By Brecken Branstrator
Nine of the 17 lots in Gemfields’ most recent emerald auction in Lusaka, Zambia, featured stones with the new “Provenance Proof” nanoparticle technology. A part of the Provenance Proof process is pictured here.
London--Only about half the carats on offer sold at Gemfields’ latest emerald auction, with the colored gemstone miner pointing to the recent Nirav Modi bank fraud scandal as the culprit.

Gemfields held its auction of higher-quality rough emeralds from the Kagem mine in Lusaka, Zambia, from May 15 to 18.

It put 310,000 carats up on the block, its smallest quantity of higher-quality emeralds at any auction to date, and only 56 percent sold.

In a company release announcing the results, Sean Gilbertson, CEO of Pallinghurst and Gemfields, attributed the results to the effect the Nirav Modi bank fraud scandal has had on auction participants.

Gilbertson said many of Gemfields’ emerald customers are from India, where the gemstone and jewelry sector is suffering: “Given the ensuing losses sustained by Indian banks, access to finance has become challenging for many companies in the Indian gem and jewelry industry.

“With reduced funding available, our clients had to be much more selective about the auction lots they wished to secure. Given our confidence in the value and high quality of the gems we offered, we naturally held back auction lots that did not meet our reserve prices in order to aid market stability during the present period of turbulence.”

Gilbertson added that given the auction’s average per-carat price of $59.55, there still appears to be “good underlying demand” in the market despite the current jewelry market trends.
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Overall, Gemfields’ May sale generated revenue of $10.3 million.

The colored gemstone miner said Indian gem firm H.C. Tank won a lot comprised of three gems weighing a total of 37.5 carats and set an all-time price-per-carat record for a single lot at a Gemfields emerald auction.

The sale also marked the first time Gemfields put up for auction emeralds tagged with the new “Provenance Proof” nanoparticle technology, launched in partnership with Gübelin Gem Lab at Baselworld 2017.

Nine of the 17 lots featured the technology in which nanoparticles tag the emeralds as having been mined at Kagem, allowing for identification of origin and traceability.

Five of the nine lots featuring Provenance Proof were sold at the auction.

When asked about the effects of the technology on rough gemstone prices, a Gemfields spokesperson said a little more than 600 rough gems containing the “Provenance Proof” nanotechnology have now entered the market, adding that the company “look(s) forward immensely to watching the price developments as they make their way into the supply chain.”

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