Record emerald auction after Zambia move

FILE PICTURE: Miners. Picture: Michel Bega

FILE PICTURE: Miners. Picture: Michel Bega

London-based emerald firm Gemfields said on Wednesday it had hosted its most profitable gem auction ever, after moving the bidding to Zambia where the stones were mined.

The firm said it had made “auction revenues of $36.5 million,” during the sale last week “a record for any Gemfields auction.”

Last April, the Zambian government banned auctions abroad of its gems, prompting anger among buyers.

The auctions previously took place in Jaipur in India, London, Johannesburg and Singapore.

“Zambian gemstones have for a long time been sold on foreign markets, a situation that has contributed to capital flight and denied Zambians of the much-needed benefits from the resource,” the ministry of mines said at the time.

A seeming lack of buyers at early auctions last April raised doubts about the government’s recent and controversial decision.

The firm had earned $96.4 million in four auctions in Zambia, to beat its previous revenue record only eight months into the financial year, said CEO Ian Harebottle.

“We have achieved two new records — the highest aggregate revenue and the highest average per carat price.”

Bidders paid $59.31 per carat on average.

Buyers from the United States, Germany and elsewhere attended the latest sale of gems from the Kagem Mine north of Lusaka, which is 75-percent owned by Gemfields.

The Zambian government holds the remaining quarter.





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