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
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.
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.