Eye on Dubai
Dubai has seen phenomenal growth in the diamond business in recent years, mostly due to its free-trade zone and hands-off government, which is determined to increase its influence over the industry.
A recent controversy, however, is threatening to taint the city’s image. In June, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the Belgian industry group and Dubai rival, announced that local authorities had seized a parcel of diamonds from the Central African Republic, currently in the midst of a civil war. The Kimberley Process has banned gems from CAR since May 2013.
Antwerp authorities said the shipment came from a trader known to deal in CAR diamonds; held the same amount of goods as seen in past, legal exports; and matched a “digital footprint” of goods from that country. While the AWDC did not name Dubai in its statement, it pointedly criticized other centers for having “insufficient controls.” After receiving the AWDC statement, JCK learned the parcel emanated from Dubai.
Following the report, World Diamond Council president Edward Asscher said that if the story is true, “that is more than a weakness in the center.”
But Peter Meeus, chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange and former head of the AWDC, says he is not sure that the parcel in fact held illicit goods. “We showed the pictures to many people, and it could be Guinea, it could be South Africa, it could be the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo], it could be many places,” he says.
He further notes that the parcel came from the DRC with a valid KP certification and didn’t raise any red flags with a local inspector.
Man-made diamond company Gemesis has named a new president and CEO and changed its name to Pure Grown Diamonds.
On June 20, Lisa Bissell was appointed the company’s president and CEO. Bissell has worked in the jewelry industry for 26 years, including 19 years with M. Fabrikant & Sons, and has experience building brands and working with designers, according to a company statement.
Bissell says the company recently introduced lab-grown pink diamonds and has seen what she calls “a marked increase” in the size and quality of its product. She adds that she plans to hire more industry veterans for her team.
In a letter to Gemesis customers obtained by JCK, Bissell promises “many positive developments and changes” to come. While the company has sold direct to consumers via the Web, it now seems to be targeting the trade. Its home base will be New York City, rather than Florida. Intriguingly, a statement describes Gemesis as “founded in 2013,” although its roots go back to the 1990s. (The company underwent a restructuring in 2012.)