A 5,655-carat emerald described as having “remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue” was discovered in Zambia in early October. Since its discovery, it has been tagged with nanoparticles which are encoded with the mine-of-origin to allow identification of the gemstone's origin.
The gem was unearthed at the Kagem mine, the world’s largest emerald mine, which is 75% owned by Gemfields Group, a London-based supplier of responsibly sourced colored gemstones, with the remaining stake in the mine owned by the Government of the Republic of Zambia. Gemfields specializes in the mining, processing, marketing and sale of colored gemstones, in particular emeralds and rubies.
The emerald was discovered in the eastern part of Kagem’s largest open-pit mine on October 2 by geologist Debapriya Rakshit and veteran emerald miner Richard Kapeta, Gemfields said in a statement, adding that “this area of the mine has proven to be particularly fertile in recent months with the Kagem team recovering several significant crystals there, but none with the combined size, color and clarity” of this emerald.
In a rare honor, Gemfields chose to name the gem. In this case, “Inkalamu,” which means “lion” in the Zambian Bemba language. The company says the name is in honor of the work carried out by two of Gemfields’ conservation partners, the Zambian Carnivore Program and the Niassa Carnivore Project in Mozambique. Gemfields has three-year philanthropic sponsorships with each organization in order to aid them in wildlife conservation, promote community development and stem the problem of poaching by developing alternative livelihoods. The company further said it will donate 10% of the sale proceeds of the emerald to the two organizations.
“These partners work tirelessly to smooth the relationship between Africa’s carnivores and local communities across vast, remote and challenging areas,” the company said.
The Inkalamu emerald will be offered for sale at Gemfields next auction in Singapore in November 2018 to approximately 45 approved auction partners, chosen by the company for their shared values in responsible practices. Gemfields says that “in contrast to the diamond industry, the price for exceptionally large emeralds like the Inkalamu is particularly difficult to predict.”
Once sold, Gemfields London-based gemologist, Elena Basaglia, says “it’s difficult to estimate how many individual gems will be cut from Inkalamu, but the cutting expertise of Gemfields’ auction partners will mean that this gemstone will make its mark in the history books of exceptional gemstones.”
However, Adrian Banks, Gemfields’ managing director for Product and Sales, says he expects “a number of large, fine-quality cut emeralds” to be produced from the Inkalamu emerald. “There might be hundreds of ‘offcuts’ that are fashioned into smaller gems, cabochons and beads, but the key lies in recovering the fine quality pieces. Given this emerald is such a rare find, it is also perfectly conceivable that the buyer will choose to purchase it as an investment.”
The emeralds found in the Kagem mine were formed more than 450 million years ago when a rare combination of in-situ minerals and surging magma from deep within the Earth’s crust encountered one another and supported just the right conditions for emerald crystal growth. Gemfields said the Lion emerald will benefit from the Gübelin Gem Lab’s "Provenance Proof" nanotechnology, whereby nano-sized particles encoded with the mine-of-origin will allow identification of the gemstone's origin.