Responsibly Linking Gems to People
Monica Gichuhi, Jessica Hudson, and Susan Wheeler | Founders
Virtuously Sourced Gemstones
A program founded by women that works with artisanal gemstone mining communities in Malawi, Kenya, and Zambia to expand markets through technology, good practices, and equitable relationships.
Virtu Gem started as a call for action to sustain the gemstone supply chain at the outbreak of the pandemic. Monica, Jessica, and Susan the founders of Virtu Gem combined their cumulative ASM and jewelry relationships and harnessed the benefits of technology to create a new business model which would open markets directly from mining communities to jewelers internationally. VIrtu Gem launched in Zambia, then moved into Malawi and Kenya with plans to continue expansion bringing equitable gem trade across the globe. In 2021 the EGPS (Extractives Global Programmatic Support), a part of the World Bank Group, awarded a grant to the Responsible Jewelry Transformative for the Virtu Gem program. The grant facilitated a strong business foundation, the implementation of the CRAFT Code in eight mines, and the National Gem Cut workshop, that brought training and facet design development, carbon tracking data, and reduction.
Virtu Gem charges a 10% premium to gems that are returned to the mining community for giveback initiatives. The premiums, donations, and grants are processed through and overseen by the Responsible Jewelry Transformative, a registered nonprofit. Virtu Gem has proven popular for miners, cutters, gem traders, and jewelers, resulting in better business relationships for all and good gems for sale.