We have made some recent discoveries that have changed the way we think about the coloured gemstone landscape. These most recent deposits of exquisite quality Tourmaline and Sapphire were found in and around Nigeria and we are also prospecting for other significant coloured gemstone deposits along the West of Africa.
Africa has, over the past few decades, risen to prominence in the coloured gemstone market. Africa was always known to yield amazing quality diamonds but it wasn’t until more recently that it began to rival the prestigious coloured Gemstone locations like Brazil as a premiere source for the finest coloured gemstones.
With the fine Emeralds and Amethyst of Zambia, the Rubies and Paraiba of Mozambique, Sapphire, Garnets and Apatite of Madagascar, the Tsavorite of Kenya, Tanazanite of Tanzania and vibrant Opals of Ethiopia; the East of this continent has seen significant investment and development from the Gemstone sector. All of these gemstone locations listed sit on the Neo-Proterozoic Mozambique belt which has proven a phenomenally geological and gemmological gem rich area.
There are benefits to big business taking interest in these locations like improving the infrastructure of the region, working alongside the local governments to help make the process easier and develop and invest in the extraction of the rough and increase productivity. This has been the case with Tanzanite one in Merelani with the Tanzanite mine. This particular mine is now at a depth of over 700m with a complex system for extracting the deepest pockets. Gemfields notable investment in Zambia and Mozambique has seen huge forward steps in gem sorting on site as well as turning these mining locations into world class modern mining initiatives. However with this level of control that these companies brings means that the price of the rough is also more tightly controlled at the source. Huge marketing campaigns cost a lot of money and these companies need to create a huge market for their increased production and this also has a dramatic effect on the price of these rare and unique gemstones. It also makes it harder for gem buyers to go direct to the mines as these huge corporations prefer to auction their parcels off to the highest bidder.
Over the last 18 months to 2 years we had seen exceptional high grade coloured gemstones making their way to market in very small quantities attributed to some of the lesser known African countries and we were intrigued.
Our understanding of the Earths historical geology has hinted at the prospect of a major undiscovered gemstone deposit in the West of Africa. Millions of years ago (the time when a lot of gemstones were forming) the Earth was a super continent known as Pangea. A huge change took place which caused Pangea to break up, much like a jigsaw, into fragments which lead to the continents and countries we are accustomed to today.
The most historically significant gemstone deposits on earth lie in the East of Brazil; the likes of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espirito Do Santos and Paraiba, to name just a few have, for centuries, produced some of the finest coloured gemstone discoveries known to the market. Brazil has effectively built and shaped the modern coloured gemstone market as we know it and due to the demand it has created it is now starting to deplete and prospectors were forced to look elsewhere.
The East of Africa has managed to provide the market with an alternative supply of fine coloured gemstones but on the other side of this giant, diverse, majestic and sprawling continent lies a hidden secret that has manged to go undetected for millennia.
The West is now starting to gain the attention that it deserves and Mother Nature seems ready to share her biggest secret with the world. The rational conclusion for this would be that when Brazil broke away from Pangea it split its treasure with its partner. The East of Brazil and the West of Africa, together, produced possibly the richest gemstone seam the world has ever seen and the notion that we have only seen the half of it has sent the market into a spin.
Nigeria, at present, seems to be the jewel in the west’s crown, a country that over the last few years has revealed high grade Sapphire, Ruby, Aquamarine, Emerald, Tourmaline, Topaz, Garnet, Amethyst and Zircon. There have also been whispers that a copper bearing Tourmaline pocket has also emerged which could be significant knowing that Paraiba was the state that would have been fused with Nigeria before the split.
We have started to build strong relationships in Nigeria and, to date, have been blown away by the parcels we have sourced including Sapphire, Rubelite and Tourmaline; Unfortunatly these parcels have been very small due to the fact that in the West it is still predominantly Artisinal miners. This is like a window into the history of the East of Africa, essentially like obtaining naturally unheated Tanzanite from the surface of the Merelani ground in 1967 before the attention and investment of the big corporations.
Due to our position in the market we strongly believe that very soon the gemstone world will descend on Nigeria with its ever growing and insatiable coloured gemstone apatite and we predict it will be the premiere source for gemstones in the world over the next few decades.