The Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association (IDCA), celebrated Excellence and Innovation in the Jewelry Industry at its New Gala Awards / Diwali Celebrations. The prestigious event took place on Sunday, October 22, 2023 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York. Distinguished figures in the industry were recognized for their exceptional contributions and the afternoon featured a Keynote Address by Ms. Feriel Zerouki, Sr. Vice President, De Beers Group / President, World Diamond Council.
IDCA recognized the following exceptional individuals and organizations for their remarkable achievements:
Mfg. of the Year – Fine Jewelry Award: JB Star
Visionary Leadership – Jewelry Award: Ashi Diamonds, LLC.
E-Tailer of the Year Award: Angara.com
Excellence in Community Service Award: Mr. Rajendra Bafna (S.R.B. Trading)
IDCA President, Shailesh Jhalani opened the evening with a moment of reflection in honor of the lives lost due to recent events. He then continued extending a warm welcome to the honorees and guests for joining in the IDCA Gala, emphasizing that Diwali is a time of joy, unity, celebration and reflection. He expressed his privilege on behalf of IDCA of having such a gathering of industry professionals and entrepreneurs sharing a common passion for diamonds and gemstones, underlying a unity and shared purpose with the community.
The Deputy Consul General of India, New York Dr. Varun Jeph and NY Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar also attended the gala. Her Excellency Ambassador Kamboj, Permanent Representative of India at the United Nations also made a brief appearance. In his speech, the Deputy CG drew a connection between India’s growth and the success story of IDCA on the eve of its 40th anniversary emphasising the shared qualities of vibrancy, energy and agency that drive both. Ms. Rajkumar expressed her happiness in joining the IDCA Diwali gala in New York following on heels of Diwali being declared an official holiday in New York City schools from 2024.
In her Keynote Address, Feriel Zerouki, Sr. VP De Beers and President World Diamond Council began her address with a warm “Namaskar” recognizing that IDCA would be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year. She congratulated the award winners celebrating their achievements and contributions to the community. Expressing concern about the impact of decreasing disposable incomes and a challenging business environment, Ms. Zerouki assured the audience of the market’s recovery and De Beers’ readiness to address these challenges. She spoke about the concept of “Samsara – the cycle of birth, life and death in Hinduism, drawing a parallel with the business world. She emphasized her strong belief in the resilience of the Natural Diamond Industry and its promising future that lies ahead of us.
IDCA had the honor of awarding JB Star with the Manufacturer of the Year – Fine Jewelry Award. Accepting the award, Rafael Fouzailoff thanked IDCA and shared a profound story of family, dedication to their father and the pursuit of customer satisfaction. He unveiled the remarkable journey of a family deeply immersed in the world of diamonds and precious gems. He said he felt honored, privileged and blessed to be in this community of like minded individuals with shared family values and peace for humanity.
Sanjay K. Pandya, Partner accepted the Visionary Leadership – Jewelry Award on behalf of Ashi Diamonds, LLC. In his acceptance he expressed his gratitude towards his parents, and on the inspirational role of his mother in establishing Ashi Diamonds. Sanjay acknowledged the tremendous hard work, determination, and the resilience required to navigate the many ups and downs that come with a four-decade-long journey in the diamond business and the shift in focus from being a diamond wholesaler to becoming jewelry manufacturers. He also acknowledged the next generation of the Pandya family who have now joined the business and are poised to continue Ashi’s legacy.
Ankur Daga, Founder & CEO, Angara.com was awarded with the E-Tailer of the Year Award. He thanked IDCA for the tremendous honor of receiving the award. He expressed a strong belief in the “colored gemstone” era and he supported his optimism with the expectation of high future growth, a conclusion drawn from extensive consumer research. However, he also acknowledged the challenge of accurately predicting the future landscape of the industry. He attributed his company’s success in large part to hiring individuals who are aligned with the company’s goals and stressed the importance of initiating partnership programs within the company to foster growth and innovation. He advocated for the empowerment of women in leadership roles acknowledging the tremendous contribution of his own mother and wife.
Rajendra Bafna, S.R.B. Trading received the Excellence in Community Service Award. In his acceptance speech he highlighted the importance of bonds and sharing within the community. He underscored the value of helping one another, drawing inspiration from the Jain philosophy and he expressed a deep gratitude for friends and family, emphasizing the pivotal role they play in one’s life and the importance of recognizing their contributions. He conveyed his gratitude to IDCA for their efforts, concluding that this is not the end but a beginning of a stronger and more connected community.
Manoj Bhandari, IDCA Secretary, closed the evening with a Vote of Thanks to all those in attendance recognizing their contribution to the event’s success. He also took a moment to acknowledge the dedicated team at IDCA for their efforts and the hard work in organizing the event and most especially the sponsors, recognizing their support as crucial to the event’s success.