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UAE's Pure Gold Group is first international retail jewellery chain to adopt WDM's Authorised Diamond Dealer programmeUAE's Pure Gold Group is first international retail jewellery chain to adopt WDM's Authorised Diamond Dealer programme
UAE’s Pure Gold Group is first international retail jewellery chain to adopt WDM’s Authorised Diamond Dealer® programme

Press Release – Dubai, December 31, 2014:Pure Gold Jewellers, a leading international retail jewellery chain headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, has become the first jewellery retailer to adopt and introduce the World Diamond Mark’s Authorised Diamond Dealer® (ADD) programme. Pure Gold Jewellers, which operates more than 100 jewellery stores in the UAE and India, will be implementing the ADD programmes to enthuse consumers and enhance their buying experience. The agreement was signed with Pure Gold Jewellers’ CEO & MD, Karim Merchant during the recent inaugural World Diamond Conference in India (WDCI)).

WDMF Chairman Alex Popov said that by adopting the ADD programme, Pure Gold Jewellers marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the World Diamond Mark programmes in the downstream market. “With the Pure Gold Jewellers applying the ADD principles and programmes in its stores, we will be able to greatly improve the reputation of and demand for high-end diamond jewellery, increase the knowledge and awareness of diamonds and diamond jewellery among consumers, and enhance the desirability of diamonds and diamond jewellery,” he said.

“It is not a coincidence that we’re launching the ADD programme in the UAE and the Gulf countries. The Gulf region is a vibrant growth area for jewellery consumers that will be well served by a body that helps increase consumer confidence in diamonds and diamond jewellery,” he continued.

World Diamond Mark, Pure GoldDuring the WDCI Gala Evening, Karim Merchant received a framed copy of his company’s WDM’s Authorised Diamond Dealer® membership certificate. Pure Gold Group was founded in 1989 by Firoz Merchant. The company operates two large jewellery factories in India and China, runs 130 stores in Asia and the Middle East and plans to open another 200 stores in the coming years.

Merchant said he was very excited that his company would be spearheading the ADD programmes in the UAE, as well as in India. “We are happy to be the very first adopter of the ADD programmes. We look forward to supporting the World Diamond Mark in designing and implementing WDM’s promotional campaigns and events in the UAE and India. In practical terms, this means that Pure Gold Jewellers will be endorsing and recommending the WDM to our customers, business contacts and industry organisations in the UAE, the GCC countries and India. In addition, we will be engaging the governmental and jewellery trade organisations as well as retail associations for local support,” he stated.

Popov thanked Merchant for his endorsement and said that the WDM in turn will be endorsing and recommending Pure Gold Jewellers throughout its international network, especially to consumers, business contacts and industry organisations.

New York Diamonds Magazine has interviewed DDCA President Rami Baron after taking an interest in our activities here in Australia. The entire article is reproduced below:

DIAMOND DEALERS CLUB OF AUSTRALIA SHOWS PRO-ACTIVE APPROACH IN PROMOTING BOURSE TO MEMBERS

New York Diamonds MagazineEmploying a wide range of social media tools, the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia (DDCA) is boosting its public profile by providing a dynamic website and a large variety of media in order to launch an aggressive membership drive. DDCA President Rami Baron says the bourse has embraced social media and a continually updated website as a way of attracting interest to the benefits the exchange can provide to members.

The site features news, interviews, features, blogs and other items relevant to the diamond and jewelry industry.

“We made a conscious decision to use modern methods to create an attractive and vibrant website,” said Baron. “We want existing members and especially new members to see just how much is going on. The site provides information for everyone – from dealers to retailers and consumers.

“New members registering on the site receive free access for a certain period. We have a trading platform to encourage members to trade with each other here in Australia. The site creates the introduction for people to trade with each other and in this way we are contributing to an ongoing healthy market. Another tool is that a day or two after the trade the dealer, wholesaler or retailer receives an email inviting him to provide feedback to help us weed out the bad guys just as you have, for example, on eBay.”

