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Bumi Traub: "There is a hope this year will be a decent one"

26 march 2012

Last November, Abraham (Bumi) Traub was elected President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association (IsDMA), founded in 1940 and representing the interests of all Israeli diamond manufacturers. He succeeded Moti Ganz, who led the association for the last seven years. This will be his second term in office, which he had already served in 1989-94.

He is reputed as one of the most active lobbyists for partnership with Russia in the diamond sector and is also the initiator of the Russian-language version of the IsDMA website.

He is the owner of Avraham Traub Diamonds (ATD), which was on the last year’s list of 25 most successful Israeli companies.

What can you say about the situation in the diamond market summing up the past year? And what should we expect in 2012?

The first half of 2011 was very good. In the second half the situation began to deteriorate, but on average 2011 was a very good year. Our business is exposed to all economic crises that periodically give a jolt to this or that continent. Now this is true in a greater extent about Europe than America, but Europe has never been a decisive buyer, so the perturbations occurring in Europe are of less concern to us. Despite the fact that the markets of South East Asia are now silent, the potential of this region remains very high. The American market is demonstrating little growth. Of course, goods are not the same there, as well as their assortment, as they used to be before the crisis, but growth is evident - it's a fact. I would also like to note that the decline of consumer confidence towards financial institutions and currencies pushed consumers to buy diamonds and jewelry, because the latter do not lose value and can serve as a reliable means of investment. This factor will also affect our business in 2012, and there is a hope that this year will be a decent one.

What are the current trends in jewelry design and consumer preferences?

I am not a jewelry designer, but I advise to pay attention to the fact that today interesting jewelry is often worth less than expensive branded bags, whereas for this money you may buy a jewelry piece that will be passed on from generation to generation, while some bag will be thrown out at the end of a year or two. As for preferences, people like various things: they prefer their favorite colors of gold and favorite shapes; adults choose classic things, young people love avant-garde designers. The main thing is to buy from the right people and at reliable stores – so that the item you buy was genuine and in line with its price. Unfortunately, here and there you come across fakes. In the jewelry market it is very important to maintain the purity of conduct, honesty and loyalty to the client, this is important.

Can an ordinary buyer distinguish a real diamond from, say, a cubic zirconia or other imitation by naked eye?

No, if he or she is not a professional, it’s impossible. Today forgeries are made at a very high quality level. So I want to emphasize what I said, buy where you are sure that you will not be deceived.

Today, besides expensive luxury things, buyers, especially young people, enjoy all sorts of electronic novelties - iPhones, iPads, and every coming year is bringing new and expensive gadgets. Isn’t this industry becoming a critical competitor for the jewelry trade?

The convergence of industries is possible: many goods which appear to be potential competitors are now flaunting diamonds. Of course it’s not true for iPhones, but cellular phones are already often graced with diamonds - Vertu, for example ... Fantasy and the desire to touch the beauty have no boundaries. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see my colleague, a talented jeweler, working on an amazing set of chess with a chess board which he was ordered - all made of diamonds. I am an optimist and I believe that people tend to want to live better and strive for beauty. And a real diamond is a natural symbol of this aspiration.

Please tell us how you came into this industry.

I came to Israel from Russia after two years of study at the university faculty of economics in 1973. I came with my family - I have been married for two months and I had to make a living. I started as an apprentice at a diamond-cutting factory of Goldfinger-Fluk, then I became a diamond cutter, then a contractor, and three years later, in 1976, I established my own diamond processing factory in Ramat Gan. I am now almost 40 years in business, was a member of the Israel Diamond Exchange and for about 20 years served as a member of the state commission on taxation in the diamond industry where was in charge of different committees. Since 2007, I am a lifelong Honorary President of the IsDMA.

What are your responsibilities as president of the association?

First of all, I took over from Moti Ganz, my friend, but because I was president in 1989-94 for me it is not new. But this was the first time when the president was elected unanimously. In fact, we have 16 committees that are engaged in negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service (after all, we have special agreements with them), and also in negotiations with De Beers, ALROSA and other diamond miners, we also deal with the development of technologies, work with our youth, supervise education and research programs and a host of other issues. But there is no strict framework - you may do everything that would be good for our industry: maintaining the relationships with all the countries where there are diamonds, plus our relationships with the countries, which buy diamonds from us, and we have buyers almost all over the world.

People speak about you as being an active supporter of developing trade relations with Russia.

So far, Russia has an imperfect legislation in the diamond industry and too high taxes on diamond and jewelry imports, but despite this, the situation is changing for better and cooperation between our countries is growing, and, of course, we should develop it further. Now in Russia there are more and more young people - vigorous, reliable, with good taste, and it is pleasant to deal with them.

Galina Semyonova, Rough&Polished