Gemfields, the world’s largest producer of coloured gemstones currently best known for its Zambian emeralds and Mozambican rubies, has moved into the Sri Lankan sapphire market. The UK-based company has formed a joint venture with US-based East West Gem Investments which will see it acquire 75 per cent operating interests in 16 exploration licences (covering diverse minerals) via three Sri Lankan subsidiaries for US$400,000.
The venture will also see Gemfields and EWGI establish a gemstone trading company called Ratnapura Lanka Gemstones which will focus on sourcing rough sapphires from various sources in Sri Lanka. Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle said the company was delighted to announce its entry into the market for “the third of the ‘big three’ coloured gemstones”.
“With revenue-producing emerald and ruby operations in Zambia and Mozambique already in the Gemfields portfolio, the proposed development of sapphire operations in Sri Lanka will realise our stated red, blue and green ‘traffic light’ of coloured gemstones strategy,” he said. “We are excited about the possibility of being able to offer a reliable supply of well-graded sapphires to customers attending our auctions, and to ensuring that all gemstone stakeholders in Sri Lanka – including its government and general population – benefit from the value-addition and transparency that the Gemfields approach has already delivered in Zambia and Mozambique.”
Harebottle said Gemfields’ proprietary gemstone grading systems and marketing methodologies will be applied in order to offer the gems to international buyers via Gemfields’ proven rough gemstone auction platforms, thereby adding value to Sri Lankan gemstone production, growing the sector and contributing to economic development.
“The joint venture agreements seek to develop the broader exploration, mining and sorting infrastructure in Sri Lanka in order to promote a sustainable, transparent and globally competitive gemstone sector,” he said.
Gemfields acquired 75 percent of the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia in July 2008, 75 percent of the Montepuez ruby deposit in early 2012, and the Faberge jewellery and luxury brand last year.