Archive | Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Gemstone Mining

Got Crystals? Gem Mining Could Be Your Full-Time Job – by Alexandra Marvar (New York Times – October 19, 2020)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Moonstones in Montana, amethyst and emeralds in North Carolina, garnet and quartz in upstate New York. At pay-to-dig mines around the United States, visitors can paw through piles of mine tailings to uncover crystals and gemstones on “finders, keepers” terms for as little as $10 a day.

At Herkimer Diamond Mines in central New York, home to an especially clear and unusually hard type of quartz crystal known as the Herkimer diamond, a $14 admission price includes a day of prospecting and the rental of a rock hammer. (Children under 4 mine for free.)

In a typical year, one-fifth of the mine’s customers are international tourists, so when the coronavirus halted travel and delayed the start of this year’s April-to-November digging season, the mine’s proprietor Renée Scialdo Shevat worried about what the loss in revenue may do to the 40-year-old family business. Continue Reading →

Opal trade in Coober Pedy stalls as international border closures deplete buyers – by Gary-Jon Lysaght (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – June 28, 2020)

https://www.abc.net.au/

Opal is a precious resource in Coober Pedy and the international market for opals is what helps keep the outback South Australian town going. But international border restrictions have all but stalled that trade.

Coober Pedy is often nicknamed the ‘opal capital of the world’, with its rich quantities of the rare gemstone the reason so many people travel to the outback town.

Some of those travellers arrive from countries like India and Hong Kong to buy opal. The word gets around town that the buyers are here and miners line up ready to sell their stock. Continue Reading →

Tanzanite: Tanzanian miner becomes overnight millionaire (BBC.com – June 24, 2020)

https://www.bbc.com/

A small-scale miner in Tanzania has become an overnight millionaire after selling two rough Tanzanite stones – the biggest ever find in the country.

Saniniu Laizer earned £2.4m ($3.4m) from the country’s mining ministry for the gemstones, which had a combined weight of 15kg (33 lb). “There will be a big party tomorrow,” Mr Laizer, a father of more than 30 children, told the BBC.

Tanzanite is only found in northern Tanzania and is used to make ornaments. It is one of the rarest gemstones on Earth, and one local geologist estimates its supply may be entirely depleted within the next 20 years. Continue Reading →

Silver screen engagement rings get second life in popular culture – by Madison Darbyshire (Financial Times – January 24, 2020)

https://www.ft.com/

Spoiler alert: If a couple gets engaged inside a Tiffany’s store or visits to pick out a ring at the beginning of a film, chances are they will not be together by the end. Yet though these two on-screen romances did not last, the jewellery featured lives on in the real world.

Tiffany’s still sells the diamond flower ring (shown above) used in Meg Ryan’s ill-fated Sleepless in Seattle proposal, as well as the exceedingly large diamond solitaire Patrick Dempsey gave Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. Tiffany & Co, with its little blue boxes, invented the modern engagement ring and became the jeweller most associated with romantic engagements in the popular culture.


Jewellery selected for film is carefully considered for both its aesthetic as well as narrative value. The use of a traditional diamond ring brand such as Tiffany’s in film is significant. “A diamond solitaire just signifies engagement,” says Laura Lambert, founder of online jewellery start-up, Fenton & Co. Yet, “there’s nothing special about it”. Continue Reading →

US Trial Sheds Little Light On Colombia’s Shady Emerald Mining Industry – by Loren Moss (Finance Columbia – December 11, 2019)

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The US court case of Horacio Triana, known as Colombia’s “emerald czar,” will focus on drug trafficking charges and is unlikely to shine a light on a complex web of links between the country’s emerald industry and a range of criminal interests.

In November, Triana pled guilty before a Florida court on charges of sending cocaine to the United States and killing witnesses scheduled to testify against him. He also promised to collaborate with judicial investigations.

In August 2017, the United States requested Triana’s extradition along with that of José Rogelio Nieto and the brothers Pedro, Omar and Gilberto Rincón. All of them were leading figures within Colombia’s lucrative emerald industry and were accused of working with paramilitary groups to traffic drugs to the United States through a network that extended into Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Continue Reading →

[Emerald Mining] Taliban negotiations resume, feeding hope of a peaceful, more prosperous Afghanistan – by Elizabeth B. Hessami (Baltimore Sun – December 10, 2019)

https://www.baltimoresun.com/

(THE CONVERSATION) Peace talks have resumed between the United States and the Taliban of Afghanistan, three months after negotiations ended abruptly following a deadly Taliban attackin Kabul.

