ZAMBIA’S MINERAL WEALTH
For many years now Zambia has been an important source of gemstones to the worlds jewellery market. Perhaps best known for its fine emerald and amethyst, Zambia also produces an extraordinary variety of gems such as garnet, tourmaline, citrine, malachite, agate, aquamarine, heliodor and many other beryls.
These minerals are mostly exported in the rough form since there are very few cutting (lapidary) operations in the country.
Gemstone export procedures have been streamlined in recent years to allow foreign buyers easy access to the market. The Ministry of Mines in Lusaka will assist with whatever paperwork may be needed for the trouble free export of gems.
Locally crafted gemstones and jewellery is developing and some fine examples of this art can be found in the capital. Jagoda gems cuts and manufactures its own jewellery in gold and silver. The owners are registered valuation officers with the Ministry and their retail outlet offers an exquisite range of mineral specimens and cut gems from all over Zambia.
LOCATION MAP OF MINERALS AND GEMS FOUND N ZAMBIA
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|GROUP||STONE||DESCRIPTION||OTHER MAJOR PRODUCING COUNTRIES|
|QUARTZ GROUP||AMETHYST (Purple Quartz)
||Some of the best in the world. The deep violet with red flash being the most prised colour.Principally found in Kalomo & Mumbwa.||Uruguay, Russia, Brazil, Namibia, Madagascar, India, and Australia.|
|CITRINE: (Yellow Quartz)||The more yellow the hue (not brown!) the finer the quality. Occasionally found in Iteshi Teshi, Mumbwa Eastern Province & Copperbelt||Brazil, Madagascar, USA Spain, and Namibia.|
||Deep blue or Double blue is rarely found in large clean pieces anywhere in the world. Continuous production of such colour is un-heard of, which keeps Zambian production in great demand. Lighter shades of this gem can be found in other countries (Nigeria, India) but popularity is growing for the deep blue green variety presently found in the Katete / Petauke area for its beautiful natural sea blue / green hue. Zambian double blue is still readily sold overseas as ‘Santa Maria L’Afrique’ conjuring a mystique over its source. Prices for such gems have been known to reach over $ 800 per carat!||Brazil – (1950’sSanta Maria discovery) A suite of some + 1000 carats was given to HRH Elizabeth 11 and now forms a priceless necklace & tiara worn rarely on state functions. Mozambique – (early 90’s) Called Santa Maria L’Afrique for its resemblance to the original discovery|
|EMERALD||Zambian emerald although discovered in the late 40’s was not commercially mined until the 1950’s. Today Zambia is one of the world’s leading producers of fine Emerald. Highly prized for its intense colour and remarkable clarity, Zambian Emerald retains its magnificent hue even in small stones of less than 0.5 ct. Although the experienced professional could identify a Zambian emerald in a Bond Street window, the chances are that it will be sold as a ‘Sandawana’ stone since the exporting of Zambian rough has long been considered a clandestine event and therefore does not lend itself well the respectability projected by the top jewellery shops of the world. The trade uses much legend, lore and illusion when it comes to selling a fine emerald. Antiquity now seems to be the order of the day. Some dealers refer to emeralds as “Old Mine and offer wonderfully supportive tales as to how the stone found its way through the centuries. Although much research has been done to establish the source of the ‘Old Mine’ (believed to have been in India) it still remains a mystery. This does not appear to deter the buyer and ‘Old Mine’ stones have been known to change hands for as much as US$ 30,000 per carat.||Colombia, much sought after for the large crystals and therefore bigger stones. However the material does not suit small stones and invariably is more included than its Zambian brother.Zimbabwe: Sandwana mine is well known for its similarity to Zambian material. Steady production from this mine has been bolstered by Zambia’s illegal exports, rendering an even greater reputation as a reliable source.Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Russia. Nigeria also produces an ‘Emerald’ coloured by vanadium but it is not intentionally recognised as emerald since the chromium content is too low.|
|GROSSULAR||The green variety of grossular garnet, discovered a few decades ago by Scottish geologist Cambell Bridges in Kenya near the Tsavo National Park, is also known as Tsavorite. It is normally verdant or dark green in colour similar to that of fine green Tourmalines but sometimes is even comparable in colour to Emerald. Little known by the general public, it is in demand by collectors and connoisseurs. Fine quality stones are extremely rare in Zambia. But lighter greens have been found in Mkushi and Eastern province.|
