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Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond

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by Raul Sapora

From a scientific perspective, a synthetic diamond has the same chemical composition, the same crystal structure, the same optical and physical properties of a natural diamond. As synthetic diamonds are conceptually identical to natural diamonds, they need to be analyzed and spotted by a gemological laboratory. Synthetic diamond screening is nowadays a major concern of the Jewelry Industry.

Unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned, Ada Diamonds[i], a synthetic diamond distributor, after discovering a few natural diamonds mixed in a synthetic diamonds melee lot, has implemented enhanced screening procedures to further inspect all parcels of melee diamonds to ensure that all diamonds sold are in fact synthetic, not mined and therefore not illicit mined diamonds. Despite it is based on the same principle (synthetic vs natural diamond screening), a whole new and extremely dangerous variable has been imported into the Diamond Trade: protecting synthetic from natural. I believe most of you who read this will smile at this – I did too at a first glance – but it is also easy to realize that a new powerful weapon has been forged and consigned to marketing experts, and if the synthetic diamond industry will have consumers perceive that synthetic diamonds are a better alternative, people will buy them.

The situation is becoming more and more complex. Retailers are in a constant state of great distress: they are uncertain whether they should sell synthetic diamonds or not. On the other end, mining companies are addressing the problem with considerable delay and most probably caught inside the conceptual circle of the same marketing campaign which had decreed their triumph in the past. When Martin Rapaport in his world renowned educated reprimand[ii] to Leonardo di Caprio says that ‘false claims and misleading marketing surrounding the sale of synthetics is having an impact’, I am afraid he forgets to say that diamond itself owes its success to the unrivalled advertising slogan created by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1948 ‘a Diamond is Forever’, and that claim is disingenuous anyway. De Beers was successful in making diamonds appear rarer than they are, by aggressively restricting the supply of diamonds on the market, and moreover nothing is going to be forever, not even diamonds.

I am a gemologist and Responsible Sourcing Auditor, and those who know me quite well are prepared to hear me pronounce the sentence: “The ethical nature of a gemstone has today as much to do with its social context and its environmental provenance as it has with its optical and chemical properties.” In fact, in my opinion, gemology without Responsible Sourcing is merely a scientific understanding of gemstones, and the world needs much more than this. Gemology, as a matter of fact, is evolving through ethics. Therefore, as a gemologist I have to protect truth, even if truth sometimes can be multifaceted.

Diamond Foundry, a Synthetic Diamond producer who raised a capital of over $100 million from 12 billionaires[iii], including Twitter founder Evan Williams and actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, was launched in late 2015, after two years of research and development.” A diamond is a diamond,” says Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry’s founder. “Scientifically it is a tetrahedral carbon allotrope, and it is the same thing whether mined or man-made.”

“Proud to invest in Diamond Foundry, a Company reducing human & environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds,” Leonardo di Caprio tweeted.

Apparently, the arguments embraced by synthetic (or lab grown as they like to say) diamonds manufacturers are mainly ethical: to some consumers they seem to be conflict free and socially responsible. That is because synthetic diamond marketers are touting their product to be “conflict-free”, which misleadingly associates all real diamonds with conflict diamonds.

Accusations of exploitation and inhumane working conditions in mines cast a dark shadow over the diamond industry. Mining is also said to be devastating to the environment, due to the amount of energy it requires, the potential for chemical leaks, and the harmful effects that removing large amounts of earth has on local ecosystems[iv]. Some of those arguments are highly deceptive: the world of diamonds, gemstones and jewellery is changing. The legislative landscape, consumer awareness of the problems in the jewellery supply chain and broader civil society groups demanding transparency and disclosure have impacted dramatically on this scenario: nowadays, thanks to Kimberley Process, Responsible Jewelry Council and other initiatives, just a very small fraction of diamonds production is being used to finance wars. Also, it is extremely important to understand that the diamond industry employs an estimated 10 million people around the world directly and indirectly, and also has become the almost entire economy of some specific, otherwise isolated locations, like Botswana and Northern Canada[v]. Another commonly repeated misconception is that diamond mining harms local ecosystems and wildlife. However, diamond mining is perhaps one of the least environmentally destructive forms of mining there is today. Diamond mining uses very few, if any, chemicals, and diamond mines leave a small footprint on local environments compared to other forms of mineral extraction. Most people are unaware of the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people in the countries around the world where diamonds are sourced. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.