DDCA featured in NYD magazine

The bourse is also cognizant of the need to develop the next generation of jewelers and to ensure they become part of the wider diamond community in the country via the exchange. To that end, the bourse site offers reduced membership costs for jewelers who have been in the business for two years or less. “I believe this is critical as we must help bring through the next generation to ensure that a vibrant diamond and jewelry community continues.”

World Diamond Council and kimberly process logosThe World Diamond Council (WDC) has announced an update to the WDC web site to provide easier access to the System of Warranties guidelines. The System of Warranties (SoW) is a voluntary system of industry self-regulation created to support and strengthen the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. The SoW is a cornerstone of the WDC, whose goal is to serve as a global communication point regarding the UN-mandated Kimberley Process, a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.

“One of my priorities as president is to enhance the WDC’s outreach to the industry,” states Edward Asscher, president of the WDC. “Providing easier access to the System of Warranties guidelines on the WDC web site is a first step in a series of improvements to our communication with the industry.”

The System of Warranties requires the buyers and sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds, and jewelry containing diamonds to include specific wording on every invoice. The actual wording and additional information about the System of Warranties can be found in two places on the WDC website at www.worlddiamondcouncil.org: a direct link from the homepage, and also under the Resources tab.

About the World Diamond Council
The primary objective of the WDC is to represent the diamond industry in the development and implementation of the regulatory and voluntary systems to control the trade in diamonds embargoed by the United Nations or covered by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Visit www.worlddiamondcouncil.org to learn more.

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There are continuous discussions about the impact of synthetic diamonds on the diamond trade. The issues largely centre around disclosure, due to the difficulty of identifying synthetic diamonds without the proper tools. The potential damage to the reputation of the trade should stones be passed off as natural by unsuspecting retailers, when in fact they are synthetic, would be considerable.

The point of this blog post however is to look at a different issue. A recent story has been circulating (click here to read via JCK Online) where a young man proposed at an American football game with a 2.62 synthetic diamond. It was his statement which makes us sit up and listen. I don’t for one moment think this was a random gesture, it’s clearly a marketing stunt. However the substance tells us a “shot was fired across our bow”. His statement to his bride and for all of the NFL to hear was:

“This diamond had zero impact on the environment and did not contribute to human rights violations and sporadic violence associated with mining in undeveloped countries where diamonds are found—and it cost a lot less.”

We don’t have to agree or disagree; it is an opinion, and a very solid selling point if used effectively, which in this forum it surely was. The point I want to raise is that the synthetic diamond manufacturers can develop a very powerful marketing strategy on these lines to carve out a significant piece of the pie of the natural diamond segment.

I am attending the WORLD DIAMOND CONFERENCE in India next week to discuss many of the issues which we are facing in our trade around issues of marketing, consumer awareness, and what we in the natural diamond segment intend to do to market natural diamonds as the ultimate form of luxury goods. It is our response to the above scenario which will largely determine how the future of natural diamonds positions itself against synthetic diamonds.

Rami Baron
DDCA President

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – While De Beers remains the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, Russian diamond mining company Alrosa is now the world’s biggest producer by volume, which elevates its importance significantly.

Current economic sanctions against Russia do not extend to diamonds and although there are reports of broader and deeper sanctions being considered, the sanctioning of diamond supply from Russia is not on any current agenda.

“At this stage, nothing is happening to stop diamonds coming out of Russia and let’s hope the situation does not escalate where additional sanctions are imposed.

“It would be an absolute loss to the industry if Russia were not allowed to sell its goods freely,” Ernie Blom, who is serving his third term as president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, comments to Mining Weekly Online in the attached video interview.

The US government’s sanctions against Zimbabwe continue to inhibit dollar-based diamond sales from that country, but with European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe lifted, Belgium is now aggressively trying to reverse its loss of market share from the Zimbabwean sanctions, by holding quite a few rough Zimbabwean diamond tenders in Antwerp.

“They’ve seen the need and they’re starting to address it,” says Blom.

The 25 000-member world federation that Blom heads has 30 exchanges in 28 countries and 95% of all the world’s rough and polished diamonds go through these exchanges.

In South Africa, Blom would like to see the government and the cutting-and-polishing industry join hands to halt the industry’s significant decline.

