On Thursday March 9, 2017 Antwerp’s Young Diamantaires hosted their first networking event since the initiative was relaunched. Supported by the Antwerpsche Diamantkring, the Young Diamantaires’ program is designed to provide a platform for the under-40 generation of diamantaires, polishers, jewelry manufacturers and diamond industry professionals working and living in Belgium. The Diamond Loupe sat down with a few committee members from the Young Diamantaires Antwerp (YDA) and asked them about their initiative.
The Diamond Loupe: What was the purpose of re-launching the YDA and who is eligible to join?
Young Diamantaires Antwerp: As youngsters joining the industry, the initiative gives us a place to voice our opinions on matters that concern our day-to-day business. We believe the young generation working in the Antwerp diamond industry has the capacity to think outside the box, find fresh and innovative solutions and boost the diamond industry.
Anyone that is under 40 and involved in the diamond industry in Antwerp can join: diamantaires, polishers, jewelry manufacturers … any diamond industry professional actually, from marketing people to service providers. They are all welcome.
TDL: What do you hope to accomplish with this initiative?
YDA: First of all, to meet young professionals like us, help each other, learn new things, share innovative ideas and solutions, forge new alliances and friendships. Sometimes you have been doing business with someone on the phone and wouldn’t recognize them in the street. Thanks to the YDA networking events we get to know each other face to face. We also want to organize workshops relevant to our trade and business.
TDL: Last week you organized the first meet-and-greet since the re-launch, how did that go?
YDA: It was great. Young professionals brought their enthusiasm and new ideas. Everybody was full of energy. It was a very exciting experience. We saw a lot of familiar faces but also met new people. We took a poll about which initiatives the group wants to take and what subjects they are interested in. And besides all that: we shared some drinks and snacks and there was good music!
TDL: What future projects do you have lined up?
YDA: The poll made it clear that there is great interest in social media and how to use it for your business. So we are contacting a guest speaker who is an expert in the field. In June we will host a breakfast event together with the City of Antwerp, inviting professionals from the creative industries to get to know the Young Diamantaires. And we have many more ideas to execute.
TDL: What makes you the right people to guide and nurture the next generation?
YDA: We are young professionals in the diamond trade, committed to working together as one team in the YDA committee. Furthermore, we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, professional as well as ethnic, and this allows us to reach out to every young diamond professional in Antwerp.
We are sharing knowledge, opportunity and contacts. And we are aiming to add vibrancy to the Antwerp and global diamond industry whilst encouraging future leaders to play a role in expanding and strengthening our trade and promoting integrity and transparency. We know we have set ourselves a challenging mission, but we want to aim high.
TDL: What differentiates Antwerp from the other trading centers?
YDA: Antwerp is the most important diamond trading center of the world, and not just in numbers and trade volume. We have hundreds of businesses working in our diamond square mile: from small to medium sized, as well as large companies.
One should also not forget the international aspect of this city and its historical background of more than five centuries of diamond trade, giving Antwerp a unique story to tell. It truly is the Diamond Capital of the world since 1447.
Furthermore, Antwerp is the only city with four bourses and is the home of the WFDB and AWDC. The city and government have politically supported the trade through the years, giving us a stable and transparent environment to do business in. This allows our business to flourish and helps to ensure our future in the coming years. With over 70 nationalities working in the diamond industry, we can confidently say: in Antwerp we all speak diamond.
TDL: What challenges is Antwerp facing, and how will the YDA guide the next generation?
YDA: Firstly, we are facing a banking problem. We feel that as young professionals we are paying the price for mistakes of the past. We are committed to rebuild the trust and reputation of our trade. Secondly we want to re-invent the role of diamonds in the hearts and minds of our generational peers. Millennials see everything in a different way, including diamonds. We need to adapt to their tastes and find new ways to appeal to them. We cannot allow diamonds to lose their shine for younger consumers. Because if you lose one generation, you have lost the next one.
TDL: What is your support system in the Antwerp diamond trade?
YDA: We are extremely fortunate in terms of support. We have the full backing of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring as well as the support of the AWDC, the WFDB, the City of Antwerp and definitely the broader Antwerp diamond community.
TDL: What does the long-term future of the YDA look like?
YDA: Brilliant! We plan to build a strong group of young professionals covering all aspects of our trade, working together as one team and giving a voice to the young generation. We aim to take the trade into the future, with creativity and innovation, to secure a strong and profitable diamond trade for all our stakeholders.
The future leaders are in our midst. We need to help them have their voices be heard.
Actually, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.
TDL: Is there anything you would like to say to young diamantaires who have yet to join you?
YDA: Come and join in! The YDA are for you by you. Having a large pool of creative young people together is fantastic. You can just join us at the networking events or workshops. If you’re under 40 and working and living in the Antwerp diamond industry, the YDA is relevant to you and your business. We look forward to seeing you at our next event!
Register at www.ydantwerp.com