A few facts:

·        An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.

·        Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.

·        An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

·        The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings.

·        Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.

·        The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

·        An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.

It is quite evident that synthetic diamonds pose a firm and serious threat to this huge network, while so much has been done and is being done to eradicate unethical implications from the complex jewelry world. As I said already, reactions have been slightly late and perhaps, at least in the early stage, not commensurate to the actual danger.

After almost one century and a half after diamond discovery in South Africa – happened in 1867, when fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs found the Eureka diamond on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Orange River – and after the end of the De Beers monopoly, seven of the world’s leading diamond companies (De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds, Gem Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto Diamonds), founded in May 2015, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA): its mission is ‘to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the diamond industry[vi].

DPA launched an advertising campaign called “Real is Rare,” that adopts a new verbiage on diamond marketing, in which the abracadabra claim “A Diamond is Forever” has been replaced by a narrative that is totally different from the past. The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced at the JCK, Las Vegas a few days ago that their 2017 marketing budget will total US$ 57 million. DPA’s Chairman Stephen Lussier commented: “The Board’s decision is a major turning point for the Diamond Producers Association and the diamond industry. All Board Members are aligned behind the goals and plans of the DPA, which is now fully equipped to fulfil its mission of communicating to next generation consumers about the timeless beauty and emotional value of diamonds. We look forward to working closely with the diamond and jewellery trade and with other industry organisations to build a stronger future for our sector” [vii].

The words pronounced from Lussier sound so far away from the place and time in which De Beers was the guardian of the trade and could steadily increase the price of diamonds, thus ensuring that diamonds were a good investment over time.

Is such a potentially huge advertising campaign enough to react to synthetic diamonds? In my opinion the necessary game changer in this dangerous situation are ethics and Responsible Sourcing practices. The only way is ethics, quoting Stacey Hailes’s speech at Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is of paramount importance for consumers to consider what the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, the Responsible Jewelry Council, the Signet Responsible Sourcing Program are among others doing. Although we are all working towards the full enforcement of these practices, they already had a significant impact on illicit trade in rough diamonds.

___________________________________________________________________

[i] As reported in ‘Is This Lab-Grown Diamond Company Trolling the Trade?’ by Rob Bates, on JCKonline (June 1, 2017)

[ii] Rapaport, ‘Synthetic Diamond Scam’ April 2016

[iii] ‘Why Leonardo DiCaprio is backing man-made diamonds’ by Sophie Morlin-Yron, CNN money ( August 30, 2016)

[iv] ‘A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever’, by Chavie Lieber (June 14, 2016)

[v] ‘The History of Lab Grown Diamonds: Value Proposition’, by Ehud Arye Laniado (June 14, 2017)

[vi] Diamond Producers Association mission statement (www.diamondproducers.com)

[vii] DPA ups its Marketing Budget for 2017 – Allocates US$ 57 Million for the Purpose, TJM (June 6, 2017)

 

Richland Postpone First Sapphire Sale

  
Author: Danielle Max

Source: IDEXONLINE
(IDEX Online News) – Gemstone miner Richland Resources has announced that it is postponing its first sale of goods from the Capricorn Sapphire project in Australia until the end of the third quarter. The move comes after consultations with its key Sightholders following lower than-expected production.

 According to the company, production in first weeks of the initial start-up and production commissioning phase of the Capricorn project has been lower than projected due to an electrical problem that prevented consistent levels of processing. The issue has now been fixed.  

Instead of a sale, the company is holding a product display and education session at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, which opens today. The session will be used to introduce the first Capricorn Sapphire sapphires to potential Sightholders and trade buyers, and discuss downstream branding.

 “We have taken the decision not to make the event a formal Sight as the quantity of gemstones is not sufficient for the type of marketing profile we wish to build with customers,” said CEO Bernard Olivier.

 “Whilst it is disappointing, start-up issues like this forms part of a rapid mine redevelopment process as we continue our start-up and ramp-up phase. However I believe the best way to solve these issues are to identify and rectify them while in operation.”

