Founded in 1947 as a body that would unite diamond exchanges under one roof, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) would come to provide a common set of trading practices for bourses trading in rough and polished diamonds, as well as coloured stones.
But the origins of the WFDB actually date back to 1946 when Jack Sigman, the then-president of the New York Diamond Dealers Club, held discussions in Antwerp about creating a vehicle that would be able to look out for the collective interests of the diamond trade. The inaugural meeting of the WFDB took place in Antwerp in July 1947, at what today is recognized as the premiere World Diamond Congress. Joseph Lens from Belgium was elected the first WFDB president.
In 1948, a second Belgian, Adolph Rotti was elected WFDB president. He would serve an unbroken term of 18 years until1966, when he was succeeded by Jack Sigman, who held the position until 1968. Moshe Schnitzer of Israel then took over the position of WFDB president, serving until 1972. He would also serve a second four-year stint, between 1978 and 1982.
Jack Nutkewitz of Belgium served as WFDB president between 1972 and 1978, Seymour A. Rosenthal of the United States served from 1982 to 1985, and he was followed by Edmund Goldstein, who held the position until 1991. Eli Izhakoff of the United States, who was elected to the position in 1991 at the 25th World Diamond Congress in London, became the longest serving WFDB president in recent years, serving for three terms before he stepped down in 1998. Itzhak Forem served a single two- year term until 2000, and he was followed by Abraham Fischler of Belgium who also served in the position for two years. Shmuel Schnitzer of Israel was elected in 2002 at the 30th World Diamond Congress in London, and served two two-year terms in office. He was succeeded by Ernie Blom of South Africa, who was elected in 2006 for a single two-year term. In 2008, at the 33rd World Diamond Congress in Shanghai Avi Paz of Israel was elected as President and he served a four-year term in office. At the 35th World Diamond Congress in Mumbai in 2012 Ernie Blom from South Africa was once more elected as President and he is currently the serving President of the WFDB.
At the World Diamond Congress in Amsterdam in 1975, the WFDB and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association acted together to regulate diamond grading standards, appointing a joint committee to create an international set of rules, working methods and nomenclature. In 1978, the system was presented at the World Diamond Congress in Ramat Gan, and approved as the IDC International Rules for Grading Diamonds.
At the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp in 2000, the WFDB and IDMA acted unison once again, this time in an effort to protect the diamond pipeline from the infiltration of stones from conflict areas in Africa. Thus was born the World Diamond Council the all-industry body that, together with the United Nations, governments in producer, manufacturer and consuming centres, and NGOs, formulated the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The ability of the WFDB to react to changing conditions in the market has, since 1947, provided the diamond sector with an ability to act decisively and in unison, despite the great distances between the various manufacturing and trading centres. This is almost to ensure that the world federation will remain the industry’s most important representative body for years to come.
WFDB 60-year retrospective
World Diamond Congresses, 1947-2012
Presidents Meetings, 1983-2013