Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Emeralds from the mines of Muzo, Colombia are considered among the world's highest quality gems. Some of the rarest and most expensive emeralds in the world have been mined from there. The mines are located in the western foothills of the Andes Mountains, about 60 miles north of Bogota.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Crude shacks belonging to miners and their families line the Rio Minero River near the emerald mines of Muzo, Colombia. Few prospectors have running water or electricity-- but all dream of striking it rich.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    It is estimated that Colombia accounts for more than 70 percent of the world's emerald market. These miners work the shafts of the Muzo mines for room and board only, with the understanding that they'll be paid when they find emeralds. Women are not allowed inside the mines because many consider them bad luck.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Life is difficult in the Muzo mines of northern Colombia, and frustrations run high. The tunnels are dark and noisy, and in this particular mine, no one has found emeralds in more than a year.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    This 67-year-old miner says he was worked these tunnels for 40 years, finding just enough emeralds for him and his family to survive. He has witnessed the deaths of many co-workers over the years, but says he knows no other way to make a living.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Colombian gem buyer Gonzalo Jara leads ABC's Bob Woodruff into the "Mina Real" emerald mine near Muzo Colombia. Jara has been coming to these mines since he was 15 years old, and has worked in the emerald trade for more than 40 years.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Gonzalo Jara shows ABC's Bob Woodruff a group of "guaqueros," the name given to amateur prospectors. They sift through the leftover rocks given to them by mining companies, hoping to find an emerald that was missed. These prosectors work for free, with the understanding that whatever they find, they can keep.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Jara says these men won't give up until they find emeralds. "They'll find eventually, and if they don't find, they just quit and look for another space."
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Miners gather in a makeshift market outside the mines of Muzo, Colombia, trying to sell large emeralds. Many of the gems here are smuggled out by swallowing them in the tunnels below, before the mining company ever sees them.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Miners gather around ABC's Bob Woodruff, hoping to sell him the emeralds they have discovered inside the mines.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Men, woman and children line up outside the emerald mines of Muzo, Colombia. Each is handed a large bag of rock pulled from the mines, with the hope they'll be able to fine emerald scraps inside. Most will leave empty handed.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Local villagers carry bags of rock to the Rio Minero river, hoping to discover emeralds missed by the mining process. Most will spend all night waiting in this line, for the chance to sift through just one bag.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
  • A look at the emerald mines in Muzo, Colombia

    Women sifting through bags of rock given to them by a mining company show off the result of a day's work. These tiny emerald scraps are too small to have any value.
    Jake Whitman/ABC
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