Diamond Cutters Approaching Era of Disruption

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Source: Rapaport
Author: Ronen Schnidman

RAPAPORT… Diamond manufacturers are entering an era of fierce competition as the looming decline in rough diamond supply is expected to place additional pressure on their already razor-thin profit margins.

“A manufacturer always operates with a benchmark margin, which is the minimum he needs to make a reasonable return on equity,” explains Vishal Doshi, the executive director of the manufacturer Shrenuj & Co. “In spite of all the efficiencies, we have reached the border between the business being either sustainable or unsustainable.”

Some manufacturers are already adapting their business models to cope with this problem, in ways that industry observers believe will alter how the entire diamond pipeline operates in the coming years.

Differentiate or Disappear

However, Dinesh Navadiya, the president of the Surat Diamond Association (SDA), notes that manufacturers have limited options to cut costs and improve margins. While they tend to expand their labor force when rough supplies grow, cutters avoid retrenchments when the profits run dry, he explains.

“Employers never lay off workers,” Navadiya says. “There is a scarcity of artisans in the industry so the question of layoffs does not arise.”

Even during the 2008 financial crisis, factory owners in Surat tried to avoid layoffs, preferring to retain their workers by instituting temporary salary cuts.

Navadiya further dismisses the likelihood that factory owners will increase profits by absorbing smaller or weaker companies to reduce competition. He states that no notable consolidations have occurred in Surat in recent years and that he does not expect significant consolidation to occur in the future.

Consequently, the only way that manufacturers will be able to contend with tightening profit margins is through product differentiation and factory closures, concludes Mike Aggett, the managing director of H. Goldie & Company, a De Beers accredited broker.

Aggett notes that the diamond manufacturing sector is undergoing some consolidation, but this is occurring at a slow pace and largely through companies exiting the industry. He attributes this to the fact that the industry is predominantly made up of family-run businesses that find consolidation more difficult than would purely corporate entities.

“Certainly in India a number of smaller operations have disappeared,” he says. “It will be a slow, ongoing process but the less sustainable businesses will disappear.”

Aggett stresses that manufacturers who wish to remain in the industry will have to focus their efforts on design and branding as a means to improve their profit margins. Consumers are becoming increasingly price conscious, and the only way to make price secondary in their buying decisions is by presenting them with a differentiated product, he explains.

Emanuel Namdar, the general manager of S.N. Asia, a diamond manufacturer, agrees with Aggett and adds that branding is essential because the jewelry marketplace is already crowded and intensely competitive even in emerging markets.

“When you head out to the Far East and pass the jewelry displays on the street, you can see that every consumer interested in buying a diamond ring has hundreds to choose from within a 10-minute walk,” Namdar says. “You must add value through branding. Otherwise, the competition at the consumer level is too fierce.”

Doshi notes that many diamond manufacturers are integrating downstream to achieve that added value and differentiate their product and services.

“The more you can sell diamonds in jewelry, the more your gross margins will go up,” he explained in an interview with Rapaport News earlier this year. “But not everyone can execute it because it’s a different business with a different mindset and a different business model.”

Declining Rough Supply

Most manufacturers who spoke with Rapaport News agreed that manufacturing rough into polished alone is not sufficient to cope with high rough prices and the further forecasted increases.

According to industry consultants at Bain & Company, diamond prices are expected to rise in the long term as supply is forecast to decline from 2018 onward, while demand continues to grow.

De Beers expects that global rough diamond supply will peak at slightly over 160 million carats in 2018 but will plummet to 120 million carats around 2025. This constitutes a 25 percent drop from peak production in less than a decade. De Beers estimates that approximately 146 million carats were recovered in 2013.

De Beers attributes this drop in production to a lack of new mining projects expected to come on stream after 2025 that have potential production volume large enough to impact the overall market. Even if new, large mines are discovered, De Beers noted in its recently published Diamond Insight Report that these would not be developed fast enough to prevent the contraction in supply. The company estimates that the latest generation of large diamond mines have taken on average 22 years to reach production from their initial discovery.

Rough Financing Impacting Pipeline

Bain expects that the demand-supply gap will further squeeze manufacturers’ profit margins at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain financing for the working capital needed to reap efficiency gains.

