PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

WFDB Congratulates Canada on opening of Diamond Bourse

JANUARY 27, 2010: At the end of this month, Canada will take another step as a global player in the diamond industry and trade by opening the Diamond Bourse of Canada. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish this new diamond exchange best of luck and invite bourse president Bushan Voran and vice president Greg Jacobson to join us as observers at the upcoming 34th World Diamond Congress in Moscow in July.

It's only logical for Canada to establish a full-fledged bourse. The country produces about 15 percent of the world's annual rough diamond output and, hopefully, the bourse will serve as a trading hub for rough, which is directed by the producers to the secondary market. While Canada's population is small compared to its huge southern neighbour, the country's jewellery industry and trade, as well as its consumer market, have been growing steadily.

We're almost a month into the year 2010 and the jury is still out on how well the past holiday season really has been for jewellery retailers. It is clear, however, that we need to be looking toward the coming opportunities as the reputational and competitive threats to the natural diamond business grow steadily. Also, in spite of the enormous efforts our industry has undertaken and continues to undertake, NGO's and consumer organisations continue to point at the shortcomings of the Kimberley Process Certification Schedule and the international diamond business community in battling conflict diamonds. The recent publicity surrounding Zimbabwe is a case in point.  Obviously we will have to confront these issues and step up the WFDB's efforts and support for bringing solutions to the table.

As a rule, the luxury product market, to which our industry belongs, is always slow to come back after an economic crisis. Even when general economic growth is on the rise, it is been proven that consumers remain extra careful when spending their discretionary cash. However, during the past years, we've also learned that the consumer does not only make his decisions on purchasing luxury goods based on the product alone.  The consumer, in what is now called the "new normal" economy, also cares about the reputational value of the product he or she buys.  That is also true for diamonds. It means that we'll have our work cut out for us in 2010.