By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
Emerald miners Gemfields and Muzo Emerald unveiled jewelry designer collaborations this fall, giving platforms not only to the artists but also to Emeralds from Zambia and Colombia. Given that past efforts from these outfits—including a marketing campaign with Gemfields and Mila Kunis in 2013—helped heighten interest and awareness of Emeralds in general, dealers are hopeful for some trickle-down attention from the latest initiatives.
Shekhar Shah recalls when Gemfields unveiled its campaign with Kunis. “The press and positive reaction were amazing and generated sales,” says the owner of Real Gems. “Gemfields did a great job raising the awareness of color.”
New Emerald Collections
While collaborations between miners and jewelry designers make smaller marketing footprints than multimillion-dollar celebrity campaigns, fresh collections still make headlines and get product in front of consumers in compelling ways.
Gemfields’ Gemfields x House of Meraki J’aime Collection makes gems from the miner’s Kagen site in Zambia the star of jewelry from London-based House of Meraki’s Gargi Ruth, who grew up in that African nation. In Ruth’s J’aime Collection, Gemfields’ Emeralds are set into a variety of 18K yellow gold styles handmade in the artist’s studio by Italian craftsmen. Ruth works with Gemfields’ Emeralds for their obvious beauty but also their mine-to-market traceability.
Yesterday, the brand unveiled another designer jewelry collection with Donna Hourani dubbed The Donna Hourani x Gemfields ‘The Bridge’.
Collection promotion in the U.S. was executed by working with a U.S.-based public relations firm, but Gemfields didn’t earmark any other U.S. content spend for 2022.
Meanwhile, Muzo’s latest collaboration, dubbed Muzo x Here We Are, was unveiled during 2022 NYC Jewelry Week, Nov. 14–20. The designs were made by participants in NYCJW’s Here We Are initiative, which exists to build awareness around diversity, inclusion, and equity by highlighting a wide range of U.S. creators.
This latest collection marks the second time that Muzo has worked with NYCJW (the first time it has teamed up with Here We Are) to champion independent design. Here We Are makers tapped for this endeavor include Aman Itomi, L’ENCHANTEUR, Ataumbi Metals, Harlin Jones, Made by Malyia, Embirikos, and Johnny Nelson. All had access to Muzo’s diverse gem material—from faceted Emeralds to cabochon cuts and slices—with a traceable provenance. Muzo x Here We Are debuted at Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City on Nov. 17 and remains there through Valentine’s Day 2023.
Emerald dealers appreciate the gemstone interest generated by miners’ initiatives.
Colombian Emeralds have an undeniable cachet, but Gemfields’ promotional efforts for Zambian goods “put them on the map,” recalls Renata Abrahami of A.B.C. Gems. “More people inquired about them, and they became easier to sell.”
Laurie Watt of Mayer & Watt agrees, adding that Gemfields’ Mozambique Ruby push helped make that product more appealing, especially to buyers in the market for larger stones. Previously, shoppers would request Burma material.
“When Gemfields started their ads for Mozambique Rubies, those became an acceptable product,” she says.
Shah maintains that while Muzo and Gemfields’ efforts are helpful to brand colored gemstone awareness, they can also be a double-edged sword.
At the 2022 AGTA GemFair™ Tucson, Shah was approached by two jewelry designers who specifically asked for Muzo-brand Emeralds. He ultimately sold one of them some stones (Shah buys rough at auction from Gemfields and cut stones from Muzo) but sees an opportunity for independent dealers to better benefit moving ahead.
“It would be great if miners told designers that while they are giving them these stones to make pieces, for the future they could buy from authorized wholesalers.”
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