The Taliban – an armed insurgency promoting an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam – has battled the Afghan government for power for three decades. Since the U.S. invasion of 2001 following the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, it has also fought the United States.

A new Washington Post report on the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan finds that 2,300 American soldiers and more than 43,000 Afghan citizens were killed in what U.S. officials knew was an “unwinnable war.” Continue Reading →

Miner miracle: Scots jeweller joins global fight to end unethical trade in gems from Africa – by Megan McEachern (The Sunday Post – November 4, 2019)

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Deep in Tanzania’s Umba Valley, Raheli digs into rocky soil.

It is back-breaking work and the sweat rolls down her face as she pulls out a small, glittering stone. Raheli, one of Tanzania’s female gem miners, is paid a little money for her labours.

Meanwhile, the gem may travel hundreds of miles to end up on a foreign jewellery counter, to be sold perhaps for thousands of pounds, euros, or dollars. In just the past two decades, seven African countries have endured brutal civil conflicts fuelled by precious stones, predominantly diamonds. These include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Films like Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, have helped bring to light the intensification of civil wars fuelled by diamonds financing militaries and rebel militias. But the human rights abuses, horrific violence and child labour continues. Continue Reading →

Workers at Fura emerald mine in Colombia labor in unsafe conditions: ex-employees – by Julia Symmes Cobb (Reuters U.S. – October 9, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

COSCUEZ, Colombia (Reuters) – Workers at the Colombian emerald mine run by Canada’s Fura Gems’ – the first publicly-traded emerald miner operating in the South American nation – have been laboring in unsafe conditions and sometimes lack basic safety equipment, according to four former employees.

Fura set out early last year to revive production at the fabled, four-century-old Coscuez mine, once the Andean country’s largest producer of the gem.

The Toronto-based company promised to operate by the book in a province known for organized crime and dangerous wildcat mining but the sources – who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals – said it had been falling short. Continue Reading →

Buying gems in Asia: What travelers need to know – by Ronan O’Connell (CNN Travel – August 1, 2018)

https://www.cnn.com/

(CNN) — Asia might be home to some of the world’s major gem trading hubs, but for tourists looking to buy precious stones when they travel in the region, fears of fakes and scams can be a huge deterrent. However, gemologists say there’s little to worry about if travelers are careful and heed some basic tips on how to discern real stones from the phonies.

Thailand, Hong Kong and Jaipur in India are three of Asia’s key gem trading centers, says Russell Shor, senior analyst for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit organization that specializes in education, research and standards in the gem trade.

Jaipur is India’s hub for the sale of gems, which are sold at kiosks, stores and street markets throughout its Old City area. While Jaipur’s gem trade focuses mostly on lower-end stones, Hong Kong is the region’s No. 1 location for expensive gems, including “million-dollar-plus jade and ruby pieces,” says Shor. Continue Reading →

Tricks and stones: the gem traders of Chanthaburi – by Luke Duggleby (South China Morning Post – August 9, 2014)

https://www.scmp.com/

Unregulated mining stripped Chanthaburi of its authentic gemstones. Now the ethically dubious techniques that are sustaining trade in the Thai town are threatening the industry.

Every morning, in a small wooden pavilion overlooking a creek, 64-year-old Olan Phengkit eats a breakfast of steamed dumplings. Short in stature, with an admirably large belly, Olan has been involved in the mining, selling and buying of gemstones since his youth.

The creek, 20 metres below and roughly half the size of a football pitch, is full of dark, murky water. It shows the extent of his mining activities. “I stopped one year ago because I simply ran out of land,” he says, pushing his gemstone-viewing goggles onto his forehead, “so now I just buy and sell.”

Continue Reading →

The Women Emerald Miners of Colombia – by Laura Millan (Bloomberg News – April 13, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Dubai-based Fura Gems is hiring dozens of women to help bring De Beers-like discipline to a once violent and wild industry.

Nubia Galeano slips the short-handled pick into her left rubber boot and turns on her headlamp as she enters a steaming, cramped tunnel, one of thousands that crisscross the vast Coscuez emerald mine. The corridor narrows, and Galeano, already dripping in sweat, is soon crawling on all fours.

When she reaches a space so tight her small body barely fits, she pulls out her pick and starts digging. The 45-year-old, single mother of two fills her sack with up to 40 pounds at once and crawls backward until she can stand back up and retrace her steps to the surface.

