Manuel Marcial de Gomar
In 1955, 19-year-old Manuel Marcial de Gomar, founder of Emeralds International, met his destiny on an airplane headed to Colombia. Marcial, an American of Spanish descent, was flying back to his family’s Colombian home and happened to sit next to a man who was traveling there to take over the administration of Chivor emerald mine. This mining executive, who spoke no Spanish, was impressed by the young Marcial’s knowledge of Colombia and hired him as an interpreter. That role would take Marcial into Colombia’s rugged rainforest mountains for the first time, where he would extensively explore the region’s emerald-bearing areas for several American corporations. Eventually striking out on his own, he stayed in the Colombian mountains for six years, becoming an expert in the field of emerald mining and an admitted victim of “Green Fever” – the intoxicating rush of seeing a flash of emerald green following the stroke of the hand-pick. Marcial’s passion for emeralds led him to solicit his own emerald exploration permits from the Colombian Ministry of Mines to explore the Gachalá/Somondoco region high in the Eastern Andes. Marcial was off, on foot and on horseback, to search for emeralds on his own, well aware of the dangers – both natural and human – for which the region is notorious. In the following years, Marcial uncovered and explored these emerald deposits, some known to miners, and others untouched and perhaps never encountered until the moment of his discovery. Marcial’s ability and experience acquired from six years of handson field mining led him to become an emerald wholesaler to major foreign buyers, a gem consultant, and a retail jeweler and designer. He is a contemporary of Chris Dixon, elder statesman of the emerald industry in the late fifties, who was also the right hand and friend of Peter Ranier, author of the book Green Fire documenting experiences at the Chivor mine. Also of that time period was Russell Anderton, whose novel Tic-Polonga was inspired by his gem experiences in Ceylon and Colombia. Marcial follows in the footsteps of such predecessors as these, including Fritz Klein, who found the famous 632 carat “Patricia” emerald at Chivor. Manuel Marcial de Gomar Inspired by this rich history, Marcial became the first to design and manufacture rough and free form emerald jewelry, which has now become a popular fashion trend. During this period, Marcial also continued to broaden the expanse of his knowledge of fine gems and historical artifacts. He educated himself about the pearls of the Queen Conch, which were being harvested by divers in the San Bernardo Islands off Colombia’s Caribbean coast. He researched Spanish shipwrecks at the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain and dived on seven shipwrecks in the San Bernardo Archipelago, subsequently discovering the undersea site of an ancient Carib Indian village. Marcial contributed many artifacts from these wrecks to the Underwater Explorers Club in Freeport, Bahamas, and it was in Freeport in 1964 that Marcial put together his expertise, creativity, and connections in the emerald business, and opened the world’s first emerald specialty store outside Colombia. When political unrest ensued in the Bahamas in 1969, he moved his store to Lahaina, Hawaii, where his designs acquired wide public acclaim. In 1980 he opened his doors in Key West, Florida. Marcial de Gomar’s Emeralds International, LLC offers an extraordinary array of spectacular rough and cut emeralds – not only from Colombia, but also from Brazil, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Afghanistan, and the extremely rare red beryl from Utah, USA – both loose and in his own unique Marcial de Gomar designer settings. The store also boasts one of the largest selections in the world of the rarest of all pearls, in their entire range of colors: the Caribbean queen conch pearl. Yet Mr. Marcial’s accomplishments go far beyond his remarkable achievements in emerald retail and design. He has educated many gemologists and appraisers in the specialized fields of emeralds and conch pearls over the decades, and is also an accomplished lecturer and consultant. He and his wife, Inge, have lectured at the invitation of the ASA (American Society of Appraisers) on topics such as “Faulty Appraising” and the negative impact faulty appraisers have on the industry. He has also done joint lectures with his son-in-law and protégé, Carl Anthony, at the ASA and NAJA conferences on Atocha emeralds and conch pearls on their origins and values, and acted as an expert in criminal cases involving emerald treasure. He was chosen out of a number of qualified experts (including the late and esteemed Sigmund Rothschild ASA, FSVA) as the independent appraiser of all emeralds recovered from the world-famous sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, discovered by Mel Fisher, and has served on the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Board of Directors. He was featured in NBC’s “The Hunt for Amazing Treasures”; has been a leading advisor to James Hill’s North American Emerald Mines, Inc. (which in 1999 made the first significant emerald recovery in North America); and has cut the first two emeralds from that recovery: the “Heart of Carolina” and the “Princess of Carolina.” He is currently writing his biography, titled The Tears of Fura, which recounts his life in the emerald industry and relevant history and technical data from his intimate and unique experiences with these rare gems and the country of Colombia, which he was recently able to share in a presentation to a graduate gemologist class at the GIA headquarters in Carlsbad, CA. A particular source of pride for Marcial is a special specimen in his collection, “La Gloria,” one of the largest museumquality emeralds in the world, weighing in at approximately 887 carats. This stone was featured with other emerald treasures in a joint exhibit in 2002, held with Arthur Groom & Co. and the Smithsonian Institute in New Jersey. Perhaps Marcial’s proudest achievement, however, was cutting one of the world’s largest star emeralds into the double-sided star that is today known as the Marcial de Gomar Star. It is one of what are believed to be fewer than a dozen star emeralds in the world. Today, Emeralds International, LLC, continues its family legacy with the next generation of family at the helm, his eldest daughter Marina del Alba and her husband, South Africanborn Carl Anthony, building on the unique and superb foundation created by Manuel Marcial de Gomar.