Friday, February 22, 2019
Ian Harebottle

Ian Harebottle


IAN Harebottle once danced a jig in a New York department store when a customer told him diamonds were old fashioned and gemstones were the ‘in-thing’. He must have worn out his shoes since then as demand for the coloured stones has tracked upwards and his company’s market value has grown from $9m to half a billion in five years. Gemfields operates the biggest known gemstone mines in the world including Kagem in Zambia. The company is a mine-to-market operation managing all aspects of the value chain. Harebottle has shamelessly driven demand in his wares around the world in an effort to return them to the must-have trendy status they enjoyed centuries ago. Gemfields in 2013 bought the iconic Fabergé brand where jewellery and jewels at its 14 stores worldwide sell at upwards of $25,000. Hollywood A-list actress Mila Kunis was brought in as a brand ambassador and model. The package as a whole is bucking the trend of global mining. In May, Gemfields had been one of the best performing on the LSE for four years. In 2014, Investec Securities predicted it would see a 104% surge in earnings in 2016, and 38% in 2017. But it hasn’t been immune to the economic slump, and in the second half of the year profits slumped under rising costs and falling prices.


The colourful Gemfields CEO kicked off his working career in Johannesburg selling encyclopedias. From 2005 he was at Tanzanite One as CEO, president and operations director. He joined Gemfields in 2009.