London, England — 28 October 2013 – British-based miner Gemfields ‒ the world’s largest producer of coloured gemstones ‒ says it intends to focus on acquiring more emerald projects as it looks to position itself as the De Beers of international emerald trade.
The company, which produces about a fifth of the world’s rough emeralds, has reported a 42% drop in revenue, as it had to push back an auction following a directive by the Zambian government.
Gemfields, owner of the luxury jewellery brand Fabergé, was selling output from its flagship Kagem mine across the world until the Zambian government said in April that all emeralds mined in the country must be auctioned at home.
“Because of some of the problems we’ve experienced with our emeralds over the last little while, we want to make sure that we’re not dependent on any single source, and we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket,” said chief executive Ian Harebottle.
The company, which was lobbying the Zambian government to extend its emerald auctions beyond the African country, said interactions with the government were “better than they have ever been”.
“There is a chance that resolution of the current impasse with the government of Zambia may be achieved during the year,” J.P. Morgan Cazenove analyst Alexander Mees said in a note to clients.
London-listed Gemfields also said that it was keen to expand into other gemstones and was close to acquiring a sapphire asset.
“I’ve said a few times that Gemfields would like a traffic light of coloured stones. So what we’d like is emeralds, rubies and sapphires – the red, green and blue – and then the rest to piggy-back on that,” Harebottle said.
Gemfields reported a pre-tax loss of US$22.8 million for the year ended June 30, compared with a profit of US$161.5 million a year earlier, mainly due to costs related to the acquisition of luxury jewellery brand Fabergé and higher marketing expenses.
Gemfields bought Fabergé, famed for making lavish Easter eggs for Russia’s last tsar, in a deal valued at about US$142 million last November and appointed Mila Kunis as its brand ambassador in February.