Aiming to foster a jewellery industry that is competitive on a global scale, the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade’s Jewellery Technology Centre (JTC) supports upcoming designers and young artists who want to build their brand and obtain the know-how to compete in the international market.
The centre, located in Abdeen in the heart of Cairo, started in 2006 as an affiliate of the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade as a way for the government to help jewellery factories raise the standard of labour and help upcoming designers with small and medium projects. The centre offers a variety of courses ranging from jewellery design to wax carving to diamond grading.
A number of leading designers work with the centre to mentor participants, including Sirgany, Ihsan Nada and Laila Ne’matallah.
“We also have an incubator for those determined to sell a particular piece,” said Aida Zayed, manager of the JCT. “Because we have the necessary equipment to produce, we can produce this piece for a designer … and they can go to the market and say this is what I can do.”
As one of several ongoing projects, JTC is cooperating with the Scientific Research Academy to help seven students build their jewellery brands.
“This means we teach them how to become entrepreneurs, what pricing and costing are,” she said. “We took them to different museums around Cairo like the Islamic and Coptic museum to look at a wealth of design from different eras.”
In October, the centre will host an exhibition to show the students’ work.
JTC is also partnering with the European Union to encourage families in Greece, Lebanon, and Egypt to pass their knowledge of jewellery making onto the next generation.
“We are worried that this knowledge will disappear if it is not taught to younger generations,” she said.
The project, which is slated to last two years, will also outfit 30 entrepreneurs with communications skills and business management.
Zayed said it is important to the ministry to provide this opportunity to those wanting to break into the field.
“There are many who can make it on their own, but this is costly for many people,” she said. “This is our role as the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, to create job opportunities. You spend a lot of money learning how to do marketing and hold exhibitions if you do it on your own and we want to help.”
JTC’s upcoming project, in collaboration with the Agha Khan foundation, will be to teach people in Aswan to use dates and other things in their environment to make accessories.
“We have done this before in Dahshour where we made accessories from dates,” Zayed said. “It is important for people to use what is around them and be able to benefit from it.”