Q&A with Marcel Pruwer, President of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse.The Antwerp Diamond Bourse is one of four bourses which make up the Federation of Belgium Diamond Bourses. Challenged by competitive new trading centers and volatile market conditions, the bourse is at the heart of efforts to grow Antwerp’s position in the industry. Rapaport News spoke with Marcel Pruwer, president of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, about those challenges and its strategy to spur growth:
What is your background with regard to the diamond industry?
I grew up in London where I worked in the textile and insurance industries, and in international trade. I entered the diamond trade when I moved to Belgium where I sorted and graded rough and polished. I then set out on my own and started a rough and polished brokerage, which is still active today.
IES, of which I am managing director, is a Belgium-based advisory group that initially focused on business development and strategy planning. After De Beers launched supplier of choice in 2000, and with the discovery of Canadian diamonds, there was a wave of interest for advisory work in the industry, and our involvement grew from there. We assess the ongoing changes in the market, work with companies to navigate this dynamic environment and help develop new business.
I have served as a director of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse since 2009 and as its president since 2013.
What is the function of the different diamond bourses in Antwerp?
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse, or Beurs Voor Diamanthandel, has 1,200 members and is essentially for polished trading, although we have many rough dealers as members. The Antwerpsche Diamantkring is for rough and the Antwerp Diamond Club is principally polished. The Vrije Diamanthande doesn’t have a trading floor but is located in the club and serves its members through the club’s facilities.
A few years ago we initiated the Fusion 4 program to facilitate more strategic cooperation between the Antwerp bourses, with the goal of dealing with the challenges facing the industry and ensuring long term growth for Antwerp’s diamond sector.
As the nature of business changed, trading shifted away from the bourse floors to offices. We’ve been reviving activity on the trading floors by developing new events – which is something that is now being done in other centers.
Gone are the days when the bourses could function as a Gentlemen’s Club for diamond dealers. We have to visibly add value for our members, protect and promote the market, and be prepared to take severe disciplinary measures in order to protect the business.
What is the strategy to grow Antwerp’s diamond industry?
Antwerp’s 600 year diamond heritage provides us with an added value that is very attractive to the business-to-business (B2B) community and consumers around the world. As a trading hub, we’re logistically and physically located in the heart of Europe, giving us immediate access to more than 500 million people. These factors are all important to our marketing story as it provides a legacy, authenticity and a branding opportunity which is good for Antwerp and the global trade.