Diamonds / Industry

AWDC Names Interim CEO to Replace Ari Epstein


Karen Rentmeesters has been appointed interim CEO of Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), following the departure of longtime chief executive Ari Epstein.

Rentmeesters has worked in AWDC’s communications department since February 2010. She most recently served as the Belgian industry group’s chief officer for PR and industry relations.

In a statement, Rentmeesters said she is “fully committed to this new, temporary role…in anticipation of the arrival of a new, permanent CEO.

“The entire diamond industry is in the midst of a period of transformation towards greater transparency and faces challenging times,” she continued. “As a sector federation representing the interests of the Antwerp diamond companies, it is important that we guide them through this period and offer them stability.”

AWDC’s board of directors, led by president Isidore Mörsel, had sent out a release reacting to “media reports” and “speculation” about the reasons for Epstein’s departure. It said that the board “supports” the G7’s sanctions against Russia, but hinted it had concerns about the European Union’s plan for a “rough node” located in Antwerp and the possible effect on non-sanctioned goods.

“This whole process towards more transparency within the diamond industry has been going on for a long time and is part of the daily reality of our business,” Mörsel said in the release. “The process towards more transparency within the industry is being accelerated by the G7 sanctions, forcing all parties to adapt to it.”

He added that Antwerp “must be vigilant about the workability of the control mechanism. And it is, rather, there that our concerns lie.”

Mörsel said the AWDC would give “full support” to a “plan which achieves its goal—banning Russian diamonds and ensuring more transparency, from mine to finger—but does not harm other parties within the industry.”

Epstein did not state a reason for his departure when he resigned last week after serving as CEO since 2010.

(Photo courtesy of Antwerp World Diamond Centre)

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By: Rob Bates

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