Des Kilalea, a diamond mining analyst for RBC Capital Markets, suggests that it is this lack of financing for rough purchases that will be the final nail in the coffin for smaller, family-owned manufacturing operations.

Kilalea cautions that the entire diamond pipeline has entered an unhealthy situation whereby manufacturers are financing the profitability of the miners and retailers with their bank credit. He predicts that the diamond pipeline will address the problem by evolving toward simpler supply lines with fewer, larger players.

“The longer-term issue is that the miners are not really going to be able to dictate any price to the market because the banks aren’t going to continue financing it,” he says. “Manufacturers will [then] become more reticent to pay high rough prices [in cash] and they will stop extending such crazy credit terms to their own buyers. Why should the guy in the middle be the bankers for the guys on the ends?”

Kilalea expects that the larger manufacturers will address the finance issue by increasingly raising funding from the stock and bond markets to finance their working capital.

Moreover, Kilalea forecasts that as banks reduce their credit lines for rough purchases, the mining and retail segments will be forced to ensure that their profits are not affected if manufacturers go bankrupt.

“The big retailers with financial muscle want to secure the rough and ensure that there are no financial interruptions,” Kilalea says. He explains that retailers are worried that their diamond suppliers may go bankrupt and leave them in the lurch without merchandise. Moreover, the retailers have an easier time of financing their working capital, often paying lower interest rates than their own suppliers.

As a result, Kilalea expects that more large-scale retailers will pursue arrangements similar to those of Tiffany & Co. The New York-based retailer has its own polishing division that procures rough through sight contracts with De Beers and ALROSA and also holds off-take agreements with junior miners Kimberley Diamonds and DiamondCorp to fulfill some of its specific rough requirements.

Bain said in its 2013 industry report that the trend of retailers integrating upstream along the diamond value chain is likely to continue, creating additional pressure on manufacturers as retailers compete for rough with their own polished suppliers.

Survival Not Guaranteed

The consulting company therefore expects further consolidation and integration in the middle of the diamond pipeline as manufacturers seek to maximize their profit margins through efficiencies of scale and scope.

Some manufacturers already predict that there will be consolidation in the cutting and polishing industry even if polished prices rise in the coming decade.

Namdar expects that polished prices will rise significantly in the next decade but diamantaires will need to continually find ways to add value along the pipeline in order to survive and benefit from these higher prices.

“There will be an industry and people will work hard because the ones that won’t work hard won’t be around in 10 years’ time,” he says. “I can’t even guarantee that I will be there, but I know that many good companies that are here today have a roadmap to get there.”

Opal’s essence continues to delight

Opal

Source: National Jeweler

Author: Brecken Branstrator

December 19, 2014

New York — With an appearance that long inspired cultures to believe in its supernatural abilities and powers, the opal’s value comes not only from the range of colors it displays but also the increasing rarity of high-quality stones.

Opals are the product of seasonal rains that drench the dry ground in an arid place, such as Australia’s outback. The water soaks in and penetrates deep, carrying silica with it. Then, the water evaporates during a dry spell, leaving silica deposits behind to form opals.

Even though all opals are formed through this same process, the resulting stones are unique.

No two opals look the same, and the play of color for each precious opal is different, giving them wide-ranging appeal. (There are two main types of opal–while common opal has a milky, dull color, precious opal displays the range of color that is so valued.)

“In Lighting Ridge black opal, people tend to like the combination of blues and greens, which have been the most popular with us,” said Niveet Nagpal, designer and president of Omi Privé. “But with true collectors looking for special pieces, if the opal displays more red flashes, these are the most sought after and valuable.”

Opal’s recently returning popularity with consumers also can be attributed to a greater number of designers using the stones in more of their pieces, bringing high-quality opals in front of consumers again and driving demand.

“Opal is re-entering the popular market and, where they were once using a little bit lower-quality (stones) at one point, they have delved into the finer goods over the last few years,” said Matt Hopkins of Hopkins Opal.

The rush slows
Today’s supplies of opal come mostly from Australia, Mexico, and the United States, though Hopkins said that supply is constrained in Australia at the moment as companies realize that there’s more money to be made in mining other natural resources in that country, such as industrial metals.

“There’s been a lack of producing areas for more than a decade,” he said, but noted that the increased demand for opals means that miners likely will return to prospecting for the gem once they realize that there is consistent consumer demand.

