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Thank You For Attending

Impact of Covid-19 on ASMs

A Two-Day Online Symposium to Affect Change

Contact Information on Speakers and Programs

Thank you for joining us for our two-day symposium on the gemstone sector of the jewelry industry during the pandemic. Covid-19 has had catastrophic effects on the people who mine the gemstones essential to jewelry industry supply chains. These communities have almost no reserve during good times, and now they face severe food insecurity, limited access to health care, and limited protection against coronavirus infection. Over 40 million people make up the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Sector. 

If you would like to contact any of our speakers or participate in their initiatives, you will find their information below.

Day 1

Wednesday, 13 May

10 A.M. Central

Learn about initiatives that have already started, and how you can contribute and participate. Today, gem professionals already working with gem miners in Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Brazil, and America will talk about their initiatives. Each of these projects is looking for support. Learn  how you can help. 

Day 2

Thursday, 14 May

10 A.M. Central

In Day 2, hear from the OECD, World Bank, and PACT Worldwide about what they see happening around the world, initiatives that are live and in development, and how large aid and development organizations are coming together to assist ASM communities around the world.


Monica Gichuhi

Monica is a consultant in the mining sector in Africa currently focussed in promoting responsible sourcing of minerals from Africa through her initiative the Africa Gem Exhibition and Conference (AGEC). She previously served as the Advisor to the Minister at the Ministry of Mining in Kenya on Policy, Strategy and Institutional reforms where she oversaw the legislative reforms in the Mining sector. Prior to joining Government, she held the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Kenya Chamber of Mines representing the interests of the private sector stakeholders in the mining industry. 

Monica was instrumental in the formation of the Association of Women in Extractives in Kenya (AWEIK) whose mandate is to advocate for gender inclusivity in the extractives industry value chain. Her passion for advocating for women’s participation in the extractives sector earned her an appointment to the board of the Association of Women in Mining in Africa (AWIMA) representing the interests of women in EI in the Eastern Africa Region.

She is passionate about ensuring mineral resources are exploited for the benefit of all the stakeholders and foster economic development. 

Nomad Jeweler

Jessica Hudson

Jessica was born with a humanitarian heart and a love for nature, travel and cultures around the world. When looking back at her first international visit to India at the age of 16 and remembering what she saw while driving through the slums of what was then Bombay, she can vividly recall the images seen and heartache felt that forever changed her.


From that moment her mission in life became to find some way to help better and empower the lives of those in need. Since then she has returned to India multiple times, as well as new ventures to countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and South America. As the years went by, she found herself completely captivated and taken by the mysterious beauty of gems. The fact that each gemstone has its own unique composition, similar to people, was intriguing. It was this thought and her knack for design that propelled her into the world of jewelry.


This was exciting until her investigative nature led her to the harsh reality and untold truth behind the jewelry industry. Appalled by what she had learned, her first reaction was to walk away from all things related to jewelry. After some thought and research she discovered an emerging movement in the industry shining light on issues concerning child-labor, funding conflict zones, etc., as well as implementing initiatives towards change and transparency within the supply chain.


She is now an advocate for artisanal mining communities across the globe. Every step involved in creating a piece of jewelry, from mine to market, must have purpose and intention behind it. Whether it be traveling to Colombia to meet with the men and women (yes, women!) who mine for Fairmined gold, Sri Lanka to learn about the mining and cutting practices of sapphires or Tahiti to learn more about eco-pearl farming, the aim is always the same; to develop trust and transparency within our jewelry industry.

Nomad Jeweler


Monica Stephenson

Monica Stephenson is a writer, jewelry expert, and entrepreneur. She chronicles the stories of artisan jewelry and designers on the award-winning jewelry blog, After a trip to East Africa, Monica founded ANZA Gems in 2015, which fuels development of the gemstone industry in Kenya and Tanzania through fair trade purchasing and supporting education in gemstone communities. She is active in the industry as a board member of the Women’s Jewelry Association and Ethical Metalsmiths, and is thrilled to be a frequent speaker about social media and responsible sourcing. Her adventures as a writer and “accidental gem dealer” lead her all over the globe: you can follow along on social media at @idazzle or @anzagems.

