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Our Beginnings

Our passion for Gems and Fair Trade has spanned decades and began with the travels in the youth of James Biss around the globe.  

These days we operate as a Social Enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya for Development projects in East and West Africa - and we’ve had some terrific experience and success. Today, we can offer a truly traceable and transparent experience for consumers and artisanal producers alike. Authentically from the mine to your hand. Stories along the way included...

Shortly after graduating from university with a degree in International Relations, our Founder set out to California to obtain a Graduate Gemologist in Residence Certificate, from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), learning side by side with some of GIA’s Pioneers. Individuals like Richard T. Liddicoat, Bob Crowningsheild and Gary Hill.

Later he obtained a Masters Degree, Business Administration (Rotman MBA) and became President, of Allgems Associates Limited, an early innovator in the coloured gemstone industry in North America. Soon after, James became a Director of the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) and was eventually asked to become its Chief Operating Officer & General Manager for many years.

During this time he Co-Authored the Gemstone Guidelines, which became the standard for ethical sales of gems in the country and became the Executive Director, Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC), the consumer protection agency.

James became the Gemstone & Diamond Buyer for a large Canadian company called Consumers Distributing and eventually became the Jewellery Merchandise Director, for their 240 stores across the country and even in the U.S.  He was a Founding Member of the GIA Alumni Association and became a member of the exclusive DeBeers Carat Club for his work in the early Canadian Natural Diamond mining industry.

Over the years, he has literally bought tens of thousands of Coloured Stones and Diamonds all over the world during an adventurous career.  By 2010, James had lectured and taught across five continents and by 2020 he was considered an authority on Artisanal Mining in Africa. He now makes his home both in Canada and Kenya. 


James’s lifetime of gems, gemmology and jewelry design, has given him a unique perspective on the standards of professionalism in the industry and the importance of understanding all of the individuals involved in the journey of a gem and the need to detail that journey.

James Biss in Tanga, Tanzania, south of the Kenyan border in East Africa.  August, 2020

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