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 →