The following is my recent interview regarding the DDCA, 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.