Opals and emeralds: precious stone industries in Australia and Latin America

Opals and Emeralds: Precious Gem Industries in Australia and Latin America

Few countries are able to provide substantial contributions to the precious gemstone industry, but all play a big role in the demand of the market. At the height of demand in the global market are opals and emeralds. Countries like Australia and those in Latin America have some of the strongest and most lucrative gemstone industries to provide for these high demands.

The possibility for growth, expansion, and collaboration between these countries and their respective markets could create major opportunities for investment and profits.

Australia-Latin America – Australia’s colorful opal market

The opal gemstone is becoming a ‘vogue’ statement again in the fashion industry. Big-name designers are featuring colorful gemstone in pieces all over the world. Ultimately, this increases exposure, value, and demand for the opal. While there are different types of opals depending on where they are mined, Australia’s brand of the gemstone is by far the most popular.

Australia’s opal industry is the biggest in the world.

Australia became the leading producer of opals in the world in 1930 and has maintained this title ever since. Total, the Oceanic country supplies more than 90% of the world’s opals, with 80% of them coming specifically from South Australia. Moreover, global demand is growing rapidly, thus increasing the value of the overall industry. As a result, according to Australia’s Department for Energy and Mining, the total value of opal production in 2018 was over AU$16 million.

Australian opal mines

Additionally, the Department for Energy and Mining estimates that there is AU$4 billion worth of opals at the Mintabie Precious Stone Field. As a result, investors and mining companies are looking to get involved in this lucrative industry.

The epicenter of production is located around a town called Coober Pedy, where most of the mines and workers find success. Thus, investments and startups in this region tend to be successful and have favorable margins on the opal sales they conduct.

Emerald’s clear success in Latin America

Emeralds from Latin America are some of the most sought after gem in the world. More specifically, emeralds from Colombia and Brazil are some of the most prized variations and lucrative sources of the gemstone.

The Colombian emerald industry is ramping up and proving to be very lucrative. Their quality is what makes them the most desirable in the world. Ultimately, this makes them the most profitable for investors and businesses. Specifically, quality refers to the clarity and intensity of the green gemstone.

Colombia’s emerald mining companies find success in the Andes mountains

Colombia mines its emeralds from the Andes mountain range, which produces the clearest and richest emeralds in all the world. Collectively, experts deem Colombian emeralds to have the ‘perfect saturation’ out of all other emerald variations.

Brazilian emeralds

Furthermore, Brazil is one of the world’s leading producers of emeralds. However, the quality of Brazilian emeralds is not as high as their Colombian counterparts. Generally, these gemstones are lighter in color, have less intense saturation, and typically aren’t as clear. Moreover, the gem has a bluish hue to it, rather than the intense, eye-catching green of the Colombian emerald.

Although they produce a lower quality gem, the Brazilian emeralds are nonetheless in hot demand. Businesses have developed their own niche in the market in which they are selling a lesser quality gem for a cheaper price.

Brazil: a hub for precious stones

Other precious or semiprecious stones abound in the same region. Notably topazes, tourmalines, beryls, aquamarines, chrysoberyls, garnets, opals, and sapphires, as well as quartz of sufficiently high grade for use in the electronics industry are popular. The most valued of these is the imperial topaz, aquamarines, and sapphires.

Finally, Brazil is home to the largest production of gold in all of South America. In the first quarter of 2019, the country’s reserves increased to 67.40 tonnes, up from 67.30 tonnes Q4 of 2018. Total, in April of 2019, Brazil’s gold reserves reached an estimated value of US$2.8 billion.

Possible gemstone trade alliances

In terms of advantageous trade relations, Australia and Latin America have a series of well-established platforms to nurture collaboration. Firstly, Australia is hoping to develop relationships with members of the Pacific Alliance. Notably, countries such as Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia. If successful, Australia will have access to the Latin American demand for opals. Also, they would have closer access to the North American market for the iridescent gemstone.

Moreover, Australia’s top trading partners in Latin America include Brazil and Colombia. This dynamic has the potential to inspire trade agreements based around the gemstone industry between the countries.

The future of the Colombian emerald

As for Colombia as its own entity, the country is gearing up to attract major foreign investments. The emerald-rich country developed regulations around its mining industry to ensure safety, quality, and longevity of the industry.

Protection of the Colombian emerald is also in the works. The country is looking to establish an appellation of origin (AO) status for emeralds mined domestically. The goal is to ensure the validity and quality of the stone from the mines to the end-consumer. Ultimately, this attracts foreign investment to the industry because the emeralds will be deemed that much more valuable.

Get involved

The precious gemstone industry is presenting major opportunities for foreign investment and business expansion. With extensive experience in this market, Biz Latin Hub can create a personalized plan for your businesses path to success abroad.

Whether it be in Australia, Colombia, Brazil, or any Latin American country, Biz Latin Hub has the tools and tips to help you. Contact us here with questions or comments.

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Legal Team Australia

Legal Team Australia

Legal Team Australia is the Biz Latin Hub leading experts on doing business in Australia The Team writes on the news, doing business, law, and changing regulations. The team are experts in corporate law, Administrative law, Employment law, Immigration law and legal advisory services. Read more about them here. You can contact Legal Team Australia via our "contact us page".

Receive the latest news and advice about expanding your business globally
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest business news and advice about entity formation, legal entity compliance, accounting, back office and fiscal requirements. Receive the latest news and advice about expanding your business globally.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.