Fura Gems: The New Reality of Colored Gems
With Dev Shetty, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fura Gems, to deepen the knowledge of a young mining reality, which in a few years has achieved great successes
«I wanted to build a mining company that could become the driving force for bringing transformative changes in the industry and realising its optimum potential»
What led you to found Fura Gems in 2017?
My stint with another coloured gemstone mining company in the early years of my career gave me a deep insight into the prevailing and fundamental issues in the coloured gemstone industry. Firstly, the demand far exceeds the supply; of the rough market of about US $ 2 billion for emeralds, rubies and sapphires; only 15% comes from organised sources. This means there is potential to exponentially grow the organised supply of ethical, traceable and sustainably mined coloured gemstones. Secondly, the industry has not been assured of a steady supply in the past. As a result, manufacturers and retailers did not expand their infrastructure and capabilities to grow their business in this category. I saw the opportunity to assure the trade of a steady and scalable supply source and build renewed confidence in the category. Lastly, the industry has so far lacked a unifying vision. I wanted to build a mining company that could become the driving force for bringing transformative changes in the industry and realising its optimum potential. These are the predominant factors that strengthened my resolve to transform the industry meaningfully and found Fura.
What were the goals at the beginning? And how have they changed over the years?
Goals are always short-term. It will keep changing for a young mining company as we set new milestones every day. Having said that, we are ambitious about the future of the global colour gemstones industry. The overarching vision is to lead the change in the industry by creating a stable source of sustainably and ethically mined colour gemstones. That is and will remain at the core of what we do.
Fura Gems is the first and only mining company to explore and mine all three categories of colored gemstones, why this choice?
We wanted to organize the precious gemstone industry and cater to those discerning buyers who value a precious gemstone not only for its rarity and uniqueness but also for how it impacts the community and environment at its origin. From a customer standpoint, those buying precious color gemstones will have the same buying considerations for all three categories. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to pursue mining in all the big three. Fura is the only mining company with active colour gemstone mining operations in three continents, namely rubies in Mozambique, emeralds in Colombia and sapphires in Australia.
«Fura is the only mining company with active colour gemstone mining operations in three continents, namely rubies in Mozambique, emeralds in Colombia and sapphires in Australia»
How challenging is it?
Yes, indeed, it is challenging. More so because we are a start-up mining company. At Fura, we are building a culture of taking the risks as long as the purpose is rewarding.
What are the fundamental pillars on which a mining company must be founded today to respond to the needs of the sector?
For color gemstones to grow to a $6 billion market in a decade, more players need to organize themselves, and new players need to join in. or the industry’s collective growth, each player has to build their business on grounds of transparency, sustainability and fair-trade practice.
You said: “With category diversification, comes great market responsibility”. What kind of responsibility?
As a mining company, we cannot simply focus on boosting the supply of gemstones. The more considerable responsibility is to aid the journey of all the stakeholders, from the manufacturers to the customer, to buying colored gemstones from an ethical and traceable source. The majority of the goods in the market are still from unorganized sources. It necessitates creating more awareness and disseminating authentic information about the gemstones they buy, building more awareness about the quality of gemstones, and the importance of knowing their origin and environmental and societal impact.
Who are the main target clients? Do they have special needs?
We are mainly working through the trade channels of manufacturers and retail partners to reach the end customers.
«For the industry’s collective growth, each player has to build their business on grounds of transparency, sustainability and fair-trade practice»
Last July 2022, you discovered the “Estrela de Fura” in Mozambique, an exceptional and rare 101-carat ruby. Are there other important discoveries worth mentioning?
Mozambican rubies have great age and origin. These mines are 500 million years old, much older than Burmese mines, barely 75 million years old, though the latter is better known.
Mozambique is also a unique source of large-sized high-quality rubies. We have discovered many high-quality large-size rubies, but so far, none compare to Estrela. There is enormous potential, though, as our mines have many natural geological traps. This is where the large-size rubies carried along with the ancient river channels get trapped. These mines are proving to be the most valuable and unique deposits in the 21st century as these traps are unique to our mines in Mozambique.
What are the challenges of the future?
The challenges are typical of any highly capital-intensive long lead time business. Though, we have been able to overcome most of those due to a highly capable and experienced management team.