Gemstones & Pearls:News
Production & Trading
Developing Colombia's industry
Colombia's Ministry of Mines is prepared to support development of the
country's emerald industry, according to Orlando Cabrales, who heads the
ministry. That's a simple but important statement, given current low production
levels and the need to develop new sources.
Experts suggest using newer mining technology designed to maximize yield
and minimize damage to emerald crystals. (Many of the fissures so common
in emeralds are caused by dynamite blasting at the mines.)
In addition, the country plans to allocate money to create value-added
emerald industries, says Carlos Ronderos Torres, minister of foreign trade.
"We have already done it for Colombian coffee and flowers," he
says. Along these lines, Lazaro Mejia, general manager of ProExport, and
Jose A. Duran, president of Fedesmeralda, called for the establishment of
a "national emerald fund" to develop training in gemology and
jewelry making. Duran also called for domestic tax reforms to stimulate
the development of value-added industries in Colombia.
Debating a Bourse
Emerald dealers are divided on how emeralds should be marketed. Some favor
a bourse or free-trade zone in Colombia. Torres favors a bourse because
it would be consumer-oriented. But Colombia's independent miners are opposed.
"It would create a monopoly by large dealers that would wipe us out,"
"A bourse is a responsible place to do business, and you need a
new way to do business," argues Eli Izhakoff, president of the World
Federation of Diamond Bourses. "Bourses are charged with protecting
the interests of all members, and to be successful, bourses have to cut
across all strata of society." Izhakoff lists these positive aspects
of a bourse: security for buyers, a code of ethics and a gathering place.
"If you create a bourse, buyers will come," he predicts. "Buyers
will not come to two thousand offices spread all over Bogota."
The emerald industry is growing up internationally and in Colombia
and the World Emerald Congress represented an important step in solving
some of the growing pains.
"We feel the World Emerald Congress is going to help change Colombia's
image in the eyes of the world," says Francisco Grijalba, general manager
at state-run Mineralco, which administers the production and promotion of
emeralds. "The success of this congress also will stimulate the government
to provide us with the means and tools to increase education we sorely need
to stimulate mining production and exports of cut stones and finished jewelry.
The historic link between emeralds, silver and gold should never be forgotten;
Colombian emeralds should always glisten in the world's finest jewelry."
by Robert Weldon, G.G. Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.