Sourcing

Virtu Gem Launches National Gem Cutting Course in 3 Countries

SourcingJan 25, 2022

Virtu Gem Launches National Gem Cutting Course in 3 Countries

The aim is to create jobs, a value-add proposition, a differentiated product, and national pride through country-specific cuts.

20220125_Virtu-Gem-header.jpg
The Virtu Gem National Gem Cut program has engaged cutting schools in three countries to help provide resources to students. (Photo credit: Virtu Gem)
New York—Since launching as a marketplace to connect ASM miners with buyers during the pandemic, Virtu Gem has expanded its efforts to bring equity to the colored stone sector. 
 
It has already created a few gem cutting programs designed to help women in the trade learn the skill. 
 
Now, it’s again targeting faceting with an online course to design specialty gemstone cuts for Virtu Gem partner countries. 
 
The aim is to create more jobs as well as provide a value-add proposition for these countries through an innovative product unlike others found on the market. 
 
The Nomad Jeweler’s Jessica Hudson and Susan Wheeler, designer and founder of The Responsible Jewelry Transformative, said they already enlisted Adriano Mol, head of the Center for Gemstone and Jewelry Design at the University of Minas Gerais State, for workshops to encourage more diverse cuts.  
 
After an initial positive response, they decided to expand it to create the National Gem Cut Course. 
 
Supported by the World Bank, the new class sets a unique goal: to collaboratively create a national gemstone cut for the three countries where Virtu Gem operates: Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya.
 
The inspiration for developing a national gem cut stemmed from a piece created by Mol and Fernando Maculan that features Brazilian amethysts carved in formation of the topographic view of the country’s Itaimbezinho canyon.
 
 Related stories will be right here … 
 
The goal is to have one fully developed cut for each country and several design concepts the students can follow up on later. 
 
“By doing so we hope to contribute to product innovation, and improve the production and market sustainability of the associated artisans,” Mol told National Jeweler over email. 
 
They are focusing on one gem variety per country so they can optimize cuts to each. Amethyst will be used for the Zambian cut and pink garnet for Malawi. As of press time, the project was still deciding between yellow tourmaline and green garnet for Kenya. 
 
The online class is open to anyone in the gemstone trade at all skill levels. So far it includes more than 50 people. 
 
“Since the objective of the training is creative problem solving, everyone can contribute, from the beginner students to the 30-plus-years experienced cutters,” Mol said. 
 
“Based on my experience with gemstone producing communities in Brazil, every initiative has to start from the bottom up, to adapt for the environment and to promote instruments to reinforce the uniqueness of the local production. It makes no sense for me to import gemstone cutting know-how from Brazil, the U.S., Germany, or China to the cutters in East Africa, but to respect their own.” 
 
The students have taken inspiration from culturally significant aspects of their country to develop their ideas for a national gem cut.
 
The Malawi National Gem Cut, for example, will be based on colorful fish called cichlids, found in Lake Malawi.  
 
 The class holds weekly meetings, in which the students are mostly separated according to country of residence. 
 
Before advancing each step, the whole group is asked to bring forth their opinions so everyone has a say. When a consensus is reached, they move on to the next phase.  
 
They are now in the final phase, which includes assisting in the production and marketing of stones, gathering feedback, and more. They are also fine-tuning the cut for Zambia and for Malawi, as well as weighing three options in Kenya before choosing the final. 
 
Virtu Gem has also involved schools and groups in each country, which support the project, engage the students, and allocate professionals, materials, and a place for gem cutting.  
 
They are the Gemstone Processing & Lapidary Training Centre in Ndola, Zambia; the Voi Gemstone Cutting and Value Addition Centre in Kenya; Nyasa Lapidary & ASM Training Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi; and the Mzimba Gemstone Mining Cooperative in Malawi.
 
“The gem cutting program is a great initiative which seeks to empower gem cutters in source countries with advanced innovative cutting skills. For a very long time, gems from source countries are being cut elsewhere, which has always deprived skills development and revenue,” Chiko Manda, Virtu Gem’s country coordinator for Malawi said. 
 
“Therefore, this program intends to reverse the current trend by promoting in-country gem cutting through skills development by developing the national cuts attributed to the source country’s national heritage. The cutters will collectively develop a cut association with their countries. By doing this, they are contributing towards something big and a national pride.”
 
Wheeler confirmed they plan to expand the program but noted they can’t yet divulge which countries will be on board next.  
 
In the meantime, Virtu Gem will have a display of the cut prototypes from each country at the upcoming Ethical Gem Fair, scheduled for Jan. 29-Feb. 1 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. 
 
To follow the class’s journey or get an idea of what might be seen in Tucson, visit the Virtu Gem Instagram account.
                                               
“Besides the fact that students can think outside the box in terms of cuts, the vital lesson to many is that one must learn to do several sketches or pencil drawing of designs before arriving at the ultimate cut. They have also realized that branding is beneficial when it comes to marketing,” said Lameck Thole, head of skills training at the Gemstone Processing and Lapidary Training Centre in Zambia. 
 
“It is a welcome initiative. All believe that it will help in improving the quality of cutting and boost business for the locals, especially [since] Virtu Gem is now standing in as a front to market the capabilities of Zambian Cutters as well as Zambian gemstones.”

The Latest

Lightbox lab grown diamond pendant in yellow gold
Lab-GrownFeb 26, 2024
Lightbox ‘Significantly’ Lowered Its Prices in Q4

The De Beers-owned lab-grown diamond company dropped the price on its standard offerings from $800/carat to $600/carat.

