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Women in the gem cutting industry

It is common knowledge that the gem cutting and mining industry has always predominantly been anchored by men. While women make up 90% of the downstream retail market by being the largest consuming population of gems, their involvement in the cutting, manufacturing and polishing process of the supply side is practically non-existent. Female graduates in the field opt to pursue gem brokering on the service and sales side as they feel unfamiliar in partaking in ground operations that source the gems. As such, the visibility of women in the market has traditionally been low. If things have always been governed by men, it’s not easy to change that.


However, over the recent years, more women have made room for themselves in the industry, slashing through years of traditional practices that essentially saw male dominance. Women from across the globe have ventured into this field whilst grappling with the many challenges Back in 2018, Fura Gems, a Dubai-based establishment initiated a modern Emerald mining facility run entirely by women. The aim was to incorporate a sense of conduct and discipline into a historically unruly industry by creating a workflow consisting of female workers, supervisors and engineers, providing them with stable jobs.


Women are also driving change in the diamond sector. A prime example of this is Lucara, which is run by two diamond executives - Eira and Catherine, who own rights to one of the world’s richest diamond mines.

It is common knowledge that the gem cutting and mining industry has always predominantly been anchored by men. While women make up 90% of the downstream retail market by being the largest consuming population of gems, their involvement in the cutting, manufacturing and polishing process of the supply side is practically non-existent. Female graduates in the field opt to pursue gem brokering on the service and sales side as they feel unfamiliar in partaking in ground operations that source the gems. As such, the visibility of women in the market has traditionally been low. If things have always been governed by men, it’s not easy to change that.


However, over the recent years, more women have made room for themselves in the industry, slashing through years of traditional practices that essentially saw male dominance. Women from across the globe have ventured into this field whilst grappling with the many challenges Back in 2018, Fura Gems, a Dubai-based establishment initiated a modern Emerald mining facility run entirely by women. The aim was to incorporate a sense of conduct and discipline into a historically unruly industry by creating a workflow consisting of female workers, supervisors and engineers, providing them with stable jobs.


Women are also driving change in the diamond sector. A prime example of this is Lucara, which is run by two diamond executives - Eira and Catherine, who own rights to one of the world’s richest diamond mines.


Along with these global developments of equality in the gem industry, Sri Lanka too has been making steady progress, easing the entrance of women into the field while equipping them with necessary grooming to hone their skills. Recently, under the Neela Palingu Project, a new gem cutting and training centre was opened in Ellawala with the aim to empower women in the rural area. This centre comprised 13 new gem cutting machines for the benefit of the women working there. This has led many women to have found job security and the opportunity to explore their craft.


Pioneering female involvement in the gem cutting industry is Lustre, which was founded in the year 2016 by Ms Vindya Perera as an effort to revolutionise the gem cutting industry by bringing forth a fresh perspective of custom crafted gems and ideologies of the youth. Her journey is one of championing her own establishment after facing an unwelcome experience in the industry which was crowded with veterans. Her fight to pursue her passion has paved the way for many others and has created an opening for more to enter the field.


Despite this industry being perceived as male-dominant, there has been imminent growth with regard to gender equality; branching out a world of possibilities for both men and women especially in a country like Sri Lanka with capitalises off its gem production. We have undoubtedly come a long way, and there is a longer way to go, preferably with more women in the gem cutting industry.


Along with these global developments of equality in the gem industry, Sri Lanka too has been making steady progress, easing the entrance of women into the field while equipping them with necessary grooming to hone their skills. Recently, under the Neela Palingu Project, a new gem cutting and training centre was opened in Ellawala with the aim to empower women in the rural area. This centre comprised 13 new gem cutting machines for the benefit of the women working there. This has led many women to have found job security and the opportunity to explore their craft.


Pioneering female involvement in the gem cutting industry is Lustre, which was founded in the year 2016 by Ms Vindya Perera as an effort to revolutionise the gem cutting industry by bringing forth a fresh perspective of custom crafted gems and ideologies of the youth. Her journey is one of championing her own establishment after facing an unwelcome experience in the industry which was crowded with veterans. Her fight to pursue her passion has paved the way for many others and has created an opening for more to enter the field.


Despite this industry being perceived as male-dominant, there has been imminent growth with regard to gender equality; branching out a world of possibilities for both men and women especially in a country like Sri Lanka with capitalises off its gem production. We have undoubtedly come a long way, and there is a longer way to go, preferably with more women in the gem cutting industry.








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