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Picking out a gem at Emergence 2020

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Entrepreneur and London DE founder Phil Spencer was in Sydney for the Emergence 2020 investment event, highlighting expansion opportunities in the coloured gems market.

Before the spread of Coronavirus put a stop to international travel in 2020, Phil Spencer made the long-haul trip from London to Sydney to highlight and scope out investment opportunities in the booming market for coloured gemstones.

Emergence 2020 is Australasia’s flagship investment conference, a mecca for more than 2,000 angel investors, brokers and venture capitalists – all looking for the next big thing.

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Dozens of start-ups and expanding firms were presenting their ideas – across a variety of industries from medicine to mining, and fintech to jewels – all focused on the huge growth opportunities possible in Asia Pacific’s growing markets.

Phil Spencer was one of those making a fifteen-minute pitch on stage to hundreds of potential investors, as the founder of bespoke coloured gemstone jewels specialist London DE. Based in the heart of London’s Hatton Garden, the business creates bespoke jewellery with a focus on emeralds, sapphires and other coloured gems as well as diamonds.

The global market for coloured gems is booming. The price of emeralds has already risen 500% above 2010’s level and the coloured gems market is tipped to quintuple in value from $2bn to $10bn over the next decade.

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Coloured stones are worn by royalty, Hollywood stars and celebrities, and in fashion among millennials keen on ethical sourcing of the stones they buy – a major focus for London DE, which aims to increase traceability by going to the source for stones such as Colombian emeralds.

Founded in 2013, London DE has used crowdfunding to boost growth. Two rounds of crowd funding through Seedrs in 2017 and 2019 have already raised £160,000 to support the growth of the business.

Seedrs is a crowd-funding platform offering equity options to prospective investors, with businesses like London DE offering to release a share of business for funding. It’s like a mini Dragon’s Den for miniature dragons, able to offer small or large investment sums.

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Spencer has set his sights beyond the UK market, particularly to China and other Asia Pacific markets. Red and green are traditional good luck colours within Chinese culture, and rubies and emeralds are much sought after by Chinese consumers looking for bespoke jewellery as a special gift for loved ones.

London DE believes China represents the next big opportunity for coloured gems. Seizing the opportunity, it has added a Chinese speaker to its team and invested in partnerships with Chinese marketers to take advantage of this opportunity, as well as engaging with Chinese consumers directly through their e-commerce and social media channels, WeChat in particular.

Through its fresh fundraising in 2020, London DE is focusing on using these channels, building its inventory and leveraging an expanded team, for the continued expansion of its gemstones business in the UK and China.

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