Kagem pioneers high-tech emerald tagging system

KAGEM Mining Limited has pioneered the use of a high- technology system to tag and trace emeralds.

According to a statement, Kagem used this new system for the first time in Zambia at an auction in Lusaka last week.

“A new high-technology system to tag and trace emeralds has been used commercially for the first time at an auction of high quality emeralds in Lusaka in a move that is set to revolutionise the gemstone industry worldwide. The nanotechnology system invented by Swiss gemstone testing laboratory Gübelin Gem Lab made its global debut this week at an auction of gemstones hosted by Kagem Mining Ltd, the Lufwanyama-based mine that is 75 per cent owned by London-based Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government. The particles – which leave no visible trace – were infused into five high quality emeralds purchased at the auction by Zambian gemstone jewellery company Jewel of Africa,” according to the statement.

Jewel of Africa director Dr Rajnish Sharma said:  “For the customer to know forever that the gemstone was mined responsibly in Zambia, cut in Zambia by Zambians, mounted in jewellery in Zambia by Jewel of Africa, is truly ground-breaking. For us, that’s what this means.”

The breakthrough technology uses customised synthetic DNA-based nano-particles that are infused by gentle rocking into the rough emerald crystals, enabling traceability of emeralds back to the mine of origin, the date of mining and any other data requested.

“It was the first-time nanotechnology – the branch of technology that deals with dimensions of less than 100 nanometres – has been used commercially in the gemstone sector. The size of the particles makes them invisible to optical microscopes, therefore not affecting the appearance, quality or properties of the gem whatsoever. The technique will only be undertaken at the mine site, but an exception was made in the instance of this world debut in order to demonstrate the process, explained Gübelin Head of Development Klemens Link. The process enables discerning gemstone buyers to be assured of traceability, knowing the exact origin of their emeralds, and demonstrating that the gemstones originate from a responsibly-mined source such as Kagem,” the statement read.
“The technology has been developed by Gübelin Gem Lab under the “Provenance Proof” label, and can trace the origin of emeralds, using nanotechnology to tag the gems with an invisible imprint that is accessible at any stage of the supply chain. It is regarded as a true game-changer for the gemstone industry. Gemfields is at the forefront of harnessing the nanotechnology, in line with its pledge to bring transparency and trust to the gemstone industry.”

And Gemfields chief executive officer Sean Gilbertson stated that the company would ensure transparency and trust in the industry.

“We are convinced that the Emerald Paternity Test will help stakeholders to track the origins of their emeralds at any stage along the supply chain,” Gilbertson said.

He said the new technology would instil confidence and create trust along the entire supply chain by providing buyers with proof of the exact source of emeralds, considering the increased global acclaim for Zambia’s green gems.

“By embracing this new game-changing innovation, we are assured of increased demand for the green gem. The partnership with Gübelin is a leap in the right direction, instilling confidence and trust in the value chain of our emeralds,” said Mr Gilbertson.

The Gübelin Gem Lab invited Gemfields to join the project as a test partner.

“And thanks to Gemfields’ already robust supply chain and established standards of responsible sourcing, they were chosen to help provide the testing conditions for the technology in the field,” read the statement.

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