PRESS RELEASES 2005

/PRESS RELEASES 2005
PRESS RELEASES 20052019-04-16T14:52:09+02:00
7July 2020

The view from Ramat Gan: We’re an industry that has always overcome and emerged stronger


The World Diamond Council (WDC) is inviting its members from around the globe to share their experience of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to discuss its impact on the industry, today and during the months and years ahead.

THE VIEW FROM RAMAT GAN:
WE’RE AN INDUSTRY THAT HAS ALWAYS OVERCOME
AND EMERGED STRONGER

JULY 7, 2020

Yoram Dvash

President
Israel Diamond Exchange

Acting President
World Federation of Diamond Bourses

I write to you direct from the Israel Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan. Our huge trading hall, which is usually teeming with activity, is now fairly empty because of restrictions that allow only 100 people access at a time. Who would have imagined a diamond exchange with no handshakes to seal transactions?

Almost four months ago, when the coronavirus broke out, I found myself having to manage the worst crisis the Israel Diamond Exchange has ever known. The challenge was massive and I approached it with great apprehension – to safeguard the health of the community, which includes more than 3,200 members and some 8,000 small and medium-sized business owners, and the health of the industry that is so dear to us all.

In 2015, I was elected the 10th President of the Israel Diamond Exchange, and this past April I was chosen as Acting President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.

In the past I had declined the WFDB position. But I accepted it this time, because it is clear to me that now more than ever the industry needs leadership. I am certain that there is an opportunity to lead the industry to new achievements, to bring about greater cooperation between diamond exchanges around the world and also to strengthen Israel as a vibrant and central trading center.

The coronavirus crisis came at a time when the industry was already in crisis. This, plus the deadly epidemic, has led to a decline in Israel’s domestic export and trade turnover, estimated at the end of April to be $1.5 billion.

As a result, we not only had to reinvent ourselves, but to turn a crisis into a new opportunity. During the lockdown we found that there was a demand among diamantaires in Israel and around the world for a new and transparent international trading platform. The WFDB decided to act on behalf of the industry. The Get Diamonds platform was chosen and within a few short weeks the site amassed 1.3 million diamonds, with a total value of $ 5.7 billion, making it the largest diamond trading platform in the world. The WFDB is continuing to upgrade the site, improving the interface to enable diamantaires around the world the best user experience possible.

At the Israel Diamond Exchange, during the crisis we also decided to adopt advanced technology as a way of life. We renewed our website and have switched all of our services to online, with a 24/7 human chat.

And while innovation is the […]

22June 2020

The view from Shanghai: The impact of COVID-19 and the long-term promise of the diamond market in China


The World Diamond Council (WDC) is inviting its members from around the globe to share their experience of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to discuss its impact on the industry, today and during the months and years ahead.

THE VIEW FROM SHANGHAI:
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19
AND THE LONG-TERM PROMISE
OF THE DIAMOND MARKET IN CHINA

JUNE 22, 2020

Lin Qiang

President
Shanghai Diamond Exchange

The economic crisis that struck in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted in unprecedented ways on China’s jewelry retail markets and their supply chains. This was self-evident from the data collected at the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE), where we saw polished imports through SDE into China decline by 70 percent during the first four months of 2020.

But, with much of the lockdown now lifted, we are seeing businesses springing back. Many have returned to full operation and Chinese consumers are coming back to the shopping malls. We expect to see trade and the market gradually ramp up in the coming months. Already in April we saw a 5.4 percent increase in jewelry market sales when compared with March.

Even then, it is likely that the diamond industry will be changed permanently. We will share our thoughts about this in the following paragraphs.

However, we would also like to stress that, from a long-term perspective, the crisis will not alter the direction of the Chinese industry. We remain strongly confident about the resilience and the growth potential of our country’s diamond market.

The lingering impact of COVID-19

If we had based our forecasts on what we experienced earlier, particularly after the market declines in 2012 and 2015, we should have expected to see some signs of recovery in 2020 and an upswing in diamond prices, as a result of declines in inventory levels and lower rough supply. But the pandemic changed the narrative.

One thing is clear, we are not going to jump straight back to normal – or at least what we earlier defined as normal. Thus far, we have we seen very limited goods and traders arriving in Shanghai from India since the outbreak of pandemic. Indeed, given that the development of an effective vaccine is still a long way off, it is reasonable to assume that our supply chain, not to mention international travel, will be affected for a long time yet.

