Idar-Oberstein Provides Spectacular Backdrop To ExCo Meeting

Dieter Hahn, Alex Popov, Ernie Blom, Frank Fruhauf, the Mayor of Idar-Oberstein, Rami Baron, Meir Wertheim and Rony Unterman pose with the special ties presented to all the men attending the dinner in the Diamond and Gemstone Bourse

By Albert Robinson

WFDB Communications and Media Consultant


When WFDB Treasurer Dieter Hahn sent me an email out of the blue in the early days of July inviting me to take part in the WFDB Executive Committee meeting to be hosted by the German Diamond and Gemstone Bourse in Idar-Oberstein, I was delighted to be able to accept the invitation. "It will definitely be worth your while to attend," Dieter rather cryptically teased me.

From my point of view, the invitation was a no-brainer: it would be an opportunity to meet some of the bourse presidents again following the Presidents Meeting in Tel Aviv in July and I would get to see how the ExCo meetings work. In addition, I hoped, be able to see something of Idar-Oberstein, the historic center of the German diamond and colored gemstone business of which I had read much over the years.

Just how much of Idar-Oberstein I would get to see, however, took me, and I suspect everyone else attending, very much by surprise as Dieter together with Jochen Muller and local dignitaries went out their way to make us feel incredibly welcome and to show us their city.

The visit started on November 1 with a dinner the night before the ExCo meeting at the Park Hotel where we

The Executive Committee meeting
which took place on November 2.

were accommodated. The highlight of the event was without a doubt the presentation of awards to Dieter, for whom it was his last but one ExCo meeting. He received awards and many warm words from Ernie Blom on behalf of the WFDB, from Shmuel Schnitzer representing the Israel Diamond Exchange, from Alex Popov on behalf of the World Diamond Mark, and from Willi Rotti representing the Federation of Belgian Bourses.

A lengthy day's deliberations took place the following day as the ExCo meeting got down to business, discussing a wide range of issues and featuring, in particular, an analysis by Executive Director Louise Prior of where the WFDB stands and how it can and should transform itself into the "go-to" voice of the global diamond business.

As we waited for transportation to our dinner that evening, Ernie Blom reminded me of an article I wrote two years ago when I was Editor of IDEX Online. I had heard complaints from bourse members in several countries that officials of the WFDB, along with other industry organizations, enjoyed themselves hugely when attending such meetings with first-class travel, luxury hotels, and gala dinners. Having started the meeting at 8.30 am and staggered out at 5pm, Ernie asked me rhetorically if I still felt the same way as I did when I wrote the offending article!

The full day's discussions and debates were well rewarded with a wonderful dinner in a special setting: among the treasures of the Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum.

The following day proved even more eventful, for Dieter organized a tour for the group of diamond and gemstone dealers and

The WFDB delegation at the wine-tasting-dinner event

manufacturers in the area. We started the day at the offices and manufacturing plant of Groh & Rip where owner Bernd Willi Ripp. He showed us an extraordinary collection of gemstones in the basement before taking us on a tour of the factory and a viewing of the final product with the loose polished gemstones and jewelry ready for sale.

From there we went to the village of Kierschweiler, and the premises of Manfred Wild. In an unassuming house in the sleepy village, once a thriving center of gemstone production, we were shown an extraordinarily wide range of jewelry, ornaments and other exceptional items made of agate and other gemstones and featuring gold and diamonds.

After lunch, featuring huge steaks which we were all under strict orders from Dieter to finish off, a visit to the diamond jewelry factory of Giloy and Sons. A major German manufacturer and supplier to the domestic market as well as to the wider European market which employs more than 200 workers, the company showed us the whole process, from CAD design to the finished product.

And wrapping up the visits was one in the center of Idar to the offices of fine jewelry company Hans D. Krieger where we were treated to a viewing of a wide range of diamond and colored gemstone jewelry.

A brief rest and then back on to the bus for dinner in the village of Meddersheim. This involved wine-tasting and a talk on the wine-making process from and a splendid dinner.

Dinner among the gemstones
of the Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum.

Dieter Hahn giving participants an explanation
of the history of the Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum.

May I say on behalf of myself, and everyone else who enjoyed three special days in Idar-Oberstein, which provided an extraordinary backdrop of autumn colors, many thanks to the German Diamond and Gemstone Bourse, and especially to Dieter and Jochen for all their efforts and their deep and sincere interest in making sure we all were taken care of warmly. I know people talk about unforgettable experiences which they then proceed to forget within weeks or months, but this really was an exceptional event.

Dieter – many thanks and best wishes from all at the WFDB.