Rapaport Magazine

Take Note

December 2007

By Rapaport
RAPAPORT... • The American Gem Trade Association’s (AGTA) board of directors announced that Douglas K. Hucker has been reappointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the association. Prior to his departure in June 2007, Hucker had served as CEO of the organization for ten years. Hucker explained that the AGTA’s board of directors has been striving to define the goals of the association for the years to come, and that he was pleased it had expressed confidence in his continuing role in attaining those goals.

• LJOW Holdings, LLC, which owns the “Leading Jewelers of the World” name and trademark, elected a seven-member board of governors at its fifth annual membership meeting. Jack Gredinger, executive director of Leading Jewelers of the World, was among those elected.

Besides Gredinger, the new board of governors includes the following individuals: Paul Becker, Becker Diamonds & Fine Jewelry; Curtis Bennett, O.C. Tanner; C. Clayton Bromberg, Underwood Jewelers; Holly Wesche Conn, Wesche Jewelers; Robert Zagaros, Bergstrom’s; and Jon Mitchell, LJOW Holdings, LLC.

• Kathryn Kimmel, vice president and chief marketing officer of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), received an “Excellence in Service Award” from the Jewelers 24 Karat Club of Southern California. The award recognizes individuals who, in the club’s estimation, have made a significant contribution to the industry, helping to foster sound business practices and consumer trust. Kimmel shared the honor with James West, executive and creative director of Leading Jewelers Guild, a company that provides marketing, catalog production, advertising and other services for family-owned, independent jewelers.

Blue Nile has added Michael Potter and Steve Scheid to its board of directors, bringing the total number of board members to eight.

• David Fish, Kalaa Mpinga and Robert Shirriff replace three senior managers – Christopher Jennings, Paul Brink and Howard Bird – who have resigned from SouthernEra Diamonds, a Canada-based exploration company facing a takeover bid by MwanaAfrica, which, over time, has raised its stake in SouthernEra to 71 percent. The managers’ departure closely follows the October resignation of the company’s chief financial officer and two of its board members.

• The Natural Color Diamond Association launched a new training program entitled “How to Sell Natural Color Diamonds.” Three short videos – podcasts of which are available at the association’s website, www.ncdia.com – explain key points that salespeople can highlight when discussing natural color diamonds with customers. The videos are part of a series of programs and events designed to educate retailers and consumers about natural color diamonds.

Video topics include an overview of natural color diamonds, grading considerations and color, and ways to present natural color diamonds to potential buyers. For more information, go to www.ncdia.com or call US +1 2126448747 Call .

• Namibia’s government and De Beers, the shareholders of the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), appointed Shihaleni Ellis Ndjaba to the position of CEO of the NDTC, effective January 1, 2008. Ndjaba will leave his current positions as chairman of the board of the NDTC and permanent secretary in Namibia’s Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication.
Varda Shine, managing director of the Diamond Trading Company, replaces Ndjaba as chairman of the board for the NDTC.

• Toronto-based Bellamy Diamonds will sell the Nenoir diamond brand, which is owned by Marjan Diamonds, an Antwerp-based manufacturer. The Nenoir diamond is a carefully documented stone; each one comes with a “biography” tracing the diamond’s life from its extraction from the mines of Canada’s Northwest Territories all the way to the consumer or first private owner (FPO). The tracking of the diamond helps assure the FPO that the stone has come to him or her through totally ethical, transparent practices. In addition to this system, Nenoir offers the opportunity to register the diamond and enter a personal dedication to its recipient.

• The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) has been awarded a two-year grant of $325,000 from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation. One week earlier, the DDI received a $436,000 grant from Sweden’s ministry of foreign affairs. The grants are intended to help the DDI develop standards and guidelines for artisanal mining in order to alleviate the often unregulated and unsafe conditions associated with this work.

• The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) announced the launch of a new website to help disseminate information about corporate responsibility in the jewelry industry. The site, www.sustainablejewelry.org, will also offer updates on the industry’s role in fostering sustainable economic and social development.

The Gemological Testing Center (GTC) of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has begun issuing tanzanite grading reports. Part of a drive to establish a standardized grading system for tanzanite, the reports are being issued in accordance with the tanzanite quality scale. The latter is a tanzanite-specific grading system launched in North America in March 2007 and in Hong Kong in September 2007 by the Tanzanite Foundation. It is intended to foster consumer confidence by facilitating more regularized trade in the colored gemstone industry, as well as broader understanding of tanzanite’s qualities. The tanzanite quality scale grades according to specific standards within the 4C’s. Its grading certificates, issued by the AGTA, are aimed at providing the consumer assurance that the tanzanite is both correctly graded and authentic.

• The Kimberley Process (KP) website, www.kimberleyprocess.com, has been revised to facilitate more efficient communication among participating countries. A KP spokesperson stated that the previous version of the site was outdated and improperly managed, and that the European Commission (EC) made what were regarded as important contributions during its KP chairmanship in revising the site. The official explained that the site was the primary coordinating tool for KP participants. Improving it was essential for the sake of both efficient management within the organization and the KP’s communication with the world beyond. Items posted on the new site will include KP annual reports, review visit reports, county statistics, videos about conflict diamonds and press releases.

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