Hong Kong--As part of its mission to keep its young professionals active, the International Colored Gemstone Association announced that it is subsidizing nearly a third of the cost of the registration fee for younger members to attend its congress in May. 

The registration fee for ICA’s Junior Members has been lowered from $900 to $250. The ICA Congress is scheduled to take place May 16 to 19 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo. 

More than 400 ICA global delegates will participate at the event, and it also will include a gem trade show featuring more than 50 companies chosen by a selection panel.

“We regard it as very important that we encourage the younger generation of gemstone professionals to attend the Congress and other international events related to the colored gemstone business,” said ICA President Benjamin Hackman. “We want to see as many younger members as possible attend the Congress and become involved in the organization's activities.”

The news makes the ICA the latest industry organization to put an added focus on attracting younger people into the industry and getting them active, as all segments of the industry see the older generation retire without many younger professionals to replace them.

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The International Gemological Institute and the Gemological Institute of America also are focusing on new programs to garner interest for school-aged children.

The IGI recently organized a special seminar called “Young Gemologists” for 100 students of Oberoi International School in Mumbai, giving them a hands-on workshop about colored gemstones.

The GIA, meanwhile, has developed a curriculum for third- through fifth-grade students called “GemKids for Schools” designed to complement existing elementary school earth science programs. It teaches them about geology, mineralogy and gemology as well as the connections between nature and human industry.

The MJSA Education Foundation also has a new initiative in partnership with the New Approach School for Jewelers to introduce more young people to the field of jewelry-making. 

The “Be a Jeweler” program includes a website to connect aspiring bench jewelers with mentors, and provides information on a bench jeweler’s typical job duties, skills needed and the work environment, as well as which schools offer training. 

“The industry needs to replenish its workforce with new blood,” said Peggy Jo Donahue, director of the MJSA Education Foundation. “We lost almost an entire generation of younger jewelry makers over the past 30 years, due to overseas jewelry manufacturing and the fact that many retail jewelers stopped offering bench services.” 


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