Kagem introduces its largest high-quality emerald yet – Chipembele, the rhino emerald

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Gemfields has unveiled “Chipembele”, the latest and largest significant gemstone discovered at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia.

The discovery of Chipembele follows Insofu (Bemba for ‘elephant’ – discovered in 2010) and Inkalamu (‘lion’ – 2018), all of which were formed within a relatively close proximity at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia., which is the world’s single largest producing emerald mine, owned by Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government’s Industrial Development Corporation.

Chipembele was discovered on 13 July 2021 by geologist Manas Banerjee and Richard Kapeta (who was also the team leader for the discovery of Inkalamu in October 2018) and his team at Kagem. The discovery, they said, “left everyone speechless”. Kapeta shouted in joy, “look at this rhino horn!” And hence, the gemstone found its name.

Weighing 7,525 carats (1,505g), Chipembele – which means ‘rhino’ in Bemba – has earned a place in this exclusive club, and a name to match. It stands proud as the largest of the three significant finds at the Kagem emerald mine in Lufwanyama, with Insofu weighing in at 6,225 carats and Inkalamu at 5,655. The names of these three significant emeralds pay homage to the wildlife that is such an integral part of the landscape of Africa, and as precious as the coloured gemstones beneath the soil.

Ten per cent of the sales price of Inkalamu was donated to aid conservation efforts benefitting its namesake, shared between carnivore tracking projects in Zambia and large carnivore conservation projects in the Niassa reserve in Mozambique. Chipembele will maintain this tradition, and a share of the proceeds of sale will support the North Luangwa Conservation Programme in Zambia, to aid critical black rhinoceros conservation efforts.

“A key Gemfields tenet is that Africa’s gemstone wealth must contribute meaningfully not only to host-country economies, but also to conservation efforts, host communities and the next generation by way of education, healthcare and livelihoods projects. We are delighted that the legacy of Chipembele will support rhinoceros conservation efforts, bringing a positive impact to conservation communities in Zambia.” Jackson Mtonga, Kagem Sort House Assistant Manager.

Naming of uncut emeralds is a tradition reserved only for the most rare and remarkable gems. While no official record exists, it is thought that not more than a couple of dozen gemstones have ever been given their own name, and it is extremely unusual to encounter a gemstone weighing more than 1,000 carats.

Chipembele formed under near perfect conditions, allowing the combination of the elements beryllium, chromium and vanadium to crystalise into large, distinct hexagonal crystal structures with glassy surfaces. The recovery of such a large high-quality emerald is extremely rare and was made possible by the skilled Kagem mining team, who practise gentle extraction techniques when mining in areas where emerald mineralisation is present. The rich, golden green hue and gemmy nature of this emerald will be appealing to buyers looking to yield fine quality faceted emeralds after the cutting and polishing process.

This remarkable gem is due to be sold at the next Gemfields emerald auction, with viewing expected to take place from early November. Selected premium emeralds brought to the auction will once again receive Gübelin Gem Lab’s ‘provenance proof’ service, which embeds nanoparticles coded with information within the gemstone that provides key details pertaining to the gemstone’s origin – like miner, mine location and date – in a process referred to as ‘the Emerald Paternity Test’. The process provides greater clarity of origin to gemstone customers, aiding transparency and trust in the industry. The winning bidder of Chipembele will be given the option of a unique DNA nano-tag identity, developed by Gübelin, ensuring that the cut and polished gems that it yields can be identified and certified as having originated from this extraordinary gemstone.

