Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2019, Vol. 55, No. 1

Greenland Ruby Update

Greenland Ruby update

Greenland Ruby has been mining ruby and pink sapphire in southwestern Greenland since mid-2017. The mine is located near the town of Aappaluttoq, about 150 km (93 mi) from the country’s capital, Nuuk. During the AGTA show, we had the opportunity to talk to Hayley Henning, Greenland Ruby’s vice president of sales and marketing. She offered updates on the development of the mine and the market for their gemstones. Over the last year, the company has refined their extraction techniques. The deposit is challenging to work, and the miners improve their skills and knowledge by mining daily. The main difficulty in working this deposit is its isolated location. The remote area, though close to the coast, is covered in ice and snow most the year. And for most of the year, the only way to reach the mine is by helicopter.

Local residents make up the majority of Greenland Ruby’s staff. Around 40 people work and live on-site. The mine is highly mechanized, and heavy equipment and blasting are used to retrieve gems. The on-site sorting house is also very sophisticated. Because of this high degree of mechanization, most of the staff operates the equipment, whereas other colored stone mines often rely heavily on manual labor. Once material is mined and sorted at the plant where ruby is separated from host rock, the ruby concentrate is sent to Nuuk to be cleaned with hydrofluoric acid and sorted by color, clarity, and size. Most of the goods require treatment, which takes place in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Cutting is done in Chanthaburi and India, and then the material is sorted in Bangkok, based on the characteristics of the finished rubies. In order to apply the highest safety, environmental, human rights, and security standards at the mine and the treatment and cutting plants, Greenland Ruby works within this closed system. They feel this is the only way to guarantee the quality and disclosure of the product, and it is their main argument for not selling rough.

Greenland Ruby is experimenting with various cutting styles but sees the greatest potential in cabochons. They can produce a consistent supply of large, fine-colored cabochons. Faceted goods are much rarer. The quality of their gems varies, though most of the goods are lower-end. The material ranges in color from light pink to deep red.

In December 2018, the first collection with Greenlandic rubies was launched by Hartmann’s Jewellery, a luxury brand based in Copenhagen. This strategic decision arose from the longstanding connection between Denmark and Greenland. The collection sold out in a matter of weeks. Hartmann’s clientele was drawn to the combination of the traditional ruby with an exciting new source that speaks to the imagination. Another aspect that appeals to consumers is the transparent supply chain. Greenlandic rubies are controlled by one company from the moment they leave the ground until the gemstones are finished. This ensures a level of traceability that is rarely seen in the colored stone industry.

Greenland Ruby works with preferred partners rather than selling goods directly to the public. These partners are jewelry brands that want access to a reliable supplier operating with a transparent supply chain, something many clients currently demand.

The Pink Polar Bear Foundation is Greenland Ruby’s corporate social responsibility project, which is involved in various research in the Arctic region covering the impact of climate change on local communities and wildlife. The foundation is currently educating locals and supporting the local community.

The mine currently has a projected life of 10 years. At least two other ruby deposits have been identified and studied, though many more can be found in southwestern Greenland.

Wim Vertriest is supervisor of field gemology at GIA in Bangkok.