LiVING THE dream

Raised in a diamond family in Antwerp, Belgium, Anshul Gandhi, 35, is CEO of the Choron Group, a leading international diamond corporation that focuses on the sourcing, assortment and sale of rough diamonds, the manufacturing of exceptional diamonds and the distribution of polished diamonds.

After graduating from the University of Manchester, he entered the industry as a trainee at a manufacturing unit in Surat, India, and continued to further his knowledge at GIA New York, where he received his Graduate Gemologist (GG) diploma.

After an internship at a major diamond house in Mumbai, he returned to Antwerp where he formally joined the Choron Group, which was founded in 1985 by his late father, Rajesh Gandhi. Today he stands at its helm, responsible for the supply chain, the manufacturing and the general corporate strategy. He a strong advocate of strict corporate governance and sustainability initiatives.

Anshul enthusiastically agreed to be the first interviewee of “Here’s what I think!” a new WDC newsletter series that aims to reveal the opinions of members of World Diamond Council family, by requesting they respond a set of preprepared questions.

What makes the diamond special?

Diamonds are special because they are a gift from Mother Nature and every single diamond is unique in its own way. It is important to stop and recognize that no two diamonds are the same.

Further to this, I strongly believe that people do not give enough importance to the manufacturing process which remains a form of artistry in my eyes. Every rough diamond has an important story to unlock, and artisans all over the world spend hours revealing the secrets contained within each stone. Each polished diamond is a piece of art, no matter how small and no matter the value.

What makes the diamond industry special?

The diamond industry is special because operates within its own realm – almost like its own “Secret Garden.”

No other industry is so intimate and has so many different intricacies. Transactions of even tens of millions of dollars are done on trust, and it is probably the only industry in the world in which a verbal commitment is stronger than any written agreement or contract.

Furthermore, in our small world, business is intergenerational which adds a layer of unparalleled emotion.

What makes your company special?

Our company is proud to have true vertical integration, from mines to market, which is a result of years of investment and reinvestment in our business and our growth.

We have championed the importance of provenance and traceability for many years now and we are delighted to be able to track to the majority of our diamonds to specific mines around the world.

We remain at the forefront of the industry solely due to the amazing team members we have throughout the organization. This constantly growing “family” is what is special in our eyes.

Describe the first time you held and studied a diamond?

The first time I held a diamond was at age 12, and it was then that I decided that I was going to join this industry. I was fascinated and captivated by this tiny little rough rock in my hand. Within it, I could see endless dreams. Each imperfection felt like it had a story and it fueled my interest in learning more and discovering how this piece of nature could be transformed into a sparkling stone in a piece of jewelry.

Who is your role model?

My role model is my father who had the courage to leave his family diamond business in India and start his own company in Antwerp in 1985.

As a startup, my father had to fight hard to find a place in the industry for Choron. Despite enduring a difficult period in beginning, he demonstrated perseverance and determination, never giving up and believing in his goals. He achieved this by making bold moves in the rough diamond space in the early 1990s.

I admire these character traits and, coupled with his core values of integrity and honesty, I have a perfect role model to follow and hopefully emulate.

Was joining your family’s diamond business pre-ordained or was it a personal choice?

I believe that I was about 12 years old when I knew that I wanted nothing more than to join the family business. Looking back, it’s a decision that I do not regret for even one second. However, if I must be honest, I am pretty sure it was pre-ordained that I would join this business from the day I was born, as with most other industry friends of my generation. I like to tell myself that it was my choice though!

I think going forward that this will become a choice for future generations and I would never push my two young boys to join this business, unless they are truly passionate about joining Choron.

The days are gone where future generations are pre-ordained to join this industry and, therefore, this industry may have a very different look 20 years from now.

What did you learn from those in your family that came before you?

The most important lesson that I learned is that the diamond industry will always see highs and lows due to market conditions and global macroeconomic circumstances. It’s thus important to have a robust business strategy – one that that can withstand a difficult environment and maintain reasonable prudence in a bullish period. 

My family also instilled in me the importance of integrity in business dealings and the value of relationships, which will help any business navigate every situation that may come its way. The DNA of every diamond company is based on the family members that came before the current principals. It is important to recognize this and never underestimate its importance.

What are the most important elements that need to be considered to ensure that the integrity of the diamond industry’s supply chain is maintained?

We have to foster an open environment, where there is constant discussion between all stakeholders, and where we have the courage to continually change with the times, even when it is difficult to do so.

We find ourselves in a world which is developing at a staggering pace and, as a result, the supply chain will always face new challenges that it must overcome.

The ability to address challenges as they come up will define the integrity of the diamond industry supply chain. Furthermorehe continued involvement of all stakeholders, large and small, will be crucial in protecting the supply chain.

Can diamonds do good, and how?

Diamonds do good – there is no doubt about this. But there is a lack of knowledge about how much good can be directly attributed to the natural diamond industry.

The impact of the diamond industry is constantly overlooked because the headlines do not focus on animal conservation projects, social community projects, environmental protection and restoration efforts, healthcare initiatives and the many more amazing causes in which we are all involved.

It is easier to sell a story about the possibly tainted century-old history of a stone that a celebrity wore, rather than sell a story about countless schools that have been opened with the help of the natural diamond industry in diamond producing countries.

This will change in the coming years as more diamond companies will publish ESG reports, demonstrating that diamonds do real good. This will illustrate that the industry has always driven significant positive change, rather than focus on flashy headlines.

Why did you join the World Diamond Council?

We joined the World Diamond Council to bolster industry efforts to secure the integrity of the natural diamond pipeline.

Midstream players are joint custodians of this amazing industry, and it is our responsibility to protect, develop and grow it by instilling unwavering confidence in the pipeline, by removing any doubt about it being contaminated by conflict diamonds.

This is an important topic that will always remain at the core of what we do.  We must work together to promote proper governance throughout our industry. This is a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.

If you were not a member of the industry, what would you want to be?

I would like to think that I would have found my way into this industry one way or another, but my childhood dream was always to become an international football superstar.

Unfortunately, I have two left feet, and neither of them is like Messi’s.  

That said, today I am grateful that I get to do something I love, and the natural diamond industry is honestly a dream in itself.

From the series