Rwanda’s mining sector is one of the leading contributors to export revenues for the country. There are varieties of minerals, however, officials say there is still a significant number of mineral reserves that are yet to be exploited. On the other hand, some of the varieties that have not generally received the deserved attention but have become ‘treasures’ for those exploiting and trading them, are gemstones. Gemstones are precious mineral elements that, once cut and polished, are used to make jewelry and other types of ornaments, as well as in the creation of decoration and luxury art products such as hard stone carvings and antiquity gems. Most of the world’s sought and high-quality gemstones found in Rwanda include Amethyst, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Beryl (Aquamarine), and Garnet. Their deposits are found in the western and southern parts of the country, in areas like Nyamasheke, Rusizi, Ngororero, Rutsiro, Ruhango, and Muhanga districts. There are up to 20 registered and licensed companies legally extracting, processing and exporting these precious stones. According to officials at Rwanda Mining Board (RMB), the domestic market is very limited due to several reasons like lack of awareness and how expensive natural gemstones are, however, the international market is easily found mostly for raw gemstones. Statistics indicate that gemstones contribute about Rwf100 million export revenue per year, this is while 99 percent of gemstones are exported in raw form while value-added ones are less than 1 percent. Alain Tshenke Mayuke, President and Founder of ALTM Industrial, said that they have started off with a goal of giving value to Amethysts which have been neglected for a long time by people. “Most of the people thought it was an ordinary stone that they used to lay house foundations with,” he cited. Mayuke reiterated that a bigger percentage of precious stones they exploit is exported and this is because they are so expensive and Rwandans are yet to understand their value. However, he noted that after three years of the company’s operations in Rwanda, there has been notable progress in terms of exploring and adding value to gemstones, as well as the change of people’s perception of the minerals, but emphasized that a lot more needs to be done. Solly Masilo, Chief Executive of Solex, a jewelry manufacturing and trading company, told The New Times that there is a significant demand for jewelry in Rwanda but the issue is that people go for imported ones rather than buying locally manufactured ones. “The demand is high. Not only in Rwanda but in East Africa, that’s why we are bringing a manufacturing factory and a shop here to meet that demand. And we also want to demystify this sector by training Rwandan youth in jewelry manufacturing,” he said. Gemstones are high-value minerals and if you add them to gold or diamonds, it enhances the value of the final product, Masilo added. South African investors recently announced the establishment of a factory projected to add value to diamonds and gemstones, as well as manufacturing jewelry in Rwanda. Masilo said that the factory will be operational in mid-2023. RMB anticipates that the value of the minerals will increase in the coming years as the country is promoting mineral value addition such as cutting and polishing of precious stones, production of jewelries, ornaments, and decoration materials. The global gemstone market is expected to grow at a 6.53 percent compound annual growth rate from 2022 to 2029. It is also expected to reach above $53.2 million by 2029 from $30.1 million in 2021. Overall, figures from the board indicate that the sector recorded export revenue rising from $373 million in 2017 to $733 million in 2020. However, there was a decline to $516 million in 2021 due to low prices on global markets. From January to September 2022, the sector has been able to generate $585 million in export revenue.