During its diamond heyday, South Africa had 4 500 polishers, a number that has since fallen to fewer than 600.

“There has to be a partnership between government and industry to reverse the trend and start to build up the diamonds industry again,” says Blom, who points out that South Africa’s neighbours to the north and west and other countries have growing diamond industries.

“We can do the same, provided we work,” he reiterates, pointing out that the State Diamond Trader is working under difficult legislative circumstances in having to buy run-of-mine diamonds and sell them to beneficiators who have difficulty in viably polishing cheaper end goods.

By the same token, he is not sure that the mining companies would be happy if legislation were changed and they were forced to sell the cream of their production to the State Diamond Trader and be left with lower-end production.

He sees it as a conundrum that government, the industry and mining houses have to work out together if South Africa is to gain a bigger share of the global diamond-polishing market, which is currently very buoyant.

There has been phenomenal year-on-year growth, driven by the new emerging markets of China and India supplementing the American market plus increased strength in the European market.

“The industry has a fantastic growth potential,” he tells Mining Weekly Online.

Neighbouring Botswana, in creating facilities that are as good if not better than London’s, has customers attending sights every five weeks, which has put Botswana on the map, increased tourism and assisted the country to become a regional hub.

While the federation does not see synthetic diamonds as a threat to the natural diamond industry, its biggest concern is the passing off of synthetic diamonds as natural diamonds. To counter this, it has rolled out machinery and tools that are able to check the authenticity of each and every diamond.

Because diamonds can also lend themselves to money laundering, the federation is putting systems in place to ensure that the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money cannot be part of the legitimate diamonds trade.

The federation’s system of warranties in 2000 was a forerunner to the Kimberley Process, which Blom says has reduced the sale of conflict diamonds to less than a tenth of a per cent, from being 4% of global turnover prior to its introduction under United Nations auspices.

The GIA has made a synthetic diamond detection machine available to the DDCA in Australia. It will be operational in October 2014, and free to use for DDCA members.

The only one of its kind in Australia, the machine will be located at the Gem Studies Laboratory in Sydney, under the care of Bill Sechos.

The following is an interview with DDCA President Rami Baron, published in the Jan/Feb issue of Jewellery World

What were the biggest highlights for the DDCA in 2013?
The biggest achievements in 2013 were not so much in Australia but on the international stage where the DDCA was recognised as a major contributor to the future growth of the world diamond industry through its contributions to the World Diamond Mark marketing campaign. The World Diamond Mark is a generic marketing campaign which is non-brand specific but looks to bring all sectors of the trade together. It is the most exciting marketing campaign to be launched by the diamond industry since De Beers brought us ‘Diamonds are Forever’.

What challenges has the DDCA faced in the same period?
Like every organisation and trade body, the DDCA (a non-profit organisation) has found it difficult to galvanise members as everyone is so busy with their own businesses.
The good news is that although I understand this mind-set, I (and a few others) don’t subscribe to it.
We take the attitude that if we can make a difference and can help to effect change, then we will do so.

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the jewellery industry?
In the diamond trade the wholesaler must come up with a greater value proposition to the retailer otherwise both sides will suffer.
We are being forced to reinvent ourselves – it’s no longer just price or even availability of goods because in 2 hours you can now bring almost any stone from overseas into the country.
I think the issue of synthetic diamonds could also be a real problem for our industry as very few are even aware of the proliferation of them and the difficulty in identifying them.
Larger synthetics are coming into the market and if the wholesaler or retailer is caught out, they will be personally responsible.
The flip-side to that is synthetics expand the industry offering by making it more affordable for consumers to own a diamond-like stone.
The critical aspect is that there must be full disclosure.
In addition the web is getting stronger and its happening faster- how are you using it?
If you think you don’t need the internet and you can just do your own thing, then my response is simple: If you are making money and your business is growing, and more importantly you have a great quality of life, then don’t look left or right, just stay on course, because this formula works for you, and that’s all that matters.
If however you are going financially backwards then move and move fast to learn (or hire those who have the knowledge) how the web and social media can be part of your business.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities in the industry?
We live in amazing times.
A small bench jeweller is no longer restricted to his suburb; he or she can create a website, watch a bunch of YouTube videos on optimisation, and reach out to the world.
He or she can create their own YouTube channel and showcase their creativity all with little more than an iPhone video and some clever editing.
Today we can look at the best designs of jewellers to get inspiration all over the world whilst sitting at our desk.
We can join specialist chat groups, read blogs and speak to others in the industry to share ideas and collaborate.
In my eyes this is bigger than the industrial revolution.
It all starts from desire and allocating time to reach out.
It’s not easy and it takes effort but the access to information and opportunity has no limits.
If you are ambitious this is your ideal time to take advantage of change.
The biggest opportunity in our industry is the realisation that one must find a niche and be the best at it -you can own that space (and not just in your city) because the web has no borders.