Image captions to be credited as: Kagem introduces Chipembele, the rhino emerald, 2021
Link to high resolution imagery:  Press – Gemfields


Gillian Langmead
Langmead & Baker Ltd
Tel: +260 979 060705

Head office
Helena Choudhury
Head of PR and Communications
Tel: +44 (0)207 518 3420

Notes to editors
Kagem responsible sourcing highlights

  • Kagem is committed to ensuring that the community continues to benefit positively from its operations through various sustainability programmes focused on alleviating poverty and aligned with government policies, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Vision 2030
  • The mine has spent more than USD 2.75 million on community projects, including:
    • Rehabilitation of the 18.7 km road connecting Chief Nkana and Chief Lumpuma’s chiefdoms from Kandole to Kafwaya village in Lufwanyama district
    • Construction of the Nkana Health Centre
    • Construction and equipping of a new Chapula Secondary School
    • Construction of new buildings at Chapula Primary School
    • Building of teachers’ accommodation at Kapila Community School
    • Support for the Blessing, Kapila Green Farms, Twende and Twasanta projects including distribution of farming inputs to Chief Lumpuma
    • Improvements to Chief Nkana and Chief Lumpuma’s palaces
    • Support towards Covid-19 efforts including the donation of relief items to Nkana Health Centre and other health facilities in the Lufwanyama
  • Kagem’s USD 345,000 industry training initiative is sponsoring 12 students from the geological and mining engineering departments at the School of Mines at the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU) over a period of eight years.
  • Since acquiring 75 percent of Kagem in 2008, Gemfields has been meticulous in declaring revenue, which has reached approximately USD 701.4 million from the sale of emeralds at auctions both locally and internationally, and which are overseen by representatives from the Ministry of Mines and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). Proceeds from the auctions are repatriated to Zambia, generating valuable foreign exchange for the nation.
  • Kagem has contributed approximately USD 122.9 million to the Zambian government in cumulative corporation taxes, mineral royalties, export duty and dividends. This means that around 18 percent of Kagem’s revenues have flowed to the Zambian government.
  • Kagem currently provides more than 1,100 direct jobs.

About Kagem Mining
Kagem Mining Ltd, based in Lufwanyama, is believed to be the world’s single largest producing emerald mine. Kagem is 75% owned by Gemfields, in a model partnership with the Zambian government.
Kagem aims to emulate the values of Gemfields and operate in a way that contributes positively to the national economy, while taking a leading role in modernising the coloured gemstone sector and building sustainable livelihoods for the communities around the mine. Kagem believes that coloured gemstones should be mined and marketed by championing three key values – transparency, legitimacy and integrity.
Gemfields is a world-leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones. In addition to Kagem, Gemfields is the operator and 75% owner of Montepuez Ruby Mining in Mozambique (at one of the most significant recently discovered ruby deposits in the world), as well as bulk sampling licences in Ethiopia, amongst others. 
Gemfields has developed a proprietary grading system and a pioneering auction and trading platform to provide a consistent supply of coloured gemstones to the global jewellery market.
Fabergé – an iconic name with an exceptional heritage – is a member of the Gemfields Group. This enables Gemfields to improve its positioning, perception and consumer awareness of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones through the beauty of design and craftsmanship. 
Gemfields’ responsibly sourced gemstones are the preferred choice for show pieces created by many world-renowned luxury houses and cutting-edge designers.

North Luangwa Conservation Programme
Established in 1986, the North Luangwa Conservation Programme is a partnership between the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife to conserve the North Luangwa ecosystem. The programme delivers hands-on and effective conservation focusing on protected area management and community empowerment.
The North Luangwa Conservation Programme has built its conservation success on strategies that strive for long-term impact by involving communities in management decisions to generate pride, social capital and socio-economic benefits to improve conservation outcomes.

North Luangwa National Park
Found in the oldest section of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, North Luangwa National Park is the most northern of the three national parks found in the Luangwa Valley. The Luangwa River has shaped this unique landscape over millennia that many regard as “The Real Africa.”
Founded as a game reserve in 1938, this remote 4,636km² tract of land was re-gazetted to become a national park in 1972. The North Luangwa protected ecosystem has now grown to over 22,000km²of virtually untouched landscapes, with the National Park at its heart.
The ecosystem is home to a unique and diverse species community and is one of the last large undisturbed regions in central Africa. As the only in park Zambia boasting the Big 5, it offers one of the most spectacular settings for game viewing experiences in Zambia, if not the entire continent.

Gemfields: | Investors | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Fabergé: Fabergé.com | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Kagem Mining: LinkedIn
Montepuez Ruby Mining: LinkedIn

Leave a Comment