Gemfields finds largest emerald ever at Zambia mine

The 7,525-carat emerald named Chipembele, which means “rhino” in the local dialect of Bemba. (Image courtesy of Gemfields.)

Africa-focused Gemfields (LON: GEM) (JSE: GML) has found the largest emerald ever mined at its Kagem mine in Zambia — a 7,525-carat (1,505g) gemstone named Chipembele, which means “rhino” in the local dialect of Bemba.

While no official record exists, it is extremely unusual to encounter a gemstone weighing more than 1,000 carats and only a couple of dozen unique enough to deserve their own name.

The last time a comparable emerald was found was in 2018, when Gemfields unearthed the 5,655-carat Inkalamu, meaning “lion”.  Prior to that, the company had dug up a 6,225-carat emerald in 2010, which was named Insofu – Bemba for “elephant”.

The company said the three gemstones were formed within relatively close proximity at the Kagem mine, which is the world’s single largest producing emerald mine – owned by Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government’s Industrial Development Corporation.

Chipembele was discovered in July by geologists Manas Banerjee and Richard Kapeta, who exclaimed “look at this rhino horn!” when they first saw the emerald, Gemstone said.

The gemstone is due to be sold at the company’s next emerald auction, with viewing expected to begin in the next few days.

The company’s last sales event, in August, generated $23.1 million in revenue – an all-time record for commercial-quality emerald sold at auctions. 

Eyes on Asia

Gemfields, which has operations in both Mozambique and Zambia, has stepped up efforts to market its emeralds and rubies in China after a report highlighted the “huge potential” for ethically sourced gems in that market. 

Top diamond miners are already stepping up efforts in that direction. The Natural Diamond Council (NDC), which groups the world’s seven leading producers, launched in May its first advertising campaign targeting the Asian and US markets. 

NDC also inked a deal with China’s top jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook to boost demand for mined rocks.