This pandemic brought some tough moments for China’s diamond sector, and especially those brick and mortar retailers who are burdened with high rental and labor costs. Usually sales in December, January and February, which include the Spring Festival, represent almost 50 percent of annual store revenue, and even in the best scenario consumption may recover to near normal levels only in June. This means that retailers will come under real financial strain for at least six months.

Consolidation will accelerate as a result. Big brands with sound financial status and reputation are […]

11June 2020

A tribute to Stephane Fischler: Going beyond the call of duty

A TRIBUTE TO STEPHANE FISCHLER:
GOING BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY

JUNE 11, 2020

Edward Asscher
WDC President

It was in 1999 when Stephane Fischler introduced me to Ambassador Robert Fowler, Canada’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. As his country’s delegate to the UN Security Council, he had been issuing reports on the violation of UN-imposed sanctions by the UNITA rebel movement in Angola.

It ultimately was the Fowler Report of March 14, 2000, which led to the creation of the Kimberley Process, and Stephane was among the first in our industry to understand the importance of the sanctions in ending the cycle of civil war in Africa, and well as the critical need to improve the living and working condition of artisanal miners on the continent.

Stephane was there and closely involved at the birth of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which was founded at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp in 2000 by a joint decision of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).

WDC is the only organization in the diamond industry which encompasses the whole supply chain, from the miners to the polishers, to the wholesalers and to the retailers, and also the service industries around them – banks, insurance companies, secured transportation and gemological laboratories. It makes the body unique in this industry and Stephane has always been part of it.

The incoming and outgoing presidents of the WDC, Edward Asscher (left) and Stephane Fischler, during the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, in November last year.

He was elected as WDC Vice President in 2016, when Andrey Polyakov became the president.

The following year, when Andrey had to leave, Stephane did not hesitate. He took over as acting president, and in 2018 began a full term as president, for a total of about three and half years.

Stephane traveled tirelessly all over the world to promote the WDC and the Kimberley Process. Above all, he used the KP’s recently completed three-year review process to promote the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds. It was a complicated road to travel, as many countries, organizations and KP members have their own views on the related issues.

Stephane is a born diplomat, who was truly invested in the political and strategic aspects of the KP. He involved himself totally in the negotiation process, never forgetting the importance of all participants in the diamond industry, while employing his political skills.

Not only the WDC, but the whole diamond industry owes him a great thank you.

8June 2020

Edward Asscher named President of the World Diamond Council


Edward Asscher named President of the World Diamond Council

JUNE 8, 2020

Edward Asscher is the new President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), the international organization that is charged with leading the industry’s effort to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the jewelry supply chain and with representing it in the tripartite Kimberley Process coalition. Formerly the WDC Vice President, he assumed the role during a virtual Board Meeting on June 5, 2020, taking over from Stephane Fischler, who had served first as WDC’s Acting President, starting in 2017, and then for two years as President, beginning in 2018.   

During the virtual meeting, the WDC Board also confirmed the election of Feriel Zerouki, Senior Vice President of International Relations & Ethical Initiatives at the De Beers Group, as WDC Vice President, the first woman ever to hold the position. According to the WDC bylaws, she will automatically become WDC President at the end of Mr. Asscher’s two-year term in 2022.

The Board also confirmed the reelection of Ronnie Vanderlinden, President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), as WDC Treasurer, and the appointment of Udi Sheintal as WDC Secretary.

A member of one of the diamond industry and Amsterdam’s most well-known families, Mr. Asscher will be serving a second term as WDC President, having held the role from 2014 to 2016.

Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council.

Mr. Asscher currently is also Vice President of the European Council of Diamond Manufacturers, and is a past President of both IDMA and the International Diamond Council (IDC), a diamond standards-setting organization affiliated to IDMA and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).

In public life Mr. Asscher has also served in functions outside of the diamond industry. A past President of the Liberal Party in Amsterdam, he was elected Senator for this party in the Dutch parliament, serving in the upper house from 2007 to 2011.

“I am honored to be able to serve once again as WDC President, and to head a body whose entire purpose is to protect the integrity of the natural diamond, and also that of the industry that mines, manufactures and sells it, enabling all stakeholders to gain maximum benefit from revenues generated, especially in the developing world,” said Mr. Asscher. “In taking over from Stephane, I am filling giant shoes. As WDC President he spoke with a clear moral voice, emphasizing the natural diamond’s potential to act as catalyst for social and economic development. This is a theme that I will continue over the coming two years.”

