By Brecken Branstrator
London—Gemfields reported that its latest emerald auction netted nearly $19 million in revenue, showing recovery for the Indian market while the company struggles with a Zambian export tax.

The auction was held from Aug. 19 to 22 in Lusaka, Zambia, putting 10.68 million carats of commercial quality emerald and beryl on offer.

Total auction revenue reached $18.6 million, compared with $10.8 million at the February commercial quality emerald auction, but with more than double the carats up for offer. Thirty-four companies placed bids this time around, compared with 24 before.

Of the 35 lots offered, 26 were sold, representing 74 percent of the total. This is compared with 70 percent in February.

Meanwhile, only 37 percent of carats offered were sold, which Gemfields said was due in large part to a single lot of beryl comprised of 5 million carats that went unsold. No such lot was offered in the company’s other commercial quality emerald auctions.

The average price-per-carat achieved was $4.75.

Gemfields said this auction, as well as that of higher quality emeralds in May in Singapore, showed a slight recovery for the emerald sector.

It noted that the Indian market, particularly important to the commercial emerald sector, “appears to have turned the corner” after suffering from the financial fallout of the Nirav Modi bank fraud scandal.

Still, the company held auction lots that it thought could command higher prices than what the market currently is offering.

“Kagem’s biggest impediment remains the 15 percent Zambian export duty imposed on emeralds since January 1, 2019,” said Adrian Banks, Gemfields’ managing director of product and sales. “When combined with the pre-existing 6 percent mineral royalty tax, Zambian emerald exporters must now pay an effective 21 percent turnover tax on their revenues.

“The financial impact is being acutely felt by incumbent producers like Kagem, severely inhibiting money available for capital investment in growth and handing the tactical advantage to other emerald producing countries like Brazil and Colombia, neither of which have any export duty on emeralds.”

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