31 July 2019

Gemfields Shares Lessons Learned With African Gemstone Industry

Gemfields is proud to provide sponsorship for a new forum titled “East and Southern African Coloured Gemstones Forum – From mine to market – challenges and opportunities” on July 10th and 11th in Nairobi, Kenya.

Over 60 representatives from industry, academia and civil society met in Nairobi to share good practices and discuss innovative and practical solutions to advance dialogue and collaboration on coloured gemstones in East and Southern Africa. A number of East and Southern African countries contribute to the global coloured gemstone market with yearly estimates of coloured gemstone retail sales valued at $18-billion to $21-billion. However, little is understood of the value chain as the industry is highly fragmented and opaque. This Forum is timely as there is increasing global pressure for improved transparency and traceability and several governments are pursuing policies to enhance local value addition. Gemfields’ core values of pioneering transparency, integrity and legitimacy across the sector made the sponsorship and involvement a natural fit. The Forum itself was brought together by the Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (a University of Western Australia and University of Queensland partnership), the Coloured Gemstones Alumni Forum Organising Committee, Advisory Committee with funds from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and sponsorship from Gemfields, Australia Awards Africa and GIZ (German Development Cooperation). The Forum – the first of its kind, brought together over 60 current and future leaders that are alumni of Australian programs and invited guests that are gemstone miners, gemmologists, lapidarists, geologists, policy makers, mining engineers, women in mining, buyers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, researchers and community development practitioners from Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, France, India, Canada, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Namibia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, UK, Australia and USA. They shared knowledge and understanding of current challenges and good policies and practices to improve the coloured gemstone industry. Value addition was a key issue discussed with Gemfields, who held a panel discussion to share its mine and market strategy for the benefit others in the coloured gemstone industry. Topics included the considerable challenges the company experienced when trying to vertically integrate cutting and polishing into its value chain. The company applied its lessons learned towards a case for gemstone producing countries to look to improve employment and livelihoods by concentrating on growing their mining industries and maximising the value of their resources by cleaning, sorting and grading the gemstones prior to sale – measures that are easier, cheaper and quicker to get right at source, and add more value than cutting and polishing. The Inspire! Marketing Coloured Gemstone Pitch Night saw six finalists pitch creative ideas on how to market coloured gemstones. The $10,000 prize sponsored by Gemfields was won by Ms Domoina Ranjatoelina, Founder, Green Heritage Madagascar Designs with her pitch on a African Gems Portal “an online platform where the coloured gemstones community can safely, formally and ethically interact, trade, network and get educated about the industry.” Congratulations to Domoina and we look forward to seeing this initiative take off.