Rapaport Magazine

Education Brings New Energy

Antwerp April Market Report

By Marc Goldstein

As part of the Antwerp Diamond Master Plan, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) is planning the first edition of the Antwerp Diamond Academies, a series of one-day events and seminars designed especially for Antwerp diamond industry members. The goal is to provide the diamond center’s dealers with practical tools and information that will enhance their competitive strengths and increase their professionalism within the business community.

The academies are envisioned as a more practical and broader version of the Antwerp Diamond Conferences, according to the AWDC, in that they reach beyond the borders of the diamond sector and partner with other industries and organizations. The first edition of the academies, scheduled to take place May 6, will be focused on innovation. In keeping with the spirit of the master plan, the academies are intended to target industry members within their own companies and their own city, as opposed to past efforts that focused on strengthening the position of Antwerp within the global diamond community.

The academies are “kind of the umbrella brand name for all activities that will be organized by AWDC for the diamantaires themselves,” said Karen Rentmeesters of AWDC. “They can take the form of seminars, workshops, conferences, etc. They will not replace or compete with AWDC’s larger events conducted on a regular basis, such as the Antwerp Diamond Conference, but they are intended to reinforce each other.”

During the first academy edition, Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker on innovative entrepreneurship. The day will begin with a series of workshops for a maximum audience of 150 on such topics as emarketing, green technology and the use of social media. A buffet lunch is scheduled with Branson, followed by an interactive session between him and the attendees, during which several case studies will be presented.

Nishit Parikh, president of the AWDC, elaborated. “We’re going to give education to the people, bringing new ideas and new technology to help them create new opportunities and make their businesses more efficient. The more we can give members of the industry new, different choices, the better chance they have to succeed. We see these academies basically as an educational platform to help our members upgrade their businesses.”

In addition to the 150 participating diamantaires, 1,500 tickets for the keynote address will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis to the general public. Those tickets can be purchased online through Flanders DC, a nonprofit organization of the Flemish government that encourages creativity and entrepreneurship. Flanders DC is financing the promotional site, using its channels and marketing networks to reach universities, opinion makers and other outside audiences for the program, as well as assuming responsibility for all ticketing.

Ari Epstein, chief executive officer (CEO) of AWDC, emphasized that the academies are “not just a passive conference, which would be a little outdated today. The goal is to interact dynamically with the diamond community and to provide them with hands-on knowledge and tools to enhance their positions in an increasingly competitive business. It’s the first one of a series that will be continued throughout the year on various topics.”

Stephane Fischler, board member of AWDC, added “It’ll be a really interactive event because there will not be many people attending each workshop. This will enable them to exchange ideas with each other about the real issues their businesses are confronted with, and help them leave with practical guidelines on how to solve problems. Walls are indeed crumbling, information is circulating much more easily and one must think twice and assess all possible impacts on a business model before making a decision.”

Those who aren’t following the technological innovations, continued Fischler, “in particular, the access and the distribution of technology, will lose ground. People must be aware that financial data no longer has any boundaries. It is not subject to political polemics. Hopefully, the mixing with people coming from areas outside our industry will also allow for establishing new relationships and working to improve the external perception of our industry sector.”

Any financial profit from the first of these academies will be donated to Virgin Unite, the independent charitable foundation of the Virgin Group that takes an entrepreneurial approach to solving problems as varied as global carbon emissions, youth homelessness in Canada and the U.S. and health initiatives in rural Africa.

The Marketplace


  • There are shortages of 50-pointers to 90-pointers in D-K, VS-SI.

  • Prices are extremely firm on 100 per carats, small brilliants, full cuts because of demand from the watch manufacturing industry.

  • Basel marked a comeback in demand for fancy shapes.

  • There’s a general feeling that there’s less manufacturing than before, especially in the range of stones that yield SI+ polished, except for certain niches where there is a chronic lack of rough.

  • A noticeable return of demand is coming from the U.S., where the mood is reportedly more optimistic.

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

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share
Comments: (0)  Add comment Add Comment
Arrange Comments Last to First