What began as a routine media investigation has uncovered an unusual shroud of mystery surrounding Australian representation to an international jewelery organisation.
For the uninitiated, the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia (DDCA) has been operating since 2007 under the long-term leadership of Chairman Rami Baron, providing members with a “platform” to connect with the wider industry.
According to the DDCA website, for $550 an Australian jewelry store can enjoy an impressive list of benefits. Members have the opportunity to stay ahead of the diamond industry with insights into crucial industry news, as well as access to a members-only directory of suppliers and wholesalers.
Under ‘Trusted Associations’, the DDCA website states that it is the “Australian and New Zealand representative of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), meaning members automatically associate to a world organization.
The DDCA also claims to offer exclusive courses, members-only webinars and networking opportunities, regular newsletter updates, and “integration” with the Young Diamantaires platform and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, although there is no explanation of what “integration” is. actually implies or means.
Trust is an important concept for the DDCA, as its website also states, “Trusted Source – Having a trusted source to tap into in every state, when looking for a variety of services or products.”
Jeweler first approached the DDCA when researching an upcoming feature in the diamond industry, however, and somewhat intriguingly, it became difficult to establish some basic ‘organization’ details.
One area that lacked clarity was in membership, how many members does the DDCA have? Unable to establish this most basic fact, a number of other issues were soon pointed out.
Confidence and Clarity
The WFDB was established in 1947 and has over 28,000 members in 29 diamond “exchanges”, of which the DDCA is one.
This notion of “trust” espoused by the DDCA stems from this governing body: “The WFDB, an association of the world’s leading diamond exchanges, is the official organization of the international diamond trading industry. The WFDB promotes the principles of trust, transparency and integrity among all members of the industry.
Jeweler contacted DDCA chairman Rami Baron late last month for information about the club.
Baron – who represents Australia on the WFDB executive committee – explained that the Australian stock exchange is “virtual” and therefore does not have a registered business address, so the address of whoever holds the chairmanship is used. .
He was president for the last 14 years of the DDCA’s 15-year existence.
Baron explained that the DDCA serves as a conduit, linking WFDB information to Australian members and providing an opportunity to clarify details on concepts such as the KP process.
Baron alluded to the club’s rocky start in 2007 and said membership has not grown hugely and is made up of a mix of diamond dealers and retailers.
On the subject of membership, Baron remained elusive, first informing that there were “just under 50 members”.
Following requests for specific membership numbers – “under 50” can mean anything – which were initially rebuffed (an unusual response for a membership-based industry organization), requests for specific number were then met with silence.
In contrast, many of the major Diamond Bourse members list their members on their websites and most provide contact information in the form of a directory.
Baron cited privacy as the reason the DDCA website does not list members, expressing concern about the unwarranted approach of marketers.
While such concern has some merit, after repeated requests, Baron did not confirm or substantiate the list of DDCA members for Jewelereven with the assurance that the information provided would not be published or shared.
In addition, Jeweler asked Baron to provide a hand-picked list of four or five members to approach for an article. This offer was also met with silence.
Baron also provided historical background to the DDCA, stating that the formation process was “hit and miss” due to some contentious issues with some of the original members, which he preferred not to explore.
He explained that he was invited to the board and then elected president – he has been president of the DDCA since September 2008. The organization also has two other publicly identified leadership positions – the vice president and a president of the promotion.
What may not be widely understood is that the DDCA is registered as an unincorporated body with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
ASIC records show that Baron is registered as the sole representative of the DDCA and his registered address is Market Street in Sydney, the same address as a number of Baron’s private businesses.
The most confusing aspect is that, despite having been in operation since 2007, ASIC records show that the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia was only registered last year – February 21, 2021.
Jeweler asked for clarification from Baron on this subject, namely: under which legal structure/entity the DDCA previously operated (from 2007 to January 2021).
Additionally, unlike the Jewelers Association of Australia (JAA) and the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA), the DDCA does not appear to be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the national regulatory body. charities, clubs and non-profit organizations.
