Rapaport Magazine

Have a Heart

When Alethe Clemetson returned to New York after volunteering in Tanzania, she continued to ask how she could help.

By Amber Michelle
RAPAPORT... It only takes a moment for life to change, and in the case of gemologist Alethe Clemetson, that moment came after she returned home to New York from a trip to Tanzania, where she volunteered at a small school. While in Africa, Clemetson was deeply touched by the children who had fallen prey to tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

“When I returned from volunteering at a small school in Moshi Town in Tanzania, I felt helpless. I work in the luxury industry and I wanted to connect luxury to poverty and then use luxury to help out,” says Clemetson, who previously worked in sales for Lazare Kaplan Int., and in the appraisal offices at Tiffany & Co., as well as with David Yurman, H. Stern, Staurino Fratelli and Valente Milano.

Getting Started

Fast forward a couple of years and Clemetson has now found a way to help. She has founded “Jewelers That Care” a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing African people with resources to take advantage of their mineral resources.  The mission of the organization, which is a registered 501(c)(3), is to “energize development projects such as building boarding schools and water well epicenters in rural villages of Africa.”

Jewelers That Care uses cause-related marketing as part of its fund-raising strategy, which pairs businesses with nonprofits to develop relationships that benefit both. “Jewelers are not always seen in a positive light. A Jewelers That Care event will highlight that jewelers are philanthropic,” comments Clemetson, who began laying the groundwork for the nonprofit in 2007.

The first event from Jewelers That Care took place at the 2009 Summer JA Show in New York, where a booth was donated to the organization. The nonprofit held a silent jewelry auction of pieces donated to Jewelers That Care by Erica Courtney, Furrer-Jacot, Finesse Diamonds, Mason-Kay, Sandy Wallin and IPPOLITA. The pieces have sold and the money now sits in the bank as the first contribution to the Jewelers That Care fund-raising effort to move its projects forward. Silent auctions were also held at the Atlanta Jewelry Show and the Columbus, Ohio, show, which also donated booth space. In the works right now is a Jewelers That Care Awards party slated to take place at the JCK show in Las Vegas in 2010.

“I feel passionate about the cause; donating to meaningful organizations such as Jewelers That Care is very important to me,” says Los Angeles–based designer Erica Courtney. “After a very inspiring trip to Tanzania last year, I jumped at the chance to help groups that help Africa.”

Retailers can get involved with Jewelers That Care as well. The nonprofit will put on an in-store event where a portion of the proceeds of the event’s sales will benefit Jewelers That Care. These events may include guest speakers, images of projects underway and information about gems and jewelry that will work to excite consumers and motivate them to buy. The nonprofit also works with volunteer gemologists who come into the store where the event is held to offer sales support and training on gemstones and diamonds to store sales professionals.

Such programs offer retailers the added bonus of publicity. Having an in-store event with a global reach is an ideal hook for generating coverage with the local and regional press. It sets a store apart from the pack and gets the store’s name out in the community in a positive way. Plus, these days, consumers feel good about spending money where it does some good.

Diamond dealers are also supporting the cause, including Kenneth Firm, whose Kailua-Kona, Hawaii,company Aper Trading Corporation donates 5 percent of its parcel sales to Jewelers That Care. “We have diamond parcels that are certified conflict free by a third party. The diamonds are also checked for environmental sustainability and they are free of human rights abuses. We wanted to support some other cause with these diamonds as well,” explains Firm, who also comments that the causes Jewelers That Cares support go hand in hand. “These are two very important causes to develop. If there is no water, the kids spend all day going around getting water and can’t go to school. Without education, the kids can never have a better life.”

Also in the works is an “Investors Trip” to Tanzania. Once in Tanzania, travelers will have a chance to meet the people living in the villages that are being helped by Jewelers That Care, as well as managers working on developing the projects. There will also be a safari side trip. Open to anyone who wants to go, the cost of the trip includes airfare, accommodations and a donation to Jewelers That Care.

“All money raised will go toward developing projects dedicated to training the African people in taking full advantage of their mineralogical resources or in creating an infrastructure that will assist them in doing this,” concludes Clemetson, who has set a goal of raising $300,000 in 2009 so that the organization will be able to build three boarding schools and water wells.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2009. To subscribe click here.

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