March 2, 2022 – Since coming back to my office after a week in the United Arab Emirates to attend the Dubai Diamond Conference (DDC), the Jewellery, Gem and Technology (JGT) show, and the 2022 Presidents’ Meeting (PM), our world was turned upside down. After Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Russia’s sovereign neighbor Ukraine, the DDC’s and 2022 PM’s proceedings are now viewed in a different light.
Our discussions in Dubai — about rough diamond supplies and pricing; diamond industry financing; the vertical integration of sustainability and traceability protocols into the diamond and jewelry supply pipeline; what consumers want and need; and our endeavor to continue industry growth – were all upended by Putin’s reckless aggression and inconceivable actions.
We do not yet know what the consequences of the first full-fledged war in Europe since WWII will be for our industry. However, the diamond industry worldwide will have to tread very carefully and ensure it will act ethically and responsibly. A few days after the US and the EU announced a series of far-reaching economic sanctions, the world’s largest diamond producer, ALROSA, sent a letter to India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Informing the GJEPC that “diverse banking partners allow the company to operate normally and that it will honour its obligations, GJEPC chairman Colin Shah told the Financial Express (FE)” (see article).
While all the industry-related topics discussed in Dubai remain valid and relevant, the most important questions we need to ask now are: How will our collective industry behave? Will the diamond industry, including the trading and manufacturing hubs in countries that have not committed to sanctions again Russia, continue to act ethically and responsibly? Will there be speculation on rough prices in the markets, including the secondary markets? During an excellent diamond financing discussion panel in Dubai, the four participating industry bankers and financing experts unanimously urged the industry not to allow speculation to affect diamond prices and, once again, upend the delicate balance between rough and polished prices.
I will once again repeat what I said at the DDC in 2019 and reiterated last week at the 2022 DDC in Dubai: “We’re all in this together.” Little could I know how relevant and important this would be in our industry’s current situation.
In closing, our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine in their struggle and suffering.