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For the love of handmade jewellery


By Sheher Bano
“Alfos Collection” is the brainchild of Mrs Saleem, a trainee at the Gems & Jewellery Training and Manufacturing Centre (GJTMC), who is making fashion jewellery for the last 10 years.
“I enrolled myself in the fashion jewellery designing course to refresh my learning through Competency Based Training (CBT), a new approach of learning skills,” says veiled Mrs. Saleem, who had set up her fashion jewellery kiosk at the ‘13th Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Skill Showcasing’, held in the backyard of Serena Hotel, Quetta by GJTMC in October 2018.
“I learnt jewellery making and cutting of jewels in a female conducive environment of the centre. Earlier, I didn’t have permission to go out and commercialise my talent. But now I face no limitation from my family.”
The GJTMC, Quetta, is a project of Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company, Ministry of Industry and Production, Government of Pakistan, which offers short courses of 6-month duration, in gemstone faceting, gemstone carving, fashion jewellery making (beads and wires) and gemology in teaching factory mode.
These courses are offered under CBT approach through a special training fund for Sindh and Balochistan, which was set up by the TVET Sector Support Programme, funded by the European Union and Germany and Norwegian governments. The fund prepares young people for the labour market and supports training institutes to develop tailor-made programmes for enterprises. The objective is to facilitate the training of 18,000 men and women in Sindh and Balochistan and assist them in finding employment after graduation.
The centre is equipped with gem identification lab, which provides the facilities of gemstone testing and diamond grading. After initial training, the students undertake industry projects by teaming them up with the staff in real-life industry settings.
Comprising strings of precious and semi-precious stones, studded necklace, rings, earrings, and jewellery sets, Mrs. Saleem’s collection was nothing short of art pieces. “To bring novelty, I explore markets for new designs and add my own creativity.”
“With a female instructor taking fashion jewellery class, the centre has zero tolerance for any kind of gender-based harassment. Though 8th grade education is the criteria for these courses, but we have all categories from Matric to Graduate.” says Bashir Aga the Principal of GJTMC.
Another trainee Sugh Bano, a Masters in IR, the only female student in the Gemology class, developed interest in the trade during a short course in Gemstone from Women Technical Training Centre Quetta in 2005. “At GJTMC, I learnt how to start online business. In future I will train other women of the area in my own vocational training centre and will set up a gemstone testing lab. A trained woman can earn a minimum of Rs 10,000-15,000 per month from her own lab which can be raised up to Rs 30,000-35,000 per month.”
“We have also started e-commerce for girls and made Artisan website. Since no gemstone except diamond has a price index, so we give sessions on costing too,” says Bashir Agha.
“Regular Parents teachers’ meetings (PTMs), counselling and awareness sessions and industry visits are held to expose trainees to real industry environment”
“We also have trainees who were interested in these courses, but they told their parents that they are learning computer here. It was an odd situation for me, but that showed the interest of female youth in these courses,” says Bashir Agha laughingly.

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