What are the DDCAs plans for the year ahead?
Adam Selikman, the vice president of the DDCA, and I have embarked on an ambitious project to redraft the club’s constitution to make it more relevant to the Australian market and also find ways to generate a revenue stream which will enable it to begin marketing programs for its members.
We are also very excited that Australia may be one of the first countries in the world where the World Diamond Mark will be launched.
2014 will be a fantastic year for those who are hungry and looking to take advantage of the opportunities and changes coming.

I write this article whilst in Antwerp Belgium as we come to the close of the 36th World Diamond Congress. Without a doubt the highlight for me on this trip was having Gus Hashem, a fellow club member, join me and to see and experience what I have in the past few years and appreciate the high regard in which Australia is held on the world stage. This year I was tasked to run the trade and promotion committee meeting, as the president could not attend. It was not only a great honour but we had a huge turnout of observers, in particular the Minister of Mines and Mining Development of Zimbabwe, the Hon W.K. Chidakwa and a number of his ministers . It was a robust and interesting meeting where we discussed launch of the new WFDB Website and the impact of social media in our industry . The most contentious issue was the unbelievable delays experienced in GIA certification. The numbers are staggering. GIA grades approx 16000 stones per day – not bad for a non profit organisation. The issue is that it can take three months to get merchandise graded, in simple terms, is becoming an untenable situation which requires immediate action. The US Bourse already had discussions with the GIA who admited they dropped the ball and are looking to play catch up as fast as possible. At that point I formed a committee from members of the Israeli, Antwerp, and USA clubs which I took to the board for approval to look to see what could be achieved for the benefit of our members. As we are in ANTWERP, a dialogue with other respectable Labs to provide capacity was initiated. HRD was keen to respond and by the time this article goes to print there should be possible solutions in place.

2014-06-16 21.18.15
Gus Hashem together with (on the left) Gaetano Cavallieri – head of CIBJO and (in the middle) Ernie Blom – WFDB President

In the numerous discussions with the various LABS the verdict is consistent, the degree of synthetic diamonds in the market has been greatly exaggerated. Large companies like Sterling in the USA are testing even one pointers. We had Tom Moses, one of the heads of GIA on a panel where I personally posed the question when and is a tool being developed to test diamonds already set in jewellery. The answer was it’s on the horizon, but no firm commitment was made although he agreed it is critically needed as those who maybe passing off synthetics will not even send the stones to a Lab. Tom and I spoke subsequently and he gave me an undertaking that a synthetic diamond testing machine will be sent to Australia in the coming months. The World Diamond Mark has recorded a major success with the official signing of Istanbul being the launching pad for the pilot of the WDM. The President of Boursa Istanbul flew in for the signing ceremony. Following Istanbul the WDM will continue a secondary program in Dubai. Both these steps bring to fruition a vision which Alex Popov, Suresh Hathirami and myself envisioned to create a generic diamond marketing campaign to ensure the health and growth of the diamond and jewellery market. This dream is coming to reality and it is enormously gratifying.

2014-06-16 21.22.03
Gus, Martin Rapaport and myself during a catch up break.

As usual I caught up with great friends and colleagues from around the world. I can tell you all that under the WFDB IDMA and the World Diamond Council the industry is in good hands and it is highlighted by the integrity and statesmanship of our leader Ernie Blom, President of The World Federation of Diamond Bourses. Trade well.