In praise of the World Diamond CouncilJune 27, 19
With the danger of boring some readers at first instance, it is necessary to dedicate yet one more memo to the five-day-long Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting (KPI) that closed last week in Mumbai, India. Full disclosure: As the editor of IDEX Online, I was invited and hosted by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC). India currently chairs the KP. The KPI was organized on behalf and with the support of the government by the GJEPC.
Last week, I concluded my weekly memo with the observation that the members of the KP - the governments and the representatives of these governments who attend the KP meetings - have little or no knowledge about what happens in the midstream markets, let alone in the downstream market, i.e. among consumers.
This became painfully clear to me during this KPI in Mumbai. Too few members of the KP, with the exception of producing countries and major diamond centers, have sufficient up-to-date information about the position - economic or reputational - of diamonds and diamond jewelry in the relevant consumer markets.
Therefore, at this KPI, the pivotal role played by the World Diamond Council (WDC) to fill this void was not only remarkable, but also appropriate - and laudable. Many of our clients and readers do not appreciate the importance of the WDC nor of the collective efforts it makes on behalf of and for the benefit of our industry and trade. Sometimes, tribute needs to be paid!
WDC President Stephane Fischler described the WDC's contribution to the KPI in a recent blog. He observed that while, as the diamond and jewelry industry's representative in the KP, the WDC has non-voting observer status, its 11-person team at the KP Intersessional, led by Fischler and WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda, played key roles in various sessions of the plenary and working groups, and in particular, by Peter Karakchiev, a WDC Board member from ALROSA, who chairs the Working Group of Diamond Experts (WGDE) and the sub-committee on the creation of a permanent KP Secretariat.
Personally, I hope we are going to see more of Peter Karakchiev at these meetings, as he has proven himself to be an excellent moderator. Karakchiev organized a Special Forum at the meeting in Mumbai on June 19, which delved into the promotion of the Diamond Terminology Guidelines that were adopted as KP Best Practices last year. Almost all the speakers in that forum were representatives of WDC member bodies. They included Karla Basselier, of the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC); Sanjay Shah, of India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC); David Bouffard of Signet Jewelers; and Elodie Daguzan of Rubel & Menasche.
The WDC members spoke about efforts being taken by the industry to bridge the expectations of stakeholders in the diamond-producing countries and the growing demand by Millennial and Generation Z jewelry buyers that the products they buy have ethical and social value. "We cannot afford to have our competitors in the marketplace using the perceived shortcomings of the Kimberley Process to sell their own products," David Bouffard said during the diamond terminology forum.
Fischler made sure that the delegations to the KP understood what the representatives of the midstream were telling them: "We will continue to stand on the front lines, highlighting our concerns and advancing and promoting solutions. To do that, we require the understanding, cooperation and support of all players in the chain of value. If we see consumers turning away, our market share shrinks, revenues fall, and all of us will feel the pain."