Since the DDCA website lists a vice president and class president, Jeweler asked for clarification on the position of treasurer, the management of the financial affairs of the club and whether its annual financial reports were “audited” or “reviewed” independently.
The Market Street address is also home to at least six other businesses, some of which predate the DDCA.
ASIC records show these include insurance firms JewelCover, Jewel Bid and the Australian Jewelers Consortium, otherwise known as Jewelclaim, with their headquarters in Market Street, Sydney.
According to ASIC records, six other companies – including Jewelery Insurance Australia and Q Report – are registered at an address on George Street (The Strand), Sydney.
While Q Report, a company that bills itself as “Australia’s most trusted and highly rated specialist engagement ring insurance provider” – is registered with ASIC at George Street, it appears to operate from the Market Street address.
Complaints and Complaints
Baron’s Jewelclaim has been in business since 1996 and, according to its website, has handled “hundreds of thousands” of jewelry claims. The company’s goal is simple: “Our job is to save money, time and provide information to your [insurance] the complaints team.
Interestingly, although Jewelclaim – an insurance company – is not a member of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the World Jewelery Confederation (CIBJO) or the WFDB, the logos of these three international bodies appear on the Jewelclaim website.
“The Australian Jewelers Consortium has direct relationships with organizations such as the GIA, CIBJO and WFDB,” reads the Jewelclaim website.
As if to benefit from the reputation and imprimatur of the three organizations, the Jewelclaim site adds: “This global pool of knowledge and experience is priceless.
A connection between an insurance claims handler and membership in one of the three international jewelry organizations is difficult to understand.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) brings together the world’s leading experts in gemology and jewelry. The World Jewelery Confederation (CIBJO) promotes the interests of players in the diamond, jewelery and precious metals sectors. CIBJO is an international association of other (country-based) associations such as the JAA, and describes itself as the “United Nations of the Jewelery Industry”.
And as explained above, the WFDB is dedicated to serving the international diamond trading industry.
Jeweler has contacted the GIA, CIBJO and WFDB to seek clarification on who can and cannot use said organizations’ intellectual property, particularly in the context of use to promote a private enterprise.
The GIA was the first to respond, with director of corporate communications Stephen Morisseau explaining that misappropriation of the association’s logo was something very serious.
“We are very protective of our logo and our brands. Consumer protection is our mission, and ensuring that GIA is not misrepresented in any way is an important part of that,” he said.
“Retailers who are part of our Retailer Support Program (RSP) and GIA alumni may use GIA logos, subject to conditions and with certain restrictions.”
The GIA Retailer Support Program is offered to businesses as a way to increase staff knowledge of diamonds and gemstones.
Since Jewelclaim is an insurance company and not a jewelry retailer, one has to wonder if Jewelclaim might be a member of the GIA RSP, and therefore, may have used the GIA logo without permission.
Similarly, when contacted, Sharon Geffen, WFDB public relations manager, said Jeweler“I appreciate your question about who can use our logo. In fact, sole proprietorships are generally not members of the WFDB. It is in principle a scholarship organization. All member stock exchanges can therefore use the logo.
“We have a few associate members, which are companies or organizations, and they can use the logos as well.”
Jeweler subsequently provided the three international member-based organizations with a copy of the Jewelclaim website requesting clarification on the use of their logo by an insurance company.
Baron was also contacted to clarify whether Jewelclaim had obtained specific permission to use the GIA, CIBJO and WFDB logos on his private company’s website, and at press time he had not responded.
As previously mentioned, Baron sits on the Executive Committee of the WFDB, the About WFDB page reads: “As the industry’s most important representative body, the WFDB advances the principles of trust, transparency and integrity among stock exchange members and in the industry as a whole. [bold emphasis added]
There can be simple, logical explanations for all of these questions – and Jeweler awaits a response – however, failing an explanation by the DDCA, Jeweler will seek clarification and appeal to the WFDB’s own demands to support ‘transparency’ in the international jewelery industry, which would include its own Australian and New Zealand representative.
ASIC Registration: Diamond Dealers Club of Australia