Three questions for Bruce Bridges
What inspired you to be become interested in gemstones?
My father Campbell Bridges (the discoverer tsavorite garnet and first to bring tanzanite to the United States) and my mother Judith Bridges were both geologists and passionately involved in the gemstone industry their entire lives. I grew up in every facet of the business, and it was something that came naturally to me. I was lucky that it was never forced upon me. With what my parents had accomplished it was nearly written in the stars what I would do.
What are the top issues affecting the industry at the moment?
A major issue is supply of gemstones, in my part of the world but also in other producing countries worldwide. A lot of this has to do with instability in the countries of origin, whether that be political or industry issues. When you have instability it affects foreign investment and lack of security of tenure, which ultimately has an impact on supply. The very positive aspect of the industry is the fact that there is a great deal of interest in coloured gemstones at present. Coloured gemstones outside of the traditional big three (emerald, ruby, sapphire) are ever higher in demand and that is very positive for us, as we focus mainly on tsavorite. I see a far greater interest every year in tsavorite, and we hope that supply can continue to meet demand.
What is your vision for the gemstone and jewellery industry?
The gemstone industry at least in my part of the world is at a tipping point. I would like to see a return of security of tenure (of mining licenses), foreign investment development and mining acts that reflect the realities of the gemstone sector. This would in turn develop the mineral industry and gemstone sector in producing countries (such as in East Africa), helping them to prosper from their resources. Industry associations such as ICA and AGTA are becoming more and more important because as a group we are stronger than any individual. We strive to get together with common goals that are beneficial for both us as gem miners, dealers, manufacturers as well as what is in turn beneficial for producing countries. Both sides have to gain and prosper for it to have any form of longevity, and associations and organisations are a key element in furthering these goals.