“The past three years have been a highlight of my long career in the diamond industry,” said Mr. Fischler. “They have reconfirmed my belief that as a business community we have the capacity to positively change both people’s lives and livelihoods at the grass-roots level, and we have contributed to this by developing governance standards that will […]

19May 2020

WDC Newsletter


With the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the imposition of lockdowns in most countries, the WDC called on its members to contribute blogs describing that they were experiencing in their own organizations and households, and how they viewed the impact of the global pandemic.

Stephane Fischler
WDC President

I write to you from the comfort of my home in Antwerp, which would seem an unremarkable fact were it not the last place I would ordinarily expect myself to be in the middle of a workday during the final week of March. Uncharacteristically, for quite a number of days we have been fortunate to enjoy a beautiful blue sky outside. The bright light streaming in is most welcome during these trying times.

READ MORE

David J. Bonaparte
Member of WDC Board of Directors
President & CEO, Jewelers of America

In one short month the world has changed in very dramatic ways. In mid-February I was enjoying some golf in the warmer climate of the southern U.S. There was very little talk of even the seasonal flu, let alone COVID-19, although my 21-year-old son managed to get Influenza B from his college roommates.

READ MORE

Rajiv Mehta
Member of WDC Board of Directors
Director, Dimexon Diamonds

As I write this on April 14, 2020, we are completing the 20th day of the lockdown in India and, tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shall address the nation on his strategy about how he intends to lead the way for India’s 1.3 billion people. But let me take you back in time to December 2019.

READ MORE

Alan Cohen
Member of WDC Board of Directors
President, London Diamond Bourse

I’m writing this during my 1,000th day in “Lockdown London”….no,  that can’t be right! But at times it certainly feels like it. It also feels really churlish to complain when I look around and see the misery and heartbreak that this disease has caused.

READ MORE

Ahmed Bin Sulayem
Executive Chairman, Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC)

We are almost halfway through what has been an unexpected and turbulent start to the year. While tens of millions remain in lockdown, others are slowly easing their way back into a “normal” rhythm, albeit at a slow and careful pace. I am proud to say that here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we are among the latter category.

READ MORE

Amit Eytan
Member of the WDC Board of Directors
CEO, Malca-Amit Group of Companies

More than four months and counting. My last trip abroad was in January. It was to the United States, where I visited New York City and Miami. I remember watching the TV news and hearing about […]

19May 2020

WDC Newsletter


A CITY, A HOSPITAL, A DIAMOND COMPANY AND A VISION

The Smt Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital in Surat, a state of the art medical facility serving the residents of South Gujarat, built and operated with the support of WDC member Venus Jewel.

In 1912, a one-room shelter was established by five benefactors in Surat, a city in the west Indian state of Gujarat, where the Tapti River flows into the Arabian Sea. Naming it Ashaktashram, their intention was to provide care to the elderly from poor families living in the surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom worked in the area’s textile mills and silk-weaving factories. Over the three decades that followed, it grew into a functioning clinic and thereafter into a fully-fledged hospital.

More than a century later, Surat has grown into India’s eighth largest city and is the world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing center. The hospital still operates, but it is now a state-of-the-art facility with more than 200 beds. Its mission has not changed, but its name has, and so has its primary benefactor.

What was once known as Ashaktashram Hospital is today the Smt Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital, named for the spouse of the founder of one of India’s largest diamond companies, Venus Jewel. To its patients and staff, it is known simply as Venus Hospital. Located in the city center in a very densely populated locality nearby the main railway station, it provides medical services and care to patients from much of South Gujarat.

Sevantilal Shah, Chairman of Venus Jewel, the driving force behind the establishment of the Smt Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital.

The association between the medical facility and the diamond company began in 2012, when Sevantilal Shah, the Chairman of Venus Jewel, who founded the company in 1969 with his brother Ramniklal, was approached by Hitesh Laiwala, the secretary of the charitable trust running Ashaktashram, who today serves as its president. He was looking for about $1 million for the hospital’s development.

Over his more than 50 years at the head of one of India’s largest diamond exporting firms, Sevantilal has been considered a pioneer in putting people before product, instituting in his own factories a system of predictable work hours, ergonomic workspaces, employee pensions and an ethos of corporate responsibility, which includes membership in both the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and the World Diamond Council (WDC).

It is a philosophy that has been passed on to the next generations of his family, members of which hold key positions in the company today.

Sevantilal agreed to make the contribution. Thus was established a connection between the company and the medical facility, which has deepened and strengthened over the years.

