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JEFFREY FISCHER MEMBERS ARE HELD TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS
What is IDMA's stance in the light of current concerns over the affect on consumer confidence of negative publicity surrounding the diamond industry?

We firmly stand by our policy that all IDMA members must observe the highest standards of business and personal conduct in all activities relating to the business of diamonds and diamond jewellery. This essentially means factories that maintain strict safety and environmental standards, proper hiring and employment practices, absolute accuracy and transparency in reparation, declaring all treatments of diamonds and strict compliance with Kimberly Process and anti-money laundering legislation.
Is there any specific clause in IDMA's rules for its embers concerning consumer confidence? Wholesale Dichroic Glass Jewellery

Definitely. Among the standards we emulate, which are detailed in the code, is that members avoid activities that may damage or reflect adversely upon the good name, reputation and world-wide image of the diamond industry. We adhere to this code and hope that consumers take heed that the industry is doing everything it can to maintain high standards so as not to taint the positive image of our product. Wholesale gemstone pendents by weight
How can you prove to consumers that something is being done to beneficiate countries where diamonds are mined?

Well, consumers need to understand that everything we do and have done is done reactively, but proactively. Members of the organizations affiliated to our association are personally involved in the development of diamond cutting pants through out southern Africa, Russia and the Northwest Territories of Canada and other developing countries elsewhere in the world.

The fat that we are proactive, demonstrates the seriousness with which we take our social, ethnical and environmental responsibilities in the countries f origin and within the industry as a whole. It also proves that we as an industry, knew our roles and were a moral example to all other industries before issues such as "conflict diamonds" ever surfaced.

Besides conflict diamonds, there are international concerns of terrorism and diamonds funding the latter. How IDMA respond to these concerns? Wholesale Labradorite Jewellery

IDMA members are legally bound to respect and comply with all applicable international, national and local laws, rules and regulations which are relevant to the diamond industry and to the lawful conduct of business general. These rules include the Kimberley Process - which IDMA helped establish - domestic and international anti-money laundering laws, and other rules ad regulations which seek to halt use of diamonds for any illegal or illicit purposes.

But to what extent can you govern individual business?
We recognize that IDMA members are economic entities trying to make a profit but they must still observe the highest standards of business conduct; be honest in all their dealings, engage in fair, transparent, free and open competition; provide full disclosure; and promote social responsibility, among other things.
Do you think the media and some NGO's are too keen to place the diamond industry in a negative light?

I don't think we are being specifically targeted. Other industries have also had issues to deal with. But I do feel there should be credit where credit is due. Our industry has done so much to improve the way the business id done. We have changed with the times and worked with and not against those who have been critical.

As I said, even before we were in the spotlight, we were already promoting fair and ethical labour practices and seeking to make a contribution to the advancement of our society and to the world at large. So we aren't covering anything up or embarrassed of anything. We have nothing to hide and everything to be proud of.
Organizations such as IDMA are always asked what teeth they have to enforce their rules. What I your response?

While we recognize that the diversity and global nature of the international diamond industry may pose obstacles to the enforcement of the code, any material violatio thereof may result in termination of IDMA memberhip. Termination from any organization is a serious thing especially in the diamond business which is traditionally based on trust and is like a small community where everyone know everybody else and a bad name I not a simple matter to clear up or shake and not something worth risking.

We believe that the future of the diamond industry depends on compliance by all IDMA members and all other industry participants with the principles and standards I have expressed. We also expect each member to encourage and support adherence by other industry members.

She added, the industry had to focus on "responsibility" and 'service'. She said responsibility was important "because it's the duty of everyone in the pipeline and not just the DTC - to enjoy sustainable growth and service because "this growth depends o understanding the needs of consumers and market players by becoming ever more services oriented".

She said the industry was united by the common goal of ensuring that diamonds continue to be an expression of love, the ultimate symbol of an emotional connection or a special occasion. He immediately issued a caution, saying, "We cannot assume that our inherent human fascination with diamonds alone will maintain the position of diamonds alone will maintain the position of diamonds as the world's most popular luxury product. in fact, the diamond industry has reached the end of an era when heritage and sentiment were the driving forces. We need to extend the mood or message of a diamond is forever' into a new age. From economic volatility to competition from other luxury goods, from synthetics to conflict diamonds to pressures on our industry pipeline, there are many challenges and threats to be reckoned with".
Shine said that for md-stream cutters and polishers, there is the additional challenge of fragmentation in manufacturing which arises from the requirements of producer countries to add value to locally-mined diamonds, a trend that will continue growing. And in the minds of today's consumers, diamonds view for attention with luxury holidays, Prada handbags and other glamorous experiences. "So we must ensure diamonds will always be the first choice", she said adding, "We need to invest more in 'diamond equity' - the underlying emotional mystique that diamonds carry".
She went on to make an other important point: "But it is important to appreciate that brands and brand loyaltycan nly be created through repeat purchasing. If you look at a clothing store like Zara, customermake an average of 17 purchasing visits per year. by comparison, a typical customer for diamond jewellery only makes a purchase every 3.5 years there fore building brand loyalty can only be created through repeat purchasing. If you look at a clothing store like Zara, customers make an average of 17 purchasing visits per year. by comparison a typical customer for diamond jewellery only makes a purchase every 3.5 years, therefore building brand loyalty for diamonds poses special challenges".

According to her, the demand for diamonds has become so great that now even fashion houses and other luxury breands don't want to miss out. Brands like Gucci, Dior and Escada now offer diamonds as part of their product line-up. "even brands such as Smirnoff, Nisan and Montblanc are finding excuses to incorporate diamonds into their offering", she said.

On what the future holds for the industry, she said, "The good news is that over the next 2-3 years, consolidation and differentiation will bring about increased margins and more bargaining power. The experience of other industries shows consolidation can produce a polarized retail landscape with large integrated players and boutique players with unique offerings. Think of the food retailing sector where you'll find gainst like Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco - the thriving local delicatessens too.

"Changes in the retail environment -notably the arrival of strong branded chains - are going to have an affect on other parts of the industry, e specially traditional cutting centres. Moving for ward, the cutting and polishing industry will either be dominated by larger players or players able to offer differentiated services… either through cost -efficiency or having a unique offering.

"On the financial side the industry is currently experiencing cash-flow problems. If as a industry, we operate in a more transparent manner - particularly in the area of corporate governance - we will see a greater range of financiers coming into the industry."




 



 

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