Ronnie VanderLinden

Ronnie VanderLinden

IDMA President

Leadership is a shared responsibility

February 22, 2021 – Last week, I concluded my fourth and last term as president of the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America (DMIA). In a message to the membership, I expressed my heartfelt appreciation to the DMIA’s Executive Board and Board of Directors for the support, in many ways, they have always given me and for their positive guidance throughout the years. It has been an honor and privilege to have served as president for the past eight years.

Below, I’d like to share with the members of IDMA some parts of that same message, as I believe many of my observations are relevant to you, too.

Leadership is a shared responsibility. During the past decades, leaders of other organizations in our industry, particularly in New York, understood we need to work closely together. In 2019, we moved and merged the DMIA management office with those of our sister organizations, the Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association (IDCA) and the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA). I am proud to say we have a fabulous relationship and work well together on behalf of all our members. Our shared executive director, Ash Chalisa, helps make the connection seamless on behalf of the organizations. During the pandemic shutdown, we collaborated with the IDCA. We were invited to zoom seminars that were quite relevant to our businesses due to the shutdown.

Looking back at my eight years in office, we have continued our positive relations with the US State Department and formed the United States Jewelry Council (USJC) with Jewelers of America (JA). We have been very involved and kept our members apprised of all industry efforts on the Kimberley Process (KP), the World Diamond Council (WDC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), and the Natural Diamond Council (NDC).

In the international arena, we may have to adopt a similar viewpoint. For those looking in from the outside or seeking a single point of reference, the diamond industry and trade, at times, can look fragmented. This is detrimental to our own interests and the interests we share with our target audiences and clientele. Can we create an entity that will represent all of us and our common interests and objectives? Something for everyone to think about.

The current focus of online business, an adjustment to reality that has been pushed to the forefront for all of us, has brought significant changes in our way of doing business. As I recently wrote in the IDMA WINC describing this new niche in our business of diamond manufacturing and trading, we must continue to adapt and embrace online business. Not only must our companies have online capabilities, but we also need our own local online platforms that enable us to communicate, share information, and, most importantly, trade with each other. In practice, we need to be able to knock on each other’s digital doorjamb and ask, “Hey, do you have a 1.30 PS, commercial, SI-1-2?”  so that far and wide, the call can be heard.

While the pandemic has been devastating, it has also compelled us to look beyond that which was and look forward to what can be. Every so often, we can identify a benefit and something good that has come through all of this. As the outgoing DMIA president and as IDMA president, I ask all our members to consider: if you have not already done so, have an online presence so that your business will not only be local but also be “glocal.”

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