Outside, she washes the load in a small stream, indifferent to the swarming bugs and the buzz of dozens of other miners around her. Adept at spotting the tiniest speck of green, Galeano quickly realizes she’s come up empty-handed. Continue Reading →

[Gemfields] Meet the Company That’s Changing the Gem Mining Industry, One Ethically Sourced Ruby at a Time – by Mark Ellwood (Robb Report – April 12, 2019)

https://robbreport.com/

It’s a stark, startling contrast. Beautiful, precious jewels, like rubies, emeralds and sapphires, are often sourced in dismal conditions where disadvantaged workers and lawlessness make it easy for valuable stones to trade hands under unscrupulous circumstances. In remote, rural parts of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, far from the markets where most of the stones are sold, there’s little pressure—or appetite—to improve.

Gemfields is bidding to change the mining culture. The London-based company is committed to sustainable mining wherever it sources stones, including at its ruby mine in Mozambique and emerald vein in Zambia. To support that mission, it spends 32 cents of every dollar in revenue on ethical practices—social programs, sustainable initiatives, taxes and royalties often dodged by rivals, and pays staffers about 10 percent more than the industry’s minimum wage.

Gemfields’ success in the past several years—the company has sold more than $425 million through its ruby auctions since the sales started in 2014— underscores that a steady supply of quality stones from a qualified, ethical source is a potentially lucrative proposition. Continue Reading →

Company walks fine line to revive Colombia emerald mine – by Julia Symmes Cobb and Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – December 12, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

COSCUEZ, Colombia/TORONTO (Reuters) – A tiny company is trying to breathe new life into a fabled, four-century-old Colombian emerald mine without triggering unrest among wary locals who fear being shut out of the tunnels where they hunt for gems and make a meager living.

Fura Gems, the first listed emerald miner to operate in Colombia, has $10 million invested to date. The company, based in Dubai and listed in Canada, faces a community relations test as it tries to rehabilitate Coscuez, the country’s top producer until sometime after 1998, as declining investment and outdated mining methods eroded output.

For decades, residents have scoured the dozens of tunnels crisscrossing Coscuez for stones to buy their next meal. Locals say there are hundreds of people digging daily. Fura has pledged to gradually phase out access to the shafts while helping locals find alternative employment like baking, sewing and poultry farming. The company hopes this will help prevent security problems like those that hit a mine in nearby Muzo, known as the world’s emerald capital. Continue Reading →

Colombia moves to put emeralds on a par with Roquefort – by Gideon Long (Financial Times – November 9, 2018)

https://www.ft.com/

Coscuez, Colombia –  Roquefort cheese, Scotch whisky, Cornish pasties and Spanish serrano ham are foods with one thing in common: they are all protected by appellation of origin.

Until now, this protection has been granted mostly to food and drink. The French have their appellation d’origine contrôlée to stop imposters passing off cheap plonk as Bordeaux; Italy’s denominazione di origine protetta safeguards everything from Parmesan to balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Now, Colombia wants to do something similar with its emeralds. The country’s miners are seeking appellation of origin (AO) status for their green gemstones. If they succeed, not only would Colombian emeralds become the first precious gemstones in the world to be protected on the basis of origin, but the move could also transform an industry that was once a vipers’ nest of lawlessness. Only Mexican amber from Chiapas, considered a semi-precious stone, has similar status. Continue Reading →

Giant 5,655-carat emerald crystal with ‘golden green hue’ discovered by miners – by Jennifer Earl (Fox News – October 31, 2018)

https://www.foxnews.com/

A massive emerald crystal was unearthed in the world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia in early October. Geologist Debapriya Rakshit and experienced miner Richard Kapeta uncovered the impressive 5,655-carat emerald inside the largest open-pit mine in Kagem, which is partially owned by Gemfields — a London-based mining company. The gemstones inside the mine reportedly formed hundreds of millions of years ago.

The 5,655-carat Zambian emerald crystal has “remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue,” Gemfields described in a Monday news release. It was spotted on Oct. 2 in the eastern part of the Kagem mine, where a team of miners has found luck in the past few months.

“This area of the mine has proven to be particularly fertile in recent months with the Kagem team recovering several significant crystals there, but none with the combined size, color and clarity of the Lion Emerald,” the mining company said. Continue Reading →