Simanjiro — SO, what do Mirerani women and New-York based giant jewelry firm of 'Diamonds International,' have in common? Well, they all seem to share a passion for Tanzanite, those rare blue rocks found in Simanjiro District of Manyara Region.
Tanzanite may be the sporadic gemstones mined only at Mirerani Hills in Northern Tanzania, but as it happens, very few women in the country, if any, adorn jewels made from the blue gems to decorate their personalities.
Apparently even fewer Tanzanian ladies are currently involved in the precious gemstones trade, let alone attempting to take part in the rather dangerous claustrophobic deepground mining processes, complete with dynamite explosions that are usually involved during the activities of extracting the blue minerals from the earth's rocks.
It is against that background, therefore that Diamonds International, the New-York based, global gemstones and jewellery manufacturing firm which, despite being named after diamonds, also happens to be the leading buyer and seller of Tanzanite minerals in the world. Diamonds International is a privately owned international jewelry manufacturer and retailer advertised as "the largest duty free jeweller in the world" which recently chose to establish a gemstone cutting and shaping plant in Arusha, targeting to employ over 200 workers but with special emphasis on local women.
The 1,000 square metres plant is located on the outskirts of Arusha, with the new venture targeting to make the Northern Tanzania City the largest gemstone manufacturing hub in the world .This also goes in sync with the government plans to add another value to the 'Safari and Tourism' capital, as the main Minerals and Jewelry trading centre for the continent.
The Chairman and Executive Officer for Diamonds International Mr Morris Gad who jetted in Arusha and travelled to Mirerani hills last week revealed his firm's plans to train a number of local women here so that they can become expert cutters, polishers and graders of the blue 'pieces of eight!' The Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Stephene Masele lauded such plans efforts by Diamonds International (DI) that are set to be executed through its Arusha-based partner firm, Signature Gems Limited (SGL).
He said it will help empower women in Mirerani to realize the benefit of blue gemstones mined from their vicinity. The Managing Director of 'Signature Gems' Mr Arun Lodhia stated that training and employing local women to take part in the international Tanzanite Business has started and the move will help lift a number of households from poverty.
Available data show that nearly 6 tonnes of Tanzanite get exported from East Africa annually, with Tanzania selling only 3.5 tonnes of the consignment, while Nairobi is said to export over 2.1 tonnes of the rare blue gems, despite the fact that Kenya produces none of the gemstone.
Diamonds International on the other hand, is said to lead in the purchase of Tanzanite gems and its annual buying capacity accounts for over 70 per cent of the blue sparkling rocks that DI again sells through its 140 outlets in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Mr Gad was taken aback to learn that it was actually India or essentially its Jaipur District which traditionally processed about 95 per cent of tanzanite produced in Tanzania, while such activities could be done right here in the country.
Other countries said to be involved in cutting, polishing and grading Tanzanite include South- Africa, Thailand and Hong Kong and in between those countries more than 500,000 people have secured employment from activities connected to the blue gems while back in the country where Tanzanite originates, people still outcry lack of employment.
The rare gem is said to have been generating between US $ 100 million and US $ 300 million to the economy in export revenue each year, with the US accounting for 80 per cent of sales, being the largest market even though in recent years it has attracted buyers in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
The Government, through the Energy and Minerals Ministry recently slammed a ban on all exports of Raw Tanzanite gemstones in line with the new Mining Act to increasing the contribution of the industry to Tanzania's economy and employment though how effective this move has been is yet to be seen.