30 September 2019
Surge in Interest from China in African Coloured Gemstones
This September saw the first Chinese customer successfully winning a schedule of 117,500 carats of Zambian emeralds at Gemfields’ commercial auction in Lusaka.
It also saw a cohort of Chinese business professionals from across the industry visiting Gemfields mines in both Zambia and Mozambique. In addition, Gemfields announced a new partnership with the GUILD Institute of Gemology to present a series of masterclasses across China. First Chinese customer at Gemfields’ commercial emerald auction This September saw the first Chinese customer successfully winning a schedule at Gemfields’ commercial emerald auction in Lusaka. The buyer, Lok Chen of Cai Bao Cheng, purchased 117,500 carats of large emeralds – greater than 31mm in size – which the company will cut and polish at their factory in Shenzhen. The finished pieces are destined for the Chinese domestic market, either via a wholesaler or jewellery company. Cai Bao Cheng is the first company to demonstrate the trend of increasing interest in Zambian emeralds coming from China. Lok Chen remarked at the auction that they were very impressed by Gemfields’ reliable grading system, their generous and consistent supply of gemstones and their fair auction process. Gemfields operates a strict vetting procedure: before customers are invited to attend auctions, they are subjected to a thorough application process, third-party verification, regulatory checks and a representative visit to inspect operations; this all helps to ensure that Gemfields’ high standards for responsible sourcing are upheld. With more Chinese companies showing interest in participating in auctions, and Chinese consumers yearning for a more contemporary green gemstone to update the traditional jade, Cai Bao Cheng’s newly cut and polished Zambian emeralds could well be the first of many Gemfields’ gemstones to excite the Chinese domestic market. Chinese gemstone professionals visit Gemfields’ African mines This August, ten Chinese professionals from across the gemstone business – leaders and innovators in wholesale and retail, from both the rough and cut and polished sectors – visited Gemfields’ African mines to build their knowledge and passion for coloured gemstones. Hosted by GUILD Institute of Gemology, the field expedition was designed to be an intensive educational experience, providing the group with access to information and first-hand experience of a world-leading supplier of coloured gemstones. GUILD’s purpose was to bring China to the source for a higher level of global gem industry knowledge and to connect China with the global trade. As explained by GUILD’s vice-president, Andy Lucas: “This particular trip focused on showing students the best example of large-scale, sophisticated, ethical, and responsible mining in the coloured gemstones industry, as well as the revolution Gemfields has brought into the global supply chain, enabling consistent supply to the ruby and emerald markets.” Guided by Gemfields’ representatives, the entourage explored both Kagem emerald mine in Zambia and Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) in Mozambique, watching gemstones being recovered by the mine sites’ skilled employees. The tour encompassed all aspects of operations, from geology to the sorting house, where rough gemstones are graded; afterwards, the group visited some of the community projects that have been established around the mines to improve the health, education and livelihoods of the local people. By giving them a broader perspective of the global industry, GUILD hopes it will enable students to better promote gemstones in China. The trip proved a great success, with participants posting enthusiastically on social media, to share the experience with their followers. On departure, one visitor commented: “We were deeply moved by the children we met, the corporate social responsibility programmes of Gemfields, and how they help the children and communities. Our company wants to be part of a supply chain that helps the communities of gem-producing areas in Africa, and we want to work with Gemfields to improve the life of people in these areas.” Another remarked: “It’s easy for us to see how Gemfields is crucial in our supply of rubies and emeralds. Our business would be completely different today, and not nearly as stable, if it weren’t for Gemfields.” Ruby masterclasses scheduled to increase knowledge in China Gemfields is working with GUILD Institute of Gemology to present a series of masterclasses across China. GUILD Gem Laboratories and their education branch, GUILD Institute of Gemology, are a gemmological laboratory, research centre and educational institute all rolled into one. For the past two years, Guild has skilfully used new media and WeChat to build up an enviable reputation in China for upholding the highest standards for laboratory reports and education. GUILD’s network represents a variety of audiences, including wholesale dealers, cutters, jewellery-manufacturers, gemmological students and retailers, making them an ideal partner for Gemfields, who seek to build greater knowledge and understanding of coloured gemstones in the Chinese domestic market. Gemfields and GUILD are designing a masterclass that will be offered in Guild’s classroom facilities in Shenzhen, with sessions also to be held in key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hubei Province, in cooperation with universities and trade organisations. Using Gemfields’ Mozambican ruby grading gem sets, attendees will learn about colour-grading and quality assessment, treatment classification and identification, gemstone origin and supply chains. The course, ‘Gemfields Masterclass presented by GUILD Institute of Gemology’, is designed to be a modular system that leads to the most intensive and practical training in the industry. GUILD’s programmes are intended to be systematic, leading to progressive knowledge, higher skill level and more prestigious diplomas, and to relate the theoretical directly to the practical. To the Chinese market, GUILD is the first and only international laboratory company based in China and is well placed to combine laboratory and research knowledge with education, as well as being considered the gateway to the global industry in China. Gemfields’ world-leading knowledge and expertise in African rubies and emeralds, combined with GUILD’s extensive expertise in gemmology, education and both field work and real-world practical teaching, make this an important partnership for providing the Chinese industry with the highest quality training possible, leading to a higher level of expertise than anywhere else in the world.