Industry News

Nigeria Gemstone Supplies: A Brief Overview

By Godfrey Uche Nwadique, ICA Ambassador, NigeriaGodfrey Uche Nwadique, ICA Ambassador, Nigeria

It is well known that Nigeria has become a major supplier of rough colored gemstones over the past couple of decades, and this is likely to remain the case well into the foreseeable future.

Gemstone mining in Nigeria has always been haphazard, and largely dominated by very small scale artisanal miners. It is on record that many of the major finds in Nigeria have come from herdsmen simply stumbling upon "colorful looking" stones and have brought them to the nearest towns seeking more information about their finds.

But I am optimistic that Nigeria will continue to play a role in the global gemstone market for several reasons:

  • Recently, a group of miners has begun to organize and mechanize their operations
  • The new government in Nigeria says it aims to provide investment to provide a study of the gemstones sector, and also wants to make mining in Nigeria more efficient with a focus on generating employment

  • Gemstone exports from Nigeria have always been somewhat poorly organized, and mainly of rough stones. Recently, however, there has been an attempt to improve mining capacity, to make exporting less cumbersome and transparent, and to encourage value addition for the country's rough gemstones. These are the steps that a World Bank-assisted project has proposed.

ASM Tourmaline

ASM Tourmaline


About 14 months ago, there was a major sapphire find in the Mambilla Mountains which is an area bordering Cameroon. This mine is producing beautiful royal blue sapphires most of which find their way to Sri Lanka and Chanthaburi in Thailand for manufacturing.

A new tourmaline mine has also been discovered in the old town of Ile-Ife in Osun state in southern Nigeria, which is not an area that was known for gemstone production. However, it is located within the precincts of a police barracks, so you can imagine what is going on there. So far, production is of bi-colored tourmalines in pinks, greens and blues.

Production of spessartite garnet has slowed significantly, although lately there have been isolated finds coming to the market.

Spessartite Nigeria

Spessartite Nigeria

The country's rubellite, aquamarine and topaz mines are producing steadily, with the output from the rubellite mine being tightly controlled by its owners.

Rubellite Nigeria

Rubellite Nigeria

Finally, there are three well-known emerald mines in Nigeria, although none have received any significant attention. It is my considered opinion that these emerald mines represent huge opportunities for anyone willing to make the needed investment.

Nigeria Mambilla sapphire
Weight in grams.
Photo by Jean Claude Michelou


Colombia To Host World Emerald Symposium in October

Emerald CutColombia is to hold the first gathering of the world emerald industry, and is inviting all emerald producing countries to take part in the event in Bogota from October 13 to 15. The conference will be followed by a visit to the famous Muzo emerald mine.

The countries invited to attend the conference include Zambia, Brazil, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Madagascar. In addition, all relevant players are being invited, including governments, the private sector, civil society and all sectors of the emerald mining and manufacturing industry.

The conference will provide a comprehensive analysis of all elements of the emerald industry, including geology, mining, resource management, laws and regulations, manufacturing, treatments, marketing, nomenclature, labs and certification, education, origin and traceability, harmonization of the sector at the global level, relations with consumers, jewelry, branding and overall supply chain integration from mine to market.

The issues will be addressed by high-level experts from governments and the gemstone industry from a range of relevant countries, and there will also be discussions and working groups looking at the promotion of emeralds and addressing industry challenges.

The official program of events, debates and discussions is due to be released shortly. The overall aim of the conference is to boost the image of emeralds as a valuable stone and to deal with a wide range of issues, including safety in mine production and transport and emeralds as a leading global precious gemstone and store of value and to enable the global emerald industry to have a common language and unified approach.

An organized visit of delegates to the emerald mine in Muzo and surrounding area will take place on October 16.

The official organizers of the conference are: the Ministry of Mines of Colombia; Agencias Nacional e Mineria ANM (National Mining Agency); Fedesmeraldas (the Colombian Emerald Federation); ACODES (the Emerald Exporters Association); APRECOL (the Colombian Emerald Miners Association); and ASOCOESMERAL (the Colombia Emerald Dealers Association).


True North Appoints Diamond Veteran to Board

Raymond SimpsonTrue North Gems Inc. has appointed Raymond Simpson to its Board of Directors. Simpson has more than 20 years of experience in the diamond industry and is currently managing director of Diamond Asset Advisors, a Swiss based alternative investment advisor specializing in diamond-related investment and financial products.

