Home       Technology / Education       Events & News       Archives       Designs
Arslanian Diamonds:

Deep Rooted in the Angolan Diamond Trade

The New Jeweller Bureau spoke to Sahag Arslanian, Director, Arslanian Diamonds on current market trends and the future of Diamond Industry. Mr Arslanian also dwells on their long standing relationship with Angola in this exclusive:

Dear Mr. Arslanian, Arslanian Diamonds have been successful in leading the rough procurement and diamond production for over 6 decades. Tell us some of the important factors behind the success story of the company.

The history of the Arslanian family in the diamond industry goes back to almost 70 years and started in 1950 Paris. In 1958, my grandfather moved to Belgium and established the headquarters in Antwerp, the capital of the diamond world.

In 1973, my father, Raffi Arslanian joined the company while his older brother, Ara, opened an office in New York 5 years later to specialize in exceptional diamonds and special stones. At the same time the foundation was lead for the expansion of a network of buying operations in Africa with a special focus in the Central African region and more specifically the Republic of Angola. We have also been a pioneer in Russia where since 1993 we have been receiving allocations from Alrosa and where we also set up polishing facilities in 2003. We also opened a polishing factory in Armenia in 1992 and more recently in 2014 we did a joint venture in Angola to open a polishing factory called Angola Polishing Diamonds S.A (APD). What is probably best known in the international diamond trade is the Arslanian House at Hoveniersstraat 30 in the middle of the diamond district in Antwerp, where our headquarter is located since 1990. It is at the same time the home of more than 150 international renowned players in the diamond business. Today, a new generation, all in our 30’s, have taken over the management of what is called the Arslanian Group. The 3 of us - my older brothers Garen and Nareg and myself - each have our own focus and are ready to bring the company to the next level.

Diamond industry has witnessed a rough patch in the last couple of months, especially the PANDEMIC that has led to the slowdown. What according to you is the future? Do you see a turnaround in terms of consumer-buying in the near future that can trigger the Diamond sector back into profitable business?

Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020, the global diamond supply chain was rendered paralyzed. Upstream, production at multiple world-class mines was curbed or outright suspended due to virus transmission precautions. Miners traditional sales avenues were also disrupted by air travel restrictions, border closures and quarantine requirements at almost all key trade centers. In the midstream, manufacturing facilities and exports centers, most notably in India, were closed as per government orders. Downstream, brick-and-mortar retailers around the world were forced to close due to government mandated lockdowns. Since the end of September, confidence in rough prices was restored and we see a much stronger market again, mainly driven by expectations on future demand from China.

Prices in 2021 will depend on the rate at which excess inventories held by the miners is released into the market in the coming years. While the pandemic has undoubtedly shaken an already fragile diamond industry vying for a recovery, it also seems to have accelerated a much needed supply shedding that will help position the industry for a more sustained recovery and a return to a much healthier state in the years to come.

Angola is poised to become the ‘Future Destination for Rough and polished diamond Business’ with the development of Angolan Diamond Hub housing the Angolan Diamond Bourse. What is your opinion on a viable business partnership with Angola?

In my opinion to balance the risk in a crashing market (2008-2009) or today with Covid-19, it is recommended in the future to have a fair balance between all available options. One viable option, as promoted by the Angolan Government, is the opening of polishing factories and establishment of more onshore diamond operation. Proper learning and education are in that regard essential. In the joint venture with Sodiam/Angola Polishing Diamonds (APD) we have gained experience in training Angolan operators to the highest possible skill levels. This is something in which we definitely want to invest further as it is essential for the good of Angola as a global diamond centre.

The Angolan government can count on us to assist further in upgrading the skills of the people to international standards. We have currently successfully trained more than 150 Angolan workers in our factory and we stand ready to do more. Last but not least, to sustain the growth it would be good to increase diamond output capacity through investment in the diamond mining sector.

Tell us something about the CSR activities of the Arslanian Group.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is core to the Arslanian family’s values. Most recently we have established the Arslanian Foundation. It was prompted by the recent humanitarian crisis both in Lebanon and in Armenia. The foundation was founded by the youngest generation of our family to support various causes for the Armenian families whether in Armenia or abroad.

My youngest sister, Lara, with the help of 2 friends, is now bringing together 60 credible international artists mostly of Armenian origin whose works will be auctioned to help the many families who have had to flee their own homes following the recent event of the war in the Artsakh region. This initiative is called “Protect ARTsakh”. It intends to provide both short-term and long-term aid in the form of housing allocations, basic furniture and food as well as heating for our aiding pregnant women and for children to go to school again. Prior to this, the Arslanian family has built three Armenian schools, combined it provides education to approximately 1,200 students.