Skill-sharing, productive conversation and future-proofing the diamond industry are things that can only be achieved through collaboration. In recent years, the trade has taken positive steps to bring individuals across the diamond pipeline together and connect them with stakeholders – creating a force for positive change.
One such step has been the creation of the Young Diamantaires, a group of likeminded and passionate young professionals from mining to retail, each with a desire to drive the natural diamond industry forward. The group was formed under the auspices of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) by Rami Baron, Chairman of the WFDB Promotions Committee and President of the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia. What began as a meeting of young minds at the 37th World Diamond Congress in Dubai in 2016 has now evolved into an international platform with 300 members from 18 countries, complete with its own website and charitable agenda.
The Future of Diamonds
“My goal was to create and guide the next generation,” says Baron. “The aim of the Young Diamantaires was to create a social environment and keep posing questions about what is important and what the challenges are. One of our goals is to develop the next generation of leaders through an organisation grounded in mutual respect.”
Paris-based Elodie Daguzan, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council, was one of the first members. She says: “Rami had this idea to create a safe space where the new generation would feel comfortable to engage on various topics. Today the group has evolved, the members have matured, and the group has given me hope for the future of our industry. Members of the Young Diamantaires are passionate about the business, they have ideals and they want to change things for the better – that is the quintessence of youth.”
Inspiring Diamond Businesses
Through the power of conversation and networking, the group is supporting emerging business leaders who are bringing valuable perspectives to the international diamond industry. “We are first generation diamantaires, so for us, access to people that have been in the industry for longer is vital,” explains Mosibudi Jo Mathole, Founder and Director of Kwame Diamonds, which has earned international praise for nurturing female talent in diamond dealing and manufacturing.
Mathole now enjoys daily learning opportunities through the group, discovering the latest developments in other leading diamond centres like Surat, Antwerp, London, New York and many more. She has also been able to share her own story, and the nuanced story of South African diamonds, to other professionals, further highlighting how the diamond story varies within each producing region and country.
She says: “You need to keep current and innovative in this industry, otherwise you will not grow. Young Diamantaires is made up of a group of young people who are very current, very relevant and technologically advanced. Collectively, we are doing business differently. There is a spirit of building business for the better, for generations to come. Everybody has a part to play, there is no time to sit dormant and just be a passenger on the bus… it is very engaging.”
Young Diamantaires in South Africa
Many have recognised this spirit of collaboration, including De Beers Group, who worked with the WFDB to bring 25 members of the Young Diamantaires to the Venetia diamond mine in Limpopo, South Africa, in September 2019.
During their time in South Africa, the Young Diamantaires, hailing from 10 countries, were so inspired by what they saw they decided to act. David Troostwyk, Director of Salotro Ltd and Board Member of the London Diamond Bourse was one of the Young Diamantaires on the trip. He says: “One of the things that really stood out to us was the good work that De Beers does in terms of the environment, clean water and looking after the land they are using. We weren’t aware of how much goes into regeneration and looking after the people there.”
Supporting Diamond Communities
A tour of the Renaissance Secondary School in Musina – one of 19 schools De Beers has helped to build as part of the School Infrastructure Development Program – revealed areas for development that the Young Diamantaires are now determined to bring to fruition. Troostwyk explains: “Whilst we were there, the headmaster told us they started with 120 pupils and they now have 1,200. What they don’t have is a kitchen, dining area or a library, and we all felt committed to making a positive impact on this diamond community. We are looking to raise $150,000 from within the industry, so that everyone can take some type of ownership and genuinely say they have offered their support.”
With a waiting list of around 1,500 pupils hoping to attend the Renaissance Secondary School, these new facilities will support the school’s ambitions to grow and educate future generations. The success of these institutions highlights how the diamond mining industry directly benefits its employees and indirectly benefits their families and wider community development.
Even though all members of the Young Diamantaires group have their own full-time jobs, they have shown admirable commitment to driving the group’s positive mission forward. And, with access to a 300-strong network of professionals, the Young Diamantaires is in a valuable position to share positive diamond stories, fast.
Developing the Next Generation
Looking to the future, the Young Diamantaires is forging ahead with its charitable and international goals, welcoming more members into the group, and structuring its operations with a new website. As Troostwyk concludes: “Together we can achieve so much more, which is why a charitable project like this is so important. Everyone must play a role in driving the change we want to see.”