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Zambian emeralds leads international auction house

The largest collection of Zambian emeralds ever to be offered at auction will go on sale this month, with part of the proceeds contributing to the Gemfields Foundation that supports community and conservation projects in Africa.

The Treasures of Zambia: An Exceptional Emerald Collection comprises over 45 lots; including 993 carats of breath-taking fine Zambian emeralds being offered by renowned international auction house Phillips and promoted by Gemfields, which owns the Kagem emerald mine in partnership with the Zambian government’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

Phillips is renowned as a dynamic and forward-thinking auction house. It features some of the world’s most important twentieth-century and contemporary works of art, design jewels, watches, photographs and editions. The auction house is set to exhibit Treasures of Zambia: An Exceptional Emerald Collection, with bidding open from 23 November until 2 December 2021, and part of the proceeds pledged to benefit Zambian projects undertaken by the Gemfields Foundation.

Rare appearances

Zambian emeralds make rare appearances at auction. They were discovered more recently than their Colombian counterparts but are far older in formation. The majority of the fine gemstones we see today remained unearthed until the 1970’s. It is perhaps for this reason that Colombian emeralds have commanded a premium, for it certainly cannot be said that Zambian emeralds are inferior in quality.

The collector of the Zambian emeralds offered to auction by Phillips shares his perspective on the collection: “A close friend from Europe, a collector himself, once asked me how I ended up with such a large collection of Zambian emeralds, when most collectors would seek to buy Colombian emeralds? My response was that it was only a matter of time before the value of top-quality Zambian emeralds would come to be appreciated, and indeed we have seen that happening and accelerating in the recent years.

“To certain collectors and gem connoisseurs, top quality Zambian emeralds are now considered to be held in equal esteem to those of Colombian origin. History has also shown and taught us that evolution is a natural and progressive process. For instance, the most historical and invariably the most sought-after sapphires were from Kashmir. However, that changed over the years and collecting broadened to Burma (now Myanmar) and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The same can be said for natural Burmese rubies, which are rare to find these days, but over the last several years, the focus has turned to fine gem-quality sources from Madagascar, Mozambique and Thailand.

“On a personal level, I draw my collecting to my penchant for cigars and fine wines. My preferences have expanded over time and I have grown to appreciate diverse choices as they have emerged and evolved. This is how I see the curation of my collecting life.”

The collector refers to the process of gathering this exceptional collection as “an unforgettable part” of his life, and these Zambian treasures will leave behind a legacy, as the collector has pledged that part of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will benefit the Gemfields Foundation – the charitable arm of Gemfields that supports community and conservation projects in Africa. Phillips has generously pledged to match this sum, enabling an even greater positive impact.

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