In response to what Sanjay Kothari said in his “Crunch time for the global diamond industry” blog here, I have two emphatic statements to make. The first is that I fully endorse Kothari’s call for house cleaning within the industry. Transparency, honesty and dependability are key attributes if we are to generate consumer confidence in the world diamond industry. The second is, the leaders of the diamond industry have taken steps to revive generic advertising. Now these efforts need to be complemented by all stakeholders for move forward with the worldwide promotional initiative to raise the perception of diamonds as things of trust and desire that are worth aspiring to.
The World Diamond Mark® (WDM), which is an initiative launched by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), and supported by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) is the focussed attempt to do just this. In fact, it is the only credible balanced program that already works. Currently, it concentrates on specific markets to promote diamonds and build up consumer confidence in them. In the same time, it is building a worldwide consensus among different stakeholders – retailers, manufacturers, dealers, producers and related industries to support the generic promotion.
India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) together with Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) have been proactive in partnering with the WFDB and other organisations in launching the initiative. Kothari has been among those visionary leaders staunchly advocating collective industry efforts on a worldwide basis. He heads the GJEPC’s promotional efforts and has been strongly supporting the WDM since its interception.
The Indian diamond business community is already stepping up to the plate. Kothari’s call for action on promotion is not directed at his own constituents, they are already on board. His call is to the other major centers – Belgium, Israel and Dubai, and to smaller ones – to punch their clock and report for duty.
Having said that, we need to be clear about one thing. There won’t be any divine intervention and the newly formed Diamond Producers Association (DPA) will not shoulder the burden entirely. All stakeholders will have to pitch in for this. And they have to pitch in now. Everybody in the industry, world over, will haveto invest in this financially. Therefore the complacency has no place in this quest and we need to move forward regardless of what other think, do or don’t do.
The GJEPC, in partnership with the WDM, will be launching a series of promotional events directed at the consumer. The GJEPC and the BDB are both contributing financially. Both Sanjay Kothari and BDB president Anoop Mehta hold seats on the WDM Executive.
For the time being, the WDM has been financed by the the bourses and has already established a stram of revenue from retailers. Apart of that only the Indian and Turkish industries have taken proactive interest in the issue of promotion and building consumer confidence. The Belgian, Israeli, Dubai and other diamond centres should also launch efforts in this direction. As Kothari rightly said, the nodal agencies like the Antwerp World Diamond Council (AWDC) and the Israeli Diamond Industry (IDI) have to get vigorously involved in promoting diamonds and building up confidence. WDM has recently put up a proposal for three major centres to set up a system of financing the global generic effort that is under discussion in Mumbai, Antwerpen and Ramat Gan.
WDM being a representative of all the major industry bodies like WFDB and IDMA, as well as GJEPC, needs to include AWDC, IDI, DMCC and others to lead the global promotional campaign in partnership with the DPA.
We can’t dream nostalgically of the old “A Diamond Is Forever” days. The world has moved forward and we have already lost one generation. We have to understand today’s consumers, their hopes, aspirations and what they consider important. Diamonds have to be imbued with attributes that are in line with these hopes and aspirations and what is considered popular.
We also need to understand that there is nothing inherently precious about something that doesn’t have a practical use. Intrinsic value is a perceived notion. Trust, knowing that the people dealing in it are dependable and the confidence that comes with knowing that this trust and dependability are a universal feature are key to building up the perceived value of diamonds.
The diamond industry cannot be a closed, opaque enterprise. The entire pipeline has to be transparent so that the consumer, who stands at the far end, can look all the way through and confidently know that what we state is indeed what is.
I urge all stakeholders to join the combined effort of main industry organisations and put their money where their mouth is. The train has parted the station and those who will catch it, will lead the industry into new future.