World Federation of Diamond Bourses logoIn February I returned from Antwerp having attended my first board meeting for 2013 as an elected member of the Executive Committee of this organisation. Aside from the tremendous honour of being elected to the board, there is a certain pride to being the first Australian board member.

The WFDB represents 28 diamond clubs and bourses world wide. It has a membership of some 20,000 – not to mention the huge numbers directly connected to our industry on the next level.

Let’s look at the relevance of this organisation to those of us working in the diamond/ jewellery industry in Australia and worldwide…

After bringing Australia into the WFDB, what struck me during this first board meeting was hearing first hand the true influence that this organisation can wield, as well as understanding what is about to occur.

Let’s just go back a few steps to understand (1) what fundamentally the organisation is about and (2) reflect on some of the successes it has achieved.

In the late 1940s when the WFDB was formed, the industry recognised that it needed to be self regulatory by setting standards for how rough and polished diamonds would be traded, especially as such large amounts of money were at stake. There was neither time nor desire to execute contracts on each deal, let alone bring our industry into a traditional courtroom with those who have no understanding of how our trade works. Hence the stamp of “Mazal” was and is still our contract.

The question was then asked - what if the deal was broken. To counter this, an Arbitration Board (within the WFDB) was formed and each bourse’s disputes could be resolved by those who understood both the intricacies of certain deals and the spirit of the agreement. The by laws of each bourse were written in a manner that gave the Arbitration Board the ability to make a judgement. If anyone decided to disregard the decision, they left themselves open to be removed as a member of the club and their name and picture would be sent around the world to other clubs clearly notifying them as a person of disrepute and effectively never being able to work in the diamond trade again.

The same rules and regulations exist today and probably arbitration is held in a bourse some where in the world on a weekly basis. Without doubt this has spared our industry from endless litigation and (worse) bad publicity, in an industry highly susceptible to scandal.

It is important to know that the arbitration process is legally binding in a court of law. It’s unfortunate to have to look at this aspect of our industry as a benefit; however the question so often asked world wide “why do some in our industry get away with such scandalous behaviour in not honouring the debts” is exactly why having such a strong organisation (which has helped our industry through tough times) is paramount.

In my eyes, the side of the WFDB which is so often taken for granted by the diamond industry, is the level that the WFDB engages with governments around the world on both social and financial issues. If there was not an organisation such as this to step in and represent the interests of our trade, the ramifications could have devastating effects on our industry.

The most far reaching involvement the WFDB has had for our industry was in 2000, which saw the formation of the World Diamond Council (a joint initiate of the WFDB and the IDMA (International Diamond Manufactures Association).

In 2003, in conjunction with the United Nations, governments, NGO’S, bourses and clubs worldwide, the World Diamond Council introduced the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (Kimberley Process). With Eli Ishakoff at its helm, this initiative navigated our industry away from what could have been a cataclysmic reaction...

Eli will resign this year after 13 years (Eli was President of the WFDB for 9 years from1991-1998).

The WDC will need to strengthen its approach to the social issues and perception associated with conflict diamonds and find a common ground with all interested parties; this not only protects consumer interests but respects the needs of developing nations to both protect the local populations from abuse without denying them of the ability to work and earn a living with the limited resources they have.

As the world is constantly racked by instability from terrorism, democratic governments around the world have, thankfully, formed commissions and bodies to fight money laundering and the illicit movement of money used to finance these operations.

The problem we face is that it is very difficult for those outside our trade to understand how and what we do on some levels. This was recently written about in an article by Chaim Even Zohar. An example in point is how do you explain that you have a diamond (stock) which is sent back and forth around the world and for years is never actually sold…or that you send a parcel of goods to someone for one million dollars with an exact weight and description; they in turn sort the parcel into sub parcels and sell it on for 1.2million dollars, and yet it’s the same parcel of goods! Any accountant would struggle to understand this no doubt.

It is when the leaders of our organisations engage on behalf of our industry that we have a voice, a presence and an influence on how we will be able to conduct our business across the world.

The first Executive Committee meeting of 2013 chaired by Ernie Blom (the newly elected President), was a tremendous success. Ernie brought a clear agenda and vision as to where we need to move and how we need to get there.

There was a re-affirmation by all the board for the World Diamond Mark - the new marketing initiative recently launched at the 2012 World Diamond Congress in Mumbai. The goals of the WDM will see both the introduction of generic marketing of diamonds and a new retail affiliation with the WFDB to grow our ranks and strengthen the promotion of diamonds as the ultimate symbol of love.

The new arm of the WFDB has two mantras:

To ensure the health and growth of the diamond and jewellery industry and
To build relationships with all the associated bodies and groups by way of being inclusive and not exclusive.


De Beers created the immortal statement

“Diamonds are forever”

The World Diamond Mark brings to the world:

“When there is love... we are here”


I left the meeting feeling that we have “awakened the giant” and look forward to serving on the board and effecting positive changes which are so critically needed if we are to flourish as we have historically.

Trade Well.