Dealer Ejder Kaya sourced three exquisite tourmalines on a trip to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), using a network of local contacts connected to the Rubaya mines near Goma. He told Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough about the journey of the stones, a 15.50-carat pink tourmaline (lot 279), a 43.50-carat pear-shaped green tourmaline (lot 280), and a 10.00-carat cushion-shaped blueish-green tourmaline (lot 281), which are now listed under Ejder’s company Afro Trading on the Gembridge coloured gemstone trading platform (www.gembridge.com)
Ejder, how did you source the three tourmalines from the DRC?
I bought them from locals in Goma in February 2020. I was there for another business deal which didn’t come off. Then a local gem dealer, connected to the Rubaya mining area near Goma, whom I had known for a long time, convinced me that tourmalines could be a good business for me, so I gave it a try.
What kind of buyer could be interested in these stones? How could they be used in jewellery?
I think these three stones would be of interest to high-end jewellers. The 43.50-ct green tourmaline could be a great pendant or brooch.
43.50-ct green tourmaline (Gembridge lot 280)
The same could be said of the 15.50-ct pink and the 10-ct blueish green tourmalines but these could also be set in a ring.
15.50-ct pink tourmaline (Gembridge lot 279)
10-ct blueish green tourmaline (Gembridge lot 281)
After you bought the stones, what happened next on their journeys?
A gem cutter contact in Sweden introduced me to a master cutter, David Olson who is over 80 years old and has been cutting gems for more than 50 years.
I got in touch with him, and sent him the blueish rough stone that I had bought in Goma. He cut this into the 10-ct blueish-green stone, which is now lot 281 on the Gembridge platform.
At the same time I was looking for a gem cutter in Idar-Oberstein, Germany’s gemstone cradle. I found gem cutter Bernd Cullmann, who is also over 80 years old like the Swedish master.
He won a gold medal for sprinting in the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics. I called him, we talked about my stones and I later visited him. He cut the 43.50-carat green tourmaline (Gembridge lot 280), the 15.50-ct pink tourmaline (Gembridge lot 279), and some other stones that belonged to me.
How important is it to you that you know the entire journey of these stones from mine to market?
İt is nice to buy stones from the source where possible, knowing that my money is going into the local economy, including the villagers and dealers near the mines. I then put my energy into finding highly qualified cutters. It gives me a good feeling to sell a stone in this way.
How did you get into the world of gem dealing? What are your hopes and dreams in the future?
I was in Africa pursuing another business deal which didn’t happen and so then trying something else I ended up buying tourmalines.
I would like eventually to learn how to cut stones, and would love to see my daughter find her way into this business — as a cutter, gem specialist, designer, jeweller – or maybe even a gem hunter.
I would love to be involved in a project in the developing world to create a training centre for people to learn gem cutting and sell their stones internationally. This could make a valuable contribution to economic development.