Colombian Emerald Industry: Winds of Change


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Independent miners at the Rio Itoco in the Muzo Valley. This husband and wife mining team work the tailings MTC (Mineria Texas Colombia) dump by the river for local independent miners to go through. They are examining a significant rough emerald they have found. Photo by Andy Lucas/GIA

Andy Lucas, GIA’s education manager of field gemmology, researches and documents the mine to market journey of gemstones. Lucas shares the changes he observed in Colombia’s major emerald mining and cutting areas in a presentation he gave at the 2017 JCK Las Vegas show. 

Lucas interviewed local participants in the emerald trade to see what is causing the changes in Colombia’s emerald business. He learnt that there is a generational shift in approaches to mining and that the government is working to standardise the industry. The main effort is focused on combining traditional and modern mining methods to advance Colombian emeralds in the global market. 

In the video, Lucas discusses the five pillars of the Colombian government’s mining plan, introduced in October 2015 during the Emerald Symposium in Bogotá. The plan is meant to formalise, regulate and provide help for geological studies and infrastructure. The goal is to create a balance for the country’s indigenous people and the publicly traded companies. 

Colombian Emerald Industry

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Before joining GIA, Lucas founded and operated an international wholesale and private client retail gemstone jewellery and antiquity business. He began his GIA career as an instructor, and later developed educational products before becoming education manager of field gemmology. He has published articles, created documentaries and presented lectures at countless international seminars.