By Michelle Graff
Jaipur, India--Colored gemstone miner Gemfields PLC announced that its recent auction of traded rough emeralds held in Jaipur totaled $8.5 million. The sale also set a new price-per-carat record for the company.

The auction was held from Sept. 26 to 30, featuring emeralds primarily of higher quality bought by the mining company on the open market from various sources, marking Gemfields’ first standalone auction of traded material.

Of the 29 lots offered, 17 were sold, representing 59 percent by volume but 96 percent sold by value. The auction put 417,032 carats of traded emeralds on the block with a total of 145,952 carats sold.

“Favorable market conditions and particularly strong demand from our customers have again yielded excellent results and record per-carat prices,” Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle said in a company statement.

The sale achieved an average price per carat of $58, the highest in Gemfields’ history. This beat the previous record of $54 per carat, set just this summer at the company’s auction of rough emerald and beryl mined in Lusaka, Zambia.

London-based Gemfields owns a 75 percent stake in Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique. It also owns a 75 percent stake in the Kagem emerald mine as well as a 50 percent interest in the Kariba amethyst mine, both in Zambia.

The company has held 13 auctions since July 2009, generating revenues of approximately $207.2 million. Its next auction of mined rough emeralds is scheduled for November in Lusaka, featuring predominantly lower-quality emerald and beryl from the Kagem mine.

Gemfields has been involved in discussions with the Zambian government of late over the sale of the country’s gemstones, with the latter saying that it wants futures sales to occur within the country.

While no law officially was passed to prohibit the export of emeralds for auction purposes, the government asked Gemfields to host an auction of higher-grade emeralds in Zambia as part of a “consultative process.” This led the company to move its summer auction of higher-grade rough emeralds from Singapore to Lusaka. Held July 15 to 19, the auction totaled $31.5 million and sold 100 percent by lot.

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