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Diamonds Support Education

Jan 12, 2015 10:26 AM   By Amber Michelle
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RAPAPORT... A cold January night was warmed up by the generosity of the jewelry industry as association heads, principles of diamond firms and retail leaders joined together for the Diamond Empowerment Fund’s (D.E.F.) Fourth Annual GOOD Awards held at the Empire Penthouse in New York City.  Established in 2012, the GOOD Awards recognize individuals, organizations and corporations in the diamond and jewelry industry for outstanding leadership in the areas of global citizenship, sustainability and promoting opportunity for others.

The gala cocktail party paused for a few moments to honor actress, designer and philanthropist Jane Seymour (pictured) for her Open Hearts Foundation, which was created to impact the lives of children in the  areas of wellness, education, sports and the arts. jane seymour When accepting the award, Seymour told the story behind the Open Heart pendant that she has designed for Kay Jewelers. The design is based on paintings that she did featuring hearts that were always open. She explained that her mother had always told her that love has no boundaries and no matter what happens that “when you keep an open heart, love will always find its way in.” That phrase is the slogan for the collection. She went on to comment, “We have an opportunity to create positive social and cultural change with our collective desire to make a difference in the world. When we do that – everyone wins and the entire world can be impacted by doing just a little good.”

David Rocha, the executive director of Jewelers for Children, was given the Good Award for his work in the industry to raise money for children’s charities.

The D.E.F. was created in 2007 by Russell Simmons and several people from the diamond and jewelry industry to empower diamond communities around the world, primarily through education.  Three students who were sponsored by the program and attended the African Leadership Academy (ALA), a university preparatory school in Johannesburg, South Africa, were at the party. All three had been able to attend the ALA due to money received from D.E.F. Each student  reported having a life changing experience through their education.  Well spoken and poised beyond their years, the three students spoke exclusively to Rapaport Magazine, after the awards.

Fortune Zindi, who hails from Zimbabwe, graduated from ALA in 2012 and is now attending Skidmore College. “I went to ALA for two years. Before school I had no idea of the future or how to fit in, but I had a desire to make a change in my immediate surroundings. Through the Diamond Empowerment Fund, I am a direct recipient of support that has enabled me to have a transformative education.”

From the class of 2008 at ALA, Ngozi Cole of Sierra Leone tells her story: “I went to the African Leadership Academy. I was sponsored with $40,000 by D.E.F. Now I am at the College of Wooster in Ohio. I am thinking of going to law school and studying social justice and human rights.”

Now attending the University of West Virginia, where he studies fashion design and economics, Emmanuel Ewald Mushy from Tanzania graduated from ALA in 2011. He said that D.E.F. supported him so that he could “get a better education and go back to my country to change the system. To study in a foreign country is a one time opportunity.”

During the ceremony, Nancy Orem Lyman, the vice president and executive director of the D.E.F., announced that the nonprofit group has recently launched a consumer site, She also noted that D.E.F. will be selling its signature fundraising green bracelet once again.

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Tags: Amber Michelle, awards, Diamond Empowerment Fund, diamonds, education
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