28 October 2021

Phillips’ Treasures from Zambia: the collector behind these exceptional pieces shares his insights into how to buy emeralds

The owner of the largest collection of Zambian emeralds ever to be offered at auction has, unsurprisingly, a wealth of expertise when it comes to selecting and purchasing the very best emeralds.


Before buying his first Zambian emerald, he talked through the characteristics, history and comparable traits of these gemstones with a renowned expert, soon becoming convinced that Zambia would emerge as the best new source of emeralds. Following his initial purchase, he studied his new gemstone every day, a moment he described as “the beginning.”

Expert advice was helpful, but his own growing knowledge base, imagination and passion played an essential role in amassing the treasure trove that Phillips is now bringing to auction. As he went about expanding his collection, he applied the personal knowledge and judgement he’d accumulated along the way, viewing each gemstone under assorted light sources and visualising how the gem might look mounted within a piece of jewellery. The collector also visited museums and auction previews and attended live auctions by global houses and international exhibitions and shows in Basel, London, Hong Kong, New York and Las Vegas. He regularly “browsed catalogues, inspecting the finest and rarest objects”. He says: “participating in bidding became an intrinsic part of my life.”


“Don’t wait until it becomes rare and prohibitively expensive, for it’s already on that trajectory.”

One important factor for him when choosing a gem is certification – a gold standard in certifying provenance – in one case, this meant a “simply mesmerising” 56.87 carat Zambian emerald, which included a citation for being the largest non-oiled Zambian emerald certified by the Gubelin laboratory to that date.


This collector’s top advice to anyone considering buying a Zambian emerald for the first time is: “Don’t wait until it becomes rare and prohibitively expensive, for it’s already on that trajectory.”


Treasures from Zambia: An Exceptional Emerald Collection is open for bidding via Phillips from 23 November – 2 December 2021. Read more on Phillips.com.