The dangerous world of Pakistan’s gem trade – by Adnan R. Khan (MACLEAN’S Magazine – May 24, 2014)

Inside the world’s oldest gem market in Pakistan, home to terrorist financiers and drug smugglers

“Twenty-thousand dollars.” That’s how much Jalil says the blood-red ruby he is holding is worth. “It’s not my best,” says the 47-year-old gem trader. “My best pieces I only show to people holding a bag of cash.” A hush descends over the small group of men huddled around a lamp in Jalil’s shop.

The ruby, three near-flawless carats, glimmers with a surreal clarity. Other gemstones lie scattered on crisp white sheets of paper—sapphires from Kashmir, emeralds from Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, citrine and aquamarine—making the dark, windowless office feel like a cave of treasures.

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Secret Rocks: The $10 billion jewels industry is shrouded in beauty—and mystery. Is change about to come? – by Shibani Mahtani and Patrick Barta (Wall Street Journal – May 17, 2013)

TO HEAR RICHARD HUGHES tell it, the journey was like something straight out of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” One of the world’s leading modern-day gem hunters, he was hell-bent on reaching the fabled jade mines of upper Myanmar—a jungle redoubt so remote and closely guarded that few living Westerners have ever laid eyes on it.

Before he could get close, he had to spend months ahead of his trip convincing Myanmar’s secretive military, which controlled access to the country’s mines, to let him in. Then he had to navigate some of the most punishing, malaria-ridden terrain east of the Congo, capped by a grueling climb along a dirt road his handlers said would only take seven hours to ascend.

The trail quickly turned into a river of sludge under Myanmar’s brutal monsoons, trapping vehicles in mud to their doors until teams of elephants showed up to haul them out.

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The Worth of Rubies – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – April 16, 2015)

Ian Harebottle, who’s made his career from mining colored gemstones, has an emerald the size of a pineapple locked away in a safe. He’s not sold the unique bright-green rock because it’s so rare nobody really knows what it’s worth.

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of colored gems, where abundance can mean higher prices and scarcity makes spectacular stones untradable. It’s a very different business from diamonds, the world’s most popular precious stone, traded in a liquid global market that makes pricing relatively transparent.

For colored stones, prices often increase with supply as jewelers acquire enough stock to justify marketing the gems to customers. Take regular emeralds: their value has appreciated 1,000 percent in five years as Harebottle’s Gemfields Plc and peers expanded mines, while marketing campaigns fronted by Hollywood star Mila Kunis gave demand a boost.

Now Harebottle wants to bring the same game to rubies. Gemfields’ Montepuez in Mozambique, estimated to contain as much as 40 percent of the world’s known supply of the deep-red stones, could triple output from the 8 million carats targeted for this year, according to the executive.

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