The diamond industry is one of the leading export-oriented industries of Israel. The value of Israel’s diamond exports stands at about US$10 billion per year, of which approximately US$7 billion are polished diamonds. The country is also an important center for diamond polishing. About 40% of the polished diamonds exported abroad is polished in Israel and the rest being sent to polishing centers abroad, generally to factories owned or operated by Israel diamantaires). The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) is the epicenter of the country’s diamond business, hosting 3,100 members and companies engaged in all aspects of the diamond business, including import and export of rough and polished diamonds, manufacturing, brokerage, etc. The IDE creates for its members a business environment that allows them to manage their affairs in maximum comfort and security. After a tense election campaign, which included a second round of voting, Boaz Moldawsky was elected as the new president of the Israel Diamond Exchange in February 2021. In this exclusive interview, Mr. Moldawsky laid out his plans taking up the new role.
1) As the newly-elected president of the IDE, what will be your new initiatives to take on the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic and utilize the opportunities from the geopolitical changes? How will you vision the IDE in the next 3 years in your first term?
Boaz Moldawsky: The first step I took as President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) was to reopen the trading halls that had been closed for several months, in accordance with new government regulations, for those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 or produce a negative test. This is a first step in the return to normality and we are very excited about it. The Israel diamond industry is definitely on its way to recovery, with recent trade statistics showing positive growth compared to recent months and even year on year.
In terms of new directions, we are opening an office in Dubai and will work to grow our trade with the UAE as well as additional Gulf countries. Moreover, we are negotiating with the government to establish a Free Trade Zone here, which we hope will attract foreign companies.
2) There has been an interesting role-switching between Mr. Yoram Dvash and you. You were elected as the president of the IDE in February 2021, and Mr. Dvash was elected as the chairman of Israel Diamond Institute in late 2020. How will the two institutes continue work with each other to promote the Israel diamond industry, and what is the emphasis of each institute?
Moldawsky: The IDE will continue to work with the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) in full cooperation. IDI’s role is to market and promote the Israeli diamond industry through various channels. The bourse will help and encourage our members to make use of the expertise and the marketing programs of IDI to promote their businesses.
3) The IDE has a very long tradition and great atmosphere of vis-à-vis trading in its trading halls. The IDE has successfully held several editions of International Diamond Week in Israel, where thousands of buyers and sellers were able to meet each other, view and trade diamonds in 3 days. On the other hand, many trading activities are turning decentralized and remotely nowadays, how will you balance between the “shoulder-rubbing” tradition and the new trading channels?
Moldawsky: As I mentioned previously, we have just reopened our trading halls. The IDE believes in the importance of doing business face-to-face. Our International Diamond Weeks were indeed very successful and we intend to organize one as soon as conditions allow. That said, over the past year we learned that it is possible to hold virtual trade shows and to successfully use digital platforms for diamond trading. I’d like to mention the IDE’s cooperation with James Allen, one of the most important B2C platforms in the US for selling polished diamonds and diamond jewelry, which IDE members have used very successfully for several years.
4) How will the IDE maintain constructive working relationship with other WFDB member bourses, such as the ones in Mumbai and Antwerp, in the reality that every bourse has to work with each other and meanwhile competition is unavoidable? How will you maximize the advantages of each market centers to work with each other constructively?
Moldawsky: For many years we have maintained excellent relations with all of the bourses in the world. Our cooperation through the WFDB has certainly been a factor in this. Each diamond center has its own advantages and through close business relations we all benefit.
5) Do you have any project to promote the diamond products and technology from Israel to China and ASEAN countries (especially Thailand)? What product category from Israel is more suitable to these markets?
Moldawsky: China and Asia have always been very important markets for us for the export of polished diamonds. Although they were affected early by the pandemic, these markets also rebounded sooner than other markets. Recently we have seen many Israeli diamond companies branching out into diamond jewelry and I know that they are working with some countries in Asia on jewelry manufacturing, especially Thailand.
About the author
Julius Zheng is a jewellery industry analyst and senior consultant to various important firms and institutes. He has developed various projects that connect China’s diamond, coloured gemstones and jewellery sectors with international markets, including organizing around 30 China Buyer Delegations, and has developed international gemological educational programs. Formerly General Manager of Rapaport China, he has over 20 years’ international working experience in the industry. He is also a member of Executive Board of Bangkok Diamonds and Precious Stones Exchange (WFDB affiliated).