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Address by Yoram Dvash at Opening of the World Diamond Congress

September 14, 2020

Dear honoured guests, colleagues and friends,

It is indeed an honor to open the First Virtual and 39th World Diamond Congress. It is certainly a first for the WFDB and IDMA to hold a Congress over the internet, but this year has brought us many firsts, which we have had to learn to live with.

I would like to welcome the representatives of our bourses, and for the first time I would like to recognize our new associate members: Chow Tai Fook who are also an observer on EXCO, Malca Amit, Israel Diamond Institute, Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, HKIDA, and ABN-AMRO Bank. I would also like to welcome IDMA President Mr. Ronnie VanderLinden and all of the IDMA members who have joined us today. I would especially like to recognize two of our important guests – Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO, and Mr. Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council, both of whom will speak here today, in addition to myself and Ronnie VanderLinden. I also would like to welcome our Honorary Presidents Eli Izhakoff and Shmuel Schnitzer.

The past half-year has been enormously challenging on every level – personally and professionally. The diamond industry has been one of the most harshly affected by the pandemic. Months were lost, and although we are now seeing a return of demand in key markets and a return to 2019 levels in major diamond centers, as a whole 2020 will be remembered as a very challenging year.

But there were some benefits as well. Our industry has always been based on travel. Rough dealers and manufacturers have traveled to sights and tenders; polished traders to diamond centers to inspect the stones they buy. With no possibility of travel, we began to do business from our computers and our smart phones. We discovered that this was possible, that we could communicate with customers, suppliers, colleagues virtually. And we saw that this brought a major savings.

The digital revolution that we all knew was coming was speeded up by the pandemic, and the diamond industry is being changed forever.

Let us be frank, the problems of the diamond industry were not completely caused by the corona virus. The industry has been suffering from a lack of profitability, a shortage of financing and reduced demand. It needs to transform to meet the demands of the twenty-first century.

That means adopting the values of the day – transparency, environmental protection and consumer confidence. It means working together with the regulators to create rules and measures that benefit all.

In the past several months the industry has come together to launch its most ambitious project yet – Get Diamonds. This ecommerce platform was created to provide the industry with an alternative, a platform produced “by the industry, for the industry”. The importance of Get Diamonds is far beyond the site itself. It means that, by mobilizing the power of individual diamantaires and the leadership of the WFDB, this industry can take its fate into its own hands and accomplish amazing things. But there is so much more to do. We look to you to continue to support us on issues that are at the heart of this industry. Only by working together and being united we can ensure the future of the great diamond industry.

You will shortly hear from the new CEO of Get Diamonds. We believe in the tremendous potential of this platform and with the support of the whole industry we know that it will be a great success.

This is a great industry and we should all be very proud. The story of the diamond is truly an incredible one. On a very personal note, I continue to be touched and amazed every time that I hold a diamond in my hand. My love affair with the diamond is still very much alive.

Thank you for being with us today. I hope that we will have a very interesting and productive Congress.