Shanghai Blogging: The Earthquake and the World Diamond Congress

So to answer everyone’s questions about the earthquake: Yes, I’m okay; no, I didn’t feel anything, or see any buildings move (though some Diamond Congress delegates saw people file out of buildings that apparently were moving.)

Things are astonishingly normal in Shanghai considering the horrific tragedy that just happened in China. Most of the information I’ve gotten on the earthquake has been from Western news sources. There hasn’t even been much talk at the Congress about the earthquake — except, at last night’s Gala Dinner, the associations meeting here, including the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, donated quite a bit of money to earthquake relief. But otherwise, it hasn’t really impacted things. People in Shanghai seem determined to carry on as normal.

Other things worth noting:

– Avi Paz is now the new president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. Ernie Blom was made vice president.

– The World Federation admitted three new bourses: The Panama Diamond Exchange (the first bourse in Latin America), the Istanbul Precious Stones and Metal Exchange (the second bourse from a Muslim country) and the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia. A proposal to let producer countries in as members failed. 

– The late Moshe Schnitzer was posthumously awarded the World Federation’s first “Diamantaire of the Year” award. Moshe’s son Shmuel accepted for his father, and said it is still “difficult to come to terms with his loss.”

– IDMA’s sessions the first day were all closed to the press (well, most of the press) and outsiders, because of  ”housekeeping.”  Hopefully, in the future, the house will be a little cleaner and IDMA more open.

– In his speech at the opening ceremony, IDMA president Jeffrey Fischer, noting his own term is up, expressed support for “term limits.” He also talked about the “Diamond Marketing Initiative” IDMA wants to spearhead, which will promote diamonds generically.   He also seemed to have some mixed feelings about the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices, saying he didn’t know “how beneficial or how overbearing” it will be.

– Alrosa president Sergey Vybornov, who is getting a reputation as an unpredictable speech-maker, declared: “Low end jewelry is as dangerous to the diamond industry as sub-prime loans were to the U.S. economy … How can diamond jewelry go for $50? Let us leave this niche for synthetics.”

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