Dear DMIA members, industry colleagues, and friends!
As we’ve moved well into the third decade of this century, the DMIA membership companies form the core of America’s diamond industry and trade. Many of our members operate diamond cutting and polishing plants in other centers, including in Africa, have branches, and maintain partnerships in other diamond trading hubs, enabling them to access and run multiple supply sources and trading routes.
Keep an eye on this space! Now that we have overhauled, upgraded, and relaunched the website to represent the DMIA’s current identity, toward 2024, we will step up our digital activities.
Meanwhile, we’ll keep you updated through our digital circular “DMIA Matters.”
Keep safe and healthy!
Stuart Samuels, President
The world is a global village, which is also valid for the diamond industry and trade. Any development in the diamond supply pipeline – both positive and negative – almost immediately affects the diamond manufacturers and importers in our country.
While some of our members still manufacture diamonds – mostly larger goods – the bulk of our members are importers and dealers. In any case, we depend on the supply of rough and polished goods to service our downstream clients in the wholesale and retail sectors.
At the same time, the DMIA members are the gatekeepers to the largest diamond consumer market in the world, which is increasingly becoming more demanding, not only concerning the quality of the diamond and the services provided but also when it comes to the provenance of the diamonds and the ethical standards of our business. Therefore, the DMIA staunchly supports the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council, particularly its System of Warranties, created to bring greater transparency and accountability to the diamond supply chain.
Headed by its president Stuart Samuels, the DMIA is among the active members of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA).
DMIA’s Immediate Past President, Ronnie Vander Linden, currently serves as IDMA President.
In 1954, after the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America had just passed its 20th birthday, Aaron Koenig wrote: “It is common and accepted knowledge that as individuals, there is practically nothing one can do about industry-wide problems. As a member of a well-organized and live organization, much can be accomplished. Our Association has been recognized as the official spokesman for diamond importers and manufacturers in the United States. [It] is one powerful voice speaking for and on behalf of each of its members.” These words were reprinted in the booklet for the DMIA’s 50th-anniversary celebration.
Today, those words ring more true than ever. From the beginning, the DMIA has been a unique kind of association. For nearly 90 years, almost all the DMIA’s work has been done by volunteers – from Washington lobbying trips to representing the DMIA internationally. Those volunteers are among the industry’s most respected and prominent names, people who care about their industry and want to make a difference.
The DMIA has a rich legacy: It helped stop Congress from banning South African diamonds during the apartheid era. Years later, it managed another political controversy, handling the fallout from the “conflict diamond” issue. It has been a steady and consistent voice for consumer protection on topics such as mandatory disclosure of fracture-filling, laser drilling, HPHT, other treatments of natural diamonds, and, most recently, the nomenclature and disclosure of lab-grown diamonds.
The United Diamond Manufacturers Association (UDMA) was created at the height of the Depression, before World War II, before De Beers ever used the slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and in the same year as another American trade institution, the Diamond Dealers Club. As the industry expanded and the New York diamond trade diversified, the UDMA changed its name to the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America. Yet, its mandate never changed: representing the interests of the American diamond trade before the industry, the U.S. government, and the world.
Much of its work has been on seemingly mundane matters but has had a significant impact, including work with the Customs Department, banks, and the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). As former general counsel Louis Frankel wrote in 1951, “A trade association’s true record is not only its notable accomplishments but also the total of many seemingly ‘little things’ undertaken in the course of week-to-week and month-to-month activities.”
“We have a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions with important players who may not be familiar with our industry,” notes Jeffrey Fischer, a former DMIA president and an Honorary President of IDMA. “When people want to talk to knowledgeable professionals, we play an important role.”
Yet, on the big issues, the DMIA has been there too. In the 1980s, there was talk that Congress was considering banning South African diamonds. DMIA officials ventured to Capitol Hill to give Congressmen their heartfelt version of what such a ban would mean to their industry.
“We weren’t professional lobbyists, but we just went there and told them the truth,” said trip participant and former DMIA president Alan Kleinberg. “And they actually listened to us.”
When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was rewriting its Guides for the Jewelry Industry, it was with major input from the DMIA. Unlike other industries that fight government regulation, the DMIA ensured that major consumer protection provisions were included in the Guides, including disclosure of fracture filling. The DMIA disagreed with including laser drilling in the Guides for many years, feeling it was part of the polishing process. Later, officials agreed that disclosure of drilling was part of best trade practice.
In 1997, the DMIA played a crucial role in a now-famous IDMA resolution at the World Diamond Congress in Singapore, which declared: “Single-channel marketing has failed.” It was a brave thing to do, as many DMIA officials were sightholders, and signing that resolution jeopardized their livelihood. Yet today, it’s considered one of the milestones that led De Beers to reconsider the “single channel” concept.
As the 20th century drew to a close, the “conflict diamond” issue erupted. As the world’s leading consumer market, America was a key battleground between the industry and the NGOs. The DMIA stepped to the plate. It was vital in forming the World Diamond Council (WDC). It worked -and continues to work – with NGOs and other industry groups to ensure America’s compliance with the Kimberley Process and minimize any damage to the industry’s reputation. Under former president Ronny Friedman, the DMIA’s exchanges with Washington’s Capitol Hill intensified. Ongoing discussions with the federal government on the chain of custody and other diamond-industry-related issues proved fruitful and effective.
The DMIA’s interactions with governmental institutions and authorities were followed with interest by sister organizations in the U.S. diamond, gem, and jewelry industry and trade. To afford the entire industry to speak with a single voice vis-a-vis government, in 2015, a dozen industry organizations resolved to form the U.S. Jewelry Council, electing DMIA president Ronnie VanderLinden as its first president.
Under the stewardship of Immediate Past President Ronnie VanderLinden, the DMIA continued to represent the interests of America’s diamond industry and trade, both nationally and internationally. Ronnie is serving his third and last term as President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. In May 2023, he was elected Vice President of the World Diamond Council.
Under incumbent President Stuart Samuels, the DMIA is undergoing a repositioning and rebranding process.
“The axis of our industry is turning. While in the not-to-recent-past, we operated predominantly on the horizontal axis of our sector in the diamond supply pipeline, we now find ourselves affected, concerned, and involved with the developments – commercially, organizationally, and politically – that take place vertically, i.e., in all stages of the diamond pipeline. This requires a different state of mind and approach to how we function and operate in our industry. The repositioning and rebranding are an ongoing process that requires the involvement and input of all officers and members,” Samuels stated.
Of course, the DMIA isn’t just a business organization – it’s a social one. It’s always had a reputation as an informal, friendly, and open group, and many cherish it as a forum to meet other industry members and occasionally enjoy a fun social event. Paul Bialo, a former DMIA president, was known to have said that while social events have never been a big priority of the group, “We’ve had some real doozies.”
The following historical documents can be found in the website’s download area
The movie made on the occasion of DMIA’s 75th Anniversary – and in honor of Jack Roisen en William Goldberg – can be watched here