The Peculiar Charm of Coober Pedy, Australia’s Opal Capital – by Brett Leigh Dicks (New York Times – March 14, 2022)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Scattered around town are do-it-yourself mining operations, abandoned film props and a cafe that serves both waffles and opals.

It could have been a Saturday night in any Australian town. Against the backdrop of a fiery sunset, a line of vehicles snaked its way into the local drive-in.

At this outdoor theater, though, in place of advertisements for local businesses or a refreshment stand, something else was projected onto the giant screen: a reminder for patrons not to bring explosives into the complex. Welcome to the South Australian town of Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world, where in days gone by, Saturday night at the drive-in would often end with a bang.

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Egypt’s emerald mines fell under the control of the Blemmyes in the Early Middle Ages, archaeologists find (Medievalists.net – March 2022)

https://www.medievalists.net/

Control over emerald mines in Egypt shifted from the Roman Empire to the Blemmyes during the Early Middle Ages, archaeologists have found. These are the results from research carried out in 2020 and 2021 by an international team of archaeologists led by Joan Oller Guzmán of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Digs were carried out at the Roman site of Sikait, a set of buildings surrounding Roman Egypt’s emerald mines, located in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. The area was known in Antiquity as “Mons Smaragdus”, given that it was the only place within the Roman Empire where emeralds could be found.

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How Myanmar “conflict rubies” could end up in your Christmas stocking – by Jackie Mallon (Fashion United – December 15, 2021)

https://fashionunited.uk/

During the holiday season the gift of jewelry is given as a symbol of love and celebration. Precious stones in exquisite settings are slipped into satin-lined branded boxes, and purchased by well-intentioned consumers to present to their loved ones.

Rubies from Myanmar are thought to be the finest in the world but the origin of these gems often involves horrific human rights abuses for people living under a brutal regime. New findings in a report released today by Global Witness spotlights a supply chain issue that is being largely ignored by many of the luxury market’s most aspirational brands.

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The Big Picture: Today, large companies mine some of the most popular colored gemstones, making it vital to examine their impact on local communities. – by Brecken Branstrator (National Jeweler – October 25, 2021)

https://www.nationaljeweler.com/

The colored gemstone sector is dominated by artisanal and small-scale mining. Though specific numbers are hard to come by, most sources estimate between 80 and 90 percent of colored stones are mined by small groups or individuals digging their own mines and extracting stones with rudimentary tools or collecting them in riverbeds.

And yet today, big companies are mining some of the market’s most commercially important stones, like Colombian emeralds and Mozambican rubies. Mozambique, in fact, has become the world’s most productive source for gem-quality ruby since the discovery of deposits there in 2009, according to GIA.

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Here’s What SSEF Found When It Studied High-Quality Afghan Emeralds – by Brecken Branstrator (National Jeweler – April 19, 2021)

https://www.nationaljeweler.com/

Basel, Switzerland—The Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF conducted intensive research on high-quality Afghan emeralds and has released its findings for the trade.

In 2017, the lab started seeing a new kind of emerald from the country’s Panjshir Valley, nearly all of which were fine quality, SSEF Director Michael Krzemnicki said. As they do for all less familiar material, researchers at SSEF decided to study the emeralds extensively to find ways to separate them from others.

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Seeing is believing: what stone enhancements are acceptable? – by Christa Van Eerde (The Jewellery Editor – March 12, 2019)

http://www.thejewelleryeditor.com/

The aim of this article is to explain the most common enhancements or treatments for the ‘big three’, which are acceptable and within what parameters.

Most of the ‘big three’ gemstones – emeralds, rubies and sapphires – are in some way enhanced or treated. Only the very pure, perfectly coloured and flawless can escape any type of enhancement, and this is reflected in their record-breaking prices.

Perfection comes at a cost; the most valuable untreated ruby, the 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby (below) fetched $30.3 million, which is just over $1 million per carat at Sotheby’s in Geneva in May 2015, far outstripping any price paid for a colourless diamond.

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Afghan Gems Have a Future, a Longtime Dealer Says – by Victoria Gomelsky (New York Times – November 22, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

In 1972, Gary Bowersox, a Vietnam War veteran who had owned several retail jewelry stores in Hawaii, paid his first visit to Afghanistan. Determined to grow his burgeoning gem dealing business, he was attracted by the country’s 7,000-year-old deposits of lapis lazuli at Sar-i-Sang in Badakhshan Province, which for millenniums have drawn traders to this ancient crossroads on the border of what is now Tajikistan.

It would become the first of many trips, the most recent of which was less than three months before the Taliban regained control of the country and Western forces withdrew their troops.

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Burmese Rubies: Costly and Controversial – by Nazanin Lankarani (New York Times – November 22, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has long been a producer of some of the world’s priciest gemstones: pigeon’s blood rubies. Known by their deep, natural red fluorescence with blue hues, they command higher prices per carat than any precious stone on the global market, with the exception of colored diamonds.

But political conflict and trade embargoes have made rubies from Myanmar highly controversial for more than a decade, creating complicated sourcing problems for jewelers.

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Mozambique’s Illicit Gemstone Trade: Downward Spiral of Corruption – by Henry Pope (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project – November 10, 2021)

https://www.occrp.org/en/

The opaque nature of Mozambique’s illicit artisanal and small-scale mining industry has siphoned millions from the country’s economy, trapped its workers in a perpetual state of poverty, and has become a significant source of government and police corruption, according to a Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC) report.

Buried under East Africa is a wealth of gemstone deposits, including rubies, sapphires, and garnets, to name a few. Rubies are the most sought after gemstone, with large deposits unearthed in northern Mozambique.

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

https://news.yahoo.com/

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)

https://www.fortuneindia.com/

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)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

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 Online.com – May 12, 2021)

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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)

https://www.jewellermagazine.com/

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)

https://allafrica.com/

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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