, definitely yes! I guess before you invest you have to, as Clint Eastwood once said, "ask yourself one question, do you feel lucky? Well, do you…?".

Cachaça, fire in the belly:

Cachaça, the word literally translates as "little peasant girl", is also known as "Brazilian rum", but differs somewhat from that familiar mellow concoction. Rum is distilled from molasses; cachaça is distilled directly from sugar cane. Cachaça, pronounced ka shá sa, is the Brazilian national drink, or more accurately, is the liquor from which the national drink, the famous caipirinha, is made.


Just a few of the 4,000 different brands of cachaça, the potent sugar cane liquor that keeps Brazil comfortably numb.


Sixteenth century. Sometime between 1532-1548 European colonists discovered that a wine of sugar cane (vinho de cana de açúcar) could be produced by a method similar to that used by the Indians to produce maize wine or cauim. Originally called cagaca, it was distilled in a huge adobe caldron and fed to the slaves, presumably to keep them happy in their work.

Did I say happy? Numb is perhaps a better word! I made the mistake of telling our host, Paulo Zonari, that I was interested in researching that wicked liquid for a possible sidebar to our Brazilian adventure article. Hey! if Damon Poeter can quaff snake wine on the Thai-Burma border could I do less? Although we had just staggered off the plane after an eleven-hour flight, Paulo enthusiastically endorsed the idea, insisting that we begin our research at once. No wonder the stuff is also known as aguadente or "tooth water." A tumbler for lunch followed by a tumbler before dinner, followed by dinner, punctuated by a few more tumblers at a famous Cachaçaeria in Oro Preto, produced in yours truly an effect not unlike that of a shot of novocaine directly into the left temple.

It is not a coincidence that the gem-rich state of Minas Gerais is the cachaça capital of Brazil. This state produces the lion's share, 15.5 million tons of sugar cane annually. Is it surprising that Minas Gerais boasts over four thousand separate brands of cachaça? Cachaça can cost anywhere from a dollar to a hundred dollars a bottle. The most famous and the most expensive is called Havana. It is a thick colorless liquid that, drunk straight, goes down a bit hard.

Cachaça is the fuel that drives gem mining in Brazil. Mining is a tough job and the guys can be forgiven if, after a hard day in the hole, they gather at the local bar to hoist a caipirinha or two. So if you too have had a hard day in the hole, here's the recipe for an authentic Brazilian caipirinha. Cachaça can be obtained at many local liquor stores, ask for Brazilian rum or aguadente!


(serves 1)

*1 lime quartered
*1/2 tbl. Sugar
*2 oz. cachaça
*crushed ice cubes

*The whole lime is used, skin and all,
prevents scurvy! Squeeze first, then toss remains in the glass.

**I use 2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 oz. of cachaça. For a weaker drink, try one of each, wimp! I also recommend the cheaper brands
of cachaça. The smoother stuff doesn't cut it through all that sugar and lemon.





Want to learn more secrets of judging the quality of gemstones? 
Consider "Secrets of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur's Guide To Precious Gemstones". 

Read a free chapter and become your jeweler's worst nightmare: www.secretsof the 
Buy now on