(Press Release) OTTAWA - The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) announced a grant from jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth in response to two particular needs of artisanal diamond miners in Sierra Leone. The contribution will support diamond valuation training for miners involved in the Maendeleo Diamond Standards program, as well as provide support for miners who wish to enhance their livelihood options through vocational training.
Knowledge of the value of diamonds is one of the most important assets to artisanal miners, according to Dorothée Gizenga, executive director of DDI.
"We want to develop the miners' understanding beyond just carat size," Gizenga said. "With this project, and thanks to Brilliant Earth's support, we will create a body of knowledge relating to diamond values that will be available to assist miners with the sale of their diamonds."
The vocational training component is designed to offer alternative skills to selected artisanal miners in order to supplement the subsistence living provided by the practice of artisanal mining. Appropriate skilled trades can also stimulate local economic growth and slow urban migration. Through this grant, a scholarship program will be introduced in two mining communities to support vocational training for 10 miners at a local facility that offers courses in metalwork, carpentry, agricultural technology, tailoring and hairdressing.
Gizenga said, "We heartily commend Brilliant Earth for their ongoing commitment to responding to the real needs of artisanal miners. From supporting mobile schools in mining communities, to building wells, to providing miners with new avenues for training and self-improvement, they are contributing to development at a grassroots level."
Beth Gerstein, co-founder and CEO of Brilliant Earth, said, "Our mission is to improve the livelihoods of miners and cultivate a more ethical, transparent, and compassionate jewelry industry. It is our responsibility to ensure that the people who produce diamonds have the opportunity to improve their own social and economic conditions. We are proud to support the work of DDI."