PRESS RELEASES 2005

/PRESS RELEASES 2005
PRESS RELEASES 20052019-04-16T14:52:09+02:00
20July 2020

WDC Newsletter


WDC BOARD CONFIRMS LEADERSHIP FOR NEXT TWO YEARS,
EDWARD ASSCHER, PRESIDENT,
AND FERIEL ZEROUKI, VICE PRESIDENT

ABOVE: WDC’s top leadership through 2022, Edward Asscher (right), President; and Feriel Zerouki, Vice President.

Meeting in a virtual session on June 5, 2020, the Board of Directors of the World Diamond Council has confirmed the organization’s  leadership team for the next two years, with Edward Asscher serving as the new President of the international organization charged with leading the diamond and jewelry industry’s effort to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the jewelry supply chain and with representing it in the tripartite Kimberley Process coalition.  Feriel Zerouki becomes the first woman to serve as WDC Vice President.

Having served for the past two years as the WDC Vice President, according to the WDC bylaws Mr. Asscher automatically assumed the President’s role 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.

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

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

Long involved in public life, Mr. Asscher has also served in functions outside of the diamond industry. He is past President of the Liberal Party in Amsterdam, and was elected as a Senator for the party in the Dutch parliament, serving in the upper house from 2007 to 2011.

Feriel Zerouki, who was elected to the post of WDC Vice President, is the Senior Vice President of International Relations & Ethical Initiatives at the De Beers Group.

Joining De Beers in 2005 as a supply-chain analyst at the Diamond Trading Company, in 2009, she was appointed Best Practice Principles Manager for De Beers, with responsibility for building and maintaining a streamlined social compliance program for the company. She was then appointed to Head of Government and Industry Relations in 2015 with the overarching objective of protecting the integrity of diamonds, the diamond supply chain and maintaining the integrity of De Beers and its commercial interests. She additionally serves as General Manager of De Beers’ GemFair initiative, which works to provide capacity-building opportunities to artisanal and small-scale miners, providing them a secure route to market for ethically-sourced diamonds, and she serves as Honorary Treasurer of the Responsible Jewellery Council.

Ms. Zerouki will become WDC President at the end of Mr. Asscher’s two-year term in 2022.

The WDC Board of Directors 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.

20July 2020

WDC Newsletter


IT IS SURVIVAL TIME

Dear colleagues and friends,

I retired from my business on March 2 this year, just a few days before the COVID-19 pandemic started dominating news headlines all over the world. It was bad timing for my children, Lita and Mike, who now run the family company.

In the 50 years I have been involved in the industry, I have never experienced so rapid a fall in global retail sales. And we all know about the diamond multiplier effect – if retailers’ sales shrink by 10 percent, then the wholesalers’ business will contract by at least 20 percent, as the latter group reduces the inventory it’s holding. This means that manufacturing companies are experiencing a much larger fall in sales.

So now the whole industry has reduced inventory, with the exception being the rough diamond producers. But with their sales very limited, they are cutting production.

Four months into the crisis, and we do see that certain retailers are managing to do rather satisfactory business. Pent up demand is one factor for this phenomenon. People realize that in these difficult times, the fundamental values of life are so important – health, family and love. Fortunately, diamond jewelry is a symbol for all of those, and we know from experience that the expression and realization of these values is bringing customers to the stores.

Even I, after 50 years of marriage, recently gave my wife a diamond eternity ring.

We need to ask ourselves what all this means for our industry – from the miners in the producing countries, to the polishers, the wholesalers, the jewelry manufacturers and the retailers?

We know how important rough diamond production is to the producing countries. Millions of their citizens depend on the health of our industry and the diamond supply chain. It’s easier to track what’s happening in the industrialized mining sector, with some mines being furloughed and others on minimal production. But the devastation in the informal mining sector is often hidden. We need to ask ourselves what this means for the alluvial diamond miners and what we can do about their wellbeing?

I am confident about the very large companies, but I worry about the state of artisanal and small-scale miners and diamond polishers. This is a group made of the individuals who together with their families depend almost entirely on the revenues generated by the small number of diamonds that each is able to process.

We are all overwhelmed by the tremendous pressure of a market that changed so drastically in such a short time. In this turmoil, do we still care about working conditions, the environment and social rights?

Wherever we operate, we need to think about cash flow, for this will dictate whether we, as companies, can survive. We also need to look in the eyes of the thousands of members of staff we have had to furlough. It’s a tough and imperfect world in which we live, and we are often being called to […]

8July 2020

WDC President applauds GemFair-GIZ-MRU agreement to deliver training on responsible ASM standards in West Africa


WDC President applauds GemFair-GIZ-MRU agreement
to deliver training on responsible ASM standards in West Africa

JULY 8, 2020

Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council, has expressed the WDC’s strong support for an agreement announced today by the De Beers Group’s GemFair initiative, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Mano River Union (MRU), according to which the three bodies will collaborate in the development and delivery of a regional training program that promotes safe and responsible operating standards in the artisanal and small-scale mining sectors (ASM) in the MRU member countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.

“It is projects like these that demonstrate the capacity of the Kimberley Process and its partners to go beyond the traditional scope of conflict prevention, by also building real grass-roots capacity and economic opportunity in the countries where diamonds are mined,” Mr. Asscher said. “Furthermore, by taking a regional, rather than a country-by-country approach, not only is it possible to offer solutions that are more effective, because supply chains do not stop at border crossings, but also to deliver effective results simultaneously to a considerably larger number of ASM communities than otherwise would be possible. It is an approach that WDC has promoted within the KP for many years.”

Mr. Asscher expressed his pride that a WDC member, the De Beers Group, will be playing a key role in the venture. “The strength of the KP is vested in the synergies created by the coalition of its government and non-government participants, and once again our industry is showing that it is ready to step up to the plate. By teaming up with GIZ and MRU, GemFair will be providing critically needed training about safe and environmentally responsible mining techniques to artisanal miners, government officials and civil society activists in all the MRU countries.”

The proposed regional training program will enhance capacities, promote knowledge sharing and build a comprehensive understanding of mine site health and safety, environmental management, ethical sourcing standards and diamond valuation among miners, government officials and civil society activists in the four MRU countries. Covering the gold and diamond sectors, it will be operated as part of GIZ’s Regional Resource Governance Program, which is implemented on behalf of the German Development Corporation (through the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development) and the European Union. GemFair will design the training curricula and provide staff and expertise to deliver the training.

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 […]