Rapaport Magazine

Thirty Years

By Martin Rapaport
RAPAPORT... 1978 was a good year. An exciting time for a young man entering the diamond trade. I was 26 and diamonds were hot. In July, I published the first diamond price list. People laughed, but six price lists were sold for 25 cents each. You could say the rest is history. In 1978, well before PCs and the internet, Rapaport and the information revolution had come to the diamond industry.

It’s hard to believe that 30 years have come and gone. An older and wiser generation has retired, replaced by new teams of high-energy young professionals. Mine is the middle generation, bearing witness to the changes, challenges and opportunities. Keepers of the stories, heard firsthand. The Great War, the booms, the busts, the prosperity and the poverty. Our experience and knowledge optimize the energy of the next generation. Yet in the great battle of perspectives, the future, once ours, is theirs. It has taken me 30 years to learn this.

These past 30 years have been a celebration of change and opportunity. Creating and riding waves of the information revolution has been exciting. But even more important than revolution has been the evolution of our trade. The people of our diamond and jewelry trade are the real heroes. They have grown our industry beyond all expectations. The secret of our industry’s success has been the ability of the people in our trade to adapt to new realities, to meet change head-on and to turn great challenges into greater opportunities.

The diamond industry has confronted and surpassed every conceivable challenge over the past three decades. You name it, we have experienced it, survived and prospered. Wildly surging diamond prices and severe shortages in the late 1970s, speculation, investment diamonds, a “totally out-of-control” market collapse in the early ’80s, bankruptcies, certs, Rap price sheets, commoditization, fancy color diamond boom, cutting center move to Thailand and China, big Far East boom/bust, monopolist exploitation, low profits, no profits, internet boom/bust, consumer price transparency, Supplier of Choice, De Beers brand, downstream marketing, vertical integration, branding, cut grades, synthetics, treatments, blood diamonds, Kimberley Process, Patriot Act AML legislation, mine-to-consumer audit trail marketing, Forevermark, Dubai, hundreds of millions of new Indian and Chinese consumers and, most recently, the U.S. recession/ depression, more bankruptcies and bank auctions, severe economic uncertainty, surging Arab and Russian demand, booming commodity and large-stone prices.

All of us in the diamond and jewelry trade should take great comfort in the fact that we have not only survived the past 30 years but have prospered through them. Let us recognize that we and our industry are stronger and greater than we imagine. Let us take strength and grow confidence from our past.

While the title of this article “Thirty Years” recognizes our Rapaport 30th anniversary, it is wrong to assume that our focus should be limited to the past 30 years. We must beware the dangers of luxuriating over the past, as it may encourage us to grow complacent and self-satisfied.

What about the “next thirty years?” Where will you, your family and your business be 30 years from now? What great challenges will you have confronted? What great accomplishments will you have made? What great opportunities will you have realized? How will your business, children and employees be situated?

An anniversary is a good time for reflection. It is a good time to take stock of who we are, where we are, where we have come from and where we are going. It is a good time for proactive strategic thinking and planning. All too often we are caught up in the reactive environment of our day-to-day activities. We must take time to step out of the box and consider not just who we are, but who we could be.

As we celebrate our 30th Rapaport anniversary, it is appropriate to thank G-D for enabling our success. We recognize past accomplishments and survival of difficult and turbulent times. We pray to be worthy of great success in the future. At this time, it is also correct to thank the many thousands of our friends and supporters throughout the world, who have stood by us through good and difficult times and who have consistently supported our efforts over all these years. On behalf of all of us at Rapaport, I thank you.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2008. To subscribe click here.

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