ANZA Gems & iDazzle

Nature's Geometry

Brian Cook

Brian was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. After high school he spent 5 years working as a firefighter, then studied Geology at Sonoma State University. After leaving university, he became a partner in an international grassroots exploration company based in Brazil prospecting precious metals, which quickly led to a personal interest in pegmatite exploration and mining. Brian is geologist at Brazil, Batalha “Paraiba” tourmaline mine from 1988 to present. In 1989  Nature’s Geometry Inc. was established with his wife Kendra as a lapidary arts, jewelry design & manufacturing family operated business. Recipient of the AGTA Spectrum Award for the Fashion Forward, 2016. An early advocate of responsible sourcing in the jewelry trade, Brian has orchestrated an initiative for an artisanal small-scale mining community in Bahia, Brazil, and concurrently  involved in similar initiatives in the Amazon Basin with SWAROVSKI and the Amazon International Cooperation Agency. Brian advocates for  education and transparency speaking at conferences world wide. Brian & Kendra are based in Tucson, AZ and Bahia, Brazil. They have 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren.

Nature's Geometry

Quore Jewelry

Columbia Gem House

Eric Braunwart

Eric C. Braunwart is president and owner of Columbia Gem House, Inc. started in 1976 and is co-founder and partner in Sustain Associates since May 2010. Mr. Braunwart graduated from Washington State University in 1975 with a BS in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design, as well as a BA in Fine Arts Jewelry Design. He is a founding member of the American Gem Trade Association in 1981. He has been on the Board of Directors for approximately 20 previous years and held positions as President, Vice President, Marketing Chairperson, Secretary, and Board Member.

Mr. Braunwart spent over 10 years traveling to gem producing countries working with mining and cutting facilities to develop the Fair Trade protocols for the gemstone varieties produced by Columbia Gem House, Inc. (see for more details). Columbia Gem House, Inc. has worked to develop transparent fair trade oriented supply chains and bring these gemstones to the jewelry retailers and manufacturers worldwide. Fair Trade Gems not only offers the choice of a transparent supply chain, but also addresses the other quality assurance issues of the day, including disclosure, treatment and synthetic stones being sold as naturals.

Mr. Braunwart and Columbia Gem House, Inc. are active in a variety of other U.S. and international associations as well as being invited to speak at a variety of national and international forums.

Columbia Gem House


Stuart Pool

Stuart is a specialist in responsibly mined and fully traceable colored gemstones, mainly sourced directly from mines in Sri Lanka and Tanzania. He runs gem trading company Nineteen48 and is a co-founder of Fair Luxury, a group focused on positive change in the jewellery industry. Stuart works closely with local mine owners to provide a mine-to-market service, from extracting the rough gem material and the cutting and polishing of gemstones, right up to the sale of gems to the end customer, both wholesale and retail. The emphasis throughout the supply chain is on maximum transparency and fair benefits to everyone involved. More at


Responsible Jewelry Transformative

Susan Wheeler

Susan Wheeler is a jewelry designer who sculpts her jewelry models from clay and sun dries them to achieve a truly organic texture, a texture that has only been modified by nature, not by tools or hands. The signature organic texture resembles the textures found in nature, the ripple of wind on the water, the cracking of earth as it dries and the pattern of bark growing on a tree. She believes in making quality jewelry that is continually innovating her craft.Susan Wheeler's award winning jewelry is cast in 18 karat Fairmined gold and created by hand in Chicago. Susan sources fair trade gems, she uses antique diamonds and works to ensure integrity in all facets of her supply chain.

Susan Wheeler is devoted to furthering the movement of responsible jewelry. Susan is the founder and visionary of The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. Susan is a board member of Ethical Metalsmiths.

Susan is on the Steering Committee and Lead on Initiatives for The Jewelry Industry Summit. Susan is the Vice President of the Chicago Chapter of The Women's Jewelry Association.

