AWDC's Head of Public Affairs, Karla Basselier, is leaving the Antwerp umbrella organization after 9 years in office. The jurist who was, among others, in charge of lobbying for the diamond industry on local, national and supranational political levels, is taking up the post of chief of staff in the cabinet of Belgium's Vice Prime Minister Van Quickenborne, in the recently formed new Belgian Federal government, effective immediately.
The new AWDC Board of Directors has elected Chaim Pluczenik as new President the AWDC among its members replacing outgoing President Nishit Parikh, who retired after two years in office as President and didn’t apply as a candidate in the recent elections. Board members Bart De Hantsetters, representing the (manufacturing) industry and Isi Morsel, representing the trade have been appointed as Vice Presidents.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent restrictions make it impossible to bring together the industry for the 2nd African Diamond Conference, which was set to take place in Durban, South Africa in May this year, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) together with its partners, Belgium’s Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), have announced a series of webinars, on October 14, 21 and 28, aimed at sharing information on challenges and opportunities for African diamond producing countries and the diamond industry.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre has announced the appointment of six new Board Members representing the trade on the Board of Directors. In the past two days, the Antwerp diamond community participated in Covid-19 safe elections at the AWDC’s building, choosing two representatives among their peers of small, medium-sized and large companies, as voters and candidates are divided in three categories, according to their average turnover.
Rapaport reports on a letter, sent by Israel Diamond Exchange President Yoram Dvash, to the Israeli government, pleading for more support for the Israeli diamond industry, which is "on the verge of collapse". Barely reopened after months of standstill in the trade, Israel recently has been facing an increase in COVID-19 cases and consequent tightening of pandemic restrictions, once again halting the trade on the Ramat Gan bourse floor. The ramifications for the Israeli diamond industry are severe, the letter explains, and the crisis is getting worse.
As the tensions between India and China continue to rise after the military standoff at Ladakh, a fierce trade war between the two countries is looming, and imports and exports are already being affected. India Today reports that while in India, the call to boycott Chinese goods is sounding louder and louder, exporters are experiencing trouble to export goods to Hong Kong and Mainland China, as shipments are blocked by Chinese Customs. On Indian side, the article says, shipment containers from China are also being blocked by Indian Customs in Mumbai and Chennai.
During a virtual Board Meeting, the Board of Directors of the World Diamond Council, the organization that is mandated to lead the industry's efforts in combating conflict diamonds, elected Edward Asscher as President, serving a second term at the helm of the WDC. In a press release, Edward Asscher, who recently took a step back in the Asscher Diamonds family business, commended outgoing President Stephane Fischler; “In taking over from Stephane, I am filling giant shoes.
JCK reports that Ernest Blom, better known as Ernie is stepping down after serving eight years as President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. During an online meeting earlier today, the organization's Executive Committee chose Israel Diamond Exchange President Yoram Dvash as acting president. According to JCK, citing a letter, Blom says he (temporarily) cannot continue in his post for "personal reasons". JCK adds that Blom's diamond company is currently caught up in a legal battle with the Dubai Diamond Exchange, member bourse of the World Federation.
As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
At the conclusion of the KPCS Plenary Session in New Delhi, India, the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) in a press release says the KP failed to deliver on the mission of the three-year reform cycle, noting “only insignificant changes to the scope and governance” was agreed upon by the members of the scheme.
Riaan Burger, CEO of the 50-50 joint venture between the Namibian government and Anglo American's De Beers Group, stated Namdeb is negotiating with government to soften the current tax regime of royalties (10%) and corporate tax (55%) to allow the Namibian mining entity to extend its land operations (Orange River) beyond 2023.
Hong Kong’s retail sales, and particulaly those of jewelry and other luxury items, took a nosedive in September as the protests that have plagued the city since June have kept tourists away and led to a decline in consumer spending. According to a press release and figures from the Census and Statistics Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the overall value of retail sales in September 2019 decreased by 18.3% to an estimated HKD29.9 billion (US$3.8 billion) compared with the same month in 2018.
Last week, Tiffany & Co. found itself at the center of a social media firestorm after posting an image on Twitter of a woman covering one eye with her hand, leading to accusations that the jeweller supports the Hong Kong protesters and prompting Tiffany's to remove the post. Angry Chinese consumers believed it deliberately evoked a symbolic pose adopted by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators after a woman was shot in the eye with what protesters say was a police beanbag round during violent clashes with police. Her image later popped up in many posters and memes.
Three leading diamond trade bodies have submitted a joint appeal for the postponement of the Hong Kong Gem and Jewellery Fair, September 2019, until there is a more stable climate in the city.
