Guinness World Records / The “Chipembele” emerald
The Kagem Emerald mine in Zambia unearthed an extraordinary gem in 2021 – a 7,525 carat (1.505 kg) emerald crystal, the largest gem-quality emerald ever found. Named “Chipembele”, which means “rhino” in the Bemba dialect, the crystal has been recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest uncut emerald.
Previous record setting gem-quality emeralds
History is full of some of the most beautiful and precious gemstones the world has ever seen, and the emerald is no exception. The largest gem-quality emeralds throughout history have been discovered in some of the most remote regions of the world, and their beauty and rarity have made them highly sought after.
The Teodora Emerald
Joya / The famous deep green Teodora emerald
The Teodora Emerald is one of the largest gem-quality emeralds in the world and was found in Brazil in the 1920s. It weighs an astonishing 1,383 carats, meaning it was previously the largest known emerald of its kind in the world. The emerald is said to have been discovered by a priest in a river, and it has since been cut into a variety of shapes, including a pear-shaped emerald that weighs in at over 500 carats.
The Duke of Devonshire Emerald
International gem society / The Duke of Devonshire emerald, one of the world’s largest uncut emeralds
The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is another impressive emerald that was discovered in Colombia in the late 19th century. It weighs an incredible 1,383.93 carats and is said to have been found in a mine in the Chivor region of Colombia.
The Bahia Emerald
BHCourier / The Bahia emerald
The Bahia Emerald is another one of the largest gem-quality emeralds ever found. Weighing approximately 341 kg, the emerald originated from Bahia, Brazil. The stunning emerald narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, during a period when the emerald was stored in a warehouse in New Orleans.
The effect of the discovery
The Chipembele emerald is unique in its hexagonal shape, which is thought to resemble a rhino horn.
Because of its shape and name, a section of the proceeds raised by the emerald’s sale will go towards the North Luangwa Conservation Programme in Zambia; specifically to help with Black rhino conservation.
Dennis Stogsdill / Line of Elephants walking through the brush
The North Luangwa Conservation Programme in Zambia is a unique conservation effort that has been making great strides in protecting the biodiversity of the North Luangwa Valley. Their aim is to protect and restore the natural habitats and species of the region, while also providing economic opportunities for local communities within Zambia. Through the programme, the North Luangwa National Park and its surrounding areas have been transformed into a sanctuary of wildlife and nature.
Henning Borgersen / Cheetah perched on a branch in the Luangwa National Park
The North Luangwa Valley is home to some of the most diverse wildlife in Zambia, including the African Elephant, the African Wild Dog, the Cheetah, and more. The park is also home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and is a critical habitat for many endangered species including the Black Rhino which this magnificent emerald will help protect.
Birger Strahl / Male lion lying in grass
Endangered black rhinos are one of the most iconic and beloved African species. Sadly, their population has been on the decline for decades due to poaching and habitat loss. In 2020, the black rhino population was estimated to have fallen down to less than 5,000 individuals.
Because of poaching, the black rhino population has declined by 97% since 1960. The illegal hunting of black rhinos for their horns is driven by the demand from East Asian countries, primarily China and Vietnam, where they are used in traditional medicine. Poaching has become increasingly sophisticated, with organized criminal networks supplying rhino horns on the black market.
The North Luangwa Conservation Programme has established a number of anti-poaching patrols, which have successfully reduced poaching of the Black Rhinos in the region. The programme has also established a number of conservation education initiatives, which have been successful in raising awareness of the importance of conservation amongst local communities. The programme has also actively encouraged economic development in the region, with a focus on sustainable tourism and ecotourism.
David Clode / Oxpecker birds perched on a Black Rhino mother
Returning to Chipembele, the discovery of this stunning gem grade emerald is a remarkable achievement. It stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the miners at the Kagem Emerald mine. While its size and beauty is impressive, it is also incredibly heartwarming to know that such a valuable gemstone can help contribute to the conservation of an endangered species.
This remarkable find is a true symbol of the wonders of our natural world, both above and below ground; as well as something that highlights the importance of environmental conservation. The miners of the Kagem Emerald mine have pushed the boundaries of exploration and succeeded in their quest to uncover the world’s largest gem grade emerald.