“Great progress has been made in the creation of the Institut de Gemmologie de Madagascar,” says gem dealer Tom Cushman, who also is a consultant to Madagascar’s government. Cushman, who makes several purchasing trips to Madagascar every year, is also helping the people of that country establish a modern gem industry there. “A roadmap for the future work to establish the IGM has been laid out, and implementation is under way,” he says.
“Back in July 2003, the idea of the IGM was clarified, a plan was developed, and the steps to bring it to reality were outlined,” notes Cushman. Those steps included opening an office, installing computers and telephone lines, and hiring a small staff.
Initial plans called for renovating existing structures for the new school and laboratory, but government officials concluded that a brand-new facility should be approved.
On the education front, the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), the world’s oldest school of gemology, has been selected to furnish the gem course. IGM will become an Allied Teaching Center of Gem-A, and the Gem-A course materials are being translated from English into French.
To get the education program started, 17 students attended an extension one-week gem identification class given by the Gemological Institute of America. Marisa Zachovay, a senior extension gemology instructor, taught the course in French, using course materials in English.
As for lapidary arts, gem-cutting classes are planned for both in-residence and satellite cutting schools in the provinces. Many established international laboratories have assisted with planning for the new lab in Madagascar.