The impact from the Hong Kong protests is spreading to global luxury retailers, with jewelry - including Swiss watches - taking a hit as shoppers and big-spending travelers stay away. Unrest has forced many stores to close and sparked widespread social disruption. Luxury brand Richemont - which owns several of the world's leading luxury goods companies including Cartier, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels and Jaeger-LeCoultre - is the latest firm to say its business is being impacted by the ongoing protests.
The Angolan authorities have shut down 279 diamonds sale and purchase houses, as well as canceled the activity of 122 co-operatives dealing in diamonds exploration, 52 days after the start of the “Operation Transparency”, announced last Wednesday in the northern Malanje Province, reports Angolan Press outlet ANGOP. “Operation Transparency” is essentially intended to fight illegal immigration, illegal exploration of diamonds and put a stop to environmental crimes committed in the ambit of the irregular prospecting of minerals.
"Brand Russia, at this particular point in time, is not particularly strong overseas." David Ferguson, retail analyst in Moscow
“Mine to market is becoming very popular.” Sergei S. Ivanov, CEO, ALROSA
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) have cancelled their biannual conference, the World Diamond Congress, due to be held in Tel Aviv, Israel, from June 19 to 21. The diamond organizations cited poor registration figures - "too low to conduct a successful, meaningful and effective gathering" - likely as a result of political tensions in the region.
The United Nations General Assembly, welcoming progress made by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to break links between the diamond trade and conflict, on March 7 adopted a consensus resolution aimed at intensifying that work and aligning it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
South Africa has a new minister of mineral resources, which is likely to be welcome news to the country's mining community. New President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his cabinet on Monday night, appointing former National Union of Mineworkers secretary general and national chairperson of the ruling ANC party Gwede Mantashe to head the Ministry of Mineral Resources. Mantashe was also the first trade unionist to be appointed to the board of a listed mining company (Samancor) in South Africa in 1995.
Sergey Ivanov (37), the young CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the world’s largest diamond miner, ALROSA, was in Antwerp for the company’s annual meeting with its 56 long-term clients. ALROSA is a traditional company in a traditional business, and still evokes the reputation of a state-owned giant despite the partial privatization (currently 34%) of the company a few years ago.
Sergey Ivanov, CEO of ALROSA, held a working meeting in Moscow today with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium Didier Reynders, and President of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) Stephane Fischler. The parties discussed issues related to the development of bilateral cooperation in the field of diamond trading, as well as cooperation within the framework of industry international organizations. ALROSA and AWDC made a joint presentation focusing on their excellent trade relationship and expressed their willingness to enhance their
Last December, the Government of Zimbabwe announced it would be relaxing laws that require black citizens hold majority stakes (51%) in companies as it looks to restore confidence and boost economic growth.
The U.S. sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, one of the biggest individual mining and diamond investors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in what it calls a clampdown on human-rights abusers and corrupt actors, write Thomas Biesheuvel, Mark Burton, and William Clowes for Bloomberg Politics. The U.S. Treasury said Gertler has used his close relationship with the country’s president, Joseph Kabila, to amass a fortune through corrupt and opaque deals.
Angolan state-owned diamond company Sodiam will divest a stake in Geneva-based jewelry maker De Grisogono - a Swiss firm controlled by the husband of the billionaire daughter (Isabel) of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos - for “reasons of public interest and legality,” report Henrique Almeida and Candido Mendes for Bloomberg Markets. The move comes, the journalists write, as Angola’s new leader, President Joao Lourenco, untangles the country from the business interests of his predecessor’s family.
India's jewelry sector can breathe a little easier after Friday's announcement of the removal of gems and jewelry from the scope of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, writes The Hindu Business Line. The sector has been hit hard by the dual impact of demonetisation and the Goods and Sales Tax (GST). Following the move, jewelers no longer need to verify the identity of their clients by a KYC process for every transaction of Rs. 50,000 ($765) or more made through a single or multiple transactions.
In response to a recent Reuters article (based on an Mmegi Online article) mentioned yesterday, Lucara Diamond Corp. - whose mining assets are located in Botswana - has issued a statement to "provide clarity" after the miner was mentioned specifically as a catalyst for a government decision to establish first rights to diamonds of "unusual" size or quality unearthed in the country.
Government authorities in Tanzania have seized a shipment of diamonds belonging to London-based Petra Diamonds, saying the miner under-declared the value of its mineral exports. On August 31, customs seized a parcel containing 71,654 carats rough gems at the Dar Es Salam airport as they were being exported to Antwerp by Williamson Diamonds, in which Petra holds a 75% stake and the Tanzanian State 25%.
South Africa has suspended implementation of a contentious and highly criticized mining ownership law pending a judgement in an urgent interdict application by mining companies, the country’s Chamber of Mines said. South African mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, has agreed not to implement the current redraft of the Mining Charter Three pending judgement of an urgent interdict brought by the Chamber of Mines, a temporary victory for the miners.
