Common Sense Prevails As Antwerp Bodies Join ForcesMarch 07, 18
The decision by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) to become a Main Partner for the 2018 edition of the CARAT+ show, along with the participation of the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses (FDBD), is clearly a victory for common sense. The financial case, I imagine, was also pretty significant for the organizers of the former Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF), given the growing desire among exhibitors at the ADTF for a change in the format, for the creation of a show in a major hall in the city – rather than in the bourses – and, frankly, for more value for money.
I attended several editions of the ADTF and right from the first in which I took part – probably the third fair – I heard complaints from exhibitors mentioning the above points. The cost was not inconsiderable given the rather small space provided. And there was always a feeling of being cramped rather than cozy.
Holding the show in the historic bourses provided a charming and unique setting, and the Gala Dinner and other events always provided exceptional networking opportunities. It was undoubtedly a smart idea and highly innovative, creating a trend for holding polished diamond fairs in the premises of diamond exchanges.
The Israel Diamond Exchange recently held the 7th edition of its International Diamond Week in Israel, New York's Diamond Dealers Club has held several editions of its India Diamond Weeks, Antwerp's rough diamond community holds its Rough Diamond Days events in the Kring, and next month – April 23-25 – the Bharat Diamond Bourse will hold its inaugural Bharat Diamond Week where it is expecting thousands of visitors/buyers.
Unfortunately, even smart ideas have a shelf life. Exhibitors felt too much money was being spent on bringing in potential buyers, who often brought only their potential with them and didn't bring about enough actual business. Holding the show in the bourse added sparkle and charm, but there was a strong feeling that a traditional setting and a show in a large building created for that specific purpose was more likely to be conducive to transactions taking place.
Similarly, there was often a feeling of confusion regarding whom the show was aimed at and that a wider range of buyers – both geographically and in terms of business sectors – was required. Over the years, that was addressed, but still the feeling persisted that bigger changes were required.
Creating the CARAT+ event in 2017 was a brave move, and with the critical support of the AWDC, by far the most important body in the Antwerp diamond trade which promotes 1,600 companies representing 6,600 direct and 26,000 indirect jobs in Belgium, there can be little doubt that this year's show is set to leap beyond its impressive first year results.
The announcement of the AWDC's support also mentioned innovative events being organized by the AWDC such as an immersive 360° film to be shown in the Antwerp Diamond Experience Dome on the CARAT+ show floor. The AWDC will also host the world’s first "Hack4Diamonds" event, which aims to "address contemporary challenges in the diamond industry by bringing together young innovators, students and start-ups with expertise in computer science, marketing, business management expertise, blockchain, artificial intelligence and more. Together they will ‘hack’ problems and seek to solve challenges during the fair." These are the kind of events that only a major player such as the AWDC can organize.
The decision to join forces and the boost to the new show will also be a shot in the arm for the Antwerp diamond sector which has undergone something of a crisis of confidence over the past decade. As CARAT+ founder and event director, Filip Van Laere, commented, "the combination of an entrepreneurial initiative like CARAT+ and one of the most respected organizations in the international diamond community is a tremendous feat. Together, we will help to ensure Antwerp remains a hub of diamond excellence and that CARAT+ develops into an annual destination for diamond networking and sales.”
Launched in 2017, the event attracted more than 3,000 visitors and 130 exhibitors. In addition to the FDBD and AWDC, show partners and sponsors this year also include major diamond and jewelry financier ABN AMRO Bank, motor company Bentley, security expert Brinks, Brussels Airlines, insurance broker Driesassur and the GIA, showing the depth of belief in the fair.
CARAT+ takes place from May 6 to 8 at Antwerp Expo.