By Michelle Graff
Lusaka, Zambia--Gemfields’ recent auction of predominantly higher quality rough emerald and beryl in Lusaka realized $36.5 million, a company record for any auction.

Held Feb. 21 to 25, the auction sold 86 percent by value, and 620,000 carats of the 840,000 carats available were purchased, a 74 percent sale by volume. 

The company also notes that market conditions for higher quality rough stones remains robust, allowing for solid increases in price. The overall average value at this auction was $59.31 per carat, a 10 percent increase on the previous Kagem record.

This auction was the third featuring gems mined at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia held during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. 

The first, held last July and featuring higher quality rough, realized $31.5 million and sold 100 percent by lot. The second was held in November and featured predominantly lower quality rough, reaching $16.4 million in total sales.

Including a direct sale of the two lowest grades of beryl, total revenues in the financial year-to-date from rough emerald and beryl sales are at $96.4 million, a record revenue year for Gemfields. 

There are two more auctions scheduled to take place before the year is over, including the inaugural auction for rough rubies and corundum from the Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique.

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“Our commitment to our vision for precious colored gemstones, our operational investments, the acquisition of Fabergé and our ever expanding international marketing endeavors are clearly furthering the momentum we have built during the last five years,” said CEO Ian Harebottle. "Zambia’s role in the global emerald market has never been more important, with Zambian emeralds now favored by many as the emerald of choice.”

Additionally, Kagem Mining Limited has invested $1 million as part of a two-year social investment program to help the communities in which it operates. Initiatives include the funding and construction of a four-ward building at the Nkana Clinic and adding three nurses’ accommodation blocks, turning the facility into a “mini-hospital,” according to Gemfields.

Money will also go to the construction of a new higher secondary school at Chapula and to provide sports equipment to the existing primary school there. 

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