Perspectives, Transparency, Fair Trade

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RAPAPORT… My name is Mordy Rapaport. I am 24 years old and part of a growing segment of young people entering the international diamond trade. I represent a fresh and fearless group of individuals eager to make their mark on our industry.

Twenty-something-year-olds populate key positions throughout the industry. It is not surprising that our contribution is especially noticeable in major Indian diamond and gem centers such as Mumbai, Surat and Jaipur, since the average age in India is 24 years, my age. India aside, you will find young people everywhere — from offices to retail stores, behind the counter, computer or microscope. Our generation conducts business in a different manner because our perspective is different. At our age we think long term and are very aware that a successful diamond business can no longer be based on immediate results. Whether the phenomenon is social responsibility or the allocation of capital to long-term marketing schemes, we approach business with a greater focus on the future. We are uninhibited, knowledgeable and capable. As individuals, we might be a company’s most valuable asset; as a group, we are the future of the diamond industry.

A goal of this column is to provide Rapaport readers with insight into the diamond, gem and jewelry industry. We plan to comment on events in the global diamond arena from a different perspective. Everything that is important is on the agenda. Readers are encouraged to share their views and suggest topics by emailing All opinions are welcome.

Let’s discuss transparency. In an environment where Google is a verb and many consumers purchase — or at least learn about — their diamonds on the internet, a different mind-set is developing. Today’s young consumers are often more knowledgeable about diamonds than the salesman standing behind the counter. While consumers are still willing to pay a limited premium for the diamond buying experience, the added value of the experience must be priced reasonably.

With business-to-consumer (B-to-C) price information rampant on the internet, transparency will continue to develop and evolve. As an industry, we will need to reevaluate how we do business and the specific niche each of us fills. Every aspect of our business — sourcing, pricing, selling, marketing and more — will be shaped by higher levels of transparency. While some of us rightfully remain cautious about when things will happen, the handwriting is on the wall. Transparency will drive efficiency and efficient markets will rule as they move larger quantities of diamonds at a faster pace. The creation of more efficient markets is a given, and they will be the future of our diamond trade.

Our trade will also be driven by social responsibility. There are countries in West Africa that are filled with young individuals whose role in the diamond industry is as important as ours, yet they struggle to survive. Their values and their prioritization of issues are the product of a different reality. Most of us have never experienced real hardship, and many of us have had the opportunity to pursue our desires and dreams. But this scenario does not hold true for all of us. Countries across West Africa are filled with young, capable people who can’t even imagine what our lives are like.

While the subject of development is complex, we must be aware of what is taking place at all levels of the supply chain. Whether it is child labor in Asia or a civil war in Sierra Leone, many of us are not yet conscious of these issues. The idea is to be proactive as opposed to defensive. While our industry has shied away from such issues in the past, today’s young people are much more receptive to the idea of social responsibility. Whether it is fair trade coffee or the adoption of African children by celebrities, the issue of social and corporate responsibility is here to stay and an important defining value of our generation.

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