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World Federation Of Diamond Bourses

Interview with Ronnie Vanderlinden, President, International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA)

Ronnie Vanderlinden

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

My current positions within the diamond industry are:
President: International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA)
Treasurer: World Diamond Council (WDC)
Past President and Board Member: 24 Karat Club of the City of New York
Immediate Past President and Board Member: Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America (DMIA)
Immediate 1st Past President and Interim Treasurer: United States Jewelry Council (USJC)
Member: American Jewish Committee Jewelry Division
President: Diamex, Inc.
President: Pintura Lab Grown Diamonds
Q. Tell us about your journey in the diamond industry, how you began and where you are now.

Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers, whom I unfortunately never met, worked in Germany and the Netherlands in the diamond industry before me. One was a diamond trader and one a diamond sawyer and Board member of the Diamond Bourse in the Netherlands.  I am the first in my family to have been born outside of Europe, and in the United States. I began working within the diamond industry in 1977 with a very close family friend in the capacity of diamond sawyer. That was the beginning of my exposure and training in rough diamonds. From there I continued on to working with an international wholesale diamond manufacturing firm and sightholder for the next ten years. These experiences have given me an unbelievable education in understanding both rough and polished diamonds, and in global diamond business operations. I then furthered my experiences by branching out on my own and partnering with Diamex, Inc., where I have been for the past 32 years.  I have been actively involved in most of the associations in the forefront of the worldwide diamond industry, and I have traveled to 6 of the 7 continents on behalf of the diamond industry worldwide. 

Q. What is the current situation in US diamond and jewelry markets?

The current economic and political situation in the United States diamond and jewelry markets has continued to be strong, although recently, due to current economic conditions, it is experiencing a bit of a slowdown.  The good news is that the ‘experts and powers that be’ are forecasting a strong holiday season for the diamond and jewelry industries.  We are looking forward with optimism to the coming months, and time will tell as to whether or not a strong holiday sales season comes to fruition. 

Q. How has Covid and the war in the Ukraine impacted the US diamond and jewelry industries?

Both the Covid pandemic and current war in the Ukraine have pushed the U.S. diamond and jewelry industries to reconsider and revamp many different aspects of their business strategies.  As I have said many times before, the unfortunate circumstances of the Covid pandemic have brought fortunate opportunities to the diamond and jewelry industries.  Prior to the pandemic, our industry was hit with difficult times.  During the Covid pandemic, consumers focused their discretionary spending on the diamond and jewelry industry, since travelling and many other face-to-face situations were no longer available for an extended period of time.  An extraordinarily profitableseason was seen in 2021.  Thehorrendous current war in the Ukraine has caused a new set of difficulties and challenges. The United States has been able to withstand these new challenges, and fortunately, thus far, sales have not been adversely impacted across the counter.  That being said, underlying factors such as the increased cost of oil, wheat and technology originating from the Ukraine region has caused distress and inflationary times worldwide, and most especially in the United States. 
Q. Looking forward, how will the US market fare during the second half of the year? In 2023?

Looking forward, the 2022 Holiday Season and the beginning months of 2023 are predicted to be profitable.  We all continue to be optimistic.  Looking ahead to 2023, we would hope that the demand will continue.  We must make great efforts to be proactive and strongly advertise our diamond products.  Our diamonds are all about emotion, love and commitment.  This is exactly the kind of message we must deliver to consumers.  We must deliver this message loudly and more often.  Please remember the saying “out of sight, out of mind”.  If we wish to continue enjoying the success of past years, we cannot lose momentum. 

Q. What are the challenges and opportunities facing the US diamond and jewelry industries?

The obvious challenge within the U.S. diamond and jewelry industries that most us currently speak about, is the issue of lab grown diamonds.  The opportunities this can provide are as great as the challenge.  I will make this comparison: there are entry levels to many different products.  There are entry level cars, entry level housing, etc.  There is entry level jewelry as well.  The idea is to entice the young consumer to get on board and interested in purchasing diamonds and diamond jewelry.  If it begins with man-made and translates to natural, it is a win-win for everyone. 
Q. Tell us about your interests/family and anything else you would like to address:

After my endeavors and dedication to the diamond industry, only one other thing concerns me – the health and happiness of my family and friends come first in my life.  With my family and friends, I love, take, and share enjoyment in my cars, my motorcycles, sports and vacations.

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