Friday, May 15, 2015

Where Stones Become Jewels

Working the emeralds.
This afternoon, I visited one of the many emerald workshops around El Rosario Plaza. S mall place in a nondescript building, it turns out stones worth from a few bucks to thousands of dollars. Some of the products of this dark little den may later decorate the bodies of royalty and millionaires.

The most valuable stones from Bogotá's emerald district go to Japan, Hong Kong, New York and Europe. Like Colombia's coffee, the lower-quality stones stay here.

Emerald miner and trader Angel Torres, who showed me the workshop, told me that, even after centuries of exploitation, only a tiny percentage of Colombia's emeralds have been mined (but how can they possibly know?), so the industry has lots of life left in it. Torres also said that one large, foreign-owned mine has tunnels extending 4 or 5 kilometers underground. Talk about claustrophobia!
Rough emeralds, which will be slected, cut and polished.

Cut and polished emeralds.

Down below on Plaza Rosario two men study stones in what is the city's informal, open-air emerald market. 

Because of their pallid color, these stones will never be worth much.
The emerald cutters' building on the east side of Plaza Rosario.
Interested in emeralds? You can visit the workshop and learn about the stones by contacting Angel Torres at 312-752-9544 or angball40 (at)

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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