Conference Attendees Praise Transformation of Diamond Industry

The diamond industry is changing and becoming more professional,
transparent, and accountable to local producers, participants at the 2011 Antwerp Diamond Conference said
on its opening day May 24.

“The winds of change are blowing strongly through the
diamond industry, and the world that they leave behind them will be greatly
different to the one that existed previously,” Ari Epstein, CEO of the Antwerp World
Diamond Centre, organizer of the conference, said in his welcoming remarks.

Speaking during a session on banking, Pierre De Bosscher,
CEO of Antwerp Diamond Bank, said that changes in banking regulation will
likely lead to greater corporatization in the diamond industry, with more
transparency and higher capitalization. Victor Van Der Kwast, CEO of the
International Jewellery Group of ABN Amro Bank, warned that transparency still
needs to be improved, and that scrutiny of company documentation was higher
than before.

The afternoon session of the conference focused on rough
diamond supply. Jean-Marc Lieberherr, the general manager of Rio Tinto
Diamonds, noted that the industry continues to lag behind other industries in
marketing and this underscores the need to establish a pan-industry body to
drive long-term generic demand for diamond products.

Des Kilalea, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, predicted
that the volume of rough diamond supply will be flat at best over the course of
the coming decade, given the expense of diamond exploration and the small
amount of companies involved in it.

Tim Dabson, the executive director of beneficiation at De
Beers’ Diamond Trading Company, spoke about the growing role of the African
DTCs. He said there were almost 40 DTC sightholders in Africa, and that diamond
manufacturing had been shown to be sustainable.

The conference was opened by Patrick Janssens, the mayor of
Antwerp, who highlighted the role of the diamond business in the city.

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