JA New York signs
Events & AwardsFeb 26, 2024
JA New York to Bring the Diamond District to Spring Show

The upcoming show will have an immersive “47th Street Experience” for attendees.

GIA Dubai laboratory
GradingFeb 26, 2024
GIA Opens Lab in Dubai

The new DMCC Laboratory at Uptown Tower will initially serve clients in Dubai free trade zones.

GIA id100
Brought to you by
Full Disclosure at Your Fingertips

Distinguishing natural diamonds from laboratory-grown stones – now more available than ever – has been difficult for jewelers. Until now.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 with affirmations
WatchesFeb 23, 2024
Rolex to Open New Watchmaking School in Dallas

The Rolex Watchmaking Training Center will welcome its first class this fall.

Weekly QuizFeb 22, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Guzema Freedom heart pendant for Ukraine
CollectionsFeb 23, 2024
Piece of the Week: Guzema’s ‘Freedom’ for Ukraine Pendant

Ukrainian jewelry designer Valeriya Guzema’s charitable “Freedom” collection is inspired by hope for the country’s future.

Elton John’s leopard print Rolex Daytona watch
AuctionsFeb 22, 2024
Elton John’s Leopard-Print Rolex Roars at Auction

Two Cartier watches also topped their estimates at Christie’s “The Collection of Sir Elton John: Goodbye Peachtree Road” evening sale.

flashforge pic.png
Brought to you by
WaxJet: Revolution in Jewelry Manufacturing

The WaxJet 400, recognized as the world's fastest wax printer, is bringing in a new era of precision and efficiency to industry.

Buccellati header
TrendsFeb 22, 2024
Buccellati to Open ‘Prince of Goldsmiths’ Exhibition

Set to be held in Venice, it’s a look through the maison’s history.

Sebastian Clarke and Katherine van Dell of Heritage Auctions
AuctionsFeb 22, 2024
Heritage Auctions Adds 2 New Hires to West Palm Beach Office

Sebastian Clarke and Katherine van Dell, frequent appraisers on “Antiques Roadshow,” will join the new office.

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
ColumnistsFeb 21, 2024
On Data: January Was a ‘Mixed Bag’ for Independent Jewelers

Sherry Smith dishes on the month’s highs and lows and the two categories consumers were loving ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Stock image of diamonds
GradingFeb 21, 2024
GIA’s Same-Day Service Now Available Everywhere

The new service, introduced to stem fraud related to lab-grown diamonds, will be offered at no cost for the time being.

Jam + Rico Claire’s jewelry
CollectionsFeb 21, 2024
Jam + Rico Debuts Second Claire’s Collection

Founder Lisette Scott was inspired by the intricacy, colors, and symbolism of African art and architecture.

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
ColumnistsFeb 20, 2024
Squirrel Spotting: Life After Rolex

Peter Smith shares advice from independent jewelers who used losing this cornerstone brand as a catalyst for reinvention.

Neile Adams McQueen and Steve McQueen
AuctionsFeb 20, 2024
Jewels from Neile Adams McQueen Shine at Bonhams

All 13 lots belonging to the actress and first wife of Steve McQueen sold at the recent “California Jewels” sale.

Stuller bench jeweler
Events & AwardsFeb 20, 2024
Stuller to Host Bench Jeweler Workshop in March

Registration is also open for its “Battle of the Benches” challenge.

Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball Jewelers
IndependentsFeb 16, 2024
Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball Jewelers Dies at 99

Gorman was an industry trailblazer, serving as the first female treasurer of Jewelers of America.

Jade Ruzzo gold and diamond Tennessee Torque necklace
CollectionsFeb 16, 2024
Piece of the Week: Jade Ruzzo’s Tribute to Tennessee

The movement of the 18-karat gold and diamond “Tennessee Torque” necklace is subtle.

Jared Goff and Claudia Cividino
MajorsFeb 15, 2024
Detroit Lions’ QB Jared Goff Going to Jared

Goff, whose fans hold up “He Went to Jared” signs at games, has signed a partnership with the retailer.

De Beers Venetia diamond mine
SourcingFeb 15, 2024
De Beers’ Production Down 8% in 2023

The company recovered 31.9 million carats of diamonds in 2023, compared with 34.6 million in 2022.

Gina D’Onofrio Heritage Auctions
AuctionsFeb 15, 2024
Heritage Auctions Names New Co-Director of Fine Jewelry

Industry veteran Gina D’Onofrio has rejoined the auction house.

Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association (IDCA) awards
Events & AwardsFeb 15, 2024
IDCA Hands Out Awards in Tucson

The association also celebrated its 40th anniversary.

A selection of engagement rings
TrendsFeb 14, 2024
5 Engagement Ring Trends for 2024

From three-stone rings to fancy shapes, experts weigh in on what consumers could be looking for this year.

Boucheron Power of Couture
CollectionsFeb 14, 2024
Boucheron’s New High Jewelry Collection Pays Homage to Ceremony, History

“Power of Couture” recalls Frédéric Boucheron’s love of fabric using diamonds and rock crystal.

Rough diamonds from Gahcho Kue diamond mine
SourcingFeb 14, 2024
De Beers’ Rough Diamond Sales Improve Slightly

The diamond miner and marketer said “solid” holiday sales in the U.S. helped stabilize the industry.

Jonker I Diamonds
SourcingFeb 14, 2024
‘100 Carats’ Exhibition Opens at LA Museum

A new display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County features dozens of gemstones each weighing 100 carats or more.

Grand Seiko New York City flagship
WatchesFeb 14, 2024
See Inside Grand Seiko’s New NYC Flagship

Located on Madison Avenue, the store is its largest in the world.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy