b'PHYSICALWHY DEISMALLGETTING RETAILSMATTERS MINERSPOLITICALFUTURE STRUGGLE IN PUBLIC Amethyst, diamond and 18-karat gold earrings from Susan Wheeler DesignTRICKLE-DOWN EFFECTSNo one can tell what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be yet, nor the rate at which things will return to normal. But there seems to be a consensus it could take a while, especially to trickle up the supply chain to the miners. The issue with the pandemic is that everybody is suffering, Gichuhi says. Gem dealers havent been able to move as much product. CuttersBoth of the photos above were taken during a drive from Virtu Gem to sell rough stones and dont have access to material or, depending on where theyre located,raise funds to provide food and resources to mining communities during the crisis. cant cut because factories arent operating. Retailers have had to close. Kamlongera, the researcher for the Delve project, says: In the long term, the [gemstone mining] communities will be in dire poverty. see so many businesses having to make decisionsdo we want to Theyre already in a critical situation, he says, but it will get worse.struggle through this, or do we want to just break even right now and Those who only mine rely on revenue to buy food, and those whomove on with our lives? Stephen says.farm during the rainy season rely on mine money to invest in theirBraunwart says he expects markets to keep opening, closing and farms, he explains, so it not only affects food security this year butthen reopening as case numbers fluctuate. The uncertainty and un-also next years agricultural yields.even recovery will continue to make trading difficult. There are other concerns, he adds, like theft threatening com- He also believes the crisis will create a long-term challenge for the munities security if poverty gets worse or whether there will be anindustry because the patterns of purchase will change increase in child labor when things normalize as minersdramatically.try to maximize output.More buyers searching for unique prod-For Stephen, the U.S.-based sapphire dealer,ucts and custom cuts means more expertise the long-term effects of the pandemic on thewill be needed, Braunwart says, which he gemstone sectors supply chain are directlybelieves will, in turn, mean less jewelry linked to the strength of business in majorhitting the market. markets like North America and Europe.This will slow mining and cutting I think long-term forecasting, as far asactivities as the lower volume works its what direction things are going to go in,way through and takes a while to settle really will depend on our economy here,out to a new level.how many businesses are going to be ableDerys big takeaway from her five to sustain through the current pandemic. months spent in Tanzania during the pan-And it doesnt look promising, he says. demic is this: I already knew there was a As of this writing, several U.S. states aregap in the socioeconomic status of usthe reinstating restrictions as COVID-19 casepeople who buy the gemsand the people numbers rise. A 7.43-carat rhodolitewho mine the gems, but I think COVID-19 Right now, and especially in the U.S., I justgarnet from Anza Gems has only caused that gap to get bigger. 58 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2020'