2020, THE YEAR IN WHICH EVERYTHING CHANGED
Dear members and friends,
It’s that time of the year again. The WDC Annual General Meeting is just around the corner, on Monday, October 19, 2020, and so much has changed since last year, both personally and collectively.
If I quickly look back to October 2019, I was still working at the offices of my former employer, Rubel & Ménasché, in the heart of Paris’ exclusive jewelry district. At the time I represented them in the WDC, and also in the Young Diamantaires’ group, which I will shortly mention.
Fast forward 12 months, which seem like several years already, and like so many others I am working from home. But now I represent WDC, and in my new capacity I will be delighted to be a host of the first-ever virtual WDC AGM.
By nature, I tend to see the best in every situation, but I admit I will miss meeting our members in person. At the same time, I realize that this new format will allow us to welcome more guests, and for that I am grateful.
As always, the AGM provides an opportunity for us to report on our activities to the WDC membership. The event this year also will feature a discussion, with guests David Prager, Vice President, Corporate Affair of the De Beers Group, and the renowned industry analyst Edahn Golan. The subject on the card is “meeting the expectations of a changing consumer.”
This latest edition of the WDC News Update tackles a variety of subjects, one of which is a milestone, for 2020 represents the 20th anniversary of the founding of both the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council. We pay tribute to those events, both of which were referred to by the WDC President Edward Asscher, when he addressed the 2020 World Diamond Congress, on September 14. That occasion itself was significant, for it was at the 2000 World Diamond Congress in Antwerp that the decision was made to establish the WDC.
This edition also examines a subject of particular importance to the Kimberley Process, and that is fraudulent certificates. We do so with the expert help of Mark Van Bockstael, who almost certainly is the world’s leading authority on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Once again serving as Chair of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts, as well as being Chair of the WDC Technical Committee, Mark has been associated with the KP since it was founded, and indeed before then, being among the forum’s original and most influential architects.
The newsletter introduces us to Polina Proksheva, a junior geologist at ALROSA, who shares her experiences and her life as a young woman working in the diamond mining industry in Yakutia, about 4,400 kilometers east of Moscow. I can relate to the passion that Polina brings to her work and mission, and to the feeling of community she has with her colleagues. Every woman we bring to you is from a very different background and segment of our industry. Each of them complements the others, creating the facets of the diverse society we are living in.
Finally, our “WDC Members Making a Difference” series focuses on a body that is close to my heart, the Young Diamantaires. Established by the WDC member organization the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), it is group of passionate individuals from all over the world and every part of the supply chain, committed to bringing positive change to our industry and the lives of people associated with it. I am proud to be part of the movement. Four years ago, Rami Baron, Chair of the Promotions Committee of the WFDB, created this platform to tap into the well of ideas coming from the younger generation of the diamond industry, which is too often ignored. We were less than a dozen members at its inception in 2016, and today we are more than 300. The article describes a YD project to upgrade a secondary school in the north of South Africa, at which study the children of diamond miners. Please consider making a contribution via the GoFundMe link on the page. Our youngest donors to date have been a set of adorable siblings from Germany, ages five and seven.
Good news stories of this sort allow us, even for a brief moment in time, to step back from the terrifying news that has dominated 2020. If we take stock of all that happened in the past 12 months, it is possible to find hope for better days. Something tells me that, thanks to these most challenging times, to use a euphemism, our sense of purpose and our resolve to bring positive impact have become clearer and stronger. It is under dire circumstances that humans strive to reach their potential, as well as understand the need to come together and work in unison. I realize that I am expressing nothing new here, just common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded of it.
So where were you this time last year and how far have you come over the past 12 months?
WDC Executive Director