Actor David Oyelowo (left) and political and social activist Graca Machel (right) were two of the honorees at this year’s “Diamonds Do Good” gala held during Las Vegas market week.
Las Vegas--At this year’s edition of the annual “Diamonds Do Good” gala, the Diamond Empowerment Fund raised more than $1.1 million toward its various initiatives helping diamond community youths worldwide obtain higher education.

It was the tenth year that the gala has taken place during Las Vegas market week.

Anna Martin, president of DEF and the vice president of global development and beneficiary at the Gemological Institute of America, said, “This event symbolizes the collective good the diamond and jewelry industry continues to do in communities around the world where they do business. Not enough consumers are aware of this positive fact.”

DEF bestowed awards upon companies and individuals for their community service efforts.

Actor David Oyelowo was honored with the International Vanguard Award for his work with the GEANCO Foundation, which runs surgical missions and provides maternal and infant healthcare in Nigeria.

The British actor, who is of Nigerian descent, recently started the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls, which aims to provide leadership opportunities for Nigerian girls.

He said, “Enabling girls to be educated will change the dynamics of persistent poverty in countries like Nigeria where out of a staggering 10.5 million out-of-school children, the majority are girls.”

Former First Lady of South Africa Her Excellency Graca Machel Mandela received the first Global Humanitarian Award at the DEF event.

Machel has served as the Minister of Education and Culture in her home country of Mozambique, and as an expert on protecting children in armed conflict for the United Nations Secretary General.

Machel is the founder of the Graca Machel Trust, which aims to improve visibility for African women and children.

She said at the gala, “I am incredibly humbled to represent the millions of minds, hearts and hands that have sown seeds over the years to empower Africa’s women and children. I graciously receive this Global Humanitarian Award from the Diamond Empowerment Fund on behalf of those who have worked tirelessly with me to accelerate social change.”

Additionally, Helzberg Diamonds received the Corporate Legacy of Philanthropy Award for its many achievements, which include founding the Diamond Council of America and working with the Girl Scouts of America, Kansas City Zoo and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, co-founder of DEF, commented of the evening’s impact, “This gala more than any event reveals the consistent passion and love of the diamond industry to help improve the quality of life of millions of people internationally.”

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