Indian diamond manufacturers, brokers and merchants in the manufacturing center in Surat have unanimously decided to shut the industry for a day on June 17, demanding exemption of the polished diamonds from the 3% Goods and Service Tax (GST), writes The Times of India (TOI). They have formed a committee to lead the protest against the GST council's decison to impose 3% GST on polished diamonds and 18% GST on diamond trading.
The South African government has raised the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies to 30 percent in a surprise move that weakened the rand and knocked shares in the London-quoted mining groups Anglo American and Petra Diamonds. Shares in Anglo American have fallen sharply after South Africa announced changes to its mining regulations. They dropped 57p, or more than 5 percent to £10 after South Africa’s mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane said miners have to raise their black-owned stakes to 30% from 26% under a revised version of its mining charter.
JCK's Rob Bates conducted an in-depth and personal interview with Cecilia Gardner, who recently stepped down after 18 years as president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to compliance with laws pertaining to the jewelry industry.
When people talk badly about diamonds, they think of the stone they're going to buy, but they don't think of the lives that are going to be affected. In Botswana, for example, 45-50% of the total GDP comes from diamond mining. So when people say, "I'm not going to buy a diamond because it has a bad rep", think of the two-plus million people in Botswana that will be affected.
- William Lamb, CEO Lucara Diamond, Interview with Bloomberg TV, on India's demonitization, diamond demand, Kimberley Process, positive sentiment in industry, Trump effect, DPA, Millennials and finding a buyer for the magnificent Lesedi La Rona ... all in 6 minutes.
Following the resignation of Andrey Zharkov as president of ALROSA, Sergey Ivanov, ex-head of insurer SOGAZ, and senior vice-president of Russia's largest lender Sberbank, was yesterday, March 6, officially appointed as President of the company for a three-year term. His appointment was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. "The government directive on your appointment to the position of head of the sole executive body of ALROSA has been signed.
Speculation was already rampant about the potentially positive impact of having a First Lady and Daughter with their own retail brands; that impact has arrived in the first month, but whether or not it is positive is another question.
Award-winning journalist Rob Bates raises some highly relevant issues in the wake of the announcement by Ashley Orbach - U.S. Department of State’s special advisor for conflict diamonds for the last three years - that she will be leaving the agency and her role as advisor. There was always going to be a sense of uncertainty concerning the U.S. stance toward the Kimberley Process and human rights in the mining industry under the unpredictable new administration, and the loss of continuity signalled by Orbach's departure may well add to it.
Mbada Diamonds could have denied Zimbabwe of millions of dollars in revenue by under-declaring its diamond sales over the years after it emerged that its average price per carat was about three times lower than that of other firms extracting gems from Chiadzwa, writes The Herald.
In his latest Diamond Intelligence Briefs, “Keeping Stock of U.S. Kimberley Process Certificates”, industry analyst Chaim Even-Zohar takes another hard look at the U.S. rough diamond trade and the country’s half-hearted approach when it comes to implementing Kimberley Process (KP) certification standards domestically.
"As a leading member of the U.S. Jewelry industry, we are writing to express our support for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the corresponding Securities and Exchange Commission’s Conflict Minerals Rule.
Chinese shoppers are generally estimated to make approximately 30% of the world’s luxury purchases, and according to De Beers "Diamond Insight Report", Mainland Chinese demand for diamond jewelry doubled from a 7% global share in 2008 to 14% in 2015, making it the second largest consumer of diamond jewelry. Bain & Company estimated their share of the global luxury market decreased by one percentage point in 2016, due mainly to China’s economic growth slowdown, thriving deman
Reflecting on the impact of the Trump election victory on the future of the diamond trade, particularly on the U.S. and India, independent industry consultant Pranay Narvekar writes in GJEPC's Solitaire International that America's share of the global polished diamond market - already the highest by far at 45% of total value - should only increase in the coming years, while the strength of the dollar and other expected policy moves will only exacerbate uncertainty throughout the trade.
The Belgian Parliament has officially adopted the 'Diamond Regime', commonly known as the 'Carat Tax', as the new fiscal system for the Antwerp diamond industry. The new system stipulates that companies will no longer be taxed on the basis of their profit but on a fixed percentage of their turnover - thereby eliminating complicated discussions with tax authorities about the value of inventory, which is difficult to assess.
According to a report on the Israeli news site Hamodia, the country's tax authorities, following Israels commitments to the US and international organizations to apply a more stringent anti-money laundering policy, are targeting the Israeli diamond industry, generally considered the biggest offenders in this domain. Officials said that as of January 1st, the administration will go after tax fraud more agressively, implementing extended powers of investigation and enforcement.
