Starting from Scratch: The Gemological Institute of Madagascar

Tom Cushman, colored gemstone expert for Allerton Cushman & Co., Sun Valley, Idaho, and a longtime advocate for the people of Madagascar, is helping to launch the first African Institute de Gemology de Madagascar (IGM). The IGM is a project of the PGRM (Project de Gouverance sur les Resources Minerales), which is working closely with the Ministry of Energy and Mines as well as with the World Bank.

The project includes renovating the building, defining corporate structure, creating an organizational chart, and purchasing gemological equipment as well as selecting candidates to be trained in gemology overseas. These gemologists will serve as instructors for the new institute. Thanks in part to Cushman, the Gemological Institute of America will teach a one-week gem identification class in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, Dec. 2-6, 2003. He also has helped arrange with GIA for the purchase of enough equipment to teach the class to 18 students.

The vision of the IGM consists of three key elements: gemological instruction, lapidary instruction, and laboratory services. On the instruction front, one of the main goals for IGM is to train Malagasy students in gemology to an international standard. In addition, training in the lapidary arts is planned to ultimately raise the quality—and the perception of quality—of Malagasy cutting.

As for laboratory services, the establishment of a gemological laboratory capable of issuing internationally recognized certificates should increase buyer confidence in cut stones available in Madagascar.

The IGM is planning to officially open sometime in 2004.

For information, contact Tom Cushman in Madagascar at (261-33) 111-5934; or in Idaho at (208) 726-3675; or via e-mail: tomcush@cox-internet.com.