INTERVIEW – Gembridge executive Helen Molesworth sees education as key to building gemstones marketplace


Helen Molesworth, head of business development at digital marketplace Gembridge, talks about her recent trips to Dubai and Sri Lanka and the importance of delivering education to help develop a more transparent global gemstones market.

Helen Molesworth

Helen Molesworth

Helen, you have just returned from a trip to Dubai and Sri Lanka. What was the main objective of your trip? 

I was in Dubai with the Sri Lankan Gem and Jewellery Trade Association to present an extraordinary collection of Sri Lankan sapphires at the Expo 2020 to help promote Sri Lankan sapphires. I gave a talk on the history, value and importance of Sri Lanka sapphires at the Sri Lankan Pavilion at Expo 2020, for VIP invited guests, and also a dozen media interviews on TV and radio to increase awareness of sapphires from Sri Lanka, and especially to celebrate the extraordinary exhibition at the Sri Lankan pavilion.

I was there with our Gembridge Ambassador for Sri Lanka, Armil Sammoon, and we went on to Sri Lanka to hold meetings and presentations with the Sri Lankan trade on behalf of Gembridge. I met with the most influential and important figures in the local industry, to discuss the platform as well as industry and local issues, and spent further time visiting the gem mines and markets to talk to and revisit the true ‘Mine to Market’ aspect of Sri Lanka. It was my fourth or fifth mines visit there, so I was delighted to return to see old friends and new mines, and also with our newest Gembridge venture of ‘Mine to Market’ Collections, one of which will be Sri Lanka.

Please describe the highlights of what you saw at the Sri Lanka Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020.

An extraordinary collection of 20 world class Sri Lankan sapphires from some of the biggest gem dealers in the country. Five of the gems were over 100 carats each, mostly blue cushions and cabochons, and one – a yellow cushion-shaped sapphire –  was over 200 carats. Other highlights included an 18 carat star ruby – an extremely rare gem – and all were of course mined in Sri Lanka. It was a remarkable achievement of the Sri Lankan Gem And Jewellery Trade Association to have worked together and so tirelessly in achieving this unique exhibition.

What is Gembridge’s role in educating both the trade and consumers about gemstones and jewellery? Why is this needed?

One of the pillars of the Gembridge model – together with trust and transparency – is education, and helping consumers to not only understand gemstones, but also to feel a part of the inner knowledge within the gem industry. We have evolved over time as a very fragmented and varied industry, with different models of doing business in all the different gem producing countries, and even different and sometimes inconsistent terminologies or things as basic as gem materials.

This adds great colour and excitement – as well as sometimes confusion – even to those of us in the industry, but from the outside looking inwards, it can be extremely difficult, or near impossible to understand.

For this reason we at Gembridge have a tight disclosure policy for all gems sold, and believe in assisting buyers through education and transparency, and giving our ‘Friends of Gembridge’ (the consumer buyers) as much ‘inside access’ into the industry as possible.

Helen visiting a mining area near Ratnapura in Sri Lanka

Helen visiting a mining area near Ratnapura in Sri Lanka

Now that Gembridge has raised its visibility further, how will its ties with the Sri Lankan gemstone community boost business? What are the challenges?

The Sri Lankan gem trade is fully behind Gembridge, and clearly excited by our various initiatives, including our Mine to Market Collection concept, as well as our ground breaking partnership with Chinese online retailer ZBird which lists our catalogue.

Sri Lanka itself as a country is currently facing many challenges, particularly financial and logistical, and so any opportunities to trade through Gembridge and our Sri Lankan ambassador and specific initiatives will be highly welcomed. I am delighted to have such close ties to the trade in this country, where I not only count many colleagues, but also many dear friends.

Helen visiting a mining area near Ratnapura in Sri Lanka

Helen visiting a mining area near Ratnapura in Sri Lanka

What will be your next trip for Gembridge and what will be your objective?

My next trips will be the various gem shows coming up in the next few months, including INHORGENTA MUNICH in April and GemGeneve in Geneva in May. I will also be a guest speaker at the Scottish and Swiss Gemmological Conferences, also in April and May.

This all fits in extremely well with our focus on trade involvement, as well sourcing the best sellers for the platform, and of course education and knowledge sharing to both industry and consumer markets.

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