The 2016 KP Plenary kicked off yesterday in Dubai as KP Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem welcomed representatives of 81 governments and industry organizations. First day activities included a third diamond valution forum addressing the elusive question of how to provide fair value for diamonds from Africa and achieve a formalized approach to valuing diamond resources.
Earlier this week, Kimberley Process (KP) chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem issued a press release extending an, "Invitation to Civil Society to Attend [KP] Plenary", [civil society = NGOs] and also shared with the CSC a document providing an in-depth response addressing previous issues and concerns raised by the CSC at the beginning of the UAE KP Chairmanship ("Proposal for a Remediation Between the 2016 KP Chair and the Members of the Civil Society Coalition").
Thirteen years after the the United States government initially banned the import of all gemstones from Burma (Myanmar) to put pressure on the military junta that had ignored democratic elections, placed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, and persecuted minority groups throughout the country, U.S. sanctions on imports of the Burmese gemstones were officially lifted by an executive order on October 7.
Last Friday, September 30, the second of three rough diamond valuation forums initiated by the current Kimberley Process (KP) Chair, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, was held in Antwerp.
Martin Rapaport has released a statement claiming that due to the EU not being a major diamond consumer in recent years, with demand expected to fall even further as a result of potential currency and equity downturns in the EU and Great Britain, the impact of the Brexit will be that, "Global investment demand for higher quality diamonds as a store of value will increase due to global economic and political uncertainty." He does not anticipate that Chinese or Indian diamond demand will be impacted in a negative way. Furthermore, "The important U.S.
On Tuesday 14 June and Wednesday 15 June, members of the Antwerp Diamond Industry elected the new Board Members for the AWDC Board of Directors representing the trade. In 2012, the by-laws of the AWDC extended the duration of the mandates to four instead of two years and implemented an alternating rotation system that will renew half of the board every to years, which ensures continuation in the Board of Directors over the years. .
Award-winning news director of JCK Rob Bates, in his opinion piece "Why the NGOs and Dubai Still Can’t Get Along", addresses the persistent conflict between Kimberley Process (KP) chair UAE and the KP civil society coalition - the group of 11 human rights groups that participate in the KP - that is threatening to turn the upcoming KP interessional meetings into a failure: "the recent turn of events looks like we are in for another year of stagnation and animosity, and the scheme will once again fail to make needed improvements, despite the UAE’s promises last year of a fruitful, pr
India’s Ministry of Finance has formed a sub-committee to, "look into issues related to the Imposition of Central Excise duty on jewellery", which is the 1 percent excise duty recently imposed on the jewelry industry.
AllAfrica reports the recently formed Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is set to improve revenue inflows into the cash-strapped government's coffers, according to Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa. ZCDC took over operations in Marange diamond fields recently after government cancelled the permits of mining firms that were mining in the area, citing lack of transparency and investment. Chidhakwa told reporters recently that ZCDC would not wait for six months or a year to declare dividends to governments but would ensure funds were transferred to the treasury every month.
To raise public awareness on the Marcos' two-decades of plunder during martial law from 1965 to 1986, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on March 16 launched an online exhibit of selected pieces from the Hawaii jewelry collection, one of the three massive jewelry collections hoarded by Marcoses. This collection was seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon the Marcoses’ arrival in Hawaii in 1986 and is currently stored at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Brussels on March 30 to attend the first India-European Union summit in four years. Hopes are high that the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Brussels in six years will reinvigorate EU-India ties and inject new momentum into the relationship, possibly resuming dialogue for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which hasn't materialized despite eight years of negotiations.
Press Release: In his 92nd-birthday interview on 3 March President Mugabe stated that the diamond sector had made $15 billion but the country had only received $2 billion from it and suggested various options for reforms. This came after the Zimbabwe Mining Minister announced on the 22 February that all diamond companies must cease operations with immediate effect after months of wrangling over the government’s proposal to merge all of the companies into one amalgamated entity. "It’s been clear for many years that Zimbabwe’s diamond industry needs to be radically reformed.
Pending a positive recommendation by the Kimberley Process (KP) monitoring team - consisting of representatives of the various KP working groups and civil society - after consideration of the results of their review visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), the resumption of rough diamond exports from CAR is looking increasingly possible.
Saying that existing miners had robbed the country of its wealth, President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe on Thursday said that his government would take possession of all diamond operations. “The state will now own all the diamonds in the country,” Mugabe said during a two-hour interview with state broadcaster ZBC TV. “Companies that have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there. The UAE also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut. Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news. The move on Tuesday came after Riyadh halted $4bn in aid to Lebanese security forces in response to "hostile" positions linked to Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.
The Southern Times (Southern Africa) reports that the partnership between the Botswana government and diamond giant De Beers faces an uncertain future with opposition parties in the country making repeated calls that it should be terminated. Leaders of main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) say there is need to reconsider the relationship between the Southern African country and De Beers.