Gemstones & Pearls:NewsEmerald 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.