Hi, I’m Alvin Sillitoe, aka, the reluctant gemstone dealer.
At 17, I had ambitions of becoming a big shot London accountant, but life had other plans. My Dad died.
And after falling asleep in far too many accountant lessons while grieving his death, something had to change. It did the minute I purchased an Olympus camera, anti-malaria pills, and a one-way ticket to Africa.
Wild safaris, cross-border river adventures, the cold steel of a 9mm pistol to the forehead (a story for another day), and a host of other close calls, proved it was time to refocus. Fascinated by the fist-sized rough emerald Dad held up to the sunlight when I was a nine-year-old boy inspired my first investment in the Kakula Aquamarine Mine. It proved to be a financial disaster.
Forced to take even bigger risks, I started to hunt large carat single gems in remote, hard-to-reach deposits across Africa.
Along the way, I learned things the hard way. I lost fine stones to poor cutting, so I took to the faceting lap and learned the often-overlooked art of pre-forming. This allowed me to serenade the crystal ten times longer. Finally getting the most out of my hard-earned rough crystals.
It wasn't long before my combined experience lead me to become an in-demand gemstone mining consultant, which involved raising funds for AIM-listed mining companies like African Diamonds (now trading as Lucara, whom you’re probably aware recently discovered the 813-carat diamond, which sold at auction for $63 million). That said...