By Michelle Graff
Mumbai—The International Diamond Manufacturers Association and World Federation of Diamond Bourses are in talks to team up, IDMA announced.

The two organizations, both of which represent the midstream sector of the market, recently concluded the biennial World Diamond Congress in Mumbai.

At the meeting, IDMA President Ronnie VanderLinden noted that diamond manufacturing facilities are closing in countries likes Namibia, South Africa, Russia, Thailand and even China, which once employed more than 40,000 cutters is now down to fewer than 5,000. The only country not losing significant numbers of factories is India.

The loss of manufacturers has hurt IDMA’s membership rolls and this, coupled with other challenges like the loss of financing for the midstream, means that the time may have come for IDMA and the WFDB to merge.

VanderLinden noted the success U.S. organizations have had with the United States Jewelry Council, which represents a cross-section of 16 diamond, gem and jewelry organizations; he argued there’s no reason the global diamond industry shouldn’t do the same.

“Clearly, the health of the entire industry depends on the health of the middle market, which plays an important and indispensable role in the entire supply chain. We also recognize that IDMA and WFDB share more things in common than we have differences. As such, the industry’s current difficult environment requires a more united and coordinated effort and approach.”

At the end of the congress, IDMA presented a proposal to WFDB President Ernie Blom and members of the organization’s executive committee.

The WFDB did not respond to request for comment on the proposal by deadline Thursday but Blom told JCK’s Rob Bates last week that the two organizations have been discussing consolidation for the past six months and that he thinks IDMA will become part of the WFDB.

The 38th World Diamond Congress took place Oct. 23 to 25 in Mumbai after being rescheduled from June.

During the meeting, IDMA appointed a new vice president, Prince Mbetse. He replaces Phillippe Roolant of the Thai Diamond Manufacturing Association, who resigned for personal reasons.

IDMA also welcomed a new secretary-general, Matthew Schamroth, who replaces Kim Lanny. Lanny left the industry earlier this year.

The WFDB, meanwhile, tapped Israel Diamond Exchange President Yoram Dvash to head a new strategic initiatives committee focused on communicating the good that diamonds do worldwide.

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