They noted that the Ratnapura Lanka Gemstones a subsidiary of Gemfields has shortlisted the preferred suppliers in response to the call for expressions of interest from licensed mining companies and registered gem dealers in Sri Lanka recently.
After preliminary screening, a number of interested parties were short listed for further assessment, of which the final few were selected for the initial phase, they revealed.
Selection was based on responsible sourcing credentials and in accordance with Gemfields’ global sourcing policy. Amongst the companies selected as preferred bidders are Ashkar Gems, Weslow Gems and Diamonds, Mushan Gems and Lapidary, SGH Gems and Ceylon Facets.
Gem fields will offer support to the Sri Lankan gemstone industry through its technical capabilities, proprietary grading systems and marketing methodologies, Ian Harebottle, CEO said.
Through working with these preferred partners, Gemfields intends to establish a supply chain which would help grow the sector and contribute to national economic development through the payment of rightful royalties, taxes and forex.
Mr. Harebottle, commented; “Sri Lanka is already world-renowned for the quality of its gemstones and we are confident that our proven expertise will augment the established market there, benefiting the local mining community and the Sri Lankan gemstone industry as a whole.”
Ashkar Ali Mubarak, third-generation gem expert and Managing Director of short listed company Ashkar Gems, said that as a trader, miner or investor, he has been practicing ethical sourcing for more than 3 years and being short listed by Gemfields is a true milestone in his career.
Director of Weslow Gems and Diamonds, Gamini Wettasinghe from Balangoda, a veteran with 30 years of trading experience, foresees that local traders will gain a better price for their stones.
Mr Wettasinghe was of the view that at present the industry is dominated and enjoyed by a limited few and can be unfair to small scale, innocent workers.
Establishment of this supply chain will help to improve the foreign exchange of the country and will help to prevent poverty among the smaller players who are engaged in this industry, he added.