Sri Lanka: World’s largest star sapphire cluster found in backyard – by Anbarasan Ethirajan (BBC News/Yahoo News – July 27, 2021)

Sri Lankan authorities say the world’s largest star sapphire cluster has been found in a backyard – by accident.

A gem trader said the stone was found by workmen digging a well in his home in the gem-rich Ratnapura area.

Experts say the stone, which is pale blue in colour, has an estimated value of up to $100 million in the international market.

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“It is possible to achieve $6bn global market of color gemstones within a decade” (Fortune India Exchange – July 23, 2021)

Fura Gems, a startup precious colour gemstone mining company launched in 2017, is uniquely positioned as the first and only mining company in the world to explore three color gemstone categories including emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

While achieving this remarkable feat, Dev Shetty, Founder & CEO, set another extraordinary and unprecedented record for the fastest turnaround of mines from exploration to production.

In 2021, Fura gems will produce 5.5 million carats of Australian sapphires, 6 million carats of Mozambican rubies and 300,000 carats of Colombian emeralds. Here are excerpts from a recent interview where he talks about the winning strategies that are leading Fura to the market leadership position.

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The fight for Cabo Delgado: A hidden war over Mozambique’s natural resources – by Neha Wadekar (The Telegraph – July 21, 2021)

A brutal insurgency has been escalating in the region since 2017, leaving thousands of people dead and forcing many more from their homes

Luisa Victor heard the war before she saw it. “I was chatting with a friend,” the 28-year-old mother of five tells the Telegraph. “Then we heard gunshots in the same hour. Everyone knows that war begins with a signal.”

Moments later, armed insurgents stormed Ms Victor’s village in Cabo Delgado, the northernmost province of Mozambique. They burned houses to the ground, beheaded people and captured women and children, including Ms Victor and her baby.

“I was scared and shaking, and I was crying,” says Ms Victor. “I couldn’t look at them.” Ms Victor spent a full month last year imprisoned in the insurgents’ headquarters deep in one of Cabo Delgado’s forests. She was held as a domestic slave and witnessed the fighters’ violence.

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Diamond Dealer Jared Holstein on the Limits of Ethical Sourcing – by Victoria Gomelsky (JCK – May 12, 2021)


Don’t come to Jared Amadeo Holstein (pictured) expecting to find answers about ethical diamond sourcing. The San Francisco–based diamond, colored stone, and estate jewelry dealer, aka D’Amadeo, specializes in post-consumer recycled diamonds and colored stones, historical cuts, and known-source gemstones, but he makes no claims about his diamonds’ ethics.

“The word ethical is weighted and freighted and should be used very carefully,” Holstein tells JCK, admitting that he has persistent doubts about the how the goods he’s bought have come to market and the impacts they’ve had on people and the planet along the way.

“But being involved, buying goods that I’m not comfortable with buying, allows me to have conversations with people that are good,” Holstein says. “Everyone just needs to ask questions. It is all of our duty to press industry and to press producers for better information.”

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All things bright and beautiful – by Arabella Roden (Jeweller Magazine – May 11, 2021)

There is no denying the appeal of coloured gemstones. From the high jewellery of Paris Couture Fashion Week to Tiffany & Co.’s annual Blue Book Collection – the centrepiece of its annual design calendar – the spotlight in 2021 has been firmly focused on vibrant, vivid gemstones in every colour of the rainbow.

Soothing yet magnetic hues of blue and green, captured in aquamarine and emerald, were emphasised at Tasaki and David Morris, while Bucherer painted a perfect pastel picture with soft pink and purple spinel and sapphire.

Inspired by the natural world, Tiffany’s Blue Book – themed ‘Colors of Nature’ – teemed with tanzanite, tourmaline, and garnet.

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Ethiopia – Origin of High Quality Gemstones – by Getachew Minas (Ethiopian Herald/All Africa – January 8, 2021)

Gemstones have never played any significant economic role in the long history and rich culture of Ethiopia. It is only in the last two decades that Ethiopia has emerged in the gem trade. Rondeau et al. reported the discovery of large gemstone deposits in the country only recently.

The first high-quality emeralds from southern Ethiopia and sapphire from the north reached the market in the past few years.

With all of these new materials reaching the market, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) collaborated with the Ethiopian government to set up an expedition to the sapphire, opal, and emerald sources. Here, we focus only on sapphire.

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Playing the ‘Green Lottery’: Life Inside Colombia’s Emerald Mines – by Juan Pablo Ramirez (New York Times – January 4, 2021)

I was half a mile into the mine shaft, and my heart was racing. Hunched underneath the low ceiling and hardly able to see, I was following along by listening to the splashes of the men’s steps in front of me.

The water, dripping from above, was up to my ankles. Then we stopped. We’d come to a dead end, one of the miners said. In order for us to proceed, they needed to set off some dynamite.

In a matter of minutes, several packs of explosives were drilled into the mountain and ready to be detonated. I was told to open my mouth and not close it until the last of the dynamite had exploded.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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”.

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

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.

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

(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.”

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


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.

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

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.

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