The sixth edition of the unique "Rough Diamond Days" got underway yesterday (May 10) at the Rough Diamond Bourse (Antwerpsche Diamantkring) in Antwerp, and the traders on the floor are clearly enthusiastic about the format. The event creates a forum for Antwerp-based rough traders - approximately 45 at this edition - to showcase their goods to local and international buyers on an open trade floor, the way it used to be done, and is the only one of its kind. International companies will be welcome to market their goods at the next edition in July, and according to bourse President Freddy Inzlicht (slightly tongue in cheek), "It's going to be huge." The Diamantkring is already laying the groundwork to bring African producers directly to the trade floor in November during the "African Diamond Dialogue" event, organized by the AWDC and the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Alain Zlayet of Zlayet & Sons Diamonds spoke to us about the uniqueness of the event: "The big advantage here is there is no competition between the dealers. There is really a sense of solidarity among the traders, unlike in the polished trade. If I don't have what somebody wants, I send him to the company in the next row, and vice-versa. Here we trade openly; no walls, everything on the table," he says. "And that is unique. This is trading. Like in the old days. You cannot find this anywhere else. We have nothing to hide, and the formula works. It is positive for customers as well. We help them find the goods they need. We send them to each other, and it works out positive for everyone." Zlayet has attended all six of the Rough Diamond Days, and said there were more buyers than ever at this one. "I would not have sold today staying in my office. There are more buyers here this time: Israelis, Chinese, the locals of course, and more first-time buyers. People are getting the message; if you are looking for rough diamonds, go to Antwerp."
The formula is particularly suited for new players on the market. Saunak Shah of Diaprime group, long established in Israel, has only been in Antwerp for three years, but says the format of the Rough Diamond Days provides, "a real advantage to the company for generating new clients. There are more clients for rough here than anywhere else, and my clientele increases every time. Even if I don't sell here, I meet Israelis, Africans, Chinese and locals, and they come to the office. People say that everywhere, but here they really do. Everything is so close by." In this case he did sell his goods, "People are looking for 5 carats plus, but there is strong demand for everything. The price of small stones fluctuates so quickly that if you don't sell today you might have to sell at a loss tomorrow. The tender prices are high right now, so people are here looking for everything." Trader Daniël Moskal agrees, saying that clients are looking for a variety of products, but there is more demand for larger stones. He has seen many familiar clients, but also notes an increase in Chinese visitors. "The formula is a success. Everyone in rough comes. People are paying a premium these days at the tenders, and come here looking to do business, but they are looking for discounts too. It's difficult but positive overall."
The Rough Diamond Days are designed to fill a gap left by the decline of active trading on the bourse floors. Freddy Inzlicht introduced the event saying, "Being a member of a diamond bourse isn't just about paying your membership fees. It gives you secured access to the diamond community, not just in Antwerp, but worldwide. As a service-providing member organization, we constantly ask ourselves: what is our purpose and how can we add value to the business of our members? That is why we organize the Antwerp Rough Diamond Days. To give our members the opportunity to do business." Zlayet concurs, "The trading halls have lost their function. But if you are a new buyer or seller on the market, how do you meet people? With this format, whether you are buying or selling, you can participate easily, buy on the spot or drop by the office later. I'm here selling today, but I have also purchased a couple stones. It is totally different than pushing your offer to the limit at a tender and hoping to win a parcel. It is not like polished traders undercutting one another. Here you see and feel what's on the table, and then negotiate. That's unique in this day and age."