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37th World Diamond Congress - POSITIVE HEADWINDS
Business leaders, industry think-tank meeting and discussing industry related issues is not new but when these leaders speak on common grounds and emerge as one voice, it definitely is a welcome change. Issues of transparency, beneficiation, responsibility, sustainability and finance have been the troubles and concerns of the industry and the same were the prime subjects of discussions at the recently concluded 37th World Diamond Congress in Dubai. Diamond World brings you how the discussions unfolded in this Cover Story.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jun 22 2016 2:50PM
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Reference: 13144  

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As for Vander Linden, he said the participants in IDMA’s meetings contributed great content and substance. On the first day of the Congress proper, Blom asked all participants to speak to the themes of the Congress: Transparency, Responsibility, Sustainability, explaining that the themes were relevant to all the challenges that the global diamond industry is facing and should be at the centre of the discussions and debates being held.

Among the messages in his speech were that all members of the diamond pipeline, from mining to diamond cutting and polishing, and from jewellery making to retailing, should be sure they are working in a fair and honest way, and strengthening their Corporate Social Responsibility operations.
Blom also said it was critical that the industry proactively deals with issues so that governmental bodies and other agencies did not. “I believe it is time that the diamond industry went on the offensive. It seems to me we have been on the defensive too long – and unnecessarily so. We have one of the most self-regulated industries in the world.” Blom also spoke about the challenges of securing financing and of the Know-Your-Client (KYC) initiative it is supporting for WFDB members to establish a platform to increase transparency in the diamond business.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre which includes the Dubai Diamond Exchange which hosted the Congress, said: “We often say that our city has a pivotal location between east and west. The important global events here this month show that diamonds are particularly big on the agenda with today’s opening of the World Diamond Congress and the Kimberley Process Intersessional meetings which will take place next week. The fact that the world’s industry leaders are taking part in these conferences also shows that we are united in our pursuit of industry excellence,” added Bin Sulayem who is also Chair of the Kimberley Process.

Dubai Diamond Exchange Chairman Peter Meeus spoke of the growing role of Dubai in the global diamond business, saying it traded more than $30 billion of diamonds in 2015. He added that banks in Dubai are looking at financing options for the diamond business.

At the IDMA closed session that followed the opening speeches, members heard industry reports from the World Diamond Council’s (WDC) outgoing President Edward Asscher and WDC Executive Director Patricia Syvrud. In addition, there was an update on synthetic diamonds from the International Diamond Council and an in-depth, detailed presentation by Krisztina Kalman-Schueler, Programme Director of the World Diamond Mark, who walked the participants through the WDM’s 2017-2019 business plan. IDMA holds a seat on the World Diamond Mark Board.

A fascinating insight into the mindset of the younger generation of potential diamond jewellery consumers – the so-called Millennial generation of 18-35-year-olds – was given by Diamond Producers Association CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr. He described the work of the organisation, particularly research into the likes and dislikes of Millennials. He said the DPA would provide full details of its marketing plans at the JCK Show Las Vegas in June.

He was followed by World Diamond Mark (WDM) Chairman Alex Popov who told the WFDB Working Session about the WDM’s wide-ranging operations. He said that Authorised Diamond Dealer status has been awarded to 98 stores in 10 countries, and also mentioned the magazine that it publishes, its revamped website and the extra services it provides, and the WDMuseum – Facets of Mankind.

At the end of the first day of the Congress, WFDB Presidents unanimously re-elected Ernie Blom as President for a further two-year term, and Israel Diamond Exchange President Yoram Dvash as Vice-President, replacing Julien Drybooms. Dvash will become WFDB President when he steps down at the 38th World Diamond Congress to be held, fittingly, in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, India’s Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council was accepted as a WFDB member.

Financing for Diamond Trade Top of the Agenda on Day Two
The topic of financing, which is crucial to diamond manufacturers and traders, was discussed in great depth on the second day of the Congress. The session started with a presentation by Geert van Reisen of ABN Amro Bank, the global diamond industry’s leading financier. He stressed the need for the diamond business to improve working capital and reduce the manufacturing cycle time, while increasing its focus on collecting receivables, inventory management and payment terms.

He added that the industry, especially in Antwerp, would benefit from having more banks involved other than those in India. There is also a need to look for alternative funding institutions, such as pension funds, insurance companies, and other international banks. The industry needs to change its operating model, shorten payment terms for rough and credit terms for polished and put a bigger focus on inventory management and lowering inventories.

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