The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) was founded in 1947 to unite diamond exchanges under a single umbrella and provide a common set of trading practices and rules for diamond bourses around the world. These practices cover trading in rough and polished diamonds as well as colored gems.
Headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium, the WFDB has 31 member exchanges and diamond centers, covering all the main diamond trading centers, sometimes several exchanges in a country, of various sizes and levels of activities. At the heart of the WFDB’s rules is a code of practice and arbitration. It is through these common rules that commercial disputes between diamond traders that are members of different diamond bourses are managed and resolved.
When the formation of the WFDB was first envisioned by the president of the New York Diamond Dealers Club, Jack Sigman, in 1946, he initially suggested creating a vehicle that would be able to look out for the collective interests of the diamond trade.
WFDB’s mission statement is:
“The WFDB will lead, advise and manage its affairs with the objective of securing a growing, profitable, respected, and sustainable international diamond industry.
The WFDB will fulfill its responsibility by upholding and ensuring standards, protecting the industry's reputation and, where necessary, instituting disciplinary measures.”
Starting at the inaugural meeting of the WFDB in Antwerp in July 1947, at what today is recognized as the premiere World Diamond Congress, and over the years, the organization established a series of initiatives that indeed served the industry at large, as well as consumers.
The World Federation’s Code of Principles, or WFCOP, is a set of better business practices. It addresses issues such as the diamond treatments, conflict diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, child labor, health conditions in the workplace, disclosure, and other industry impacting practices.
In 1975, during the World Diamond Congress in Amsterdam, the WFDB and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) acted together to regulate diamond grading standards. A joint committee was appointed to create an international set of rules, work methods, and nomenclature. In 1978, the system was presented at the World Diamond Congress in Ramat Gan, Israel and approved as the IDC International Rules for Grading Diamonds.
When the issue of conflict diamonds broke, the WFDB took a firm stance to prevent the proliferation of illicit goods involved in financing rebel wars. In 2000, during the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp, the WFDB backed the formation of the Kimberley Process by forming the World Diamond Council (WDC). The WDC is a diamond industry organization that represents the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process, joining the United Nations, governments in producer, manufacturer and consumer countries, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that jointly formed the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Other initiatives were geared towards consumer confidence building. One such initiative is the WFDB Mark. It is a trademarked logo, which approved members of WFDB-affiliated diamond bourses are able to display to clients and suppliers, to confirm that they abide by the World Federation Code of Principles. A bourse member may display the WFDB Mark as long as they are in good standing. Bourse members can display their personalized WFDB Mark on business cards, company letterhead, and in display windows and company offices. The WFDB Mark symbol includes text that indicates it belongs to a registered WFDB bourse member, and it features the member’s registration number.
The WFDB has introduced a set of best business practices that includes creating systems for auditing, monitoring and enforcement. Every one of its affiliated bourses has a judicial system in place, and decisions taken at one bourse can be enforced in all of its sister bourses.
Another initiative of the WFDB is the World Diamond Mark Foundation. It is a nonprofit organization incorporated in Hong Kong, established in 2012 to promote consumer desirability and confidence in diamonds. It aims to achieve that objective with four core activities: forming generic marketing programs to increase sales of diamonds and diamond jewelry, providing consumer information to increase consumer desirability and trust in natural diamonds, provide retailer education and training to increase knowledge and retailer performance, and creating an Authorized Diamond Dealer (ADD) accreditation program to improve the reputation, brand value and revenue of jewelry retailers.
The Authorized Diamond Dealer program is the largest accreditation in the history of the diamond industry. The accreditation program is based on a fundamental retail diamond industry Code of Practices and a set of obligations to ensure high level of consumer service. It provides access to educational and degree programs, trade benefits, and marketing tools.
Most recently, the WFDB announced its backing of industry initiatives that are expected to strengthen the standing of diamonds. One is Know Your Client programs that can help diamond firms improve their transparency, especially in their dealings with banks and financial institutions. The other was a call to members of the diamond industry to embrace responsible sourcing as a standard element of their operations.
The WFDB says that its ability to “react to changing conditions in the market has, since 1947, provided the diamond sector with an ability to act decisively and in unison, despite the great distances between the various manufacturing and trading centers.”