Hopkins said he sees a “glimmer of hope” in a few places in Australia. (He declined giving specifics as these locations–provided they start producing–will become a source for his company.) “The one decent supply we’re seeing is boulder opals in medium to high quality, which are still being cut and coming out.”

He adds that the only type of opal that perhaps isn’t seeing a major climb in demand is the commercial opal that is sourced for mass market, lower-end jewelry that has less play of color. “People don’t really have that much interest in that anymore.”

Overall, Hopkins said he sees opal demand outstripping supply in both the U.S. and Asia, noting that there is a renewed interested in colored gems in general as consumers see high-quality large gemstones as investment pieces.

This makes sourcing high-quality opals difficult. Many dealers that Hopkins knows still are working off old stock, though replenishing that at the same price they did even a few years ago is much harder.

Jonathan Farnsworth of Parlé Designs reiterated what Hopkins is seeing in the market, noting that the hardest to source currently are high-quality black and crystal opals, as well as opal doublets, which Farnsworth attributed to labor costs that had gotten too high to validate production.

He said there is plenty of Ethiopian opal in the market, which is helping to create demand for opals as a whole as more consumers are seeing them. He also said that he feels that production will begin picking up as trends drive demand.

“It’s a little cyclical, because as demand increases, more production should increase as well, especially as oil prices drop and it becomes easier for miners to mine. Then the supply will be there to further feed and grow demand,” he said.

A price hike
Like many of the rarest gems, the price of the highest quality opals have been rising slightly over the past few years, though Hopkins notes that fine black opal always has been, and continues to be, fairly expensive.

Intense red-orange fire opal from Mexico also is extremely rare and highly valued, with its strong play of color, with price and supply following the similar patterns as the other types of high quality stones.

Though the best fire opal generally sells for less than high-quality precious opal, fire opal pieces with exceptional color will go for more than specimens of precious opal with a less-than-stellar play of color.

Even though prices are climbing steadily at the high end, it’s the mid-range-quality opals–falling between $150 and $700 per carat at wholesale–where the upswing is the greatest, Hopkins said, a trend that he expects to continue for the next couple of years.

Hopkins said that he is seeing opal prices increase along all points in the supply chain, including “field prices,” which refers to the price of the opal when sold from the miners directly to the field buyers, which have gone up some 20 percent over the last year.

Designer’s delight
Much of opal’s value, and its appeal, is the stone’s ability to show so many different colors from every angle as it diffracts light. That’s why opals normally are cut into cabochons rather than being faceted; it enhances the color play.

From a design perspective, the gem’s color show gives jewelry-makers the ability to pair opals with a variety of other gemstones, bringing out different colors depending on the gem with which the opal is set.

“Pairing opals with multiple colored gemstones and even different metals can contrast with or emphasize specific colors found within the opal,” Nagpal said.

This is also one of the reasons that designer Penny Preville told National Jeweler that she loves to work with opals.

Not only do the stones come in her favorite color, blue, but the different speckles of color that come out means that it works well with many other stones that she may want to use, as well as any metal.

She said she has noticed that her customers currently want the dark blue opals the most.

“I see opals as becoming more of a staple and, in a way, becoming their own category of sorts. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes because there’s so much more that designers can do with it. I definitely think that opal has a long life ahead of it,” Preville said.

Laurence Graff awarded an OBE for his services to jewellery

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Source: The Jewellery Editor
Author: Maria Doulton

Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to receive an OBE for his services to jewellery as he celebrates his 60th anniversary in the jewellery industry.

Graff, who began his career at age 15 as a jeweller’s apprentice in Hatton Garden, says: “From humble beginnings and a lifetime working in the industry, I am extremely proud to receive such an honour.”

“I came from a background where diamonds meant something because so many Jewish people came out of East Europe and suffered and lived off their diamonds,” says the man behind the sparkle of some of the most fabulous diamonds of our times. From a family of Russian immigrants, he arrived in London’s East End with little more than a keen eye for business and a love of valuable things.
His first insight into business came from his childhood Sunday visits to the jewellers in Black Lion’s Yard in Whitechapel, East London. “They were small people doing small business, thinking they were big business, out there in the market, counting out the cash. That was all I knew,” recalls Graff in an earlier interview.

