COLOMBIA: Emeralds and Bullets

Diamonds may still be a girl's best friend, but women are also developing an insatiable fondness for emeralds. Demand for the soft, veined, green jewels has risen so appreciably that prices have more than doubled in the past five years; the finest quality stones now fetch as much as $3,000 per carat wholesale, on a par with diamonds. What buyers do not know is that they are almost certainly, if unwittingly, contributing to the prosperity of one of the world's most lucrative—and bloodiest—illegal businesses. Some 90% of all emeralds come from Colombia, where mining and sale of the gems...

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