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Getting closer to Colombia’s emeralds

Every emerald should tell its own story, from the day the precious gemstone is mined and held to the light for the first time, to the moment the customer holds a jewel of such beauty in their hand.

Colombia’s Chivor, Coscuez and Muzo mines produce the finest emeralds in the world. London DE is a bespoke jewellery business, and we want our jewellery customers to enjoy these beautiful green gems, safe in the knowledge that their emeralds are ethically sourced from mine to market, and that they are engaging in fair trade but also competitive price for a precious stone. 

We think the customer should expect transparency and traceability. We also believe that fair trade ethics and a fair price tag can be achieved together. And as a London jeweller, we think traceability means getting closer to the source. On the most physical level, this means getting a lot nearer than Hatton Garden.

For London DE, this sometimes means making the day’s journey from Bogota, bouncing along the unsurfaced roads and dirt tracks, through stunning jungle scenery and into the mountains. Some of the small and scattered mines around the remote town of Chivor are dug deep into the rock, but others are remarkably shallow, set in rocky hillsides and mountain caves.

Some of these remote caves have been a source of beautiful emeralds for centuries, even before the Spanish conquistadors set foot on the South American Continent, later swapping the ballast in their ships for silver and emeralds for their homeward voyage after plundering the New World’s riches.

Marks made by the tools of indigenous peoples many hundreds of years ago can be seen cut into the cave walls, demonstrating the current popularity of emeralds is no mere fashion fad. Today’s miners are usually a friendly bunch; they will chat about their trade and let you look around; and in many cases you can walk right up to where they’re chipping away in search of the gemstones.

This closeness is more than just interesting to us; understanding more about where a stone comes from helps ensure fair trade ethics and secures a fair price for the discerning customer. The fewer hands an emerald has passed through before it reaches yours the more traceable it is.

This is also when a fair price comes in. Fewer middlemen does more than build confidence about a gemstone’s provenance: it also means fewer people taking a cut from mine to market, allowing a fairer price for the customer.

Likewise, we want to be ethical in working with our local UK partners, delivering the finest quality tailored designs, such as with our support for the National Association of Jewellers’ “Created in the UK” mark to help support UK craftsmanship.

Clearly, 2020 has posed problems for many people who have wanted to jump on planes for international travel, whether for business or leisure, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Colombia itself is on severe lockdown, at time of writing, so travel between London, Bogota and Chivor is still not advisable.

Despite this, we have moved ahead with some plans of our own, after many months of preparation. In recent weeks we can announce we’ve begun wholesale trading locally in Colombia itself, setting up local banking for our own subsidiary and receiving an export licence of our own. It probably isn’t the most exciting part of getting close to the stones, it does mean we can trade wholesale with local dealers at local Peso prices, all of which means a fairer price for the customer.

This is a roundabout way of saying that it is possible to plan for the future despite the pandemic, and selecting an emerald, or another coloured gemstone, or indeed a traditional diamond, is very much an option for your tailored jewellery purchase.

We’re working to ensure the customer can do this, safe in the knowledge that a precious stone is ethically sourced, fairly traded, and traceable from mine to market. Transparency isn’t just about the quality of the stone, it’s about making sure everybody gets a fair deal. That’s what we’re about at London DE.


Submitted by London DE

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