Sep 27, 2019

DMCC's Dubai Diamond Conference Focuses on Industry Disruption

The Dubai Diamond Conference (DDC) hosted by DMCC, which took place yesterday, September 26, 2019, saw 400 government officials, financiers, retailers and investors attending the event. The theme of the conference was “Disruption in Diamonds: Harnessing Innovation and Technology”.

“With the diamond industry at an inflection point, the conference is a crucial platform for experts to openly debate and question how major disruptive forces, such as automated manufacturing and lab-grown diamonds, are and will continue to affect the industry,” DMCC noted.

In his keynote address, H.E. Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, UAE, said: “Located at the crossroads of the world, the UAE has become a global economic hub. We have curated a world-class, business-friendly environment that invites investment. Companies that come here can access some of the fastest-growing markets in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and beyond – while also easily reaching the important cornerstone markets of the West.”

He added: “Tourism, finance, trade and logistics are all key pillars of the UAE’s diverse and growing economy. Another critical sector that drives our sustainable growth is diamonds. In less than two decades, Dubai has become one of the largest diamond trading hubs in existence. I have no doubt that Dubai will one day be the largest, and I am confident because we in the UAE have seen this story time and time again.”

Inaugurating the conference, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, remarked: “Diamonds currently occupy an important place in the economy, but let’s remember, this wasn’t always the case. Twenty years ago, there was practically zero diamond trade in Dubai. Fast forward to today, Dubai is the fastest-growing, and one of the most successful diamond trade hubs in existence. With the vision of His Highness, the track record of DMCC, and the city’s connection to the industry, as evidenced by your presence today, it will be no time before Dubai becomes the world’s number one diamond trading hub.”

He added: “Diamond trade is facing pressure from multiple directions, and general sentiment among traders, suppliers, financiers and those in retail, is low to say the least. But if we are to have any chance of success, it will be through facing the facts, understanding the technology shaping manufacturing, analysing shifts in consumer preference and adapting accordingly. DMCC and Dubai want to be at the heart of the industry’s response to the issues the market is facing today. It is why we are here, and it is why we have assembled you.”

Sergey Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer, ALROSA, in his turn, stated: “The current disruptions that we are facing will help guide our industry towards a more efficient way of operating. Increasingly, consumers want to know more about individual diamonds to ensure they are sustainably sourced and that they have had a positive impact on the communities that they came from. In identifying each diamond with a digital passport, we demonstrate how truly unique mined stones are and simultaneously guarantee where they originated from.”

The conference kicked off with a discussion on automated manufacturing in the diamond industry. Increased automation and technological advancements are a global phenomenon affecting every sector, and the diamond supply chain is no exception, DMCC averred. The organisation said panellists agreed that this trend shows no signs of abating and that companies need to stay ahead of the curve by adapting to these developments fast.   Bernold Richerzhagen, Founder and CEO, Synova; David Block, CEO, Sarine; Faried Sallie, Head of Technology, De Beers Group; and Tom Moses, Executive Vice President and Chief Laboratory and Research, GIA, were the participants on the panel for this discussion.

Much controversy has surrounded the advent of lab-grown diamonds over the past few years. The second panel discussion had Amish Shah, President, ALTR Created Diamonds; Bill Shor, Managing Partner, Caspian VC (CVC); Stephen Lussier, Chairman and Executive Vice President, De Beers; and Stuart Brown, CEO, Mountain Province shedding light on the issue. “With the technologies used to create lab-grown diamonds continuing to improve, they are becoming highly cost-effective at a time when costs of mining are increasing,” DMCC said commenting on the discussion.  

The third and final panel addressed the state of the market in light of all these disruptions with a panel of prominent bankers and miners discussing how these could be put into context. The participants of this panel were: Biju Patnaik, Executive Vice President, IndusInd Bank; Davy Blomaert, Head – Diamond Business Corporate and Institutional Banking, NBF; and Jim Pounds, Executive Vice President, Diamonds of Dominion Diamond Mines.

Apart from these discussions, the conference also witnessed some other exciting moments. For one, Nemesis International, a Dubai based diamond trading company, revealed the world’s largest “D coloured” diamond ever certified by GIA.

The diamond was cut from the world’s most valuable rough diamond “The Constellation”, which weighed in at 812.77 carats, and was purchased at the record price of US$ 63 million. “The evaluation, mapping and polishing process took over 18 months to complete, using the most technologically advanced equipment available to the diamond industry today,” DMCC revealed. “The three processes were mainly completed in the UAE by Almas Diamond Services, a sister company of Nemesis International providing state-of-the-art services to the industry out of Almas Tower in Dubai. The final result of this incredible journey is eight perfectly polished stones.”

Synova, a Swiss-based provider of advanced laser cutting systems, announced the launch of “a ground-breaking automatic cutting and shaping solution for diamond manufacturers – the DaVinci Diamond Factory”.  

Dr Bernold Richerzhagen, Synova Founder and CEO, said: “DaVinci is the first automated laser full faceting solution for round brilliants on the market. It will revolutionise the diamond manufacturing industry because the system covers virtually the complete Rough-to-Polish process. Several cost, skill and labour-intensive steps in the polishing phase such as crown and pavilion blocking, girdle bruting or recurrent quality checks become redundant.”

Also announced at the conference was the inaugural edition of the Dubai Diamond Award initiated by DMCC.  This first winner of the award was Dorothee Gizenga, “in recognition of her significant contribution to the development of the global diamond industry”, DMCC said.

Gizenga is the founding Executive Director of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and was recently appointed as Regional Director to lead DDI's expansion in Africa.  

“With this award, DMCC seeks to underline its commitment to the international diamond community and inspire collective action for its sustainable growth,” the organisation stressed.