From the very beginning, the committee running the hospital insisted that Sevantilal not simply contribute monetarily, but that he also be active in the management of the institution. […]

19May 2020

WDC Newsletter

The March 2020 edition of the WDC News Update sees the launch of a new series, entitled “Women of the Diamond Industry,” focusing on the issue of gender equality along the entire diamond and jewelry supply chain. The series will provide a platform for women in the industry to tell their own story and describe the particular challenges they have faced in their careers.

The first article in the series is authored by Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC).

Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)

THE TIME FOR CHANGE IS NOW

I got my start in the jewelry business 18 years ago. It was an entirely new environment for me, have coming to the business from a publicly listed technology company. My first job in the industry was at Rosy Blue, a diamond firm owned by the Mehta and Bhansali families. It gave me the kind of head start that was essential and immensely empowering at that stage of my career.

I was based in Antwerp, but being employed by a firm that was spread out globally I got the chance to visit offices and manufacturing sites in countries as diverse as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Armenia, South Africa and India, all the while raising my son mostly on my own.

The industry was clearly changing at an accelerated pace. This was the time when the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme had just come into effect and companies like De Beers, Rio Tinto and BHP took lead with proprietary initiatives on responsible business practices.

In hindsight, I feel lucky to have had the equality of opportunity and the true mentorship that I received at Rosy Blue, which is still not a given for women across so many different industries and organizations. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that back then, in early 2000, the gender ratio in our industry, especially at higher levels of management was very skewed. In so many respects, it still is.

I would visit sites around the world and would see many women working on the manufacturing floor, but that number thinned out, unsurprisingly, as you went up the management ladder.

I had been brought up with a strong work ethic and a value system that had taught me to push my boundaries, thanks to my open-minded parents. I had learnt that the path to real growth was neither linear nor smooth, and sometimes, despite one’s best efforts, things don’t turn out as one wants them to.

Looking back at my childhood, my grandmother, who passed away at the age of 99, stands out as a strong female presence in my life. She had been a young widow who raised three children largely through grit and resilience. These are qualities that I hold in high regard.

Turning 50 this year, I find myself becoming increasingly vocal […]

19May 2020

WDC Newsletter


THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND ITS EFFECT
ON THE AFRICAN DIAMOND MINING SECTOR

A tailor from the Boteti sub-district in Botswana, working at one of the local enterprises contracted by Debswana to sew reusable cotton face masks, which will be will be distributed to law enforcement officers, as well as other essential services workers and communities around the company’s operations.

More than four months into the COVID-19 crisis, it is difficult and most probably premature to gauge the impact of the global epidemic on the rough diamond industry and trade, and more specifically on the artisanal mining sector, where information is scarce and largely anecdotal. But the combination of a health crisis and economic crisis is likely to be devastating, and the ripple effects in those areas prone to conflict do give cause for concern.

Through the middle of May 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in sub-Saharan Africa, where the major part of the continent’s formal and informal diamond mining sector is located, is relatively low. South Africa is the highest sub-Saharan country on the list, ranked 39th worldwide in terms of confirmed infections, but with a relatively low death toll of less than 250, which translates in 4 mortalities per 1 million residents. This compares to 268 per million for the United States and 501 per million for the United Kingdom. The next closest sub-Saharan country is Ghana, which is ranked 60th worldwide, with 28 deaths reported, translating into 0.9 mortalities per 1 million residents.

However, it is almost certain that the official data provided by the sub-Saharan African countries are considerably lower than what they are in reality. In part this is a result of COVID-19 itself, which is a disease in which many of those infected are asymptomatic, and quite probably are unaware that they are contagious. It also is a result of the often underfunded and under-staffed health care systems on the continent, which with 1 doctor per 5,000 inhabitants on average has the lowest physician density in the world. Few people are being tested and it is likely that numerous deaths are going unreported, especially in more remote regions.

But there are also compelling reasons why sub-Saharan Africa may be less affected than many other regions, with one being the median age of the population, which is under 20. This is a critical factor in a disease that has proven to most deadly among the older sectors of population. The region’s warmer climate may also be a factor, but that is discounted somewhat by the rapid spread of the disease in Latin America, and in particular in the warm equatorial areas of Brazil.

EFFORTS TO MITIGATE AND CONTAIN PANDEMIC

What should not be underestimated is the experience of certain African countries in dealing with infectious diseases, including diamond-producing countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the DRC, all of which successfully contained the Ebola epidemic earlier this decade. Indeed, on February 3, 2020, relatively soon after […]