|TOURMALINE(comes in many colours)||Tourmaline has become probably the best selling ‘semi-precious’ in recent years. This may partly be due to Paloma Picasso’s signature range for Tiffany a few years ago. The enormous variety of colours in which Tourmaline is available was surely a major inspiration for this talented designer. Some of the colours in the group have been give special names such as the red I pink variety known as Rubelite or blue which is known as Indicolite and brown /cognac as Dravite. Green Tourmaline comes in a wide range of shades but the rare Emerald green variety is popularly known as Chrome Tourmaline, which relates to the traces of Chromium, which give this its unique colour. Zambia has been mining Tourmalines for many years – the most famous mine being Hofmeyer Mine near Nyimba. Production there has dropped in recent years but occasionally some fine greens and deep reds are recovered by local diggers at this now abandoned mine. The pink deposits from near Mkushi offer some of the best rubelite we have ever seen in this country and new deposits are constantly being found all over the Eastern Province. Indicolite has been seen but is often mistaken for blue Sapphire by the local dealers whose disappointment is quite obvious at point of sale!||Brazil has been a major producer of Tourmaline for decades and tales of great suffering rewarded by fabulous finds have resounded through the gem trade for many years. Of late however production has dropped due to the exhaustion of some of the most prolific mines. In the early 90’s and extraordinary discovery of bright blue and green tourmaline from Paraiba to the gem by storm. Production was slight and most stones recovered weighed less than one gram. Such frenzy ensued to purchase sizeable pieces that in Tuscon’s Gem Fair in ’92 one +5 ct stone of ‘electric / neon ‘blue changed hands for a staggering US$8,000 per ct! Namibia has also been a source of fine Tourmalines but again production has dwindled in recent years. Madagascar and Mozambique also have fine Tourmaline deposits. But with the sapphire and Emerald finds in recent years attention has switched to these more rare, more precious stone mines.|
|HELIODOR||Heliodor or yellow beryl is far more common than its brothers Aquamarine or emerald. The pegmatite occurrence in the Eastern Province of Zambia has produced some very fine crystals good size and colour. It is not uncommon to hear of the practice of heat treatments to heliodor in order to change the colour from yellow to blue. This is also possible with green beryl since the two contain three molecules of Iron (Fe+++) and by simple heating to around 400 F the third molecule is released and instantly the colour changes to blue. This is a completely irreversible reaction and the ‘new’ colour will be as stable as any normal Aquamarine.||Mozambique, Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Zimbabwe, India, and Namibia.|
|GREEN BERYL||This green coloured beryl does not have a special name. Sometimes the fine line between Aquamarine and green beryl can lead to much confusion. However Green beryl contains the same possibilities for heat treatment as heliodor and is more often treated to resemble its Blue cousin.||Mozambique, Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Zimbabwe, India, and Namibia.|
|GARNET GROUP||PYROPE||The fiery red member of the family can sometimes be very bright due to small quantities of Chrome in the crystal structure. Although large quantities of Pyrope are found in Zambia only some have the intensity of colour we demand for our jewellery. Eastern Province & Mazabuka.||Tanzania, Mexico, USA, Argentina, Brazil, and Australia.|
|RHODOLITE||and lithos, meaning, “stone Found in Siavonga, Chikankata and Gwembe Valley.||Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zimbabwe|
|SPESSARTITE||Named after the Spessart region of Bavaria, Germany where it was originally mined. It has become very popular in recent years and is produced in quantity in Namibia and sold under the trade name ‘Mandarin Garnet’ Occurs around Lundazi.||Namibia, Madagascar, Mexico|
|CORUNDUM FAMILY||SAPPHIRES||Sapphires monopolise the corundum group since they can be found in almost any colour or hue. However when a sapphire is red in colour it is called a Ruby. Ruby today is the most expensive of all the four commercial ‘precious’ stone group. (Diamonds, Emeralds, Sapphire, and Ruby) However it is worth noting that almost all Sapphires and Rubies will these days be subjected to heat treatment to enhance their colour and /or clarity. Natural stones are in high demand by collectors; therefore it follows that few untreated stones are ever available to the average buyer or jewellery maker. Quality Sapphires are not mined in Zambia but some material for cabochons occasionally can be found near the Zambezi Escarpment.||Madagascar and Tanzania have recently started producing fine stones to compete with the more established sources such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kashmir and Burma. A natural fine Burmese Ruby of + 8cts would easily command a price at auction today of over $100,000 per c|