Gemstones & Pearls:News
Emerald in the Spotlight
A groundbreaking congress focuses attention on the troubled gemstone.
Senior Writer Robert Weldon reports on the discussions, resolutions and
efforts to get emeralds out of the mire of controversy
No colored gemstone has galvanized the industry as emerald has in the
past two years. The profits can be great, but so can the problems, according
to officials at the World Emerald Congress, held Feb. 23-25 in Bogota, Colombia.
Discussion centered on common concerns about declining sales, clarity enhancement,
treatment disclosure, supply and promotion.
There is much at stake along the emerald supply chain. For retailers,
the consumer confidence in emeralds will have to improve before sales increase.
For dealers, concerns include an adequate supply of top-quality emeralds
and the health of the emerald market itself. For gem laboratories, there's
the question that concerns everyone: identifying the many types of material
used to fill the fissures so common in emerald. And for producers such as
Colombia, Zambia, Brazil and Madagascar, the concern is making the most
of their resource.
In Colombia, for example, emeralds rank eighth among exports. Officials
would like to improve that ranking through value-added industries such as
gem cutting and jewelry manufacturing. Colombia, which produces about 60%
of the world's emerald supply, suffered a dramatic 57% drop in the value
of exports of cut gems between 1995 and 1996 after several years of sustained
growth. Rough emeralds suffered an even greater loss, according to ProExport,
an export and promotion concern in Colombia.
The government of Colombia is so interested in developing its emerald
resources that it agreed to host the congress along with ProExport and Mineralco,
a mining, exploration and distribution company. Over 150 emerald experts
and laboratories from every continent attended the congress, as did hundreds
of local emerald miners, dealers and brokers. The organizers assembled an
impressive roster of international speakers and mounted a well-organized
visit to some of Colombia's main emerald mines.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.