The International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) was founded immediately after World War II and convened in Antwerp, Belgium, for the first time in 1946. At that time, two of the world’s three major diamond manufacturing centers – Amsterdam and Antwerp – were starting to rebuild after they had been almost destroyed and their diamond communities decimated.
IDMA’s original mission statement has not lost its relevance since. At its founding, the – mostly European and North American – members committed to “fostering and promoting the highest ideals of honesty and best practice principles throughout the diamond industry worldwide, as well as full compliance with all relevant national and international laws.” Towards this end, the organization adopted a Code of Conduct binding on all members.
Showing foresight and understanding that no one should be left behind in the diamond supply pipeline, IDMA pledged “to encourage fair and honorable practices and decent working conditions for those employed in the diamond industry; and to preserve, protect and promote the trust and confidence of consumers in diamonds and diamond products.” It encouraged and supported social responsibility on the part of the industry “with respect to all citizens of the world.”
During the second half of the 20th century, the bulk of diamond manufacturing shifted gradually from the West to Asia. IDMA’s membership grew and diversified with India – now the world’s leading diamond manufacturing hub – with China, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, joining. With the approach of the 21st century, diamond manufacturing operations were established in various diamond-producing nations on the African continent. As a result, Botswana and Namibia joined their African fellow member South Africa in IDMA.
For more than half a century, IDMA’s role was well-defined: IDMA’s leadership represented its members’ interests opposite the CSO (Central Selling Organisation), the selling arm of De Beers, which for most of the 20th century controlled the distribution and price structure of the rough diamond market.
During the past several decades, diamond supply has gone through dramatic changes. The rough diamond supply chain diversified and shortened. Instead of a single supplier of rough, multiple rough miners and producers – large, medium, and small – market their productions independently. The large producers no longer only sell exclusively to ‘sightholders’ or core clients but also through tenders and auctions, the preferred sales method of the medium-sized and smaller miners.
For manufacturers, the rough market has become ever more competitive. In practice, most of the rough production ends up in fewer hands. The availability of rough in the secondary market shrunk significantly, causing many small and medium-sized manufacturers to adapt to the new market conditions. Numerous factories consequently reduced or ceased their operations in Asia, i.e., Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, and other Asian countries.
IDMA convenes biennially with the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) at the World Diamond Congress. The Congress includes a session of the general assemblies of both organizations, where matters critical to the industry are discussed, debated, and resolutions are reached. In the intermittent years, the sister organizations convene for a joint Presidents’ Meeting.
At the turn of this century, IDMA stood at the cradle of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) and conceived/co-founded the World Diamond Council (WDC). IDMA officials continue to play an essential role in the WDC. IDMA works closely with various industry organizations, including among others, the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), CIBJO (the World Jewellery Confederation), The Diamond Development Initiative/Resolve, and Diamonds Do Good, supporting their activities and lending our diamond expertise and perspective.
IDMA looks optimistically towards the future. With the changes in the supply pipeline, it will focus on engaging producing countries, producers, rough diamond traders, technology providers, financial services, and, last but not least, diamond manufacturers to join IDMA, to promote dialogue and ensure that diamond manufacturers, large and small, will continue to fulfill their crucial role in the supply chain. In other words, IDMA is going through an ongoing strategic review to ensure that the industry stays ahead of all current and future challenges.
Currently, IDMA’s membership represents 14 national associations, and its President is Mr. Ronnie VanderLinden.