Zambian emeralds in the spotlight by the world’s largest auction house

The largest collection of Zambian emeralds ever auctioned will go on sale this month, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Gemfields Foundation which supports community and conservation projects in Africa.

The treasures of Zambia: an exceptional collection of emeralds includes more than 45 lots; including 993 carats of breathtaking Zambian emeralds donated by renowned international auction house Phillips and promoted by Gemfields, owner of the Kagem emerald mine in partnership with the Zambian government’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) .

Phillips is recognized as a dynamic and forward thinking auction house. It features some of the world’s most significant 20th century and contemporary works of art, designer jewelry, watches, photographs and editions. The auction house is set to display Treasures of Zambia: An Exceptional Emerald Collection, with auctions open from November 23 to December 2, 2021, and a portion of the proceeds is committed to benefit Zambian projects undertaken by the Gemfields Foundation.

Zambian emeralds make rare appearances at auction. They were discovered more recently than their Colombian counterparts, but their training is much older. The majority of the gemstones we see today remained unearthed until the 1970s. Perhaps this is why Colombian emeralds commanded a premium, as it certainly cannot be said that Zambian emeralds are inferior quality. Rather, their makeup lends itself to higher levels of clarity and size and a distinctive vivid bluish green color, which adds to the overall depth of the gem. Examples from the Kagem mine in Gemfields in Zambia demonstrated the best that nature can offer.

The collector of the Zambian emeralds auctioned by Phillips shares his take on the collection: “A close friend from Europe, a collector himself, once asked me how I ended up with such a large collection of Zambian emeralds when most collectors would be looking to buy Colombian emeralds? My response was that it was only a matter of time before the value of premium Zambian emeralds was appreciated, and indeed we have seen this happen and accelerate in recent years. For some collectors and connoisseurs of gemstones, premium Zambian emeralds are now considered to be held on par with those of Colombian origin. History has also shown and taught us that evolution is a natural and gradual process. For example, the most historic and invariably most sought after sapphires came from Kashmir. However, that changed over the years and the collection expanded to Burma (now Myanmar) and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The same goes for natural Burmese rubies, which are rare to find nowadays, but in the last for several years the focus has shifted to gem-quality sources from Madagascar, Mozambique and Thailand.


On a personal level, I draw my collection from my penchant for cigars and fine wines. My preferences broadened over time, and I learned to appreciate various choices as they emerged and evolved. This is how I see the preservation of my collector’s life. “

The collector describes the process of collecting this exceptional collection as “an unforgettable party“of his life, and these Zambian treasures will leave a legacy, as the collector has pledged that part of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to the Gemfields Foundation – the charitable arm of Gemfields that supports community projects and conservation in Africa, Phillips has generously pledged to match that amount, making an even greater positive impact.

Launched in January 2021, the Gemfields Foundation is a UK registered charity that channels 100% of donor funds directly to community and conservation projects in Africa. General administrative costs are borne by Gemfields Limited. The Foundation runs several community and conservation screenings around mining areas and the catalysts on the ground are provided by Gemfields mining operations, which means donations can go far and fast.

The Foundation was created after a decade of carrying out projects near Gemfields mining operations in Africa, many of which have been funded by individuals at these sites. A key principle of Gemfields is that Africa’s gemstone wealth must contribute significantly not only to the economies of the host country, but also to host communities and their next generations through education, care projects. health and livelihoods. By inviting external donors to contribute, the Foundation is able to scale up its efforts and benefit many more communities and conservation projects. To date, the association has provided solar lamps to displaced families in Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique and is close to completing a primary school in the Madagascan countryside. The collector and Phillips have selected four Zambian projects to benefit from the sale of these Zambian treasures.

The collector first discovered Zambian emeralds while discussing gemstones with a friend and expert in London. “We talked about features, comparison, value and comparables to more historical sources. I was convinced that Zambia would become the next best source of emeralds just as Burma became the second best source of sapphires after Kashmir. Soon after, a friend from New York met me in the lobby of a hotel in Geneva, and through him I bought my first Zambian emerald. After the purchase I watched it every day for the next few days as we would after buying a new car. That was the start, and it wasn’t long after that I began to actively seek out the best of the best in Zambian emeralds.

One of these treasures that immediately caught the collector’s attention is the 56.87 carat Zambian emerald necklace. It carries Gubelin certification, including a citation for being the largest unoiled Zambian emerald certified by the lab to this date. The collector did not leave his side until the deal was concluded and the “simply fascinating“the gemstone was his -“I have never seen such a gem before or after. For me it was a must.

A pair of 8.13 carat and 8.27 carat emerald and diamond earrings, and an emerald and diamond bangle totaling 60.94 carats stand out from the collection, in addition to a suite including earrings, bracelet, ring and necklace totaling 117.82 carats, including 11.94 on the ring, which is certified as having received no clarity enhancement.

The collector visited museums and auction previews and attended live auctions by global houses, as well as international exhibitions and shows in Basel, London, Hong Kong, New York and Las Vegas. He would do regularly “leaf through catalogs, inspect the finest and rarest objects ”. He says: “Participating in the auction has become an intrinsic part of my life. “He always looked at each gemstone under matching light sources and took the time to visualize how the gemstone would appear mounted in a piece of jewelry. Expert guidance guided the way, but this growing knowledge base, imagination and passion were instrumental in building up the treasure that Phillips brings to auction today.

When asked what advice he would give to someone considering purchasing a Zambian emerald for the first time, the collector of these exceptional emeralds replied: “Don’t wait for it to become rare and prohibitive. It is already on the path. History repeats itself and this is what we have seen with Burmese sapphires and Mozambican rubies. “

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