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The Gemological Institue of America is now working to expand the distribution of its gem guide amid the recent success of the pilot program based out of Tanzania. This newest educational initiative will benefit the vocations of artisanal miners, as the GIA has invested quite a large sum to the betterment of their skills. Susan Jacques, the president, and CEO of the GIA has announced an accumulated $1.3 million commitment at the latest ICA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. 

The gem guide project was originally established back in 2008, when James Shigley, a GIA Distinguished Research Fellow ventured to Kenya and Tanzania. In each location, he witnessed the unbearable conditions in which miners had to work and sprung to action in an attempt to remedy what he saw. Dona Dirlam, who was the director of the GIA library during that time, partnered up with Shigley. Together, along with a number of library and research staff to create the booklet entitled “Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners.” It was first printed in English then translated to Swahili.

The booklet covers the many varieties of gems found in East Africa, is waterproof, and comes with a plastic tray for aiding in evaluations of found gems. In early 2019, more than 1,000 Tanzanian miners were trained using the guidebook within a two-week period.

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“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a 12-fold social return that will last years into the future,” said technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program, Cristina Villegas. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, invest in their mines and their communities.”

“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewelry 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.”

According to an interview with GIA.edu's online news site, Jacques explained the mission of the gem guide project further, saying, “We are moving practical gemological knowledge to the beginning of the supply chain for the people who can benefit from it tremendously,” she said. “This guidebook brings artisanal miners understanding about the value of the beautiful gems they bring to market.”

Information originally sourced from National Jeweler.