Gem Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering small, artisanal, African gem mining communities via vocational training, entrepreneurship, and the supply of other vital resources, has appointed retailer Melissa Quick, president of Steve Quick Jewelers in Chicago, to its Board of Directors.
Quick traveled to East Africa in 2018 with the founders of Gem Legacy, to visit gem mines and meet the miners. It was during that trip she saw the positive impact the industry could have in these communities. Already a supporter of the nonprofit, she began targeting specific projects on which she could 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, causing much trade to cease and impacting miners’ livelihoods, Steve Quick Jeweler has also contributed to Gem Legacy’s initiative to supply 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.
“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 additionally support sustainable jewelry initiatives such as Mercury Free Mining, and the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference.
Gem Legacy’s Board of Directors guides the nonprofit on project planning, fundraising, and outreach to the wider jewellery community to spread the word on the nonprofit’s mission and accomplishments. Quick will join Craig Selimotic Danforth of Jewelers Mutual Group; Peggy Jo Donahue of Peggy Jo Donahue, Writer; Ben Smithee of The Smithee Group; and Monica Stephenson of Anza Gems and idazzle, on the board.