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Young Diamantaires Moving Beyond Infancy

May 10, 2020 10:43 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... The Young Diamantaires group is planning to become a more structured organization, with regional chapters and an online networking platform for registered members, its founder told Rapaport News.

The initiative of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has expanded since it launched in 2016 as a small club that met at trade shows to discuss the sector’s future. With close to 400 members, up from around 250 six months ago, it’s now considering more specific membership requirements and looking at ways to enable young people in the sector to interact more and do business with each other.

YD launched a website last week with information and articles about the group and the industry, noted YD founder Rami Baron. It recently set up a Middle East division, in addition to an existing Europe chapter, and now has specialist teams responsible for technology, fundraising, public relations and strategy. Baron is also aiming to collaborate more with De Beers and the Diamond Producers Association to bolster some of the community projects members are working on.

“We’re now in that discussion stage of looking at how to create more formal structures — [such as] on what basis someone becomes a young diamantaire,” Baron explained. “Initially, [membership] was on a more casual, relaxed basis.”

At present, being a YD member essentially means being in one of its various WhatsApp groups. This will change with the new website, which will eventually have a members’ section, with criteria for registering, and potentially a small fee, he added. This restricted part of the platform will enable every member to explain his or her job in a concise biography, helping young diamantaires find potential vendors and clients from within the group.

“A lot of people really want this,” Baron added. “There’s been a lot of discussion [in which people are saying,] ‘I’d love to do more business with young diamantaires, but I don’t know what everybody does.’ I get way too many phone calls [asking for contacts] than I can deal with.”

The mutual-support aspect of YD has gained importance during the COVID-19 crisis. Members use the group as a source of encouragement, benefiting from the community of people in a similar situation, Baron said.

“It’s not like one guy’s killing it and everyone else is saying, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ Everyone’s doing it tough,” Baron observed. “There’s a lot of camaraderie, a lot of people helping each other.”

Surat visit

Once virus-related travel restrictions ease, Baron wants to arrange a trip to Surat so members can learn more about the Indian diamond city, where an estimated 500,000 cutters manufacture more than 90% of the world’s diamonds. That follows a successful visit by 25 YD members — accompanied by this reporter — to De Beers’ Venetia mine in South Africa last September.

“I never understood the extent of what mining companies do until we went to South Africa,” he said. “To understand manufacturing better, we all need to go to Surat.” Local manufacturers have shown enthusiasm for the idea, and there was a positive reaction when Baron pitched it to 230 members on WhatsApp on April 27, he revealed.

“It might be a year away,” he predicted. “I could definitely see us spending a considerable amount of time [in Surat], and I could see from the response that we might have 100 people coming.”

Image: Rami Baron presenting a book to Mashudu Lazarus Sithole, principal of the Renaissance Secondary School in Musina, South Africa, ahead of a Young Diamantaires visit to De Beers’ Venetia mine in September 2019. (Simphiwe Nkwali/De Beers)
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Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Diamond Producers Association, India, Joshua Freedman, Rami Baron, Rapaport News, South Africa, Surat, Venetia mine, WFDB, World Federation of Diamond Bourses, YD, Young Diamantaires
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