Shanghai Blogging: World Diamond Congress (Day Two)

Highlights and notes from the second day of the World Diamond Congress:

– Moti Ganz was elected president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association.  IDMA and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses now both have Israeli presidents. Outgoing president Jeff Fischer received a very nice tribute and plaque for his two four years as IDMA’s leader.

– After IDMA’s Fischer expressed skepticism about the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices at the Congress’ opening session, the CRJP’s CEO, Michael Rae, met with IDMA yesterday. IDMA is currently deciding whether to join CRJP (it now has observer status.)  Members were a little leery of CRJP’s planned “compliance audits” and De Beers’ influence over the group.

One of the interesting things that came out is that miner BHP is requiring diamond companies to join CRJP  before bidding on its upcoming tenders. In a way, BHP is “outsourcing” its industry compliance function to CRJP. I guess the thinking is: Let De Beers tie itself in knots worrying how to enforce its “Best Practice Principles.” BHP is now happy to let the CRJP have all those headaches (and it does seem like there will be headaches.)  It will be interesting to see if other miners eventually follow its lead.

– Michael Barlerin, former CEO of the World Gold Council in North America, gave a presentation on the Gold Council’s founding, and how that might have parallels to the planned Diamond Marketing Initiative.

Barlerin noted that, like the diamond industry, the gold sector used to be controlled by one company. However, eventually the leading gold producers banded together to promote gold generically through the Council (which Nicky Oppenheimer once called “a complete disaster.”)

While the Diamond Marketing Initiative is meant to promote diamonds as a category, some might ask: Whose diamonds? Rio Tinto would like some promotion of the “smalls” that come out of the Argyle mine. De Beers and other miners may not be so interested in that.

– The GIA is apparently opening a lab in Botswana this year.

– Today (day three) is shaping up as a bunch of “closed” sessions and the Congress-ending press conference.

By the way, one day someone running these affairs will realize how wrong it is to load them up with a parade of boring speeches. That will be the happiest day of my life.

JCK News Director