NEW YORK—An international sale that boldly proposes to trade emerald jewelry to support conservation of elephant life in India is launching this month. The event will culminate in a grand auction conducted by Sotheby’s, which will take place on Oct. 14 at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India.
The “Emeralds for Elephants” sale involves an international collaboration between 10 of India’s leading jewelry designers; Gemfields, a mining company specializing in ethical production of colored gemstones; World Land Trust; and many others.
Gemfields selected 10 elite jewelers across India to design unique creations that feature Zambian emeralds and draw inspiration from elephants and their natural habitat.
The most notable of the bejeweled and elephantine offerings is a Ganesha sculpture—boasting a 638-carat Zambian emerald from Gemfields—created by Arzan Khambatta, a well-known Indian artist.
The estimates for this year’s collection range from approximately $41,000 to $200,000.
In its loftiest realm, the sale aims to raise awareness and funds for a conservation initiative that would benefit the increasingly threatened Asian elephants in India.
“As India’s farmlands and cities expand, the Asian elephant population is experiencing large-scale habitat fragmentation and loss,” states the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on its website. The wandering elephants sometimes run into conflict with humans by destroying locals’ crops and property. The result is that elephants face huge trenches, firecrackers, and sometimes poisoning from locals.
Approximately 60 percent of all Asian elephants in the world reside in India, according to WTI. The nonprofit organization has identified “88 vital corridors for elephant movement” across the country and is working to protect these regions to allow for conservation of elephant habitat and life.
This year’s “Emeralds for Elephants” sale follows a similar, and successful, sale held last year in London, which resulted in a direct contribution of $120,000 to the World Land Trust, one of WTI’s partners in the conservation effort.
“Our London auction for the ‘Indian Elephant Corridor’ project helped to raise a significant amount last year, and we are sure of a good response in India,” said Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle, according to a press release. “We sincerely hope that our efforts in giving to the environment will help build larger and more viable habitats.”
With a mining process that complies with fair-trade standards and environmental best practices, as well as an established certification program, Gemfields says it can confirm the ethical provenance of every Zambian emerald it puts on the market.“Gemfields have not only demonstrated their ethics, but are also committed to helping the natural environment of elephants, both in Africa where their emeralds are mined, but also in India where many of them are sold,” said John Burton, CEO of World Land Trust. “In 2010 they were one of the major contributors to the program, … creating corridors to allow elephants to move freely between protected areas.”
Other sponsors of the sale include Jaguar Land Rover and the Gemological Institute of America.