Skip to main content Navigation

Articles and News

Gem Legacy Appoints Chicago Jeweler Melissa Quick To Board of Directors August 18, 2021 (0 comments)


Chicago, IL—Melissa Quick (image), president of Chicago’s Steve Quick Jeweler, has been appointed to the board of directors of Gem Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing artisanal African gem mining communities with vocational training, entrepreneurship, and the supply of other vital resources.

Quick, already a supporter of the Gem Legacy, traveled to East Africa in 2018 with the organization’s founders to visit gem mines and meet the miners. There, she saw the positive impact the industry could have in these communities, and she began targeting specific projects to focus her fundraising efforts in the store.

Steve Quick Jeweler began by contributing to Gem Legacy scholarship funds for students at the Gemology and Gem Faceting School in Arusha, Tanzania. “Training Africans to cut gems closer to the source helps distribute the profits of the supply chain more equitably and allows African artisanal miners to reinvest in their communities,” says Quick.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Steve Quick Jeweler has also contributed to Gem Legacy’s initiative to bring food and safety supplies such as masks, water, and soap to mining communities. It has also contributed funds for breakfasts and lunches to the Kitarini Primary School in northern Tanzania, where Gem Legacy is providing for 800 children of ruby miners there. 

Gem Legacy is providing breakfast and lunch to 800 primary school students in Tanzania.

“I am ‘all in’ on Gem Legacy, and its vital initiatives, and I’m thrilled to accept this board position,” says Quick. “Jewelry is a notoriously difficult product category for those of us interested in responsible sourcing. Our customers are asking questions, and Gem Legacy helps us tell an important story about how the jewelry industry is contributing to positive change. I look forward to making meaningful contributions to the organization and furthering its mission to empower those at the beginning of the supply chain.”

Quick, together with her husband and business partner Steve, is also a member of several other jewelry industry organizations, including American Gem Society, Jewelers of America, and Women’s Jewelry Association. The Quicks also support sustainable jewelry initiatives such as Mercury Free Mining, and the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. 

Separately, Gem Legacy is on the ground in East Africa this summer supporting a variety of its initiatives. The Gem Legacy team first went to the Gemology and Gem Faceting School in Arusha to award graduation certificates to eight of the 15 scholars whose education is being funded by a 2021 grant from the JCK Industry Fund. They also welcomed the next seven new students who are beginning their studies and delivered two more new faceting machines, purchased with donated funds. 

“I wanted to take this course so that I could help my family, and also the community,” said one of the graduating scholars, 20-year-old Jubleth. The scholarship students are selected based on their financial situation and their interview. The school looks for students to display the kinds of skills helpful for successfully learning gem faceting, as well as a desire to learn a trade that is growing in East Africa and will provide a career for them.

Proud graduates ready to work as gem cutters.

The Gem Legacy team additionally visited communities and schools affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since last year, the non-profit has supplied nearly 120,000 meals to families, plus safety supplies such as masks, water, and soap, via industry donations. Part of the JCK Industry Fund grant is helping to fund these ongoing efforts.

Delivering food and COVID safety supplies, above, and proper tool kits for miners, below.

The organization also delivered 68 Miner Tool Kits across Tanzania and Kenya, made possible by other industry donations. The kits, underwritten at a cost of $125 each, are customized to the needs of specific miners, based on the gem type and style of mining they are doing. Kits include tools such as shovels, chisels, hammers, pickaxes, hand drills, blasting tools, helmets, head lights, gloves, and sieves.

“Tools are absolutely essential to small gem miners’ success,” says Rachel Dery, Gem Legacy’s director of communications. “We know that over 90% 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. The Gem Legacy Miner Toolkit provides them with more efficient set-ups that will allow them to be more productive in their mining.”

For more information about Gem Legacy or to donate, email or visit

Share This:

Leave a Comment:

Human Check