One of the major Nigerian markets still underutilized is gemstone and jewelry. Despite Nigeria having some of the finest gemstones in Africa, the country lags on the top list of most important gemstone producing countries.
During the third edition of the annual African Gemstones and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES) in 2019, Adesoji Adesugba, a professor of business administration stated that Nigeria could earn well over $12 billion from gemstones annually if it invests in a laboratory to certify the value of the precious stone. Fast forward to today, the giant of Africa has attained nothing close to the number.
Eno Bassé Gemstone and Jewelries has recognized this and is helping to make the market attractive by designing and manufacturing jewelry, as it partners with its clients to create the jewelry of its dreams.
During a business half hour programme by Nairametrics, Eyakenoabasi Bob, founder, of Eno Bassé Gemstone and Jewelries explained how the company takes pride in helping to create what customers would love as its focus is making sure that clients are part of the creative process.
Other than that, the platform also appraises jewelry for those who may want to know the worth of their jewelry. She added, “we sell gemstones, we make and market gemstones. We also offer consultation services related to gemstones, diamonds, and jewelry. And importantly, we also really love to educate people, especially about Nigerian and African gemstones.
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While Eyakenoabasi and a few other gemologists in the country are putting in the effort to see positive changes in the market, it is important to point out that the jewelry expert had originally started out studying civil engineering at the university, thereafter furthering her post-graduate as a project manager.
Many believe that starting a jewelry business requires millions to start up, but Eyakenoabasi has been able to show that anyone could start a business with just a few thousand as she had started small by selling costumed jewelry while she was in school with money raised from family and friends.
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“Back then, in 2016. I was making at least N300,000 a month in profit and I was selling costume jewelry, not even diamond. So, you’ll be very shocked how much you could make if you’re just persistent and keep going,” she said.
“If you invest with about 50 to 100,000 in buying goods, you’re definitely going to turn over all. I was making three times the amount of what I was buying at that time. I wasn’t even part of the creative process, I was just buying and selling. I was just a trader.”
“So eventually, that evolved in my career. I got certifications and I went to Gemological Institute of America; I also have my certification as a goldsmith from Alchimia, Italy.”
Discussing some of the challenges in the course of running the business, she explained that the Nigerian jewelry market is still far back as “What we are importing is far different from what it is we are making because we don’t have the equipment, we don’t have the backing. Electricity is a problem.”
“I would really love to do a lot more manufacturing in Nigeria from start to finish because right now what we do is setting our gemstones in Nigeria; we set our diamonds, our colored stones in Nigeria, but when it comes to the actual metal, we partner with our manufacturer abroad to bring it in. But setting up diamonds here is also part of beneficiation, so we make sure that we use craftsman that is Nigerian.”
Speaking about government regulation in the space, she noted that the Nigerian government is doing its best to curb illegal trading. She said, “Back in the 90s, a lot of our stones; Tourmaline, Sapphires were exported out of Nigeria in huge amounts, they were really going into the international market and there was no sort of regulations for these things. Up until today, illegal trading still goes on but we now have more legal trading going on”