On March 3, Faye, Lori & the crew had a special opportunity to visit the Argenta Community Theater’s screening of the highly-awarded documentary, “Sharing the Rough,” and visit with renowned gem cutter Roger Dery and filmmaker Orin Mazzoni about the extraordinary journey of this film.
Filmed on location in eastern Africa’s Rift Valley, where powerful geological forces have produced a richness of precious gems beyond imagination, the movie uniquely traces the the origin of a prized gemstone from a small mining community to the hands of a master gem cutter.
It shares the stories of rural Tanzanian miners whose passion for gem hunting is not only their life’s career, but a way to reclaim the value of their most precious resources. These miners support their families by working in teams with only minimal equipment, often searching for months or years before making a find that rewards their painstaking labor.
The great pride these miners take in their work is often invisible to the rest of the world. Countries like Tanzania and Kenya are home to highly desired gems like the green garnets, zoisites (tanzanite), and rare or altogether unknown precious gemstone varieties. These are often immediately exported in the rough to other countries, before they reach their full value as faceted gems. Now, many dedicated individuals are rallying together to keep more of the profits in their communities, promoting safer and more knowledgeable mining practices and helping to raise the standard of living. New schools are training young African students the art & science of gem cutting, building a local gemstone industry which in turn will provide jobs and bolster the local economy.
The Devon Foundation, featured in the film, was created by a group of American jewelers to support several such schools. By helping to buy equipment, books, and even students’ meal plans, this outreach has a huge impact that returns even more of the African gem trade’s priceless value to its own communities.
In the movie, we watched the breathtaking transformation as a rare and exquisite kiwi green garnet is unearthed, masterfully cut into a one-of-a-kind work of art, and finally set in a one-of-a-kind heirloom design. Roger, his wife Ginger, and the film director graciously gave the opportunity to discuss the experience of creating the documentary. For more information about the project, video, photos, or ways to get involved with the Devon outreach, you can visit the above websites. Photos courtesy of Argenta Community Theater