A Small Success Model for Gem Trade in Africa

Guy Clutterbuck, who was recently featured in the GIA Winter Loop Magazine, has been sourcing gemstones in Africa and around the world for decades. His relationships with small scale miners, based on trust, are highly unusual and
stand in contrast to the generally toxic relationship between the small scale miners and their typical buyer.

Read more about his approach in this exclusive fairjewelry.org interview, which I conducted after the Tucson Gem Show this past February. Full disclosure: I have been purchasing gems from Guy for about fifteen years. -Marc Choyt, Publisher,

Marc: How do you source your aquamarine?

Guy: I’ve built up a trust with two brothers who are from the same Tombuka tribe. Tribal lands stretch from Zambia into Mozambique and into Malawi. On their land is some of the finest spessartite, aquamarine, canary tourmaline and blue green tourmaline found in Africa. The two brothers mentioned have built up an excellent rapport with the chief in an aquamarine producing area. I simply buy the best material from them and the chief. The chief insures that the villages from the area also benefit.

Marc: How does the process work?

Guy: The method of sourcing aquamarine is two-tier. I invest money in advance toward paying for the villagers in the Aquamarine area. Then I‘ll return in six months. Then they keep all the best material for me. After they payback the advance, they make profit on the stones. I know I pay more than the competition because I see the best pieces. Any experienced buyer worth his salt will know if the cherries are missing from the lot. Good faith is reciprocated in numerous ways through the entire process. This sort of trust in Africa is unheard of.

Read entire article from Marc Choyt’s E-book at www.artisanweddingrings.com

Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, a designer jewelry company, www.celticjewelry.com that sells eco-friendly, conflict free diamond jewelry and unique wedding rings online at www.artisanweddingrings.com. Choyt also publishes www.fairjewelry.org, the most respected consumer and trade resource website on ethical sourcing and fair trade jewelry issues.