Monday, November 30, 2020
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IDMA President: the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

IDMA President: the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Ronnie VanderLinden,
President

Our industry, along with the rest of the world, is in crisis mode. Words cannot describe the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the turmoil around us, our membership must stay informed, remain encouraged, and have confidence that this crisis will pass.

Each one of us must strictly follow every precaution recommended by our governmental and medical professionals. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we do not underestimate the seriousness of the current situation. I implore you to listen to the experts and professionals and heed their advice.

Naturally, we all worry about our businesses. We were surprised and dismayed, at the very least, by the recent actions of the Rapaport Group (RG).  It is once again claiming – if not preaching to this industry –  that the RG, and the RG alone, knows what is in the best interests of the industry that collectively owns the billions of dollars of diamond inventory listed and traded on the RG’s various industry platforms.

I have been informed that hundreds of companies have “de-listed” from Rapnet, among them leading companies from around the globe. It once again tells us that no industry should allow itself to become beholden to any single individual or entity. What I do know is our industry is in movement.

We all strongly support an industry that is free from the pervasive and overpowering influence of any single market player, especially from one who, on one hand, purports to report on current market prices, while, on the other hand, trades millions of dollars on his various trading platforms. Indeed, there are many responsible industry voices who contend that the RG’s running the leading industry diamond price guide, while at the same earning profits from the millions of dollars in diamond sales, generated from his various trading platforms, is nothing less than a serious conflict of interest.

The uprising of diamond industry players from around the globe is unprecedented. I have been asked by colleagues from every diamond center around the world to join with them in an international effort to finally loosen the grip of the RG’s companies.

Toward that end, our company has decided to remove immediately all of our listings. Moreover, we will not recognize or refer to the Rapaport price list of Friday, March 20, 2020. We will use only the price list in effect before that date. It’s now up to you, my colleagues in the U.S. and around the world. What is so aggravating is that if the RG is dedicated to maintaining stability in the marketplace, he could and indeed should have simply announced a suspension of his price list until this crisis is behind us. The RG’s actions have done nothing more than try to further destabilize a market in crisis.

We are being advised to stay at home, away from our places of business. We are unable to ship or receive the merchandise and are faced with a virtual shutdown of the marketplace. Would the RG suggest that we defy these critical directives? We certainly do not believe that is the intent.

So then, if the RG  recognizes that there has been a virtual suspension of all business activity worldwide (trading), what then is the basis for him to reduce prices in a vacuum of zero trades? I suggest that the RG is the organization with transparency issues here, or at very least, suffers from faulty judgment to the extreme.

With that said, I remind you that there are other responsible diamond trading platforms to which one can turn. IDEX, for example, is currently offering six months free. The Virtual Diamond Boutique (VDB), which is free to search and source,  also provides its services to this industry. As we know, there are other platforms this industry can employ, such as UNI, or Polygon. I have also heard that a new, alternative industry platform/list is also in the works. Of course, this is not an endorsement of any of these specific platforms at this point. I am only citing them as examples of existing, third-party, non-partisan, viable alternatives.

I urge you to make your own business decisions. Whether you continue to use the RG’s services is your decision and your decision alone. However, I urge you to consider other options as well. We must consider the future well-being of our industry. The time has come to diffuse and diminish the RG’s overwhelming and indeed conflicted control over our industry. Restoring this industry to a free, open, and transparent marketplace is in our collective best interests.

I am thrilled by the solidarity displayed by every responsible leader of our industry. I’m delighted that the leadership of our industry has come together in the hope of formulating measures that hopefully can and will finally relieve the RG from its overwhelming position of power and influence over this industry. It is time that members of this industry come together and take a stand.

In closing, I see the glimmer of hope that we will retake authority over our destinies. We are invested with our hearts, souls, and dollars in this industry that we all love.

I will engage with the leaders of our industry around the globe so that together we can develop an immediate short term as well as a long-term vision.

Mines to Market
the authorMines to Market
Prashant Rathod

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