Rapaport Magazine

AWDC President Focuses On Continuity

Antwerp July Market Report

By Marc Goldstein

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) board of directors in June elected Stephane Fischer, a third-generation diamantaire, a partner in Fischler Diamonds, his family’s business, and a founding member of the World Diamond Council (WDC), as its new president. Fischler, who will serve for two years, succeeds Nishit Parikh. The board appointed Kaushik Mehta and Philippe Barsamian as the new
vice presidents and they also will serve two years.


In assessing his mandate for AWDC, the city’s umbrella organization for promoting its diamond industry worldwide, Fischler said, “As far as the next two years are concerned, I’d like our collective effort to be focused on restoring the visibility of our leadership within the global diamond industry. Indeed, I’d like to ensure that the Antwerp diamond mile gets back its natural and historical position and influence. Let’s not forget that the new board represents the world’s largest diamond trading center and that we have responsibilities toward all our members, that is, the 1,800 companies listed in Antwerp and beyond.

“Furthermore,” continued Fischler, “we must ensure a return on the confidence and trust the members have placed in us. We will be guided by the strategy deriving directly from the Antwerp Diamond Master Plan 2020, which aims at getting back to the essence of our competitive advantages, as well as reinforcing the link between the diamond industry and our city, our region and our country. In other words, my goal will be to focus on and implement in a structured and efficient manner the line of action that was approved and already initiated by the previous board.”


The AWDC bylaws have recently been modified to provide that board members are elected for four-year terms. Every other year, there will be an election of half the board, alternating between the trade group representatives and the industry and bourse representatives to provide a “constructive continuity” for the organization. To assist with that transition to staggered terms, this election filled only the six director spots representing the trade. The other six board members had their terms extended to the 2014 election.

AWDC Managing Director Ari Epstein explained, “The fact that from now on, the board gets elected for four years brings more continuity to the work of the organization and gets the jobs done in a more professional way. Since every two years, only one portion of the board will be replaced, there will be both a memory and a continuity with those who will keep their seats for two additional years.”

Epstein noted the continuity that already is present with the fact that Fischler, Mehta and Barsamian all have been performing functions on the AWDC board and two of them are previous board members. “Under their leadership, we should be in a good position to develop the dynamic initiated under the previous presidency of Nishit Parikh,” said Epstein.


“I also would like to stress that I’m proud of the election system we have in place currently, as it allows anyone in the diamond business both to apply as a candidate and to vote for the representatives of their choice,” Epstein continued. “It’s a very democratic system, and this is why so many people in our industry are deeply involved in the process. Furthermore, all company sizes are represented and the voices of the smaller companies account for as much as those of the larger ones.” AWDC election bylaws provide that two of the six board members will come from each of three different groups, according to company size based on annual trade turnover.

“The least that can be said,” concluded Epstein, “is that, all things considered, the endeavors launched under Parikh’s presidency have generated a very positive feedback from within the industry, which has apparently pushed many trade members to get mobilized and vote. Over the past two years, the board has been working very seriously and, as a result, people in the industry have begun to feel that it matters to be part of it, especially when you know how committed the AWDC top management is.”

In addition to Fischler, the new AWDC board is as follows: Mehta, Ramesh Patel,
Santosh Kedia, Javeri Shailesh, Samir Mehta and Jacques Weisz as trade representatives, with Barsamian, Freddy Inzlicht and Jacky Korn held over as bourse representatives and Koen Vadenbempt continuing as the independent director. The twelfth seat on the board has not yet been filled.


As part of the continuing efforts to increase Belgium-India trade, the government of Flanders cohosted the 2012 Global India Business Meeting in Antwerp on June 24 to 25. The invitation-only summit was attended by approximately 300 top business and political leaders of the two countries. In welcoming Anand Sharma, India’s minister of commerce, AWDC’s Epstein noted that “already diamonds represent an impressive 80 percent of Belgium’s total exports to India. At the rate India is growing, that figure can only go up.”




  • Demand for 1-caraters + is weakening. Either people buy cheaper or they don’t buy. Even though a lot of goods were out of the country at the Hong Kong show, people doubt that this is the reason for the general depressed mood.

  • Demand is down for all VVS goods, 10 per carat and below in D-H, that are used by luxury brands because sales of those brands are down. Prices have taken a serious nosedive of almost 15 percent.

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

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