The Belgium diamond industry is in turmoil as its lead organization, the HRD Antwerp World Diamond Center, has seen resignations from government and De Beers sightholders. This is a result of an internal power struggle shifting power away from the larger Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sightholders toward the smaller diamond companies in Antwerp.
Camille Paulus, governor of Antwerp; Patrick Janssens, city mayor; Leo Delwaide, deputy city mayor; and Luc Van den Branden, peoples representative, all left the board. These actions were preceded by the resignations of HRD managing director Peter Meeus and board representatives Chaim Pluczenik (Pluczenik Group), Dilip Mehta (Rosy Blue) and Jacques Claes (IGC Group), all representing larger diamond companies.
One potential outcome of this power struggle is that De Beers sightholders and the Indian diamond representatives move their business away from Antwerp, leaving the diamond activity there a mere fraction of its former level. While there are a greater number of smaller diamond companies in Antwerp, it is the larger sightholders that control the bulk of the business there.
HRD Diamond Office is the customs office for diamonds. All diamonds moving in or out of Belgium pass through the Diamond Office. Operated by the HRD, and in collaboration with the financial and the economic services of the Federal Government, the HRD Diamond Office ensures the rapid handling and efficient government controls so necessary to the industry.
The diamond industry in Belgium was historically one of diamond cutting but today there are fewer than 1,000 polishers. The direction of the HRD and the Belgium diamond industry is now in the hands of a board with new members and leadership. Only time will tell what the new direction will be and what success it will produce.