By Brecken Branstrator
This Madagascar green sapphire from Michael Couch & Associates is one of several gemstones being auctioned off this week to benefit Gem Legacy’s new program creating and distributing miner toolkits.
Royal Oak, Mich.—Nonprofit Gem Legacy is turning two this week, and it’s celebrating by doing what it does best: raising funds to provide needed materials to African gemstone miners.

This week, from Sept. 22 to 26, it will hold an auction to raise funds for its latest project—a miner toolkit.

“Tools are absolutely essential to small gem miners’ success,” said Rachel Dery, director of communication and outreach for Gem Legacy.

Dery spent five months in East Africa recently, distributing more than 100,000 meals and critical disease prevention supplies on behalf of Gem Legacy to 43 miner communities hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

While she was doing that she also had the chance to observe how the miners work.

“We know that over 90 percent of East African miners are, or were, farmers first. Once they found gems on their property, they began gem mining, but most of them simply use farming implements to mine, which are mostly ineffective,” Dery explained.

“The Gem Legacy Miner Toolkit will provide them with more efficient set-ups that will allow them to be more productive in their mining.”

Created in partnership with local governments, which surveyed miners to ensure the kit met the greatest needs, the Gem Legacy Miner Toolkit includes a shovel, chisel, hammer, pickaxe, hand drill, blasting tools, helmet, head light, gloves and a sieve.

It also will be adjusted based on the needs of each mine supported.

Gem Legacy will start giving the toolkits in Tanzania and Kenya but noted it plans to expand the program to other countries with gemstone mining communities.

To raise money for the kits, it will hold an online auction tomorrow through Saturday. One hundred percent of bids and donations will go directly to purchasing items for the toolkits as Gem Legacy’s Advisory Board underwrites all administrative fees for the nonprofit.

The companies donating jewelry and loose gems to the auction include Anza Gems, Caleb B. Quashen International, Dan Lynch Gems, Enji Jewelry Studio, Michael Couch & Associates, Parlè Jewelry Designs, Roger Dery Gem Design and Stauer.

Items include Enji Jewelry Studio’s 14-karat recycled gold earrings featuring Arkansas quartz crystal dangles and flush-set Montana sapphires; a Madagascar green sapphire from Michael Couch & Associates; a rhodolite garnet from Parlè Jewelry Designs and an aquamarine from Dan Lynch Gems.

For more information about the nonprofit or the auction, or to donate or bid, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit it online, on Instagram or on Facebook.

The family team behind Roger Dery Gem Design launched Gem Legacy in 2018 to support education, vocational training and local economies in small, artisanal gem mining communities in Africa.

Concurrent with the news about the anniversary auction, Gem Legacy said it has appointed Bjorn Merisheki as its East African initiatives director to help with the new project and other ventures on the ground.

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