By Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Brazilian emeralds have risen to become one of the most coveted gems in the world, rivalling their counterparts in colour, size, lustre and overall allure.
Emeralds are Brazil’s invaluable contribution to the world of coloured gemstones. Desired for their fine bluish-green to vivid green colour and high transparency, Brazilian emeralds are continuously sought after by gem collectors and dealers.
At the forefront of the Brazilian emerald trade is Belmont Mine, which is celebrating its 40th year in the business. Marcelo Ribeiro, director of Belmont Mine, said his company has taken on a leading role in the emerald mining and cutting sector as one of the most sophisticated emerald mines globally.
“We have been producing the best emeralds from our mine in Brazil for 40 years. It is the only mine in the world that is able to sustainably increase production every year. To do this, our company heavily invests in modern mining technology and geological exploration of new areas,” remarked Ribeiro.
Unique market position
As a mine-to-market emerald producer, Belmont Mine said it can guarantee better prices and access to top-grade stones for its clients because they are buying directly from the source.
Belmont Mine’s major markets are the US, Europe, Asia and Brazil. “Our customers can place orders today and confidently come back to buy the same kind of stones at a similar price. This is important because they can embark on long-term marketing campaigns and be assured of a steady and consistent replacement of goods,” noted Ribeiro.
Belmont Mine also ensures that its emeralds come from a conflict-free source.
According to the company official, Belmont Mine’s fastest-moving products are fine-quality calibrated gemstones. Its exceptional single stones likewise have a strong following, particularly among major European brands.
Majority of Brazilian emerald production comes from a huge concession that belongs to Belmont Emeralds, a company that has been investing in modern mining technology for 40 years.
Brazilian emeralds are known for their eye-catching colour such as subtle to deep, brilliant green; wide variety of sizes as well as exceptional lustre. Apart from steady production, Belmont Mine is also highly recognised for its gemstone-cutting expertise, noted Ribeiro.
Top-quality emeralds are mined from the Itabira/Nova Era belt in Minas Gerais. Itabira used to produce smaller-sized emeralds but with recent discoveries, it is gradually gaining popularity for premier-quality gemstones that could rival those produced in Colombia in the past.
Top-quality emeralds have become even rarer, with the depletion of many mines around the world and the lack of investments in new mine exploration, revealed Ribeiro. Coupled with tightening supply is the market’s incessant call for transparency and professionalism in the entire gemstone and jewellery production chain.
“Consumers nowadays clamour for information about the products that they are buying. They want to make sure that the gemstones were sourced ethically and responsibly,” stated Ribeiro. “They will not tolerate child labour, environmental destruction and terrorism financing.”
This poses a new challenge to the gemstone trade, noted the emerald specialist. Industry players need to show a new generation of buyers that the supply chain is transparent, conflict-free and environment-friendly.
Belmont Mine, for its part, is locking its sights on further growth. Ribeiro expressed confidence that Belmont can continue to mine Itabira for the next 40 years as a result of past geological explorations.
“We will continue to provide our customers with a stable supply of fine-quality emeralds; top-of-the-line gemstone cutting; and unparalleled mine-to-market services,” he noted. “We will keep investing in technology to carry out mining operations in a more efficient and economic manner as innovation is in our DNA.”
The emerald business remains stable despite lesser production and higher demand, disclosed Ribeiro. He cited a growing trend of customers who purchase emeralds as an investment tool since emerald prices have more than doubled in the last 10 years.
Another growth driver is a strong desire from jewellery brands and designers to use emeralds in combination with diamonds, he added.
“It’s a stable gemstone to use in terms of pricing and availability. It also adds value and mystifying beauty to a jewellery piece,” Ribeiro continued. “Diamond and gold jewellery pieces are quite commoditised now and emeralds are used to inject uniqueness to the piece.”
He also cited a growing opportunity in China’s coloured gemstone market. Chinese buyers’ special affinity for green is fuelling the demand for emeralds in the country, he added. Buyers are likewise increasingly becoming more professional and knowledgeable, which is crucial to the overall growth of the emerald trade.