Guests Feriel Zelkhi and Mahial Borhanju – JCK

JCKMore Editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates Mahiar Borhanjoo, CEO of UNI.DIAMONDS, and Feriel Zerouki, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at De Beers Group and CEO-elect of the World Diamond Council, discuss how they fell in love with the diamond industry. Check if you did. each other. This knowledgeable husband and wife team will keep listeners up-to-date on De Beers’ latest initiatives to improve traceability, support artisan miners, and potentially impact the diamond industry as a whole. Provides some insight into her upcoming G7 requirements.

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organizer De Beers:

Show memo

2:40 perfect pair

8:34 Memorable meetings

13:40 Diamond prices stabilize

14:43 New G7 requirements on diamond imports

19:27 Provenance takes center stage with Tracr

21:33 GemFair win-win approach

episode credits
host: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and Engineer: Natalie Chomet

plug: @jckmagazine;

View summary

perfect pair

Victoria introduces our London-based guests and asks how the world of diamonds brought them together. Mahial was born in Iran, grew up in Salt Lake City, and attended college in California. He was born in Abu Dhabi, a continent away from Ferrier, to Algerian parents and raised in the UK. His career began in technology and financial services, but he jumped at an offer in the diamond industry in London. This move gave him the best culture his shock. “I was used to contracts and agreements.” Mazar It was your bond Providing real-time, data-driven insights on market prices, supply, demand and availability Mahiar, who worked at De Beers and Venus Jewel before he joined UNI.DIAMONDS, is a leader in the trust and confidence people have shown. Passion has been described as feeling like fresh air. For diamond retailers and wholesalers.

After earning degrees in Mathematics and Business Administration, Feriel also ventured into the diamond industry, working as a Supply Chain Analyst for De Beers. Her job was to improve the prediction accuracy of diamonds using Blue Her Sky Her Sinking. She also experienced culture shock, but it was a different kind. Almost twenty years before her, she was the only woman in the room and the youngest. “I stood out like a thumb,” she says. Fortunately, she says the industry has made great strides to improve diversity.

a meeting to remember

When Feriel and Mahiar first met during a business trip to India in 2008, they were on opposite sides of the table. As she puts it, it was “sales versus ethics.” Mahiar managed global sales of rough diamonds and Feriel managed De Beers best practice principles.

“She was so well prepared…she answered every question. I was completely blown away not only by her beauty and charm but also by her intelligence,” Mahier recalled. To do. He insisted that the group have dinner together and visit the top floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, famous for its breathtaking views. talked. On her flight home, she told her colleague that she had met the man she was going to marry.

Tragically, the budding romance was put on hold when terrorists struck Mumbai that day. “I worked hard to get the sales team out,” he recalls Feriel. “when [Mahiar] When it finally came out, I actually asked him out because I wanted to meet him. And he said… no.

For Mahial, the attack triggered painful memories of the Iranian revolution. “I had to process some of the stuff I had neatly packed in my head,” he explains. After clearing his head, he said, “I apologized many times and asked her out. Now we are married to her 13 years, have a beautiful baby girl, and are working hard to change the industry.” are working on,” he reports.

stable diamond prices

Speaking of change, Rob asks the couple’s views on the state of the industry. Prices surged at the end of the first quarter, but have slowed and are now just above 2021 levels, Mahiar said. increase. “There is a lot more price stability in the market, which means the demand and supply sides are starting to come together,” he says. “We are very happy with where we are.”

New G7 requirements for importing diamonds

In addition to existing sanctions on diamonds from Russia, the G7 countries will soon impose new restrictions on all natural diamonds brought into their member states, Feriel said. “They will go to customs, so it will affect everyone.” And in an industry that has always sorted diamonds based on the 4Cs, the idea of ​​origin is still new, especially for the informal sector. , creating a learning curve, she says.

The details are not yet known, but the new requirements should support the G7’s objectives without negatively impacting the legal trade in natural diamonds, Feriel said. She applauds US Ambassador James O’Brien and his team for their recent fact-finding mission to better understand supply chains and work towards solutions that leave no one behind.

With Tracr, Provenance Becomes the Star

Rob invites Ferriel to elaborate on Tracr, De Beers’ traceability solution launched in 2018, to which GIA recently joined. “We’ve always known that for natural diamonds, and frankly, for any product sold to the consumer market, place of origin is going to be very important,” she says. You want a product that reflects your vision, but how do you know what it stands for if you don’t know where it came from?

Enter a Tracr that provides provenance information so that the origin story of the diamond can be accurately portrayed when the diamond is sold to consumers. “When we came up with it, most people were like, ‘Why do we need this? Consumers aren’t asking,'” he says. “They don’t want it now, but they will want it in the future. We really believe that.”

GemFair’s win-win approach

Ferrier is perhaps even more proud of GemFair, De Beers’ program of artisanal miners to raise the bar for mining sites and develop fair routes for bringing products to market.

“It was a great story for us to be able to see the diamonds on a platform like ours in Sierra Leone and talk about how they are having a positive impact in different countries where they are. . [share with] consumers,” says Mahiar. We provide “an opportunity to fully understand the splendor of the country of origin of natural diamonds”.

Miners can be sold to De Beers if they meet GemFair’s criteria (guidelines created by De Beers in collaboration with miners). The De Beers team uses these interactions as educational opportunities to help miners understand the value of their products, even if they choose to sell them elsewhere.

During the pandemic, the company shifted its operations in Sierra Leone to help mining communities facing massive inflation and ensure people had access to food and healthcare. “With them, we found a solution to rehabilitate old mines and turn them into farmland. Since COVID, we have rehabilitated 126 mines. [and] The overflow product is what they use to sell to the market,” explains Feriel. “It has created a new livelihood for the mining community and has helped us build trust. is increasing.”

You won’t find GemFair diamonds at JCK Las Vegas, but “If you want to try on diamonds from Sierra Leone or elsewhere (Botswana, Namibia, Canada, South Africa) come visit my booth and you can try them on.” ’ says Mahir.

(Photo courtesy of Feriel Zerouki and Mahiar Borhanjoo)

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