High schoolers, college students and military personnel can gain a background in jewelry through the Diamond Council of America.
If a graduate gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the main-course meal of jeweler education, then the starter program that the 74-year-old Diamond Council of America (DCA) offers is the appetizer, according to Rebecca Shukan.
“We’re the first course of the industry,” declares the recently appointed director of the DCA’s new Jewelry Career Initiative (JCI) arm, which provides value-oriented, accredited distance education in diamonds, colored gemstones, and sales.
While the DCA’s mission is to create more qualified job candidates for jewelry retailers, JCI’s goal is to reach students in high schools and community colleges to instill a basic level of jewelry interest and understanding.
Even if a subject doesn’t pursue a career in jewelry, he or she will at least become a more educated consumer who can help shift the industry paradigm.
“Educated consumers will not tolerate
some of the bad behaviors that have
existed—like failing to tell the story of
the good that diamonds do,” she adds.
Many schools are now thinking about reincorporating more robust career and technical education into the curriculum, like in the early 1970s.
JCI’s instruction would fit in nicely there — a point
Shukan now strives to drive home with educators at the state and federal level.
Strategic collaborations are also in the works. At the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) GemFair in Tucson this year, high school students and state executives from the Arizona board of education visited designers and stone dealers.
Another partnership — this one with the Special Forces Charitable Trust — offers Green Berets and Navy Seals and their families an understanding of gems and the role they play in international communities.
The aim is to open up career opportunities that can provide financial security after service. In fact, many of the countries where the stones originate are places where the special forces have been deployed.
“Our industry is more diverse than many recognize,” says Shukan. “From watches to metalsmithing to wax carving and stone-setting, all these different arenas require different skills
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