Rapaport Magazine

In the Year 2020

Antwerp March Market Report

By Marc Goldstein

Like the European governments that are working on five-year or ten-year plans to help their countries emerge from the financial crisis and resume growth, the Antwerp diamond sector has produced its own blueprint for success. Its “Antwerp Diamond Master Plan — Diamonds Love Antwerp 2020,” the result of several years of brainstorming about the critical issues facing the diamond industry, was made public on February 8, 2012.

Eight work groups, consisting of industry participants, representatives and other stakeholders, were involved in the discussions that led to the creation of this long-range plan. Its goal: providing an answer to the pivotal question, “Where do you want the Antwerp diamond industry to be in 2020?”

The prime objectives of the master plan are twofold. The first is to expand the diamond trade in Antwerp by increasing existing business, adding jobs and encouraging innovation in information and technology. The second objective is to build trust and confidence in the diamond industry across all market, industry, social, political and government sectors by integrating unity, transparency and individual responsibility into the industry.

The plan includes specific, concrete steps to achieving these objectives that were developed in line with the established goals, the available resources and the time frame for implementing the plan.

Cathy Berx, governor of Antwerp, explained the significance of the master plan at the February 8 conference. “The diamond sector is essential to our country. And I’m not referring solely to the amount of U.S. dollars coming into the country or the number of jobs created around the diamond industry. I’m also referring to the 550 years of experience and tradition our city has earned as the world diamond center. In the global world and global economy as we know it today, it is critical to be able to position oneself on the map with a positive brand image. The diamond industry is a national brand that we should use to open other sectors of our city to the world. The more innovation driven the diamond industry is, the better it is for us as a city, as a province and as a country. Let’s not forget, by the way, that Antwerp is today the most cosmopolitan city in the world, with 164 nationalities living together here, which surpasses even the Big Apple.”

Marcel Pruwer, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Antwerp-based consultancy International Economic Strategy (IES), served as project leader of the master plan. “The key aspect of this plan is that it is based on feasible measures,” he said. “The master plan document is strategic and coherent. Of course, many other ideas were discussed, some of which were even very interesting, but anything that was not deemed realistic was discarded. What we need today are actions, not empty commitments.”

In his speech introducing the master plan, Ari Epstein, chief executive officer (CEO) of Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), stressed, “The question is not to know what the country can do for us, but rather what can the diamond sector do for our country, for Flanders and for the city of Antwerp. As opposed to what’s been done in the past, this master plan isn’t conceived around repositioning Antwerp with the outside world, but rather within our own national social and economic fabric. It’s basically a national plan, 40 percent to 50 percent of which is expected to be initiated and/or implemented by the end of 2012.”

One of the key provisions of the master plan is the development of an Electronic Trading Platform to help establish a spot market price for trading in Antwerp. This will, of course, require sufficient players to reach a critical mass. Nishit Parikh, AWDC president, emphasized that “This mechanism is dedicated to encouraging and developing transparency in our trade. It’s not our goal or intention at all to develop any tool through which external investors or speculators would be able to invest in diamonds.” The feasibility study of this platform is near completion.

Other specific goals include using technology to develop automated polishing plants, attracting new sources of financing, creating a worldwide information database in partnership with the University of Antwerp and uniting the four diamond bourses in the city to have one stronger and more coherent voice. The plan also calls for building closer partnerships with such organizations as Tourism Flanders, the Port of Antwerp, the Flanders Fashion Institute, the various Chambers of Commerce, the Diamond Museum, the Flanders restaurants and hotels sector and labor unions.

“If we all climb on board this transformation and focus our minds on working together for the sake of unity and progress, the sum of our efforts will be dramatically greater than any individual gains,” said Pruwer. “A new diamond industry can emerge in Antwerp — an industry unified, modernized and stronger than ever before, setting a brilliant example for the next millennium.”



  • Demand is good for G-H, VS-SI1 goods but people aren’t willing to pay the high prices being asked.
  • The tendency is to look more for prices rather than perfection. There is a general feeling that quality is being downgraded.

  • Fancy shapes are a little weaker, but expectations are that demand will rise, since, for the same quality and weight, they’re cheaper than rounds.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2012. To subscribe click here.

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