Pact representative Norbert Massay, GIA Graduate Gemologist Marvin Wambua and GIA’s library director Robert Weldon explain the gem guide to artisanal miners in MoroGoro, Tanzania.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is spending US$1.3 million to expand a programme aimed at providing an innovative “gem guide” for artisanal miners in Africa.
Speaking at the ICA Congress in Bangkok, GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques announced the four-year commitment, funded from the GIA endowment, to extend the project's scope in Tanzania to Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia.
Working with Pact, a Washington DC-based international development non-profit organisation, GIA plans to reach 10,000 miners with relevant information on how to evaluate the quality of the rough they mine.
“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewellery supply chain,” said Jacques. “We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live.”
The gem guide project began after GIA Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. James Shigley saw the difficult working conditions of artisanal miners during a 2008 trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Shigley and Dona Dirlam, then-director of the GIA library, working with GIA research and library staff, created the booklet, “Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners.” First developed in English and later translated into Swahili, the photo-rich booklet has images of the gemstones found in East Africa and illustrations of how to examine and evaluate rough gems. The booklet is waterproof and comes with a durable plastic tray that can be used to sort gems and do basic gemmological evaluations. GIA piloted the program in 2016, working with Pact.