Zambian emeralds dazzle Indian buyers

March 22nd, 2011 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, March 22 (IANS) Emeralds from the southern African country of Zambia are finding a good market in India. Gemfields, one of the world’s leading gemstone producers, held its second auction of Zambian emeralds here this month and sold about $9.9 million worth of the green coloured gemstone.

Rajasthan’s capital is the main coloured gems processing centre in India, processing a whole range of coloured stones. It is also the main polishing and cutting centre in the world for emeralds.

Zambia is now one of the leading producers of fine emeralds, known for their intense colour and clarity even in small-sized stones. Emeralds are among the most valuable of coloured gemstones that were once much loved by royalty for their dazzling colour and beauty.

The Jaipur auction was predominantly for the lower quality of rough emeralds. Rough emeralds of 12.98 million carats in weight were offered in the auction and 12.98 million carats of rough gemstone were sold.

Gemfields chose to sell the lower quality of rough emeralds at the auction as jewellers in India are able to cut, polish and set the smaller stones in traditional Indian as well as western designs. Large emeralds are cut and polished in India and sent to the US and European markets.

There was intense interest in the auction in Jaipur. About 100 gem companies from all over India had applied to attend the auction, and 48 companies were extended an invitation to attend based on several factors such as size and experience.

Finally, 44 companies entered the auction and placed bids for the rough emeralds. The rough, uncut gemstones were placed in lots and were made available for scrutiny for five days before the bids were called for in sealed covers.

Gemfields also used the occasion to test the market for rough amethysts (violet-coloured quartz) from its Kariba mine in Zambia. The company plans to introduce amethysts into the Jaipur market in the future.

Gemfields had held its first auction in India in March 2010 when it sold rough emeralds worth $7.2 million. According to Diamond World News Service, the prices at the auction showed 148 percent increase to $0.77 per carat, from $0.31 per carat (seen during the lower quality auction held in March 2010).

The company believes this to be a sign of “robust growth in both prices and demand for emeralds in general and Gemfields’ ethical emeralds in particular, across all regions and all sectors”.

Gemfields, which has a joint venture with the government of Zambia for its mines, produces almost 20 percent of the world’s supply of emeralds. As a miner as well as marketer, the company supplies emeralds with a clear trace of its origin as ethically produced and conflict-free gemstone.

Last year, Gemfields discovered a giant emerald at its Kagem mine in Zambia. The rough stone was named ‘Insofu’, which means elephant in the Zambian language of Bemba. The 6,225-carat emerald is said to be an exceptional discovery for its rich and dazzling colour.

(Shubha Singh can be contacted at shubhasingh101@gmail.com)

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