7 October 2021

The Coloured Gemstones Working Group announce a series of papers to increase understanding of the coloured gemstone industry

As a co-founding member of the Coloured Gemstones Working Group (CGWG), Gemfields is pleased to announce the launch of “Ancient crafts, modern challenges”.


This series of papers authored by experts in the field aims to build and share knowledge about the coloured gemstone industry. Together, these papers track the progress of a coloured gemstone – be it an emerald, ruby, sapphire or other– from the elemental formation and discovery stage right through to mining and recovery, trading, cutting and polishing, and, of course, the retail operation around the finished product.

The CGWG is comprised of some of the most vaunted names in the jewellery and mining world – alongside Gemfields, there’s Chopard, Kering, LVMH, Muzo, Richemont, Swarovski and Tiffany & Co. It was formed in 2015 to unite leading luxury brands and mining companies driven by a shared commitment to catalysing positive change in the coloured gemstone and jewellery industry. Since its formation in 2009, Gemfields has championed the values of transparency, legitimacy and integrity above all else. Accordingly, we feel very proud of this latest venture, which demonstrates our on-going commitment – in line with the ethos of the CGWG as a whole – to create a more accountable and transparent industry. Fostering a better understanding of the supply chain amongst the general public, and amongst coloured gemstone aficionados in particular, is an important element in achieving this. Raising awareness – and encouraging transparency at every level – is an essential step on the journey towards responsible sourcing.

The first paper in this new series is entitled “Hands that Dig, Hands that Feed: Lives Shaped by Coloured Gemstone Mining”. The reader is taken on a deep dive into gemstone mining, from its historical roots, when it was dominated by small-scale ‘artisanal’ miners who used basic tools and had little infrastructure, to the present day of gemstone mining, with bigger and more formal players having entered the sector. The paper explores challenges the industry navigates, from technological advances to the introduction of international standards such as those for child labour and health and safety. The paper addresses the pros and cons of different types of mining and explores what they mean for the communities whose livelihoods rely on it.

To read the papers in the series Ancient Crafts, Modern Challenges and others, please visit our Research and Reports page

For more on the CGWG, please read our article on Gemstones and Community Platform Launch