38th World Di­a­mond Con­gress Plans Way For­ward

The 38th World Di­a­mond Con­gress, the bi­en­nial meet­ing of the World Fed­er­a­tion of Di­a­mond Bourses ( WFDB) and the In­ter­na­tional Di­a­mond Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion ( IDMA), was suc­cess­fully hosted by the Bharat Di­a­mond Bourse ( BDB) at its premises from Octo

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The World Di­a­mond Con­gress be­gan with the WFDB hold­ing im­por­tant meet­ings of its Ju­di­cial, Trade & Busi­ness, Pro­mo­tion, and Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tees and heard up­dates re­gard­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties, and dis­cussed fu­ture plans. “There have been so many de­vel­op­ments in the di­a­mond busi­ness since we last met at the 2017 Pres­i­dents Meet­ing that it was vi­tal for us to have the op­por­tu­nity to hear the views and opin­ions of our mem­bers from across the world,” said WFDB pres­i­dent Ernie Blom.

“We have been con­fronted with so many new is­sues this year that this has be­come one of the most im­por­tant Con­gresses for our or­gan­i­sa­tion. Our com­mit­tees cer­tainly held very de­tailed meet­ings, par­tic­u­larly in the ar­eas of syn­thet­ics, fi­nanc­ing, the im­pact of De Beers’ Light­box jewellery, changes in the func­tions of trade shows, so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing, our Young Dia­man­taires group and the re­sults of a spe­cial sur­vey of our bourses which raised many im­por­tant ques­tions about how we op­er­ate.”

Blom called on ex­change pres­i­dents and mem­bers to join hands to boost the global pres­ence of the trade or­gan­i­sa­tion at the con­clu­sion, on Oc­to­ber 25th. The WFDB is clearly the most im­por­tant rep­re­sen­ta­tive body in the global di­a­mond trade, but needs to think how it can bring added ben­e­fits to mem­bers, he said.

“Each pres­i­dent and mem­ber is an am­bas­sador for the WFDB and the di­a­mond trade and the good that di­a­monds do needs to be com­mu­ni­cated both in the coun­tries in which they op­er­ate and also abroad. We have an enor­mous amount of knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and in­tel­lect among our pres­i­dents and that should be used to find ways for us to fur­ther boost our global role,” Blom said, adding that Is­rael Di­a­mond Ex­change pres­i­dent Yo­ram Dvash had agreed to lead the project.

Ad­dress­ing the press con­fer­ence on the con­clud­ing day were Ernie Blom; Rony Un­ter­man, sec­re­tary gen­eral, WFDB; Lin Qiang, vice pres­i­dent, WFDB; Me­hul Shah, vice pres­i­dent, BDB; and Anoop Me­hta, pres­i­dent, BDB.

They noted that the out­comes of an “in­tense” Con­gress were suc­cess­ful. As for the US Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC) rul­ing on di­a­mond nomen­cla­ture is­sues, Anoop Me­hta said that the sit­u­a­tion didn’t seem that bad af­ter Ron­nie Van­der­lin­den, pres­i­dent

of IDMA, cleared the air. It was de­cided that the US as­so­ci­a­tions would take the nomen­cla­ture is­sue fur­ther with the FTC.

On the sub­ject of deal­ing with syn­thetic di­a­monds, Blom said, “Our big­gest con­cern is nomen­cla­ture. I have no prob­lem with syn­thetic di­a­mond man­u­fac­tur­ers. My only prob­lem is the un­eth­i­cal pro­mo­tion of syn­thet­ics by us­ing us as scape­goats. We em­ploy tens and mil­lions glob­ally, while they are try­ing to den­i­grate our prod­uct to pro­mote theirs.”

Me­hta ob­served that the In­dian gov­ern­ment had listed nat­u­ral and lab-grown pol­ished di­a­monds un­der the Har­mo­nized Com­mod­ity De­scrip­tion and Cod­ing Sys­tem (HS Code) sep­a­rately, and it was im­per­a­tive, ac­cord­ing to him, to have sep­a­rate codes for nat­u­ral and lab-grown rough di­a­monds, too. He noted that China was the only coun­try that had a proper HS Code sys­tem for all types of di­a­monds. “In­dia should lead by ex­am­ple and soon adopt HS codes for syn­thetic di­a­monds,” Me­hta added.

Blom said that the World Di­a­mond Mark ini­tia­tive for pro­mot­ing con­sumer de­sir­abil­ity and con­fi­dence in di­a­monds is be­ing relooked at and would be re­launched, start­ing with the Far East.

Legacy plan­ning

On the fi­nal day, the WFDB and BDB hosted a meet­ing of Young Dia­man­taires (be­low 40 years) to dis­cuss top­ics like ‘chang­ing with the times’ and ‘con­tin­u­ing the legacy’. Rami Baron, a third­gen­er­a­tion jeweller, and pres­i­dent of the Di­a­mond Deal­ers Club of Aus­tralia (DDCA), urged young dia­man­taires to play an ac­tive role in shap­ing the fu­ture of the di­a­mond in­dus­try.

Baron in­formed that there are about 180 young dia­man­taires from 18 coun­tries on the WFDB’s What­sApp group of young dia­man­taires and dis­cus­sions hap­pen on a daily ba­sis on im­por­tant in­dus­try is­sues. Some in­ter­est­ing re­sults emerged in a re­cent sur­vey held in the group: 87.5% be­lieve WFDB should al­lo­cate re­sources to deal with syn­thetic di­a­monds and the FTC rul­ing; 42% utilise a dig­i­tal trad­ing plat­form for their mem­bers, 58% do not; 68% feel that the WFDB could of­fer ed­u­ca­tion on rel­e­vant emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies; 71% of bourses do not have a young dia­man­taires group; and 88% do at­tend trade fairs, but it is in­creas­ingly felt that they were hav­ing less ap­peal.

In a state­ment, Blom an­nounced that dur­ing his fourth two-year term in of­fice, he would be push­ing a suc­ces­sion plan­ning pol­icy to en­sure that younger mem­bers of the di­a­mond trade are brought on board and be­come ac­tive in the run­ning of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. “It is im­per­a­tive that we all work to bring this about. There are many ex­cel­lent younger mem­bers of the trade, both men and women, across the globe and we must help to groom them for po­si­tions of lead­er­ship.”

Blom also told the meet­ing that an ad­di­tional layer of ad­min­is­tra­tion was needed to deal with an in­creased work­load. On the chal­lenges the di­a­mond in­dus­try faces, Blom said bourses must be force­ful in deal­ing with peo­ple found to be break­ing the rules. “Ev­ery pres­i­dent and bourse must have zero tol­er­ance for this ac­tiv­ity and this must be clearly com­mu­ni­cated.”

Blom also com­mented on Know Your Client pro­grammes which, he said, were ex­tremely im­por­tant to the in­dus­try and which can help di­a­mond firms be­come even more trans­par­ent. In ad­di­tion, re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing has be­come a stan­dard el­e­ment of op­er­a­tions and mem­bers should em­brace it.

Set­ting an aus­pi­cious tone at the be­gin­ning of the Con­gress, dig­nataries seen light­ing the lamp.

WFDB com­mit­tee ad­dress­ing me­dia queries.

Snap­shot of all dig­nataries on dais.

In­dus­try vet­eran Vas­ant Me­hta hon­oured at the event for his sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the in­dus­try’s progress.

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