- This May, Fabergé and Gemfields celebrate the month’s birthstone and ‘A Life in Colour’ with responsibly sourced Zambian emeralds.
- Presented against the backdrop of the 5,655-carat Lion Emerald, the Lady Libertine I timepiece is inspired by the Zambian landscape which surrounds Gemfields’ emerald mine, where this remarkable gemstone was uncovered.
- The timepiece features hand carved rough emeralds which map the heart of Zambia on the watch face, made possible only by Fabergé’s exclusive Dalliance movement, which allows the hands to travel around the outside of the watch face.
May’s birthstone, the emerald, is said to symbolise new beginnings, loyalty, hope, peace and security. Marking the occasion is Fabergé’s Lady Libertine I timepiece – pictured here with Gemfields’ Inkalamu, the 5,655-carat Lion Emerald.
Lady Libertine I was first imagined when Fabergé and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, founder of Geneva-based award-winning watch movement creator Agenhor, visited Gemfields’ emerald mine, Kagem, in Zambia. The cohort were enchanted as they watched natural emeralds touch human hands for the first time in 500 million years.
Witnessing the vast, natural splendour of the Zambian landscape from above gave Fabergé and Agenhor an idea: to reproduce that image with rough emeralds, using the gemstones as they are created by nature. The team’s set about making this vision a reality. The handcarved rough emerald representing the regions rivers – with the banks outlined in fine gold filigree, and the land brought to life by cut and polished emeralds and diamonds, depicting the light play over the African landscape. The result is framed in an 18 karat rose gold case with 1.84 carats of brilliant cut diamonds adorning the bezel.
“Rough emerald is very fragile and is rarely used in the watch industry,” says Aurelie Picaud, Fabergé’s director of timepieces. “Our workmasters hand carved the stone very carefully, drawing out the beauty of each rough emerald. The result is a unique and fitting tribute to the sweeping savannas, striking earth colours and lush green landscapes that contribute to the glory of Africa.”
This unique portrayal is only possible in a watch face as a result of Fabergé’s exclusive Dalliance movement 6911, which allows the hands to travel around the outside of the watch face, leaving a space for the gems on
the dial and central dome to reproduce the timeless splendour of the Zambia landscape.
At the heart of the story is Africa – the emeralds found in Gemfields’ Kagem mine were forged over 500 million years ago by a combination of rare minerals, heat and pressure. The emerald shown here with Lady Libertine I is Inkalamu, the Lion Emerald – an exceptionally rare high quality 5,655 carat (1.13kg) emerald crystal, which shows remarkable clarity with a perfectly balanced golden green colour.
The naming of uncut emeralds is a tradition reserved for the rarest and most remarkable gems. While no official records exist, perhaps two dozen have merited their own name and with the majority weighing less than 1,000 carats. Gemfields last named an emerald in 2010 when it unveiled the ‘Insofu’, the Elephant emerald.
On this occasion, Gemfields chose ‘Inkalamu’ (meaning ‘lion’ in the local Bemba language) in honour of the work carried out by two of Gemfields’ conservation partners, the Zambian Carnivore Programme (www.zambiancarnivores.org) and the Niassa Carnivore Project in Mozambique (www.niassalion.org). In addition, Gemfields divided 10% of Inkalamu’s auction proceeds equally between these two carnivore initiatives. These partners work tirelessly to smooth the relationship between Africa’s carnivores and local communities across vast, remote and challenging areas. The health of carnivores, being at the apex of the food chain, is widely regarded as a good indicator of the health of the wider eco-system.
Gemfields has 3-year sponsorships with each organisation in order to aid them in wildlife conservation, promote community development and stem the problem of poaching by developing alternative livelihoods.
The Kagem mine is 75% owned by Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government. Gemfields establishes schools and health clinics for communities around its mine in Zambia, as well as agricultural programmes designed to provide sustainable livelihoods for thousands of families.