Following a jewellery apprenticeship, in 1962 Graff opened “La Petite Bijouterie” Ltd in London’s Lancaster Gate. Today, Graff Diamonds purchases around 60% of the world supply of yellow diamonds, which are highly visible in his Bond Street shop window. He is also known for his interest in larger diamonds, which would explain why the typical price for a Graff jewel is in the six-figure range.

Everyone knows Graff as he is one of a handful of buyers of big stones in the world. It is often said that he has handled more diamonds of notable rarity and beauty than any other jeweller, including the Wittelsbach- Graff, the Idol’s Eye, the Imperial Blue, the Blue Ice, the Magnificence, the Graff Pink, the Delaire Sunrise, the Graff Constellation, the Flame and the Graff Sweethearts.

A fully integrated operation, Graff Diamonds is involved in all the processes, from rough stone to final ring, employs 700 people around the world and owns 20 boutiques. Safdico, based in Johannesburg, is the house’s cutting and polishing company, and the first stop for rough diamonds, where 300 craftsmen sort, cut and polish 10,000 carats a year. The stones will then either be used by Graff Diamonds or sent to Antwerp, New York or Mauritius. Depending on the size and colour, they will be cut, polished and made into jewellery or simply sold on.

With 95% of all its works exported, Graff Diamonds has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise four times, most recently in 2006. All Graff jewels are made by 70 jewellers in the workrooms below Graff’s office on Albermarle Street in Mayfair, London.

Rarest Gemstones: Jeremejevite

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Jeremejevite, one of the rarest gemological materials, was named after Russian mineralogist P. W. Jeremejev in 1883, but there are rarely any specimens found in Russia today. Recently Namibia has started to produce some mentionable crystals, but in such small amounts the stone is still very rare. Jeremejevite is typically found in pale blue-green, cornflower-blue to yellowish bown hues.

JEREMEJEVITE CLASSIFICATION
Common Name: Jeremejevite
Species: Jeremejevite
Colors: blue-green, cornflower blue, brown, pale yellow and colorless

Key Separations: RI, birefringence and possible optic character.

JEREMEJEVITE PROPERTIES
Chemical Name: aluminum borate fluoride hydroxide
Chemical Formula: Al6B5O15(F,OH)3
Crystal System: Hexagonal
Classification: Borate
Crystallinity: Crystalline
Transparency: Transparent
Refractive Index: 1.64-1.651 Tolerance: (+0.002/-0.001)
Birefringence: 0.009
Optic Character: uniaxial and biaxial
Optic Sign: negative
Polariscope Reaction: doubly refractive (DR)
Fluorescence: SWUV: Inert, LWUV: Inert
Hardness: 6.5-7.5
Streak: white
Specific Gravity: 3.27-3.31
Toughness: Poor
Luster: Vitreous
Fracture: Conchoidal
Cleavage: None

Jeremejevite was first described in 1883 by French mineralogist Augustin Alexis Damour, who named it in honour of the Russian mineralogist and engineer Pavel Wladimirowich Jeremejev. Only a few localities of this rare borate mineral are known worldwide. Jeremejevite was discovered in 1883 at Mt Soktuj, Eastern Siberia, Russia. Only a few isolated crystals up to 5 cm in length have been reported from the type locality. The crystals resembled a yellowish beryl in appearance. For more than 100 years, this mineral was one of the rarest of all known minerals.

In 1973 a second occurrence of jeremejevite was found at a small pegmatite mine known as “Mile 72” north of Swakopmund, Namibia. The mine was exploited by the well-known mineral dealer Sid Pieters. Only a few crystals were found, which showed a fine blue colour. In 1976 a pocket was hit that produced about 100 of the finest known crystals of blue jeremejevite measuring up to 5 cm in length and 0,5 cm in diameter. Very few crystals on matrix were found.

Since this find, jeremejevite became a highly sought-after mineral by collectors worldwide. The only other known localities are the Ameib Farm Erongo Mountains, Namibia; Eifel Mountains, Germany; Sagaing District, Burma (Myanmar); and the Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan. The latter find is not well documented. About 10 yellow to brown crystals of little transparency up to 5 cm in length are reported from this locality.

