Since he founded EL-RAN Diamonds decades ago in Antwerp, Belgium, Israeli-born Eyal Atzmon (EA) has been at the forefront of integrating traceability and ethical sourcing in his business model. In this exclusive interview, Atzmon discusses the significance of traceability for the industry, his journey with iTraceiT, and why it is s essential for the entire diamond supply chain to adopt these practices swiftly.

Question (Q): Why and when did you understand that traceability needs to be part of your business processes?

EA: At EL-RAN, we’ve always prioritized ethical sourcing, best business practices, and sustainability long before they became buzzwords in our industry. During the past decades, I often was among the first diamond companies to introduce procedures and technologies to ensure that the diamonds we manufacture and sell are responsibly sourced and sold. For example, I was among Antwerp’s first mid-sized diamond firms to install identification equipment to detect lab-grown diamonds. My firm was also one of the first SMEs in Antwerp to become an RJC member.

As such, our involvement in and collaboration with iTraceiT was a logical, strategic step in ensuring every diamond we deal with is traceable from the mine to the market. Transparency is not just another value-adding tool; it’s a sine qua none – an industry standard the entire industry must adopt.

Q: How crucial is traceability for the diamond industry today?

EA: Traceability is no longer optional; it’s essential. And after the G7 sanctions, it is a law. The diamond industry is at a crossroads where business partners, retailers, and consumers demand proof of ethical sourcing and transparency. Traceability ensures compliance, builds customer trust, and protects the industry’s integrity.

Q: What would you say to diamond miners about the importance of being part of the traceability chain from the start? 

EA: Joining the traceability chain from the beginning is vital for miners. It’s not just about meeting regulations; it’s about being part of a responsible supply chain that values ethical practices. This approach enhances their credibility and opens up new markets that prioritize sustainability. From a marketing perspective, it will help build their mining name as a brand.

Q: Why should other diamond dealers consider adopting iTraceiT?

EA: Adopting iTraceiT is a smart business decision. It’s about staying ahead of the curve in a competitive market. Dealers who embrace traceability early will have a significant advantage. They will be seen as pioneers in ethical practices, attracting customers who value transparency and responsibility. And here, too, in regards to the G7 sanctions, iTraceiT is present in the complete supply chain, so the origin can be maintained even after splitting or merging parcels.

Q: How does iTraceiT specifically benefit dealers and the industry?

EA: iTraceiT brings efficiency, transparency, and compliance to the diamond trade. It simplifies tracking each diamond’s journey, ensuring that every stone we sell adheres to the highest ethical standards. This means a unified step towards responsible trading and enhanced consumer trust in the industry.

Q: What’s your message to the diamond industry about the future of traceability? 

EA: The future of the diamond industry hinges on traceability and ethical sourcing. We must collectively work towards a transparent supply chain. This shift isn’t just about compliance; it’s about securing the future of the diamond industry in a world that increasingly values sustainability and ethics. 

Q: There are othertraceability applications for the supply chain in the market. What features make iTraceiT different?

EA: There are some other excellent traceability applications in the gem and jewelry industry and trade. Most, if not all, of these different applications were developed and are owned and managed by larger corporations operating in our industry. Anyone who wishes to use their traceability apps needs to be their client. This is not the case with iTraceiT’s app. iTraceiT is an independent, third-party, fee-based app anyone can access and use. iTraceiT is built to connect to other applications and stock management systems such as XSS, Aerodiam, and others. It can connect to other traceability applications and carry their information downstream of the supply chain.

Q: Your firm is specialized in the supply of high-quality, standard-sized diamonds. How does iTraceiT specifically address the challenges of managing large and small diamond parcels?

EA: The diamond industry has unique challenges, particularly when tracking mixed and split parcels through the supply chain. iTraceiT stands alone in its ability to provide granular tracking and management of these processes. The platform’s design allows for precise management of diamond parcels regardless of size. This includes the intricate handling of melee diamonds, where the margin for error is slim. iTraceiT’s only application that meets these challenges is its unparalleled integration across all parts of the supply chain, which connects seamlessly with suppliers’ and dealers’ systems, providing real-time visibility and control. With the integration with the Logion software, iTraceiT can legalize documents, which sets it apart at the compliance level.

Q: In practical terms, how does iTraceiT enhance the management of mixed and split diamond parcels?

EA: Practically speaking, iTraceiT streamlines the entire process of mixing and splitting. When dealing with a high-value commodity like diamonds, each parcel combined with others or divided—is paramount. iTraceiT’s system is engineered to handle this with absolute precision, maintaining an accurate record of each stone’s journey. This is especially crucial for small diamond parcels, like melees, which are frequently mixed and re-sorted. The system’s robustness ensures the traceability of these diamonds, maintaining a transparent chain of custody, which is crucial for customer assurance and regulatory compliance. 

Q: How do iTraceiT’s integration capabilities with stock management systems benefit diamond dealers? 

EA: iTraceiT’s ability to integrate with existing stock management systems is a game-changer for diamond dealers. It’s not just about tracking; it’s about creating a synchronized system where inventory management aligns with traceability. This integration allows for an efficient flow of information, making it easier to manage stock levels, understand parcel locations, and ensure that the mixing and splitting of parcels are reflected accurately across all platforms. This cohesion is vital for dealers who must stay ahead in a competitive and fast-paced market. We are using the XSS application that integrates entirely with iTraceiT.

Q: With the increasing importance of traceability in the diamond industry, how does iTraceiT position your operations in terms of industry leadership? 

EA: With iTraceiT, we position ourselves as an industry leader by setting the highest ethical sourcing and transparency standards. This platform doesn’t just allow us to comply with current industry standards; it propels us to exceed them. It signals to our partners and customers that we are committed to the future of the diamond industry, where every stone’s provenance is as clear and valuable as the diamond itself. It encourages the rest of the industry to follow suit, transforming traceability from a niche advantage into a universal norm. In 2023, we were audited and successfully passed the Mazars audit for traceability, including three of our suppliers’ factories.

YA: What would you say to convince those in the diamond supply chain to adopt a traceability application?

EA: Adopting a traceability app is not just about staying relevant; it’s about being a responsible member of the diamond industry. It’s an opportunity to be part of a movement towards greater transparency and accountability. For any stakeholder in the diamond supply chain, the clarity and efficiency that iTraceiT provides are invaluable. It offers a competitive edge and aligns with the ethical shift in consumer demand. iTraceiT ensures that your business survives and thrives in an age where every choice is scrutinized.