Latin American Diamond & Jewelry Summit puts regional diamond market and Panama under the spotlight

The opening of the Latin America Gem & Jewelry Summit on March 18 at the Megopolis Convention Center in Panama City.

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The potential growth of the diamond and jewelry markets in South and Central America, Mexico and Caribbean, and the role in that process that will be played by the Panama Diamond Exchange and the new Panama Gem & Jewelry Center came under the spotlight at the Latin America Diamond & Jewelry Summit on March 18.

The summit was a highlight of the two-day launch of the Panama & Jewelry Center, on March 17 and 18. It was be held at the Megapolis Convention Center in downtown Panama City, and featured a blue ribbon panel of speakers, including government representatives, leaders of the international diamond and jewelry sectors, Latin American market specialists, gemologists, logistic and security specialists, as well as the planners and developers of the new regional trading hub.

Chairing the event was Eli Izhakoff, Hon. Chairman of the PDE Board of Directors, who also is Honorary Life President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), the World Diamond Council (WDC) and CIBJO, the World Jewelry Confederation. A welcoming address will be delivered by the Hon. Ricardo Quijano, Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, and he was followed by a presentation by Alberto Vallarino Clement, Chairman of Grupo VerdeAzul, one of the two companies developing the Panama Gem & Jewelry Center, who also is a former Finance Minister of Panama.

A series of presentation were delivered by diamond and jewelry industry leaders from around the world, including Ernest Blom, President, World Federation of the Diamond Bourses (WFDB); Gaetano Cavalieri, President, CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation; Avi Paz, President, World Diamond Council; Maxim Shkadov, President, International Diamond Manufacturers Association; Luis Jelensky, Mercurio Jewelers; Jeffrey H. Fischer,  Hon. President, of IDMA and DMIA and a member of the Board of Governors of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA); Reuven Kaufman, President , Diamond Dealers Club of New York; Ronnie Vanderlinden, President, Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of the United States (DMIA); Alex Popov, President, Moscow Diamond Bourse; Mehul Shah, President, Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association (IDCA); and Cecilia Gardner, President and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in the United States. Erez Akerman, President of the Panama Diamond Exchange also addressed the session, as did the developers and the architect of the Panama Gem & Jewelry Center, and Ismael Cala, a popular talk show host on CNN’s Spanish network, who discussed the development of the luxury markets in Latin America.

“To no small degree, the gemstone and jewelry sector in Latin America has underperformed, because it has lacked the trading infrastructure that is standard in the other major markets,” said Mr. Izhakoff. “To put it simply, there has been no place for us to hang our hat in. But that is set to change, with the establishment of what will become the industry’s regional trading hub, and the gateway to Latin America for the international trade.”

“In initiating the establishment the Panama Diamond Exchange, which will be at the heart of Panama Gem & Jewelry Center, we took a leaf out of the Government of Panama’s book, which is investing in the infrastructure of the Latin American jewelry industry. As a result, we expect to see accelerated growth,” said Erez Akerman, President of the Panama Diamond Exchange.

In their remarks, both Mr. Izhakoff and Mr. Akerman thanked the Government of Panama for the efforts taking to prepare the ground for a structured and competitive gem and jewelry trade in Panama, including obtaining membership in the Kimberley Process in 2012, and passing legislation that will render the area of the Panama Diamond Exchange and the Panama Gem & Jewelry Center a Free Zone, where transactions conducted within it will be exempt from customs and taxes, and corporations registered in the area will be exempt from company tax.

View scenes from the launch of the Panama Gem & Jewelry Center, March 16-18, 2014, including the Latin America Diamond & Jewelry Summit.