The Mile 72 Namibian occurrence is in a wind-blown flat surface of hard, ocean-weathered granite protruding from a sandy stretch of beach about 750 m back from the shoreline, where the breakers lap the Namib Desert. It is close to milepost 72; that is, 72 miles by road north of Swakopmund.

The initial discovery was made by a woman known as “Tannie Klippie”, who was the wife of John Marais. Mr Marais was employed by the state as a road-grader operator, and his wife frequently spent her days walking behind her husband’s grader collecting pretty rocks. In 1973 the road leading to the Mile 72 fishing camp road was angled at approximately 45 degrees southward to the coast road from its current location. Mr Marais’ grader turned over a few jeremejevite crystals that had weathered out into the sand, and Tannie Klippie was there to pick them up. These specimens eventually made their way to the sharp eye of Windhoek gem and mineral dealer Sid Pieters. At first glance Pieters thought them to be aquamarine but an analysis identified them as jeremejevite. This was confirmed by an analysis of a cut gem performed by Richard T. Liddicoat of the Gemological Institute of America (1973) .

Mr Pieters quickly filed three 300 x 600 m claims where Tannie Klippie stumbled over the crystals. Peter Kitler did the actual mining and the tourmaline miner, Jan Coetzee, from Usakos did the blasting. They decided to open cut the granite, beginning on the eastern end and drive a trench westward perpendicular to the vertical vein containing the jeremejevite pockets. The first pocket found was in the altered granite. It yielded a number of gemmy but colourless crystals to 7,6 cm. The trench was continued through 5-6 m of hard granite, maintaining a depth of 1,5 m. This work netted just a meagre handful of loose, colourless crystals from small pockets along the vein.

In mid-1998, Brian Lees of Collector’s Edge Minerals teamed up with C. J. Johnston, an American mining geologist and mineral dealer based in Omaruru, to form Khan River Mining (Pty) Ltd. Their intention was to excavate further along the pegmatite veins in the hope of finding more jeremejevite. The mining commenced in early January 1999 and upon cleaning out the “Kitler pit” the first truly mechanized mining effort at Mile 72 commenced. In spite of a difficult mining environment 2 700 tons of rock were removed within the first six months. With the advantage of having heavy equipment more rock was mined in the first two weeks than the entire Sid Pieters effort from 1973 to 1976. Within the first three weeks, directly below the area where the best material had been found in 1973, a coarse-grained granitic pegmatite was encountered which produced approximately 300 single, colourless to pale yellow water-clear jeremejevite crystals up to 5 cm and only one pale blue crystal. Over the next 12 months an additional 14 target areas were identified and an estimated 2 300 tons of rock mined. In addition to these targets 15 trenches were excavated. While the effort produced some interesting specimens of feldspar, apatite, quartz and schorl, no further jeremejevites were found. Namibia is one of the very few countries in the world that constitutionally guarantees the protection of the environment. Consequently it is highly unlikely that any further mining will take place at Mile 72.

In March 2001, pegmatites containing jeremejevite were discovered near the summit of an isolated inselberg on Farm Ameib near the border with the farm Davib-ost, halfway between the village of Tubussis and the town of Usakos on the south side of the Erongo Mountains. As with the Mile 72 crystals, the first intense blue crystals found were thought to be aquamarines, and caused little excitement. A few thousand crystals have since been recovered. These workings are restricted to a 100 m2 area on a steeply sloping surface near the top of the inselberg. The mining in the Erongo Mountains is a simple brute force manual labour affair. The diggers must first walk 14 kilometres from the Government gravel road to reach the base of the mountain. It is then a very hard climb of nearly 500m to reach the top. There is no water, so miners must carry their own supply together with their modest equipment. The majority of the diggers, who have numbered up to 150, have nothing more than a hammer, chisel and shovel with which to attack the granite. Some of the excavations now exceed 6 m in depth. The majority of the Erongo Mountain jeremejevite crystals are under 2,5 cm in size, but a respectable number of larger crystals, over 200, range up to 5 cm in length and 1 cm wide. There have been unverified reports of crystals in excess of 8 cm.

You might also read this article by Kenneth Scarratt, Donna Beaton and Garry Du Toit on Gems&Gemology