Rapaport Magazine

Paying your way

Want to study gems and jewelry but can’t afford it? The industry has a wealth of scholarships that can help.

By Adrianne Sanogo

Image: Gemological Institute of America

The conundrum: You’re short on cash but long on ambition. How do you pay for the courses and training you need to succeed in the gem, jewelry and watch industry? My own journey started with the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) online distance learning program. The challenge: I didn’t have enough funds. That’s where scholarships and grants can make a difference. At the time of my enrollment, three of the scholarships I received were conveniently listed on the GIA website. Now you can visit each website directly (see box). Because I’m forever grateful for those opportunities, I’m dropping tips and other gems to help with your scholarship search.

Aid from the GIA

Both new and current GIA students are eligible for GIA scholarships, says Wendy Wang, the institute’s director of financial aid. “There are scholarships for in-person and remote learning, depending on which GIA school and programs the student is interested in. There are two application cycles each year — one in the spring, and the other in the fall,” with specific dates available on the GIA website.

When applying, it pays to be thorough, she advises. “The number of scholarships ...and the amount of each award will vary by campus location, so it is important to submit a strong application with all the necessary documents and required supporting material. If there is anything that is optional on the application, I always encourage applicants to include it. Sometimes that bit of information can really make the difference.”

Send in the marines

Even though I did not receive a full scholarship from the GIA, I found a useful item on its website: the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF). Discovering I was eligible for a scholarship based on my father’s service in Vietnam as a US marine after 50-plus years was gold.

The foundation has two scholarship applications, according to Claire Niemann, its communications manager: Undergraduate and Associate Degree, which is for students entering a bachelor’s or associate’s program, and Career and Technical Education, which is for those “pursuing a non-degree certificate program [of] less than 12 months.”

Unlike in the more competitive GIA aid programs, “all eligible applicants who submit a completed application by the deadline will receive a scholarship award,” Niemann says. To get details on eligibility, visit the MCSF’s website.

Girls just want to have funds

The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) Foundation is another resource. I received its Cindy Edelstein scholarship, which helped me get the lab equipment and remaining courses I needed to complete the GIA’s graduate gemologist program.

Currently, the foundation offers nine different types of grants and scholarships to WJA members and non-members alike. “If you’re a student, membership is free with proof of enrollment in a part-time or full-time jewelry-related educational program,” says Rachel Jurisz, the group’s membership and operations manager. The foundation’s partnership with insurer Jewelers Mutual Group offers a merit-based $5,000 grant for US military veterans’ professional growth within the jewelry and/or watch industries. The aim is to lend support to women veterans who continue to serve their communities through their work in jewelry. Application will be open from September 1 to October 31 this year.

Then there are the WJA Diversity Scholarships for GIA Education. This partnership between the foundation and the GIA offers scholarships for the institute’s courses — both online and in person — to students who want to advance their careers in jewelry essentials, jewelry design, diamonds, and colored stones. The scholarship is open to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQIA+ applicants.

The WJA foundation also has the Radiant Mind Technology Scholarship, which it launched last month with the Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC) and Gem+Jewel, a Jewelers Mutual Group company. “This new scholarship is open to women of color who are interested in serving in organizational roles in the jewelry industry that require technological skill sets related to front- and back-end development, user experience design, and coding,” explains Jurisz. The deadline for application is June 30.

If none of these options is right for you, contact your human resources department, trade associations, learning institutions, or places of worship — and don’t forget to review your military benefits. Good luck!

Where to look

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2022. To subscribe click here.

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