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World Federation Of Diamond Bourses

Interview with David Troostwyk, newly elected President of the London Diamond Bourse

David Troostwyk Interview

Q. What are your current titles/functions in the diamond industry, both private and organizational?

Besides being President of the The London Diamond Bourse, I am Director of Salotro Ltd, a polished diamond trading company based in London, established in 2010. I am also a Director of CiviGem, a community platform for organisations within the Diamond and Jewellery Industry, created to foster more cohesion within the industry and enhance community engagement. Established in 2023 and based in London. I am also a Young Diamantaire Board member.

Q. As a new President with a young and dynamic board, what if any, changes do you and your team hope to implement in the London bourse?

The first thing worth noting is that our new, young and dynamic board is made up of 50% women. It’s the first time in our 84-year history that the board is made up equally of both women and men, and we are thrilled to welcome our first female Vice President too.

At our recent AGM, I set out what I feel is quite a radical agenda. As a bourse we are facing many challenges. We have recently signed a new lease, which will keep us in our home for the next 10 years, therefore I feel it’s important to really focus on reinvigorating the bourse, to ensure we have a strong and sustainable future.

As we have an aging membership, we are working hard to harness the knowledge and experience of our current members, whilst establishing some fresh energy and new ideas into our community by encouraging a new young generation of members to join.

We are doing this in several ways; for example, we are working hard to ensure that we are an outward facing organisation – as opposed to the traditional closed door and secretive organisation of years gone by. Additionally, the creation of our over-subscribed mentor program is an exciting initiative that is giving the next generation access to the industry. Those who are interested in either becoming a member of the London Diamond Bourse (LDB), or have an interest in the industry in general, can spend some time with a dedicated LDB member mentor. Our mentors are encouraged to share some of their business activities with their mentee, share their personal experiences, and be on hand to answer any questions their mentee might have, both in-person and remotely. Strategies like this are so vital to our sustainability and help to create a journey for younger professionals who wish to pursue a career in the diamond and jewellery industry.

As a bourse our main revenue stream is our membership, and whilst we are determined to grow this, it is also important that we develop new revenue streams. At the centre of our agenda is spearheading the growth of the Natural Diamond segment, through bold initiatives and trade collaborations. We will promote positive natural diamond stories, as well as feeding factual natural diamond information to our members, which can then be passed to their clients as sales tools or promotional materials. We plan on building upon our current networking events too, introducing more presentations, panel discussions and webinars with keynote speakers.

Our educational offering is paramount, and we have recently had our second educational course accredited. Whilst we look at consolidating these two courses, Diamond Identification and Diamond Manufacturing Course, we are also looking at how to expand this sector.

London is such an important diamond destination historically, and we are rearing to put it back on the diamond map. We see tremendous potential for the London and UK markets for various reasons. The opportunities expected to arise from Brexit, our robust financial services sector, our highly respected legal system, and our access to one of the world’s largest airports with daily connections to 400 destinations, are just a few things that put us in a very favourable position globally.

We are also launching the new London Diamond Bourse Community App. This app is designed to bring our community closer together, allowing members to find each other, collaborate, and strengthen their relationships, in a supportive environment. Ultimately it allows the Bourse to enhance its brand visibility, which in turn allows us to create more value for our members, by seeking out collaborations with other organisations, and further development of our educational courses.

Overall, we are looking to achieve a lot, but this is a team effort, and all council members are enthusiastic and aligned to our vision. They are already working tirelessly for our members and the wider community.

Q. Tell us about your journey in the diamond industry, how you began and where you are now.

My diamond journey began about 20 years ago when I travelled to Africa to open a rough diamond buying office outside the Williamson Mine in Tanzania. Here we supported artisanal miners and purchased rough diamonds from them.

After spending the best part of two years in Africa, I moved back to Europe and embarked on a career in the polished side of the business in Antwerp, Belgium. During my time in Antwerp, I worked for various Sightholders, supplying some of the top Jewellery Houses. I was able to gain a huge amount of experience during this time and create a crucial network of relationships as I honed my skill and craft.

Some years later, I began working on a project to create the World’s first electronic diamond exchange, DODAQ. DODAQ was an anonymous trading platform where buyers and sellers could trade polished diamonds, in much the same way as buying stocks and shares. As the original “market disruptors,” DODAQ was a great journey, and a wonderful experience. We were certainly ahead of our time, but unfortunately, as with many businesses in that era, we came up against the financial market crash and I subsequently moved back to the UK.

