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Address by Ronnie VanderLinden at Opening Session of the 21st Presidents’ Meeting, at the Almas Tower, Dubai, UAE, September 24, 2019.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC);

Ernest Blom, President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses;

Edgar Diego de Carvallo, Chief Executive Officer of the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA);

Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation;

Honored guests, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Had we all arrived here, to wonderful Dubai, without a pre-designated agenda, we’d still all know what the challenges are that we need to tackle, as we all in the same boat.

By the way, one day I would love to come to one of these meetings and say everything is perfect, we have nothing to discuss. Oh, to dream for such a day!!

My name is Ronnie VanderLinden.

I am the president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association and I am honored to welcome you here, also on behalf of our participating members, the national organizations that represents diamond manufacturers in their respective countries and regions.

Time and again, I am asked:

“What is going on with our industry - It’s so quiet!”

“What will be?”

My reply is always the same,

“If consumer demand was keeping up with supply, you wouldn’t be asking me this question”

Now for a reality check; folks, think about how many ups and downs, how many cycles we have experienced throughout our careers.

There is no question that we are experiencing difficult times.

How did we get here?

And how do we all work together to remedy the situation?

The future is in our hands!

If I have to put it in to a few words what it is we need to be addressing at this meeting, these are the topics:

How do we correct the present imbalance between supply and demand;

How do we best address the advent of laboratory-grown diamonds?

How do we keep the sparkle of diamonds alive?

If one part of the pipeline suffers or fails, it surely has consequences for all the other market players.

Every time a laboratory-grown diamond is found in the natural mix, our future is diluted.

For example, the presence of small, undisclosed laboratory grown diamonds and the consequent mixing of laboratory grown melee into lots of natural diamonds - as we refer to them, diamonds -have come to be serious threat to those diamond miners for whom small rough is their bread and butter.

A further loss of confidence in polished melee by the upper part of the pipeline - jewelry manufacturers, designers and retailers - may have dire consequences to the lower end of the pipeline, as prices of small rough remain low, too low, for miners to remain profitable.

In other words, dear colleagues and friends, it is all connected!

First, let me address the immediate problems we are grappling with right now

The midstream – and in particular the manufacturers – find themselves between a rock and a hard place. In other words, manufacturers and dealers are being squeezed from both ends: from the producers’ and from the jewelry manufacturers and retailers’ side.

However, the producers, by example De Beers, have been very supportive of late.

In addition, our sector is under scrutiny by the banks and other financial institutions, looking closely and taking action against questionable business practices and, sadly, cases of outright fraud.

I know a lot of attention has been given to these fraudsters who have soiled the reputation of our industry and caused damage to the supply pipeline and the trust that was invested in it.

In the aftermath of these cases, banks are clamping down on our industry, demanding that the industry cleans house, limits its exposure to risks and exercises a conservative approach towards our rough purchases.

ABN AMRO wrote a letter to their clients, warning against unprofitable rough purchases. This letter did not only send a powerful message to the clients, it also sent a powerful message to the producers, on behalf of their customers, who are too often hesitant to deliver a message like this themselves.

To us, the manufacturers, it is imperative that we re-engage into conversation with the banks to show them that we - the industry as a collective - are indeed taking the steps necessary to make each and every sector on the supply pipeline profitable!

Once again - we are all connected and all in this together.