Sophie's Mine To Mount Project VOL.1

Sophie Travels to Kenya for New Mine To Mount Project 


Almost 12 years to the day after founding her eponymous jewellery business, Sophie decided the time was right to probe a little deeper into where her gemstones come from - specifically the Tsavorites she loves working with so much. In 2022, she flew out of London, ready to venture deep into the Kenyan bush to meet the inspirational owner of a small-scale Tsavorite mine who is intent on doing things differently.

It was never a given that Sophie’s Mine To Mount Project would even happen. Keen to develop a long-term relationship with an artisanal mine to better understand the techniques and ethics of mining, she encountered barriers along the way, with many mining sites reluctant to facilitate a visit. 

With the general lack of transparency within the industry, alongside a string of violent events in Kenyan mines, Sophie’s fortunes changed when she was introduced to Miriam Mimo Kamau. A female entrepreneur, Miriam’s disadvantaged background hasn’t stopped her from breaking through the glass ceiling that frequently prevents women in Kenya from climbing the ladder in the male-dominated mining industry.  

Tsavorite is exclusively found between Kenya and Tanzania. It is only recently that Kenya has begun to grant mining licences to women, with Miriam’s journey to becoming a mine owner beginning with a job as a secretary to a stone dealer. With perseverance and ambition, she obtained a certificate in gemmology and founded Mimo Gems in Nairobi. Running a successful gem business led her to become an ambassador for the International Coloured Gemstone Association, which in turn gained her the trust of local Kenyan miners. In 2022, Miriam won the Africa Extractives Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was included in the WIM100 2020 - an annual celebration of 100 Inspirational Women in Mining worldwide.

As her company expanded, Miriam used the knowledge she had gained from working with miners to buy a plot of land and build an ethical and sustainable Tsavorite mining business that treats its employees well. Her team of miners, whom Miriam considers family, all receive a fair wage, work regular hours and live in a comfortable camp outside Tsavo National Park.

A bumpy journey along dusty roads led Sophie to the camp, where she first met Miriam in July of last year. Keen to discuss her idea for the Mine to Mount project, Sophie also wanted to see first-hand how Tsavorites are mined. Hard hat on, she descended down the steep and slippery entrance to the Tsavorite mine. 


The flaws in Tsavorite are rarely naturally occurring, but instead are caused by the mining process itself. This is why Miriam’s team rarely uses explosives and instead works almost exclusively by hand. Through her experience, Sophie learned that you have to break through layers of other gemstones before you reach the Tsavorite rough, which resembles pieces of sea glass, and discovered how hard it is to mine in the traditional way, with just a chisel and hammer.

Inspired by her wonderful Kenyan experience, Sophie has designed three Art Deco inspired engagement rings set with stones sourced from Miriam’s Tsavorite mines in Kenya. The three gems all display a different shade of green - a mint green cushion cut tsavorite; a bright, grass green emerald cut Tsavorite; a racing green emerald cut tsavorite with a colour very close to that of an emerald - giving each of her One-Of-A-Kind engagement rings a very different personality.



Sophie returned from Kenya with a head full of knowledge and a new-found respect for the miners who work so hard to make it possible for her to use these wonderful gems in her designs. Now, when she is explaining to clients why Tsavorites make better centre stones than emeralds, she also gives them a little lesson in exactly how, thanks to Miriam and her fellow miners in Kenya, these beautiful green gemstones came into being.

All profits will be donated to Gem Legacy, a non-profit charity supporting vocational training, entrepreneurship, and community development in East African artisanal gem mining communities.

The Modern-Day Family Jeweller

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