In 2010, I created Salotro, a diamond trading company that focused on servicing jewellers and jewellery manufacturers. Moving back to London where I was born, I needed to integrate myself in the market in the UK, as both a buyer and seller, so I decided to become a member of the London Diamond Bourse and base myself in their trading hall.

After years of trading out of the London Diamond Bourse, I eventually moved into the office I am still based in today. Those initial years in the Bourse were invaluable to establishing myself in the UK trade and is part of the reason why I am so passionate about the Bourse still.

I am currently a Board Member of the Young Diamantaires Group. The Young Diamantaires started as a networking group, where young industry folk could meet and discuss industry topics, and it has now grown to over 500 members. The YD’s plan incredible industry led trips, and I was lucky enough to go with a handful of other Young Diamantaires to visit the De Beers Venetian Diamond Mine in South Africa a few years ago and more recently visit India with the group. We are in touch most days via their very active WhatsApp groups.

Last year I started CiviGem a community platform for organisations within the Diamond and Jewellery Industry. We foster unity and community engagement. CiviGem helps to strengthen relationships, enhance brand visibility, and drive revenue growth, whilst benefitting individuals with a supportive environment for learning, connecting, and thriving.

I became Vice President of the London Diamond Bourse two years ago, until earlier this year, when I became joint President with, my now predecessor, Alan Cohen. We served six months together before I was voted in as President for a full term, during our May AGM. This allowed me to learn the role first-hand and create an outline of what my agenda for the London Diamond Bourse is today.

Q. What is the current situation in the local diamond and jewelry industry?

Things are currently just as tough as they are in many other markets. With the economy suffering, wars around the world, and various countries going to the polls, in these uncertain times business is difficult. However, there are always opportunities, and in times like this it’s important to be able to recognise and capitalise on them when you can. I also view moments like this as an opportunity to strengthen the foundations of the business, in preparation for when things get better. Whether its business strategy, activities, or the various relationships we use and serve, it’s these foundations which are relied upon when business picks up.

Q. How have the following impacted the industry? LGDs, the economic situation, changes in young people’s buying patterns

Lab Grown diamonds have certainly had an effect on the industry, competing with natural diamonds. They have taken away a market share predominantly in bridal Jewellery. Personally though, I believe this is an unavoidable journey that LGDs must take, to ultimately find their place in the market. I do not think the natural diamond market will be affected by it in the long term, as natural diamonds will ultimately rise above their lesser valued Synthetic counterpart. Lab Grown diamonds will find their place in costume jewellery and do very well there. They will do very well for industrial purposes too.

The uncertainty around the economy ever since Brexit and Covid, with recent wars, and now elections taking place in the UK, US and other major countries, has had an effect on the buying habits of many, who are waiting to see what happens and holding off from spending until there is more certainty.

Young people’s buying habits have undoubtedly changed. They are much more interested in understanding, and feeling a sense of personal alignment, with the products they purchase, and the companies they are purchasing from. With so much choice out there today, it’s important to be able to resonate with younger people by telling authentic and relatable product stories and providing solid information to back up your claims. Here, I believe natural diamond stories are the backbone to capturing this segment – positive, engaging, and factual natural diamond stories are the key to authentic connection with consumers.

Q. Do you see the G7 sanctions having a significant impact on the industry?

Having worked closely with the government on this matter, I know only too well how impactful the G7 sanctions have been – not just here in the UK, but globally too. The sanctions that have been implemented, and the further sanctions outlined to take place (although the implementations of these have been pushed back from 1st September this year to 1st March 2025 in the EU), pose a risk to millions of people’s livelihoods all round the world. Its only right that the London Diamond Bourse has taken an active role in consulting with government in these matters, working on behalf of our members while keeping our members abreast of developments. Its our members and the wider diamond and Jewellery community which will feel the full force of the implications of these restrictions.

Q. Looking forward, how do you think that the local industry will fare during 2024 – 2025?

I am optimistic, I think once we get a lot of the elections out the way, hopefully, we’ll see interest rates come down a bit. People will begin to feel more comfortable with the economic landscape and start spending more. Overall, I think the long-term outlook for diamonds and fine diamond Jewellery is positive, and I’m hoping we will start seeing signs of this soon.

Q. Tell us about your interests/family and anything else you would like to add.

I’m married with two children. I enjoy spending time with them and watching them grow up too fast!

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