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GLIMPSES OF WORLD GEMS CENTRES
Colombia is best known for finest Emeralds, considered to be the best in the world.
Colombia is situated in South America. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It has Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador as its neighbours. For an area of 1,141,748 sq.kms., it has a population of 38 million. Spanish is the official language. Business community uses English. Peso is the unit of currency.
Land of Fine Emeralds:
The major Colombian Emerald mines are situated in the eastern range of the Andes Mountains, near the Capital Santafe de Bogota. There are several working mines, but the Chivor and the Muzo mines produce the most famous and valuable gemstones.
The Chivor Mine produces emeralds with a distinctly bluish hue. These stones are fairly clear, with evident striations and quite commonly, inclusions of Pyrite (Fool's Gold).
The Muzo Mine produces the most famous Colombian Emeralds. The word "Muzo" is magic. The Muzo stone is of a distinctly yellowish hue, making it more highly prized than the Chivor Stone.
Trapiche Emerald - a 'new' stone found in the mid 1960s also comes from Colombia. Head on, it looks like a wagon wheel - six prisms of Emerald growing outward from a central core of Emerald; between these emerald lines or spokes is a colorless Beryl. Trapiches from Chivor have a green Emerald core and spokes; trapiches from Muzo have a nearly black Emerald core and spokes.
In all, Colombia produces three types of Emeralds: fine gem quality Canutillors, inferior crystals Marallons and the third variety Trapiche.
The most important mines are Muzo, EI Chivor, Cosquez and Gachala, Muzo and Cosquez, the largest mines, are operated by the government through quasi-government bodies. Chivor and many smaller mines are privately worked.
To boost its Emeralds trade globally, Colombia organized
the first International Emerald Congress in February, 1998.
Other Gems & Pearls:
Some lesser colored gemstones are also found in Colombia. The country has some pearl fisheries too in the Gujaira Peninsula.
Colombia produces all the three precious metals - Platinum, Gold and Silver. Platinum is mostly alluvial, found in the rivers of Choco.
Antioquia, Cauca, Caldas, Tilima, Narinn and Choco areas are producing gold. Total Colombian production of gold averages some 18 metric tonnes annually.
Caldas, Antioquia, Hiula, Nario, Tolima, Santander and Norted Santander are the silver producing areas, which together yield annually about 11akh troy ozs.
Gems-studded Jewellery :
Colombia has been manufacturing some gems-studded jewellery too, in which Emeralds predominate.
Processing & Marketing:
Formerly most of
the Colombian rough Emeralds were being sent to the U.S.A., Europe and India.
But the Colombians have learnt processing now to keep home the value-added profits.
Today Santafe de Bogota, the capital, has a thriving cutting and polishing industry,
employing craftsmen of German origin.
Most of the Emeralds produced in Colombia are marketed by the Government Corporation, Econominas Empresa Colomiana de Minas. The Corporation also auctions the produce locally.
For legal exports of Emeralds, the main markets are Japan, the United States and Taiwan. Israel is the latest country to take on Colombia's Emeralds which reach Israel in a semi processed or even polished state. Colombia's Emerald exports account for almost50 per cent of the total official mineral exports from
However, smuggling is also suspected to be continuing.
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