Susan is a member of AGTA (American Gem Trade Association), MJSA(Manufacturing Jewelers and Supply Association) and CJDG)Contemporary Jewelry Design Group)

Responsible Jewelry Transformative

Day 2

Thursday, 14 May

10:00 A.M. Central

World Bank

Dr. Rachel Bernice Perks

Rachel Perks is a mining specialist with the Extractive Industries practice of the World Bank. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked and lived for 12 years in the Horn and Central Africa. She has worked on managing the transition from conflict to peace in countries where natural resources have played a role in conflict, and may equally play a catalytic role in state building. She has spent considerable time in particular in the Great Lakes region, working directly on mining development and reform programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Her PhD was on the formalization of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in Rwanda, and the impacts that the regional mineral initiatives have brought to bear on Rwanda's domestic mineral economic agenda.

World Bank | Mining Specialist

Pact Worldwide

Cristina Villegas

Cristina a mining & rural development specialist focused on responsible mining and sourcing. She works with all scales and types of mineral producers, from industrial mining companies to artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM). She is known for her specialization in gemstones, diamonds, gold and other jewelry-relevant materials, but she has previously worked in cassiterite (tin), tantalum, tungsten, coal, salt, and other materials around the world. She has an emerging interest in mica in cosmetics supply chains.

In 2019, Cristina led a team to co-found Moyo Gems, a first-of-its kind responsible mine to market sourcing program working with ASM to source beautiful colored gemstones, assure their provenance, improve their mining, and bring these traced stones to market. More at

Cristina specializes in ethical sourcing/risk management in artisanal mining supply chains, improving the social performance of mining companies, ASM-LSM, rural development strategies, ASM market development, mineral sector governance, gender & mining, and reducing child labor in mining. She has particular expertise in fragile and post-conflict economies.

Cristina is a member of the following international technical groups: (all by invitation only)

  • Advisory Board, Gemstones & Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub
  • Advisory Council, Ethical Metalsmiths
  • Nominee (2019), Board of Directors, Jewelry Industry Summit
  • Advisory Committee, CRAFT Standard for ASM (mining standard)
  • Co-creator, CRAFT for Gemstones (mining standard)
  • Fairtrade Technical Advisory Group for Gold
  • ASM Gold Expert, UNEP Global Mercury Partnership
  • Expert Associate Group, Artisanal Gold Council

Cristina has more than 15 years of international development-sector experience, including field work in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and beyond.

Pact Worldwide | Director of Mining


Benjamin Katz

Benjamin Katz is a Policy Analyst, Extractives Sector Projects for the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs.


Moderated By

Hill Management Group

Andrea Hill

Andrea owns Hill Management Group, LLC, with the brands StrategyWerx, MentorWerx, and WerxMarketing; providing strategy consulting, professional development, branding, and marketing services to small and mid-sized businesses. She has 30+ years professional experience as the CEO and president of start-up through mid-sized companies, and she has demonstrated serial success in leading companies through rapid and profitable growth. Her experience spans multiple industries as the CEO of Rio Grande Jewelry Supply, the president of international clothing manufacturer and direct marketer Fulcrum Direct/After the Stork, president of marketing services firm Anthill Marketing, and a founding senior executive of Playboy’s direct marketing catalog operations in music and video. In addition to owning her business in the US, she is also Managing Director of jewelry industry supplier Legor Group in Italy.

Andrea’s special expertise is in preparing companies for growth – whether they seek to improve cash-flow for organic growth, or acquire angel or institutional investors. She uses proprietary processes for strategic planning, leadership development, branding & marketing strategy, operations improvement and management, and human resources strategy. Her forward-looking orientation and deep background in marketing technology and data make her business perspective particularly useful during this time of significant economic and business transformation. When she’s not running her company or enjoying her large family, she is very active in political and social causes related to jewelry supply chain responsibility, diversity and equality, women’s rights, and women’s health.

Hill Management Group

Symposium Recap

On May 13-14, 2020, we hosted an event to explore ways to help Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASMs) cope with the economic, health, and security fallout from the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

In two one-hour sessions, we learned ways to help the source communities in the colored gemstone supply chain - ways to have immediate impact. You can watch the replays below, then skip to the links of the beneficial initiatives you can participate in right now.

Links to Initiatives