Video Feature:
Emerald Sources of Brazil

Andy Lucas
October 31, 2013

Emerald Sources of Brazil Sergio Martins, Stone World

In these videos, Sergio Martins, president of the Brazilian gemstone cutting and marketing firm Stone World, gives an overview of Brazil’s most important emerald deposits, as well as the country’s mining practices and laws.
Brazil is a major supplier of emeralds for the global market. There are a few important mining areas, and the emeralds produced at each location can have different characteristics. Overall, the supply of Brazilian emeralds remains relatively stable, despite fluctuations at individual mining locations.

Mining Areas

The mines in the state of Bahia were among Brazil’s first emerald-producing locations, dating back to the 1960s. They continue to supply large quantities of emerald to the global market. In Bahia, there is a large production of carving, cabochon, bead, and commercial-quality facet-grade material.

In the state of Goiás, the area near the town of Santa Terezinha de Goiás has yielded large quantities of emerald, primarily in smaller crystal sizes.

The mining areas near Itabira and Nova Era in the state of Minas Gerais generate the most consistent and highest-quality supply of Brazilian emeralds. Itabira is the more stable producer, while Nova Era is known for very large emerald crystals. Montebello is one of the largest and most sophisticated mines in Nova Era. Belmont is a modern operation and an important global supplier on a steady basis. The Belmont mine often cuts its own better-quality emeralds, moving it up the value chain into cut goods. Between Belmont and Nova Era mines lies a newer mine, Piteiras. Though currently closed, it could be reopened and become an important source.

In addition to the established emerald mining areas, new production has started in the state of Rio Grande do Norte under the colored stone mine-to-market legend Lorenzo Yih.

Mining Methods

Brazilian emeralds are extracted by mechanized mines such as Belmont, which use the most sophisticated techniques, and by cooperatives of independent miners, financed by investors. These independent miners, known as garimpeiros, use unsophisticated methods to recover gemstones or other minerals such as gold. They perform hard manual labor in search of the treasure that will change their lives.

An Emerald's Journey From Mine to Market

At large, sophisticated mining operations, emerald's long journey from mine to market might begin with geological surveys and core samples of the ore.
View Gallery

This slideshow takes you on a journey from Brazilian mines, such as Belmont and Piteiras, to the worldwide consumer marketplace.

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