Pluczenik Botswana (Pty) Ltd, the new diamantaire in the local market, said it would introduce sophisticated machinery to help its Botswana operation to deliver “the nicest” polished diamonds destined for the international market.
The firm is part of the titanic Pluczenik family diamond polishing firms, with an annual turnover of US $ 1 billion through its operations in Belgium, Botswana, China, Indian, Israel, Japan, Mumbai and the United States of America.
“We are going to introduce the most sophisticated machinery in the industry. We are going to bring automated laser machines so that we can produce the nicest thing,” the Antwerp-based, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pluczenik, Chaim Pluczenik, said at a press conference.
The machines are aimed at beating the low labour cost in China and India, which are treating a stone at US $ 20 compared to the local average cost of US $ 50. At the moment, Pluczenik, whose local operations are labour intensive, treat a stone at a cost of US $ 100, but it is unrepentant about its decision to open in Botswana. It said its immediate objective is to transfer skills to Batswana and, at the same time, enjoy the benefit of having rough diamonds.
“The most important thing about Botswana is that we will have rough (diamonds),” he added.
Pluczenik will be among the companies at the top end of the market by polishing and cutting diamonds at two-third grainer to a carat and above. After polishing the rough, Pluczenik will take the jewellery to its head office in Antwerp before getting into its marketing divisions, which are championed by EscadaÔÇöthe international fashion house and perfume brand. Some of the promotion will be handled by Chaumet, renowned for appealing to European aristocrats’ tastes.
Botswana, which is the world’s largest producer of diamonds, is in the process of setting up a diamond trading company called DTC Botswana, a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers SA and the Botswana government.
“I think it is a fantastic story to have polishers operating in producing countries. This will be helping Botswana in another way. Diamonds from Botswana will have an added value,” Managing Director of DTC London, Vada Shine said.
“This will give Batswana skills,” she added.
Pluczenik pushes the number of DTC Botswana accredited companies which are already operational, to five. The other four, which include Moti Ganz and Tiffany & Co, are expected to open soon.
All in all, there are 16 accredited companies to DTC Botswana which are expected to create direct employment for 3000 people. But there will be other opportunities in diamond banking, courier services, insurance, diamond analysts, tourism and catering services.
All the diamond polishing companies are expected to abide by a new set of rules to be laid by the yet to be established DTC Botswana which, among other things, will call for properly audited accounts and the capacity to carry out the business. Further, the companies are working by the “gentlemen’s agreement” which discourages poaching of staff from other operators. The idea is aimed at each company having to commit itself to the training of its staff to the international level.
According to De Beers SA’s managing Director, Gareth Penn, DTC Botswana will be operational by the third week of January 2008. He said Pluczenik, which has been a sight holder of DTC London for nearly 60 years, will be one of the major players in Botswana’s cutting and polishing business.
DTC Botswana is expected to sell diamonds to the value of US $ 550 million directly to Botswana-based companies by 2009.