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Emeralds

Emeralds
AN INTERVIEW WITH RODRIGO GIRALDO GEMLAB CDTEC

1. Can you tell us a little about the history of CDTEC and how it was established?

CDTEC was established seven years ago using capital from the Colombian Emerald Monetary Fund. Every emerald exportation in Colombia incurs a 1% tax levied on the value of the stones.

These funds are pooled and allocated to a variety of different projects all with the common goal of developing Colombia’s emerald industry. The CDTEC Gem Laboratory is one of these projects.

2. So what is the role of the CDTEC Gemlab?

Its primary function is the grading and analysis of a full spectrum of gemstones including diamonds and rubies, but with a strong focus on Colombian emeralds. CDTEC was established to improve the image of Colombian emeralds, to provide support to the emerald industry and to assist emerald dealers by providing independent verification and certification of their stones. Buyers can trust in the value of an emerald accompanied by a CDTEC certificate and will always pay a premium to have this supporting documentation, guaranteeing the quality of their gemstone.

3. What makes CDTEC unique from other laboratories?

CDTEC is the only laboratory that truly specialises in emeralds and unlike the GIA or Gubelin we are government backed. A lot of our employees, including myself, have studied abroad in the GIA, which means we are familiar with how these laboratories operate and the standards they adhere to. They do produce a lot of interesting research but are not focused on emeralds in the same way that we are. In fact, I would dare to say we are the laboratory that knows the most about emeralds due largely to the fact we are located in the heart of the emerald trading zone in Bogota. CDTEC certify the majority of Colombian emeralds in Bogota.quality of their gemstone.

4. You mentioned earlier the Colombian Emerald Monetary Fund and its interest in developing the emerald industry, what other projects do they support?

We have been working on an ongoing project in collaboration with the Monetary Fund, doing research into the characteristics of emeralds from different origins in the country. We regularly visit the different mines in order to collect emeralds that can help us identify characteristics and patterns specific to particular mines and particular regions.

Going forward we expect to be able to determine the exact location of extraction of any Colombian stone that is brought to us.

5. What percentage of the emeralds that exist in the Colombian market could be considered of fine or extra fine quality? How do those stones that arrive at CDTEC compare?

First of all it’s important to remember that the emerald is a very rare gemstone which in all its presentations commands a high price. All emeralds are exclusive; however naturally as you say, there are some stones which are more exclusive than others. In the international market, Colombian emeralds are considered the most prestigious and most valuable. A fine quality Colombian stone would naturally, therefore, be the most exclusive type of emerald you could possibly acquire. It’s not easy to locate a high quality emerald and even less so for it to be both high quality and Colombian! A very small percentage is available in the market simply because only a tiny amount of high quality stones are produced by nature.
“ A very small percentage is available in the market simply because only a tiny amount of high quality stones are produced by nature. ”

6. What about untreated natural emeralds; how common are they in the market?

Not common at all. Here at CDTEC we receive most of the untreated emeralds that are available on the Colombian market, precisely due to the need for official trustworthy certification of their authenticity as natural stones. Again we are talking about the most exclusive emeralds in the market. They are extremely difficult to come across.

7. And which cut would you say is the most desired and valued in the market?

Unquestionably the emerald cut is the traditional cut of choice. However, in more recent years the cushion cut has become just as popular, if not more. Both cuts favour the appearance of the stone, in terms of the intensity of its colour, its clarity and brilliance. Following recent trends in the fashion industry and several iconic celebrity appearances, there has also been strong demand for teardrops in the market.

8. How do you price Colombian Emeralds?

Whilst the majority of emeralds are ‘commercial grade’, high quality fine and extra fine emeralds are much more expensive than diamonds. Colombian emeralds in particular command a premium to their Brazilian and Zambian counterparts as they are perceived to be of superior quality. Prices for high quality stones typically range between $10,000 and $30,000 a carat but can be a lot higher depending on the exclusivity of the stone.

9. In what direction do you think emerald prices are heading?

The economic volatility and uncertainty of the recent financial crisis has certainly reminded investors of the importance of tangible assets like precious stones.Emeralds in particular have experienced price rises throughout these periods of austerity, demonstrating them to be an investment option which is compatible with economic turbulence.