As survivors of the Holocaust, we were horrified by the sight of the tragic smoke from the World Trade Center visible on Fifth Avenue and 47th St.
We also mourn the loss of an esteemed colleague, Robert Speisman, 47, an executive of Lazare Kaplan and official at the American Gem Society who was on of the hijacked planes. A nicer guy was hard to find. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.
Our thoughts are also with the widows and children of all the firemen and police officers who gave their lives trying to save people during this terrible tragedy, as well as for all those who grieve.
The September 11th terrorist attacks were not just an attack on New York, or on America. They were an attack on the world. Terrorism is no longer something that happens just to Israel to Ireland — this is an attack by people who have a twisted belief that human life has no value.
As the result of this atrocity, America is now more united than ever. We will not reward terrorism with appeasement — financial or territorial.
On a personal note, we had a sister– and brother-in-law visiting from Antwerp who were scheduled to be at the World Trade Center Sept. 11th sightseeing. Thankfully, they are okay, although there was a terrifying two hours while we tried to reach them. Two weeks back, we received an email from an executive of an investment house that was located in the World Trade Center who was trying to sell a larger diamond. When we wrote back a week ago, we found out he was missing. Although we didn’t know him personally, it was just another thing that brought this appalling act back home.
The Trade Reacts
In the face of this unspeakable loss of life, it seems almost trivial to talk about its impact on the diamond trade. But we all have to go back to normal, and the scope of this newsletter is to cover the direction of the diamond industry.
Without a doubt, these attacks will hurt an already shaky industry as they came right before the holiday buying season. There will be an effect on the economy, jobs, and the stock market. De Beers, which now says it is being more “flexible” with its sights, has already said they are drastically cutting allocations for the rest of the year.
When there is a recession, the diamond and jewelry industry is always the first to feel it and the last to reap the rewards of a recovery. The question is not whether the economy will be hurt; it’s how long will it be hurt and when it will recover. People will still buy for the holidays, but they may be a little more cautious. We are already seeing a trend toward requests for smaller sizes and somewhat lower quality goods.
We also see a slight bump in on-line sales for the bricks-and-mortar sites and dot-coms who have survived. With people afraid to travel and maybe even to visit shopping centers, there may be more shopping at home.
For the diamond industry, there may be at least an economic silver lining to these dark clouds. One, with people spending less on travel, they will have money for other things. Secondly, in the face of tragedy, people will realize just how important their loved ones are, and to express their feelings more openly—which could lead to them purchase tokens of that love, like diamonds.
Finally, we count on the resilience on the people of America and the entire civilized world to band together and not let these monsters win.
On a positive note, we wish all our readers a happy and healthy New Year and hope to be able to report on better things in the days ahead.