Q. What are your current titles/functions in the diamond industry, both private and organizational?
I’m the Managing Director of Afghan Malaya Trading Company. We have 2 brands, Amtc and Freya under its wings. Besides that, I am the President of the Diamond Exchange of Singapore.
Q. Tell us about your journey in the diamond industry, how you began and where you are now.
Afghan is a family business started in Singapore by my father Savi Khafi, bless his soul who moved to Singapore in the 50’s. I started working with him as a young teenager. After I finished schooling in Singapore I left for Israel where I had the opportunity to both finish a university degree as well as work part time at the Israel Diamond Exchange. After spending about 10 years abroad, I returned to Singapore in the late 80’s and was blessed with being able to work with my Dad until he passed away. All the while we had to evolve the business and add new aspects so as to accommodate the growing needs of our clientele.
Q. Do your bourse members supply only the local market, or do they export and if so to where?
Our bourse members supply to a number of countries from North America, Middle East, Europe, and especially to our neighbouring countries – Indonesia and Malaysia.
Q. What is the current situation in the Singapore diamond and jewelry industry? How have Covid, the war in Ukraine and the worldwide economic situation impacted the local industry?
This is a huge question. First of all the Covid pandemic was dealt with by the government as strictly as possible in the beginning – as they stated it was a learning curve for them and they adapted and changed policies wherever they saw fit. Covid has very much been under control since around the middle of last year and now almost all safety precautions have been lifted.
As for the Ukraine-Russia situation, the only direct consequence for our business would be the embargo of Russian rough to the market that would affect our supply chain. But I believe this effect is minimal. The worldwide situation will be more of a challenge to us. With both inflation and interest rates going up, consumers are wary of their disposable income expenditure, and especially in Asia this would cut down on unnecessary purchases.
Q. Looking forward, how do you think the local industry will fare in 2023?
I think 2023 is going to be a tough year for our industry. Respite will come I believe when the Mainland Chinese will start to spend. Their savings rate is at an all-time historical high and they don’t seem to be spending much.
Q. What are the challenges and opportunities facing the local diamond industry?
Banking and finance, where will interest rates be in a year from now; the price of diamonds; the lab grown diamond effect – all are factors that are always on our minds. The need to combat inaccurate claims made by lab grown diamond producers, which are published by our local media from time to time only leads to more uncertainty for buyers.