Lesotho is known for her beautiful mountainous landscape. Due to the mountains’ exceptional mineral enrichment, the small landlocked country is a big source of natural wealth.

Lesotho is known for natural minerals that include water, vegetation and diamonds which are found in the Kingdom Mountains.

However there are other fortunes, among these is a mineral called emerald gemstone which Basotho gave the treasuring name lehakoe.

Lehakoe, is a word Basotho meaning beautiful, precious and treasured possessions that are very close to a one’s heart.

Emerald, also known as jewel according to Fine Gemstone Jewelry are gem quality specimens with a rich distinctively green color found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks in a few locations worldwide.

The source continues to indicate that a fine emerald may be priced two or three times the value of a diamond mountains in Lesotho contain this natural treasure.

Unlike other countries which produce artificial or synthetic emeralds such as vanadium emeralds, to sell to jewelry designers, natural emerald is a common stone for Basotho.

According to Wikipedia, emerald has been a gem of fascination in many cultures for over six thousand years.

The report continues to indicate that emerald, together with ruby and sapphire form the ‘big three’ of colored stones generating more economic activity than other stones, diamond included.

According to Geoscience Ad Information, the value of emerald imported into the United States in 2011, exceeded the value of rubies and sapphires combined as well as the value of other stones such as diamond.

Maria Doulton, of Financial Times reported that in July 2006, a rough gemstone was unveiled at Letšeng Diamond Mine, out of which 26 stones, including 75 carat diamond and four emerald stones were fashioned.

She noted: “The diamond is but one of 26 stones that makeup the Lesotho Promise”.

The world and Basotho were fascinated about the diamond, as it was reported to be the 15th largest rough and 10th largest white diamond ever found.

Not much was said about four emerald stones and other 21 stones. These minerals totaling 224 carats were jointly sold to South African Diamond Corporation for US$12.4 million.

After cutting, thus separating a diamond from other gem stones, emerald included, were sold to a Belgian Technology Driven Company for more than 20 million dollars.

The unit cost of individual minerals has not been obtained. Using Leaf TV market price estimates, approximate earnings obtained from the sale of those four emeralds is around $39,200, slightly above half a million Maloti.

Market price comparison of emerald and diamond according to Jenifer Gigantino on the Leaf TV states that one carat diamond’s price ranges between $1000 to $40 000 depending on clarity, cut and color. Singhal Gems International indicates that one carat emerald ranges between $1,125 to $9,800 depending on clarity, cut and color as well.

On September 12, China Daily wrote a report about three Kenyan women who for the past three years have been selling gemstones in China- based Trade Fairs.

The paper further notes that it earned them $460 per day, this is approximately M6000 per woman per day.

TNS/Mamphana Molotsi