Dubai Summit: Diamond Industry to Thrive

The worldwide diamond trade will continue to thrive, especially in rapidly emerging markets such as the Middle East, China, and India, despite the current global financial crisis, according to speakers at the first Middle East-China Diamond and Jewellery Summit, held Nov. 8 and 9.

“We cannot escape from the fact that these are tough times for the world,” said Varda Shine, managing director, Diamond Trading Company, the marketing arm of DeBeers. “But it is in tough times that you find out what you are made of—and nothing is made of tougher, more enduring value than a diamond. It is clear that, in the coming years, markets across the Middle East, China, Hong Kon,g and the rest of Asia will play an immensely important role in ensuring that this industry continues to witness sustained growth.”

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman, DMCC added, “Growth is not only defined by numbers on a page or by percentage calculations. Growth is what I see around me today and everyday when I go to work. Even amidst the current global economic crisis, it is important for us to focus on the positive. And the positive fact remains that countries like China, India, and many Middle East states will continue to register positive growth. Here in Dubai, in particular, which serves as a strategic crossroads for worldwide diamond trade flows, business-friendly policies have led to robust growth in Dubai’s diamond trade.”

The conference, organized by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, also included the first public unveiling of a large, rare rough diamond and the conference honoured seven industry leaders.

The DMCC and Letšeng Diamonds unveiled a 478-carat white diamond recovered at Letšeng Mine in Lesotho in September of this year. The unveiling ceremony, which marked the first time the stone has been publicly viewed, was hosted by Sulayam, and Clifford Elphick, chairman of Letšeng Diamonds, the owner of the Letšeng Mine in Lesotho, where the diamond was recovered.

Initial analysis indicates that the stone could yield a D colour flawless round brilliant diamond of up to 150 carats, making it the largest diamond of its kind in history.

Analysis further revealed that the stone could alternatively yield a D flawless diamond of up to 300 carats, the largest D flawless polished diamond since the production of the British Crown Jewels. 

Seven industry leaders were given Lifetime Achievement Awards during a gala event at the Atlantis Dubai, where the conference was held. They are as follows:

The late Mohammed Taher Abdullah, founder, Damas; Vincent Chow, Group general manager, Chow Sang Sang; Imam Altimbas, founder, Altimbas; Robert Mouwad, Founder, Mouwad; Jamal Farsi, founder, Farsi Jewelery; Roberto Coin, founder, Roberto Coin; and Pankaj Mehta, founder, Dimexon Group.

“These individuals have led the evolution of the markets in China and the Middle East transforming them into the most promising growth areas for the diamond and jewellery trade.  Thanks to their inspiring leadership and innovation these two markets today are the powerhouses of the global jewellery trade,” Sulayem said.

A highlight of the evening was the “Diamonds for Charity” auction conducted by Christies’ in which the “Palm Jumeirah Grand Masterpiece,” a 23.7-gram diamond-studded replica of the iconic Palm Island went under the hammer. The ornate piece created by Roberto Coin in 18k white gold with 1,147 diamonds and a single Burmese natural ruby of 1.03 ct. The money raised was donated to Dubai Cares, an initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, to make primary education accessible to as many children as possible in the world. 

The summit brought together over 800 leading international traders and retailers from the diamond industry looking to make the best use of opportunities arising in high-growth markets in Asia and the Middle East.

“The summit has provided a platform for traders and retailers to discuss opportunities and deliberate on strategies to capitalise on those opportunities,” said Peter Meeus, executive director – Diamonds, DMCC. “It has also opened a new front in the expanding domain of Middle East-China, cooperation.”