Until recently he was an Executive Vice-President of Dominion Diamond Corp., formerly known as Aber Resources, then subsequently as Harry Winston Diamond Corporation. In 2003, Simpson joined DDC, then a junior diamond mining company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, to oversee its strategic expansion into retailing. He eventually became Chief Operating Officer.

Simpson started his career with De Beers where, over a 14-year period, he held a variety of roles ranging from mine resource evaluation to supply/demand forecasting and consumer marketing. As Head of Business Development for the De Beers in London, Simpson was instrumental in establishing a retail joint venture between De Beers and LVMH Moet Hennessey in 2000.

“The business acumen and experience that Mr. Simpson will bring to the company dovetails perfectly with the growth of True North Gems. Having the opportunity to utilize his diverse knowledge as we go forward will be

beneficial to all,” said True North President and CEO Nicholas Houghton.


Inaugural Mozambican Ruby Auction in Singapore Generates $33.5 million in Revenue

Gemfields’ inaugural auction of rough rubies and corundum from its 75 percent-owned Montepuez ruby deposit was held in Singapore from June 12-17. It reported to yield gross auction revenues of $33.5 million and an overall average value of $18.43 per carat. 57 out of the total 62 lots of high and low quality rough rubies and corundum were sold, representing approximately 91-percent of the lots offered. The proceeds will be fully repatriated to Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada. “Adding the revenues from our maiden ruby auction to those derived during this financial year from rough emerald and beryl sales implies aggregate consolidated revenues (from rough gemstone sales) in excess of $143 million,” said Ian Harebottle, CEO of Gemfields.

Photo: Gemfields plc.

Photo: Gemfields plc.

A total of 55 companies attended and placed bids. Representatives of the Mozambican government also attended the auction. Many participants attended a Gemfields auction for the first time; among them most were from or closely associated with Thailand. Other participants were from various locations including New York, Jaipur, Germany and Israel. Cumulative costs incurred at Montepuez to date (including the acquisition cost as well as capex and opex since inception in 2012) stand at approximately $34 million. At the auction, Gemfields presented its “first-of-a-kind” grading and sorting framework for its rough rubies. The method utilized the expertise from its development of rough emerald grading system at the Kagem mine. The next Gemfields auction of rough ruby and corundum is scheduled to take place before the end of this year.


GIA Teams Up with Harvard Business School for Global Leadership Program

GIA, in conjunction with the Harvard Business School (HBS), hosted a four-day global leadership program for 44 senior executives representing gem and jewelry firms from 15 countries at the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Mass from April 28- May 1. The custom curriculum was based on the renowned HBS case study method and examined topics ranging from strategy to customer centricity, challenges facing the industry to leading high performance teams.

The program’s initiative was to bring together leaders from around the world representing different sectors of the gem and jewelry industry to help further develop senior management expertise.

“Developing innovative programs like this to meet the needs of our global industry directly supports our public benefit mission of protecting the gem- and jewelry-buying public,” said Susan Jacques, president and CEO of GIA.

The next GIA global leadership program will be held in June 2015.


Class of the inaugural GIA global leadership program. (Photo: GIA)


Petra’s 29.6-Carat Blue Diamond Sold for $25.6M

The Cullinan mine was acquired by Petra Diamonds in 2008. Other notable diamonds discovered in the mine is the 3,106 carats Culinan Diamond in 1905- described as the largest rough gem diamond ever recovered; and a 25.5 carat blue diamond in 2013 - sold for $16.9 million.The blue diamond was discovered by Petra Diamonds about 25 miles north east of Pretoria, South Africa in January. The color makes it one of the rarest and most coveted in the world. At the point of the discovery, Petra described the stone as “an outstanding vivid blue with extraordinary saturation, tone and clarity. It is one of the most exceptional stones recovered at Cullinan during Petra’s operation of the mine”. “This sale result affirms this stone as one of the most important blue diamonds ever recovered,” Petra CEO Johan Dippenaar noted. This is a follow-up story on the the 29.6-carat blue diamond discovered at the Cullinan mine reported in the ICA January Newsletter (Sign up for the ICA Monthly Newsletter here). The acorn- sized diamond was sold to Golden Yellow Diamonds for Cora International NY for US$25.6 million, or $862,780 per carat.

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