Gemfields postpones emerald auction over India's ‘demonetization’

Precious stones miner Gemfields (LON:GEM), the world's biggest coloured gems producer, has pushed an auction of emeralds from its Kagem mine in Zambia to next year as the bulk of its customers are from India, which is in the throes of what the company calls a "demonetization" drive.

Move comes as most of Gemfields customers are from India, which is in the throes of what the company calls a "demonetization" drive.

While such sale has been moved to February, Gemfields said an auction of mixed quality rubies, from the Montepuez deposit in Mozambique, would proceed as planned later this month.

Last month, India’s government withdrew two ubiquitous currency notes — 500 and 1,000 rupees (about $7.50, $15) — turning 86% of the cash in the country to paper in a measure aimed to crack down on "black money" or illegal cash holdings.

"The new demonetisation programme will require an adjustment period to allow industries and stakeholders to adapt to the new policies,” chief executive officer Ian Harebottle said in the statement.

Until last year, Gemfields was synonymous with emeralds. But the world's biggest producer of the green gemstone has done quite well with rubies ever since. A cache of exceptional-quality red stones from its Montepuez mine in Mozambique have made their way onto jewels by the likes of Fabergé, Georg Jensen and Miiori – modelled by brand ambassador actress Mila Kunis.

The miner has said it expects trading in rubies to account for a "sizeable chunk" of its revenue over the next five to 10 years.