"The moment I held that stone up to the sun and saw a deep vibrant royal blue colour throughout the sapphire… I knew I was hooked."
That was the confession of Peter Brown when he dug his first sapphire while out fossicking on the Sapphire Gemfields.
The year was 1974 and the 21 year old had arrived in an old VW Beetle and set up camp along the creek banks west of Rubyvale.
Fast-forward almost 40 years and we find the same enthusiastic sapphire hunter now regarded throughout the industry as an expert in these exquisite gemstones. And, he is more than happy to share his enthusiasm.
Bring in your precious find and he’ll be happy to let you know if you can retire from your day job!
1974 - Peter started out in a tent, growing a few veggies, and shooting the odd kangaroo…"I learned how to pickle the meat from an old roo shooter up the road, then I would tan the skins and make a few dollars from selling them around the district."
"The digging was hard work in those days, we even put down our own shafts, no drilling rigs around like we have here now. But the prices were high so if we worked hard we could get good money for the sapphires we dug up."
Peter recalls the boom times of the seventies when the Gemfields rumbled to the sound of heavy machinery tearing up the ground and cashed up Thai buyers operated from small huts built strategically around the town centre.
1980 - Peter meets Eileen
1980 - Peter wins inaugural Gemfields Ironman Wheelbarrow Race.
1982 - The movie "Buddies" is made in Rubyvale and both Peter and Eileen are hired as extras along with many of the locals.
1987 - The Browns buy old miner’s cottage and start renovating.
1988 - Rubyvale Gem Gallery opens for business 9th August, same week as the 1st Gemfest held in Anakie.
1991 - Peter begins writing a column for the local newspaper called "Nose to the Grinstone" all about how to cut sapphires.
1991 - Started up Sapphire Safaris- 4WD tours of the Gemfields.
1991 - National Geographic Magazine publishes photo of special sapphires cut by Peter.
1992 - Gallery has addition built on for jewellers’ room and Devonshire Tea kitchen.
1993 - Rubyvale Gem Gallery wins first of the many Tourism Awards to come.
1999 - The first of what will become the Rubyvale Gem Gallery Holiday Apartments is built.
2007 - The Brown’s buy the old Capricornia Crafts building on Main St. and begin the "re-build".
2009 - Rubyvale Gem Gallery is named by RACQ as one of the 150 Must-Do’s in Queensland Campaign.
2010 - In July Rubyvale Gem Gallery moves into the new shop and Rubyvale Café begins trading next door.