One of the original founders of Sarine, Uzi Levami has a long history of founding high-tech companies. He was awarded the prestigious Israel Defense Award in 1992 by then President Chaim Herzog, for his endeavors on a development project for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He is a former major in the IDF.
Uzi Levami has been the CEO of the Sarine Group since February 2009 and an Executive Director since December 2008.
With a Master's degree in Computer Sciences from the Weizmann Institute of Science; and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering (Cum Laude) from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.
In an interview with Rough&Polished, Uzi Levami talks the company's new product that will be launched mid-2017, as well as about Sarine's efforts to create high-tech products as an ongoing process for the global diamond industry.
The need for technology to keep pace with the changing consumer trends has become more important of late than ever before. What steps is Sarine Technologies taking to keep abreast with this fast-growing industry, given that the competition is picking up as well?
For anyone involved in the consumer retail industry, it is clearer than ever that technology plays a key role. Today's consumers, particularly the younger, tech-savvy generation, expect a certain purchase experience. They are more educated and informed about the product they want to buy, and they demand more from the entire customer journey. There is no reason that diamond jewelry retail should be any different in this respect than other luxury goods, or indeed, any other consumer product. At Sarine, we see our company as developing technology-based solutions for jewelry retailers that bridge the gap between the experience the consumer wants and the experience they have when buying a diamond, whether in store or online.
For years Sarine Technologies has been producing sophisticated products for the global diamond industry, but what are the new products that have been introduced in the past one year?
In 2016, we launched our new Sarine Connect, a digital search and display solution for diamonds, gemstone and jewelry inventory at the point of sale. Sarine Connect is a cloud-based, mobile app for diamond traders and retailers. It enables them to present targeted offerings to customers in a fast, attractive and interactive way that brings incredible focus to the sales presentation. Of course, it fully integrates with Sarine Profile, our flagship diamond sales platform.
And among them, which of the new product/s that have made a significant mark in the diamond industry in the past 12 months resulting in high demand?
The past year has been a very exciting one for Sarine Profile, our digital diamond sales solution. Sarine Profile was introduced to the market in mid-2015, and in 2016, it achieved deep inroads in the diamond industry, in both the US and in Asia Pacific. We are delighted by the enthusiastic way the industry has adopted and implemented the Sarine Profile as part of the diamond sales process, and we look forward to continuing to develop and market Sarine Profile worldwide to our customers.
Do you supply customized products as well? Can you give us an example, if you can? And does Sarine have any plans on the anvil to develop new product/s in the near future?
Sarine Profile is designed to support and strengthen the retailer's individual brand, therefore it is a completely customized and modular product. There is no "off-the-shelf" version of Sarine Profile. Every delivery of Sarine Profile to our customers is individually tailored to meet their needs.
With respect to new products, in late 2016, we announced the next technology revolution for the diamond industry, with our new Sarine Color and Sarine Clarity grading products. Both technologies will change the way diamonds are graded and sorted, and we expect to release them to the market in mid-2017.
Sarine's 'Galaxy Inclusion Mapping Systems' was well received by the industry in 2016. How will this reflect on your financials for the year? Which country was the main consumer of these systems?
2016 was indeed an excellent year for our Galaxy inclusion mapping products, including Galaxy Meteor, the model for the smaller stone segment. As of end 2016, 299 Galaxy systems were installed, and we are proud to have doubled our income from our Galaxy systems this year. The majority of Galaxy systems were installed in India, the world's largest hub for diamond manufacturing.
The Indian diamond cutting centre has been a patron of Sarine products for quite a while. What steps is Sarine taking to maintain its position as a major tech supplier to the Indian sector? How is Sarine facing in India currently, given that other players are also aggressively entering the market?
At Sarine, each and every product is developed by first exploring how we can improve our customers' profitability. This is always our starting point. Due to this rationale, our technologies offer industry-leading approaches. We make sure to stay one step ahead with forward thinking solutions that anticipate future challenges to the diamond industry, and, of course, we cherish and protect our IP. Also, after so many decades in the industry, we are deeply entrenched in the entire diamond pipeline, so we have a unique perspective of the various issues that arise.
The diamond cutting sector in India is going through a tough time at present, especially the SMEs which are adversely affected by demonetisation and other issues. In the current situation, how is Sarine faring in terms of sales of its products?
Due to the makeup of our customer base, we have not been affected by the changes in India, and it's been business as usual for Sarine.
What is your opinion on the current global diamond manufacturing industry? With profits waning, diamond manufacturers are hard hit, especially in the Indian cutting sector. Have you any suggestions for the Indian manufacturers in terms of technological upgradation?
The past year was one of recovery and stabilization for the diamond industry, and for this we are thankful, and optimistic for 2017. Having said that, there are definite ways that diamond manufacturers in India can take advantage of new technologies to advance their business. The most important aspect of any technology in a manufacturing setting is operational flexibility. Diamond manufacturers must use technology to react swiftly to changes in the market, adapting their programs in real time to meet market demands. There are technologies that currently exist and new emerging technologies that enable diamond manufacturers to do just that. For example, our new Sarine Clarity machine, which I mentioned earlier is due to be released in mid-2017, features a sorting function that enables sorting of diamonds into sub-gradings based on pre-defined criteria, so manufacturers can ensure that each diamond is optimally valued for its ideal market. This new technological approach allows for a level of flexibility that gives manufacturers a definite competitive edge.
Aruna Gaitonde, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished