Gem-A tutor Barbara Kolator B.Sc. M.Sc. FGA DGA EG shares some highlights from her recent trip to the Institut de Gemmologie de Madagascar in Antananarivo, which is a proud Gem-A Accredited Teaching Centre (ATC).
Last month I visited Madagascar and was fortunate enough to be invited to visit the IGM (Institut de Gemmologie de Madagascar) in Antananarivo. During the visit I joined a panel of judges assigned to find the best cut stone in the institution's annual lapidary competition. The competition is split into two levels: Basic and Master.
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Lapidary courses are offered at the Institute in addition to Gem-A Foundation and Diploma courses. The standard is very high and I was very impressed by the quality of stones that were cut, especially at the Master level.
Students outside the IGM building.
In addition to teaching lapidary, gemmology, and the making of costume jewellery, the Institute also has a gem testing laboratory, which relies on learned gemmological skills such as observation, RI measurement and SG. Shortly they will be getting a Ramen Spectrometer.
The Institute is on a hill overlooking the city of Antananarivo or ‘Tana’ as it is known. It is spacious and well-equipped with a lovely buzz of people going about their work.
The view of 'Tana' from Gem-A ATC, the Institut de Gemmologie de Madagascar.
Students come from all over Africa to study. There are courses of varying lengths and the fees are reasonable. Helpfully, inexpensive accommodation can be found nearby. There is no other similar school anywhere in Africa. I met students from Morocco, Cameroon and Malawi as well as Madagascar. They were all enthusiastic and engaged.
Courses are taught in English or French, which is very helpful for the many students who enquire.
I got a feeling of great pride from the Institute, they are proud of being part of Gem-A and the ATC flag flies over the building. Some staff members regularly attend the Gem-A Conference in November and produce many excellent graduates themselves.
The panel of judges assessing the lapidary competition entries, including Barbara Kolator (second from right).
I also felt proud that Gem-A is associated with such a forward-thinking and professional institution in a truly amazing country. I urge you to visit if you have a chance! ■
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Cover image: Barbara Kolator judges entries to the lapidary competition. All images courtesy of Barbara Kolator.