President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturer’s Association Bumi Traub, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies and President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association Moti Ganz, Chairman of the De Beers Group Nicky Oppenheimer and President of the Israel Diamond Exchange Yair Sahar
Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers, has been recognized by the Israeli Diamond Industry for his contribution to the diamond sector, and awarded the Israeli Diamond Industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award during an evening gala dinner last night (Monday 19th March 2012) in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv.
The dinner was attended by Nicky Oppenheimer, his son and Head of De Beers Group Chairman's Office Jonathan Oppenheimer, CEO of De Beers Philippe Mellier, CEO of the Diamond Trading Company Mrs. Varda Shine, and dignitaries of the Israeli Diamond Industry including Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute and President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association Moti Ganz, President of the Israel Diamond Exchange Yair Sahar, President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association Bumi Traub, Israel Diamond Controller Shmuel Mordechai, Honorary Presidents, the heads of industry banks, MDs of the sector, former and current sightholders and well-known figures from the Israeli Diamond Industry.
Honorary President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association Uri Schwartz
Uri Schwartz, from A. Schwartz and Sons, who served as President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association for 9 years, and has been a member of all the significant boards of the Israeli Diamond Industry, addressed the audience first, speaking of the historic relationship between the syndicate and the Israeli Diamond Industry.
“We are departing from a fabulous chapter in the history of the diamond industry– a chapter that began with your distinguished grandfather and continued with your father. Now it is reaching its final pages with you, Nicky. Your name has already been recorded in history as one of the giants of the world diamond industry,” Mr. Schwartz told Mr. Oppenheimer.
Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute Eli Avidar, President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturer’s Association Bumi Traub, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies and President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association Moti Ganz, Chairman of the De Beers Group Nicky Oppenheimer and President of the Israel Diamond Exchange Yair Sahar
Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute Eli Avidar, together with Moti Ganz, Yair Sahar and Bumi Traub, Avidar presented the award to Nicky Oppenheimer. “Nicky, on behalf of the Israeli Diamond Industry, I would like to present you with the highest award that our industry has bestowed on any individual. We present this to you in recognition of your vision, courage and inspiration in leading the world diamond industry for three decades. You have spearheaded innovations that have changed the face of the industry for generations to come. In your endeavors you have continued a family heritage of honesty, integrity and adherence to the highest standards.”
After the end of the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Nicky Oppenheimer addressed the audience emotionally. “I really just want to say how deeply appreciative I am of this honor. I see it as an honor not just for me – but for the Oppenheimer family, both past and present. The Oppenheimer family has had diamonds in its blood throughout its history. It was in my grandfather’s blood, and it was in my father’s blood. It is in my blood and also in my son Jonathan’s. That is something you cannot do away with, regardless of whether we will be part of De Beers in the future.”
Referring to the family’s decision to sell their stake in De Beers to Anglo American, Nicky Oppenheimer continued, “Just as you will understand the difficulty of the decision, the Israeli diamond families here will understand more than anybody else that we did the right thing. In my head it was the right thing to do. My heart might feel differently, but I know we did the right thing.”
Nicky Oppenheimer recalled his previous visits to Israel and some of the memorable characters that he had met to the audience. “I’ve had a long relationship with the diamond industry here. I knew when I came that these were people I could relate to.” He also complimented Varda Shine, pointing out that she had begun her illustrious career in Israel. “Varda is simply splendid. In times of difficulty, so often if you are lucky you find the right person in the right place. And Varda has been just that person.”
He also paid tribute to the recently appointed CEO of De Beers Philippe Mellier, who joined the industry following many years in the transport sector. “It was no easy thing to look outside the company to fill this role. I think you will find that we made a wise decision. We thought at the end of the day that he was the right man for the job.”
Nicky Oppenheimer also referred to the future of the industry, and the Israeli industry in particular, describing it as special. “We know that we leave the Israeli industry in good shape and De Beers in good shape. De Beers is well positioned for the future. Jonathan and I can step away from the industry, filled with confidence that over the future. On occasions like this one wants to say that the industry is in good shape. However, it is important to get an outside opinion as confirmation. I don’t think you can a better endorsement than the $5 billion that Anglo are going to pay us for our share,” said Oppenheimer, explaining that Anglo American is a tough company who would not enter into such a deal with the Oppenheimer’s if they did not believe in the future of the diamond sector.
Again referring to Israel’s role in the diamond industry, Nicky Oppenheimer said, “I am filled with confidence that the diamond industry people here are innovative and entrepreneurial and move with the times. The diamond industry here has evolved and will continue to evolve. It will flourish on your skills and expertise.”
“You’ve given me and my ancestors an unbelievable honor with this award tonight. Even if we are not invested in the diamond industry, we will continue to follow the industry with great expectations. This is a great honor for me and Jonathan, and will be well remembered by both of our families into the future,” concluded Nicky Oppenheimer.
During the evening, the guests heard a performance by the Three Israeli Tenors, Felix Livshitz, Boris Yerofeev and Dmitry Semionov. These sought after members of the cast of the Israeli Opera, appear in concerts and vocal festivals around the world and perform with leading orchestras including the Israel Philharmonic.