Rapaport Magazine


By Marc Goldstein
The Turkish Connection

In an effort to promote Turkey as a global trading hub for polished diamonds, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) invited a delegation of 16 Turkish diamantaires and jewelers to Antwerp to meet with approximately 20 Antwerp-based diamond companies. The event followed the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between AWDC, the newly established Istanbul bourse and the Turkish Jewellery Exporters Association.
   The Antwerp diamond companies were chosen on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets to the three-day meeting in May were sold out in two days. Reflecting on the impetus for the event, Karen Rentmeesters, AWDC spokesperson, explained, “The bourse of Istanbul is keen to become an important player in the global diamond industry. Antwerp is an obvious partner. The Turkish buyers were selected based on credibility, size, reputation and their willingness to develop long-term relationships. They didn’t know how to approach Antwerp and many were even unaware of the opportunities that could be found in Antwerp.”

The Turkish Market
   According to the Turkish delegation, the country’s diamond market is in a transitional phase. There are 30,000 retail shops and a turnover of $5 billion in diamond and gold jewelry, 40 percent of which is diamond jewelry. “The problem we’ve had so far was of two kinds. First of all, the diamond business was liable for import duties, which were finally waived a couple of months ago,” explained Kadir Gözkara of One Service, a company dedicated to intra-Turkey diamond and jewelry logistics. “This opens the field for trade between Europe and Turkey and up to the Middle East. The second issue was we had to buy all our rough from a single cartel wholesaler and we want to move out of that monopoly supply system.”
   “Currently, because of the nonstop wars that are taking place in countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria, piles of gold and cash have been looking for shelter in Turkey,” Gözkara continued. “Consequently, we’re now in a situation similar to Europe just after World War II. If the Turkish retailers are helped in the right way, the potential is huge for business. Don’t forget we have a 1,000-year-old tradition in jewelry making.” Currently servicing 76 different cities across Turkey, his company is hoping to become the main carrier on the Antwerp-to-Turkey route.

Positive Expectations
   The Antwerp companies were also positive about the event. “We understood from the meetings that they’re looking for consistency in supply and in service, together with good prices,” said Darshit Shah from Arhaan Diam. Asher Lubelsky of Fischler Diamonds added, “You never can tell for sure what will come from such ‘speed-dating’ events. However, it’s obvious that these people are here to meet suppliers and buy. This is a very important market for us and for Antwerp.”
   Emmanuel Landau, managing partner of Exelcosourcing, noted, “This used to be a very difficult market, but it seems to be opening, which may bring lots of opportunities. We’re talking retail chains and potentially special sightholder programs, etc. We know HRD certificates are quite implanted there and we’d like to understand exactly what those chains are looking for.”
   Sachiv Bhansali of Diasqua Europe pointed out, “These visitors appear to need everything. The requirements vary, of course, from one to the other, but globally, they’re looking for small to bigger sales across the board.” Shashin Choksi of Swati Gems said, “The public of 30 years ago isn’t the same as today’s. Each market evolves and this pattern generates ceaselessly new opportunities.”

Cautious Optimism
   However, one diamantaire was more cautious. “We don’t know yet whether this is really our market. Our experience was that this market worked only with black market money, which is why we couldn’t work with them till now. But it seems they are changing and moving toward more transparency.”
   Some Antwerp diamantaires voiced another concern. Sarkis Semerciyan of K. Semerciyan & Son Diamonds noted, “Payment delays are more and more difficult in this market. If we don’t know the buyers, it will have to be cash payment, no terms. One of the reasons they came here is that they definitely want to bypass the intermediaries. They want to buy cheaper. We also have to take into account the fact that their secondhand jewelry market is very strong. The larger stones from 70-pointers up are bought at prices that are way below the prices paid in Antwerp, which guarantees very large profits.”
   Çaglar Yamaner of Yamaner Jewelry, located near Ankara, summed up the sentiment of his countrymen. “I have two shops in a small city called Bolu. My goal is to get rid of my current supplier to reduce costs and then start to grow. I’m convinced there’s business to do with Antwerp and that’s why I’m here.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2015. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share