New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the guest of honor at the first Diamond Industry Steering Committee “Industry Call to Action.”
Bloomberg, who surprised attendees with his quick wit as he reminisced about parking cars to pay for college, thanked members of the Club for their support during his first run for Mayor.
“It’s fair to say ‘Diamonds are a Mayor’s Best Friend,’” he said. “I did not get into office without the support of the diamond community.”
In his speech, Bloomberg, currently running for reelection, noted that crime had fallen under his administration, boasted that the city’s cultural institutions were thriving and defended his controversial plan for a West Side stadium. He closed by noting that he. recently visited a Holocaust memorial, and gave a plea for tolerance.
“It seems to me that – particularly if you are Jewish – you have an obligation to reach out to others,” he said. “If Jews haven’t learned that lesson, who will?” “Mazal U’Bracha to everyone,” he concluded. “The best days are yet to come.”
The event was the first undertaking from the newly reinvigorated Diamond Industry Steering Committee, which now wants to re-establish itself as the voice of the American industry.
In his talk, keynote speaker Maurice Tempelsman of Lazare Kaplan laid out the challenges the American industry faces.
“The glory days of local manufacturing are no doubt behind us,” he said. “47th Street will never look as it did when I was younger.”
But New York had certain advantages, he noted. “It is no small advantage to stand, as we do, at the gateway to by far the world’s largest and deepest pool of diamond consumer,” he said. He noted that New York is close to Madison Avenue – which is noteworthy in a time when advertising is becoming more important to the industry – has a financial infrastructure that is “second to none” and “undiminished and constantly renewed” intellectual capital.
“History has not passed us by, at least not yet, because it is still very much unfolding,” he says. “We are, each of us, still masters of our own fate.”
The event included speeches from the three co-chairmen of DISC, Jacob Banda, of the Diamond Dealers Club; Ronald Friedman of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association; and Basant Johari, of the Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association.