There has been a resurgence in the popularity of pink gemstones, in part due to the ever expanding Chinese marker. The high price of pink sapphire has meant that other gems have also been in demand such as Morganite (pink Beryl) and Kunzite. The availability of top quality Sri Lankan pink sapphire has decreased as has fine material from Madagascar;
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a lot of the material that is now available on the world market is of a lower quality with orange tones and is similar to material typical of Vietnam.
The natural and heated Morganite and Kunzite has low colour saturation but in larger sizes is an attractive baby pink, however at -8mm sizes the stones are a very pale washed out colour. Irradiated material is available and is a much stronger colour.
The high price of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies, and as a knock on effect from the cash for gold services, has led to an increase in the trade of recycled gemstones. Whilst there is a fairly well established market for 'break out' diamonds from Europe and the USA, the same movement of stones is now being seen in coloured gemstones. Dealers from developed economies are taking used coloured gemstones to the major global cutting centres for sale. This also highlights the potential for coloured stones to be bought as investment pieces. The continued decline in the availability of fine Burmese rubies and soaring demand means the prices of coloured gemstones is only going to go up.
Over the last 49 years Zambia has heavily relied on revenue from the copper mining sector, the depressed international copper prices has seen a decline in this revenue and to address this the Zambian government has sought to diversify the revenues arrived at from their natural resources.
To help achieve this, the Zambian government is investing in emerald production from small and medium sized artisanal miners. Many of the mining licenses have been in abeyance in part due to the operational challenges faced by small scale operations. The government is investing five and half million pounds to encourage the miners to form co-operative initiatives, in doing so the money can then be targeted for training and equipment, thereby addressing some of the difficulties they face.
In addition to this, and following the lead of other African countries, Zambia is trying to ensure that their natural resources are exploited for their greatest benefit. To do this they are requiring all rough gemstones to be auctioned within the country.
One of the benefits of this policy will be to help reduce the quantity of rough stones that are stolen and illegally exported from the country. Zambia loses around $60million worth of emeralds per year a figure that is around 40% of the country's total emerald output.
Having the auctions within Zambia and by setting up transportation and trading networks within the county will encourage the legal movement of stones from the mines to international buyers.
The net effect of this will be to streamline the supply chain of emeralds within Zambia, and hopefully increase the amount of legitimate stones available to the world market.
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