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June 25, 2019

How Coloured Gemstone Supplier Gemfields Is Giving Back To The Community, Host Nations And Environment

Text by Zaral Shah

Gemfields is making strides to create a self-sufficient and self-reliant society through their community projects in Mozambique and Zambia, and their efforts to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

Gemfields, the world leading suppliers of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones, has an approach that continues to be a progressive and unconventional one. To effectively create an impact, the pursuit of responsible sourcing has to be implemented throughout the organisation. These values form the basis of decision-making at Gemfields’ operations and inform the practices they adopt. Gemfields mines and markets coloured gemstones from their operations in Zambia and Mozambique, and are dynamically examining opportunities in other significant gemstone producing countries around the world.

As a brand, Gemfields has always believed that coloured gems must be mined and marketed by advocating three vital values – transparency, legitimacy and integrity. And it’s their objective to function in a manner that contributes positively to host countries by boosting national economies, taking a leading role in modernising the coloured gemstone sector and building lasting, sustainable livelihoods for the communities around their mines.

At the ground level, Gemfields is realistic and open about the impact of mining operations on the environment, and therefore seeks to operate in a way that minimises that impact.  For example, before mining in a certain area, they gather the seeds of the local plants and trees from the topsoil and create a seed bank. Those seeds are then grown in a nursery for replanting once mining is complete.

While operating to high standards in health and safety practices, Gemfields also offers industry-leading training and development at operations, including meeting the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. The brand’s community investment includes the launch of a seven-year vocational training programme targeted at equipping over 2000 members of the community with vocational skills to improve their employability and potential to create self-employment. Gemfields develops community projects that are designed to deliver the greatest local benefit, tailored to create sustainable livelihoods for community members.

Amongst other endeavours, at Montepuez Ruby Mining in Mozambique, Gemfields have laid the foundation for nine farming associations – two of which are dedicated to empowering women, built school infrastructure for four primary schools, brought into being two mobile health clinics that serve 20,000 people in rural areas, provided significant infrastructure such as road, electricity and telecommunications networks and contributed significantly to the funding of Mozambique’s wildlife conservation efforts. At Kagem emerald mine in Zambia they have established three schools and created two farming associations – which supply the mines with fresh produce and have enhanced a rural health facility to become a health centre.

Typically, it is rather difficult to prove the origin of each stone as chain of custody takes the jewels on a journey from mine to market, especially with the gemstones exchanging hands throughout the process. But the folks at Gemfields were a test partner for Gübelin Gem Lab’s Paternity Test, which allows proof of provenance and provides customers with the assurance that their gemstone was sourced from a responsible mine. Though not applied to all emeralds yet, the technology represents a real game-changer for the coloured gemstone industry. The Paternity Test uses customised DNA-based nanoparticles, which contain data ‘labelling’ the gemstone, therefore permitting traceability of each emerald, right back to the exact place of mining. Developed with Gemfields, this technology offers miners, governments, trade organisations, industry watchdogs, jewellery brands and final customers a whole new level of transparency when sourcing emeralds.

Laying great emphasis on transparency, legitimacy and integrity, Gemfields continues to aspire to be the preferred supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones around the world.

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