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HRD Antwerp
expands services in Dubai & the Middle Eastern Region
Brings in latest technology & Know-how

Mehmet Can Ozdemir
Managing Director - HRD Antwerp - Middle East Operations
The New Jeweller Bureau spoke to Mehmet Can Ozdemir, Managing Director - HRD Antwerp - Middle East Operationsin the GCC region and the Middle East to understand more about HRD Antwerp operations in the region. In this exclusive he also opines on the importance of the 3rd edition of the Dubai Diamond Conference. Excerpts:

You will be participating in the third edition of the Dubai Diamond Conference later this month. What do you expect of this conference, with a large number of diamond mining firms, bankers, and other stake holders attending this forum?

These conferences, where, as you mention, the major stakeholders in the diamond supply pipeline gather and meet, have become very important platforms to discuss the most 'burning' questions and most urgent problems all players, in one way or another, are contending with.

I have attended numerous of such meetings and while the discussions on the floor are important and significantly contribute toward the needed solutions, the meetings that take place in these events' corridors and during the after-hours of the conference days are often of no less importance! This format offers all participants the assurance that the participants' suggestions, ideas and opinions are heard and taken in account.

Of course, the topics that we will be discussing are many, since the challenges posed by the industry's transformation are manifold, and can and must be addressed by all the major stake holders of the industry. Looking at the roster, I certainly believe that the upcoming Dubai Diamond Conference will contribute to identifying and solving the current hot issues, allowing us all to take important step forward toward new horizons for the industry at large.

The diamond grading business has gone through an revolutionary phase in the last couple of years with respect to lab grown diamonds making an entry. What role can HRD Antwerp, including HRD Antwerp-Turkey play in creating awareness and what is required to educate industry members?

Credible, consistent diamond grading services have become vital to the diamond and jewellery industry and with their services reputable and well established labs such as HRD Antwerp have become the gate keepers on the industry's credibility as well as 'safeguards' of its reputation. HRD Antwerp is at the forefront of assuring that its grading is independent, incorruptible, ever consistent and repeatable. Unlike most other grading labs, HRD Antwerp is backed by a strong and veteran research and development institution that not only helps keep its standards high but also innovates, supplying the lab with new technologies and products that are required in a fast changing downstream that demand new formats and easier to understand grading reports. Since the retail jeweller is the direct point of contact to the consumer, we must do all we can to support the retailer with as many new and user-friendly, innovative technology and tools in their engagement with the consumer.

Synthetics are a hot topic in the diamond supply pipeline. HRD Antwerp has developed an impressive number of tools for the identification of synthetic or lab grown diamonds. Can you elaborate?

Since long, HRD Equipment has introduced and commercialised a wide range of the sophisticated systems and devices that were developed, designed and fine-tuned in the laboratories of HRD Research. These instruments are brought to the market for the benefit of the diamond and jewellery industry and trade, both in Belgium and around the globe.

Currently, the major threat posed by synthetic diamonds is the mixing - often called seeding or salting - of undisclosed synthetic diamonds in lots of - mostly small, also called melee - natural diamonds. Such unscrupulous actions are highly damaging to the consumers' confidence in our business!

While the leadership of the global diamond industry is fighting the criminal elements involved in these unlawful activities, we at HRD Antwerp have countered this threat by developing high-tech detection systems of synthetic diamonds, such as our M-Screen+. A superfast automated melee screening device. As mentioned above, the mixing of synthetics is done mostly in parcels of small round, melee diamonds, so we are talking about large volumes of diamond parcels that need to be screened.

The M-Screen was designed to automatically feed, screen and sort small, round diamonds at a high speed of minimum three diamonds per second or 80 to 100 carat per hour. Depending on the size of the stones and the size of the batch, the speed can be as high as a staggering 15,000 diamonds per hour. I am pleased to report that we have been asked to demonstrate the M-Screen during the Dubai Diamond Conference and also at the following Vicenza-Oro Dubai show. After that, the M-Screen+ will be made available at the Dubai Diamond Exchange for another six months for demonstration purposes and for active use for the industry.

The GCC and Middle Eastern region is a growing retail and consumer market for diamonds gems and jewellery. What are HRD Antwerp’s plans to expand and position its leadership position in the region?

HRD Antwerp is and will always be at service of the industry, and our focus lays especially on the retail part of the diamond supply pipeline. We want to keep bringing sustainable solutions and technology to the retailers, and strengthen our position as their partner in the years to come!

Dubai is an important transit market for rough diamonds, with numerous rough diamond companies and dealers holding office at the Almas tower in the Jumeirah Lake District. What services is HRD Antwerp offering its services pertaining to rough diamonds in Dubai?

HRD Antwerp is unique in the range and diversity of rough diamond education that includes high quality courses about rough diamond planning worldwide. Of course, we are keen to bring our educational expertise for rough diamonds to Dubai. We believe that practical, fast, and efficient courses will help Dubai expand its rough diamond business further.

How do you see the relationship between Turkey and UAE regarding the diamond trade between these two important economies? And can you tell us what steps HRD Antwerp- Turkey is taking to expand its services in the region?

It is no secret that Turkey is one of the world's most important and diverse jewellery manufacturing production centres, both for half-finished (mountings) as well as high end finished jeweler! And the UAE is our second largest export destination for jewellery. As such, the UAE and especially Dubai are very important for Turkey as a trading hub. It is for that reason that the Turkish government has initiated and installed its Turkish Trade Centre (TTC) in Dubai's Almas Tower. The TTC's mission is to further, develop and grow the diamond, gem and jewellery business and trade with the UAE. Thanks to the management of the Dubai Multi commodities Centre (DMCC) we were offered the opportunity of fast, reliable and measurable business development.

It is also worth mentioning that HRD Antwerp has opened a drop-off point at the Almas Tower in Dubai, offering free, weekly shipping to our labs in Istanbul and Antwerp. This new drop-off will allow us to be in close contact with the industry, and offer tailor-made solutions to our Dubai-based clientele. Until now Dubai's trade was looking for reliable screening system, pre-color gradings or diamond reports with sealings. All those demands are now covered and served to the industry through our drop-off point.