British Mining Company Gemfields has announced the recent discovery of the Lion Emerald, a 5,655-carat crystal mined from its Kagem mine in Lufwanyama, Zambia. Gemfields owns 75 percent of the mine, with the Zambian government owning the rest.
The Lion Emerald
The emerald, discovered on October 2, 2018, weighs about 2.5 pounds and is said to be of the same mass as an adult human brain. Gemfields has promised to donate 10 percent of the sales value of the emerald to lion conservation groups in Zambia.
“We expect a number of large, fine-quality cut emeralds to be borne of the Inkalamu crystal… These important pieces are what return value to the buyer, and there might be hundreds of offcuts that are fashioned into smaller gems, cabochons, and beads, but the key lies in recovering the fine quality pieces. Given this emerald is such a rare find, it is also perfectly conceivable that the buyer will choose to purchase it as an investment,” said Adrian Banks, Gemfields’ Managing Director for Product and Sales, in a statement (Gemfields).
The company plans on putting the emerald up for auction in Singapore this month. About 45 approved auction partners are expected to participate. Gemfields will use Gübelin Gem Lab’s Provenance Proof nanotechnology to encode nano-sized particles on the emerald so that the birthplace of the gemstone can be identified for years to come. Meanwhile, the discovery has raised a political storm in the country with the Movement for Economic Emancipation (MEE) president, Given Chansa, demanding that the emerald be used for the benefit of the Zambian citizens.
“People in Lufwanyama should be able to directly benefit from the emerald wealth in the same way that the people in Mansa should directly benefit from the very valuable manganese being mined there. The Movement for Economic Emancipation (MEE) makes no apology of the fact that it is now about time Zambians were really empowered to take a real stake in the economy of the country,” said Chansa in a statement (Zambia Watch Dog).
Though the Lion Emerald is pretty big, it is nowhere near the biggest emerald in the world. The Bahia Emerald, discovered in Brazil in 2001, weighs a mammoth 752 pounds (about 1,700,000 carats). It is said to be as big as a man’s thigh or a mini fridge. Though the value of the stone has been estimated at US$400 million, its true value has not been ascertained by any reputed authority. The ownership of the emerald is currently in dispute.
As far as the U.S. is concerned, the NAEM Emerald is the biggest emerald discovered in North America. Found in 2003 in North Carolina, the crystal is named after the mine in which it was discovered and apparently weighs about 1,869 carats. It is stored at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
“The crystal has a dark green color and a length of 19.5 cm. The crystal surface appears to be etched, and not smooth and brilliant like other emerald crystals. Apparently, this seems to be an uncanny feature present in most emeralds extracted from the same mine,” according to ZME Science.
The LKA Emerald, weighing in at 1,686 carats comes in second as North America’s biggest-ever emerald. It was discovered in the same mine as the NAEM Emerald in 1984.