By Ben Kangwa
Recently, Gemstone Marketing and Consultancy Limited (GMC), a Zambian family owned company, charmed American Gemstone and Jewelry buyers at an exhibition held at the Zambia Embassy in Washington DC on the 3rd December, 2011
|Rashmi Sharma (MD GMC Ltd)|
The Embassy hosted the show as part of its trade promotional activities as well as the enhancement of commercial activities between Zambia and the USA
In welcoming over 75 invited guests who attended the exhibition, Charge D’affaires at the Embassy, Mr. Alfred Chioza alluded to the fact that the show signified the ongoing efforts aimed at building trade between the USA and Zambia in the spirit of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
He stated that such an exhibition would further propel the relationship between Zambia and the USA to much higher levels and for direct benefit between the two countries
“This event will boost business ties for the benefit of the two peoples,” he added.
In addition to the gemstones and jewelry on display, the event presented an opportunity to promote to Americans the myriad business and tourism opportunities available in Zambia.
First Secretary (Tourism) Mrs. Margaret Makungo made available information on tourism opportunities in Zambia while other information on business and investment opportunities available were systematically distributed to the invited guests.
GMC Managing Director Rashmi Sharma first provided a short video that showed the transformation of a Zambian gemstone, from the moment that it is mined from the earth until as a finished product of an exquisite piece of jewelry. She also made a power-point presentation about Zambia’s place in the gemological world.
After the video show and power-point presentation Ms Rashmi Sharma noted that Zambia has begun to gain world recognition as a supplier of Gemstones.
She said Zambia has the largest deposit of tourmalines, aquamarine and amethyst in Africa as well as the second largest deposits of emeralds in the world.
Ms Sharma said the gemstone sector has an export potential greater than the current value of copper and cobalt exports.
She told the invited guests that her company, which has been in operation since 1992 and has almost a thousand clients in the US is one of only two companies in Zambia engaged in all the vertically integrated fields of the gemstone business.
Ms Sharma said GMC mines blue-green and pink Tourmaline gemstones and Aquamarine gemstones at the Kumanga Mine in the Mkushi gemstone belt.
“The company also stocks Emerald, Amethyst, Garnets (Rhodolite and Spessartite), Sapphire, Tanzanite, Quarts and many more. With the exception of Tanzanite and Diamonds that are used as decorative accessories in its jewelry, GMC sources all its stones from Zambia,” she added
GMC employs approximately 40 Zambians who cut and polish gemstones and manufacture top quality jewelry in gold and silver apart from government approved valuers of gemstones.
It has three retail outlets in Lusaka that operate under the name “The Jewel” which are located at the InterContinental Hotel, Manda Hill Shopping Center and at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Ms. Sharma also said the company already exports to individuals and leading gemstone houses in America, Asia, Europe and Africa. She added that there was a potential growing market for the Zambian gemstone in China as well.
She has traveled widely to spread the word about the quality of Zambian gemstones and jewelry. Every year, Rashmi undertakes private visits to the United States and Europe during which she relies on her network of friends and business associates to host by “invitation only” shows.
During the 2011 AGOA Forum Trade Exhibition at Mulungushi International Conference Center, GMC organized an exhibition stand in the Zambia Pavillion. The exhibition attracted a huge number of international visitors.
“Our stand had a string of foreign visitors every-day. They were amazed at the quality of Zambian gemstones. Some of them could not believe that the polished and finished products were all local from Kalomo, Mkushi and from the North Western Province,” she said.
No wonder US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say while delivering remarks at the launch of the Zambian-American Chamber of Commerce on June 11, 2011, “…..Where is Rashmi Sharma? There she is. She and her brother used the AGOA trade preferences to expand their local jewelry business all the way to the United States.
Now, that’s good for Zambia, but it is also good for American consumers who want high quality, beautiful jewelry, and some examples of which I saw yesterday at the exhibition at the convention center.”
The author is Press Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Washington DC