The Young Diamantaires (YD), launched in 2016, is an organisation under the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) to bring together diamond professionals under the age of 45 into a respectful environment where they can exchange ideas, and share information about the industry and create a network for themselves from all over the world. Over the four years of development, YD has expanded with over 285 members from 18 countries. In May 2020, YD has launched its website and online platform. In this exclusive interview with Rami Baron, chairman of the Promotion Committee of the WFDB and founder of Young Diamantaires, you will be able to learn more about the purpose, structure and initiative of YD.
1)Please describe briefly the structure and mission of Young Diamantaires (YD). Why is it necessary to establish YD?
Baron: The structure of the Young Diamantaires is fairly relaxed as we are a relatively new entity. We have put into place a number of working groups because the demand from the members and media is encouraging us to create a more formalised structure so we can respond appropriately to requests. At this point in time we have a public relations and events coordinator, head of fund raising, the technical team who have built our website and constantly look to develop new features, a blog post coordinator for social media, and our newsletter publisher. We have also formed a strategic working group to look at membership criteria and different aspects of where we see ourselves going in future. Right now, our technical team are working on projects such as providing feedback on tools for Lab Grown Diamonds, as just one example of many projects on the go.
There is a term today known as the glass box organisation, we prefer to refer to it as a diamond box. It defines itself accordingly. It’s a transparent, clear structure. People can see its contents; including the participants, the process, the values at work, and the organisation’s internal structure. Once they witness that culture, it resonates. This is the value framework which the YD operate from. Our mission statement is that the Young Diamantaires respect diversity in all its forms. Our ambition is to help each other build far-reaching relationships and support the broader diamond pipeline which may need our assistance. We will collaborate with all organisations which look to grow the natural diamond segment in an ethical and equitable manner.
It was necessary to establish the Young Diamantaires because, for a long time, I had felt there was a disconnect between the upper echelons of the diamond industry, and the next generation. The younger generation could not see the relevance and role of the WFDB, and the WFDB could not hear the voices of the next generation. After discussions at the executive level, I proposed that we create a group to listen to their interests, their dislikes, their fears, and their aspirations. Although many were sceptical and wanted to restrict the discussion to members of the WFDB, we explained that the conversation needed to be opened up to the diamond industry in its entirety. If successful, this group would mature into a vibrant network which would ultimately become a feeder into the WFDB. So far, it seems to have worked.
2)As the founder of Young Diamantaires, do you sense some extent of disconnection between the young generation and old generation? Do you feel that the young trade members are somehow left out of the decision makings of the major organizations? Is it the reason you establish Young Diamantaires?
Baron: I think the connection or disconnection that you speak about, is analogous to a parent and their child. I think it’s fair to say that is very easy to forget to include your children in what you do on a day to day basis and the future plans you have. We also need to appreciate, without sounding overly cliched, that the change that occurs around us both technologically and socially is happening at a far greater pace than that of our parent’s generation. From my own experience, I have seen that it’s very easy for not just young trade members, but all members, to be left out of decision making by the management of most large organisations due to the sheer complexity and timeliness one needs to use in making decisions. There is no doubt that the WFDB has been slow to take advantage of technology until recently; both to speed up the decision-making process and to increase the level of communication necessary with the tools available today. I would say that it would be incorrect to attribute this to being one of the reasons why the Young Diamantaires was established. However, the establishment of the YD has conveniently highlighted the potential to provide an ongoing stream of updates and information to the organisation at large.
3)The Young Diamantaires aims to bring together diamond professionals under the age of 45 years old. Do you regard your age as an advantage or setback in your daily work of Young Diamantaires? How do you get along with the younger members?
Baron: Age is a state of mind, one of the things that I pledged to myself in setting up the Young Diamantaires is that I would not be dictating the agenda, nor monopolising the conversation. My role (and I would like to believe I have held firm on this approach), is one where I guide and occasionally challenge the thought process of the YD collective. On the odd occasion I will confront certain opinions and ask them to back their position up with substance. Asking me how I get along with younger members, makes me smile, because in my mind I think I get along with them really well, I think I probably still see myself as a young person, and in general that’s the feedback I get; but I’m sure there are varied opinions. I hope there are. The success of the YD’s is due to difference of opinion.
4)Please describe the purpose and the result of the recent visit of the 25 members of Young Diamantaires to the Venetia Mine of DeBeers Group. Why are you confident that the 25 Young Diamantaires from 10 countries are positively impacting the Diamond Industry? (you can also mention other recent events)
Baron: The recent YD trip to the Venetian mine in South Africa was a turning point for the Young Diamantaires. Clearly there were conversations about what we are doing, and it was DeBeers who felt that we had a unique voice in a segment of the market that was worth supporting. I recently made a comment in one of our chat groups, that until I had gone to South Africa and seen what a mining operation does first-hand, I couldn’t truly appreciate the incredible social impact that mining can have on surrounding communities, as well as the enormity of support and dedication to the ecology and wildlife surrounding the minds. Myself and all 25 diamantaires who attended could never have even begun to appreciate what was involved. The enormous social media storm that we created led by Prernna Makhariaa, Rachel Shahar and Harsh Shah subsequently is testament to the positive impact the YD group had from this visit.
5)What initiative will YD launch in near future to connect the members, and moreover to connect with the industry?
Baron: The different YD working groups are looking at a variety of ways that we can connect our members and the greater industry. From this last trip in Africa we saw an opportunity to raise funds for a school which DeBeers had built, but still required a kitchen and a library. This sits high-up on our goals to achieve. With the launch of our new website, our current focus is to create networks of YD around the world. We are confident in the growth of this entity into something which will increasingly become an influential arm of the diamond industry, and force for change focused on mutual respect, cultural and gender diversity, and the need to always give back to those who are less fortunate or may require our assistance throughout the diamond pipeline.
The Young Diamantaires has been in existence for four years, it’s an exciting and challenging process to guide such a dynamic, diverse and passionate group of people. I consider myself blessed to have such a wonderful and respectful group of people around me who opened my eyes in different ways. I know in my heart and mind that the diamond industry is in safe hands in the future with such capable and intelligent leaders ready to pick up the baton and carry us into the next generation.
Members of YD all over the world regularly convene to build relationships, create ideas and nurture them within the group. Photo courtesy of Young Diamantaires.
25 members of Young Diamantaires visited the Venetia Mine of DeBeers in September 2019. Photo courtesy of Young Diamantaires.
Rami Baron, chairman of the Promotion Committee of the WFDB and founder of Young Diamantaires. Mr Baron is also the President of the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia (WFDB affiliated) and Co Founder of Q Report Jewellery Insurance & Australian Jewellers Consortium. Photo courtesy of Rami Baron.
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 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’ experience in the international diamond and jewellery industry. He is also a member of Executive Board of Bangkok Diamonds and Precious Stones Exchange (WFDB affiliated).