FURA Gems have plunged into the Australian sapphires. New origin, forgotten gem. Read all about how Dev Shetty, the talented president and CEO of FURA Gems, lays the ground for a new narrative. "This new luxury product creates long-term growth opportunities in the jewelry industry,'' he says. Let's see why!
Australian sapphires were discovered in Queensland some 150 years ago, and Australian miners have since then unearthed sapphires in an amazing rainbow of colors, something so beautiful that buyers worldwide rarely get to see. The unsung heroes of the global gemstone industry, as FURA calls them, are on their journey of discovery.
Once upon a time...
It all started with the accidental discovery of sapphire corundum by gold miners in Queensland in 1851. Artisanal mining of sapphires began in 1919, and initially, the most incredible gems went to Europe. Flow production started only in the 1950s.
Did you know that by the 1980s, Australia was responsible for nine-tenths of global sapphire production? It mined 30 million carats annually ($90–100 million). However, unfortunately, the miners could not create an organized, worldwide market for Australian sapphires. And without such a strategy, Australian sapphires competed directly with gems from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, and Cambodia. Demand did not take off. Despite formidable reserves, the Australian mines had to restrict their operations within a few years and eventually shut.
What happened next: Australian sapphires got dumped at meager prices, depleting profits and the high cost of mining in Queensland made the business unviable. Australian sapphires were unlikely to find their way back into the buyer's favor any time soon.
But in 2020, things changed; in this pandemic year, a robust, multinational mining startup based in the United Arab Emirates showed an interest in outback sapphires. Founded in 2017 by a globetrotting young executive problem-solver named Dev Shetty, FURA Gems was already mining gemstones on different continents, including emeralds in Coscuez, Colombia, and rubies in Montepuez, Mozambique. In 2020, FURA acquired the Australian sapphire mining leaseholders Capricorn Sapphire and Great Northern Mining.
The vision of Dev Shetty is to organize the largely unorganized global color gemstone industry. It is a grand vision, but one that his company is well on its way to achieving. FURA has been building international recognition for the natural beauty of exotic blue, blue-green, green, and multi-hued 'parti' sapphires. FURA Gems wants to clean up and rebuild the market while boosting the interests of Queensland and its people.
FURA is gradually but steadily increasing the volume of production of rare Australian sapphires.
"In 2021, FURA Gems will produce 5.5 million carats of Australian sapphires," Shetty tells us in his down-to-earth manner. He continues, "this will go up to about 10 million carats in 2022. This progress reaffirms our commitment to supply stability in Australian sapphires''.
The Fura team - nine people in total, relies on FURA Gems' state-of-the-art systems to achieve stable, minimally invasive, and scientific mining. Not only does this approach ensure a predictable supply downstream, but it also sets a high benchmark for the industry. It comes as no surprise that miners worldwide are paying attention.
Shetty expects FURA's pathbreaking efforts to draw other serious players into the category. "Based on our thorough geological studies," he says, "we remain assured of a minimum mine-life of 15 years. We can expand this by adding more mining area and increasing exploration." His assurance grows out of diligence and transparency.
"To boost the supply of Australian sapphires," he says, "FURA will install its second sapphire mining plant, with a capacity of 250,000 carats per month, by early 2022." This will bolster the output of the existing plant, which has a capacity of 500,000 carats per month.
Besides increasing capacity, the colored gemstone mining giant is progressively building the pillars of a high-growth category. Gemstones must be graded after mining.
FURA is ready with, again, a state-of-the-art grading system for Australian sapphires. "A thorough gradation of roughs across metrics will benefit stakeholders by giving clarity on the value of the stones," Shetty explains.
But this is not all; Shetty is building the category of Australian sapphires to the retail end.
FURA recently launched the Fura Marketing Council, a body whose sole objective is the creation of a new narrative for color gemstones in the consumer domain. Storytelling at its best and will help shape clever marketing that celebrates the unique traits of sapphires, among other gemstones, to educate consumers and unlock their enthusiasm.
FURA is also committed to developing a robust 'mine of origin' program. "FURA Gems will help all stakeholders across the value chain trace the source of each Australian sapphire back to the Great Northern Mining and Capricorn Sapphire mines, thus spreading trust in the gemstone vertical," Shetty says.
The Australian government sets high ethical and environmental standards for the mining industry. FURA is committed to compliance, in both spirit and letter. Going above and beyond, the company has applied for membership in the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), the London-based, global standards-setting organization of the jewelry and watch industry.
FURA has one more pathbreaking plan in the works: a full-fledged auction platform. FURA intends this platform to establish a level playing field for the sapphires trade. The inaugural sapphires auction will be held during 15–19 November in Bangkok, Thailand.
And the promise is made: you can expect to see Australian sapphires in fine jewelry stores for yourself soon enough. With FURA hard at work on multiple fronts and along the entire pipeline, the industry expects to see assured supply.
The sapphire is the inspiration, says Shetty. He wants the world to share his admiration for this gem. FURA is on its way to accomplishing just that, in the measured, resolute, full-spectrum, far-sighted yet quick-moving way that the gems and jewelry world has come to expect of this unusual startup.
Personally, I love to see all these amazing colors and can't wait to see more Australian sapphires in jewelry everywhere.