80% of Colombian emeralds go to the Chinese market

With the reactivation of the gem trade since last October, it is sought to reach US $120 million by the end of 2021.

At a slow pace, but surely, Colombian emeralds continue to recover the market they lost in the months of confinement due to the pandemic, and today 80% of the national stones have their destiny assured in China.

After seven months (April-October/2020) in which the business was practically frozen due to the suspension of domestic and
international flights due to the closure of airspace (in the case of Colombia), since October the path in the commercialization of emeralds has been resumed due to their growing dynamism in production, however there is much that must be done to reach
pre-covid levels.

“This has been on account, the reactivation has been slow, however in the month of February, and for a year, there was no good record of sales of stones abroad which was $30 billion (US$8.3 million), if you take into account that in a pre-pandemic month foreign sales were in the order of US $12
million to US $13 million.”

The union leader pointed out that on account of the economic emergency, which not only resulted in a fall of more than 90% in the production of emeralds, the nearly seven months that international flights were closed, the country only recorded revenues from gem exports of US $40 million.

The figure is striking if you take into account that this value represents the foreign sales of the stones of just over three months, in normal times, and more when between 2013 and 2019 the average exports were
US $140 million.

“The National Government, by closing the country’s airspace for almost seven months to international commercial flights, closed the only distribution channel of Colombian gems for their sales abroad, since this is the only legal way to export (in hand) the emeralds,” stressed the union leader.

The outlook in 2021 tends to improve, and the conquest to expand the commercialization of gems continues, however for the sector, the goal is to achieve US $120 million, that is, US $20 million below what is usually sold in
international markets.

“There is a long way to go, especially when last year there were almost seven months in which the country’s emerald activity was semi-paralyzed throughout its chain from production to marketing,” Baquero reiterated.

In addition to China, a country that buys 80% of emeralds from Colombia, another of the great destinations is the United States with 8%. The market that has been decreasing is that of Europe. “With the pandemic, more at the second peak, in these countries phytosanitary measures and regulation have become stricter, to the point that today it is very complex to achieve a placement of national gems in this place,” explained the president of Fedesmeraldas.

Guild records indicate that 286,000 carats were placed abroad in carved emeralds exported in 2019, in 2020 only 65,000 carats were sent, and the projection for 2021 is to sell about 250,000 carats, of which more than 190,000 carats would be sought in China.

The business of Colombian emeralds is still growing since it represents more than US $140 million a year, compared to other extractive industries that move about US $2 billion annually.

“However, that amount is very representative, in addition the national gem is the one with the highest value and the most desirable in the world for its same chemical and physical properties,” Baquero stressed.