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Yael Gutkind


  • Name: Yaël Gutkind.
  • Company Name: Antwerp Cut BV.
  • Years of Involvement in the Trade: 14 years.
  • Your Age: Situated somewhere in the 40 ;-)
  •  I am the oldest of 7 children. 


What are your three priorities within the board, and how would you approach them?

For me, the number 1 priority is to have a board that is aligned, that shares the same vision and that wants to move together in the same direction. When facing difficult times as we are currently dealing with, I truly believe that union makes strength. And this is something that we as diamond industry members are not used to. We are a more of a business of secrecy, but I'm afraid this is no longer consistent with the future we envision. I’m convinced that only with an aligned board we will be able to address, work and succeed the next priorities. So let’s work on that!

Another very important project is to uplift the Antwerp diamond industry’s reputation. We should create a positive image towards the outside world, first of all by helping Antwerp diamond companies with being compliant. Furthermore we have to strengthen our ties with the banking industry and be ready to sit together with them and create an open dialogue. We really should find a way to work together again, because it is of utmost importance for all diamond companies in Belgium. I am aware of AWDC already offering seminars about compliance and I follow them myself, but I would suggest to intensify these efforts to get everyone on board through seminars, debates or whatever is necessary.

Finally I believe we should definitely invest in building a strong and open relationship with our government! This should not necessarily be the result of one person's work, but should be the result of how we act as an organization. It is key to work alongside and to remind our politicians of what the diamond industry means to Antwerp and to Belgium. We have to convince them of the fact that we are not a burden but, on the contrary, a huge asset. In my opinion, we can only achieve this when we are working closely together and do everything we can to keep our industry here in Antwerp. One of the ideas I have is, once the new board is settled, to invite our Antwerp leaders meet this new board and its president, and inspire them with our willingness, strength, drive and vision for the future.


As representatives of a segment of the market, how would you stay in touch with your constituents/voters?

By making a mailinglist and whatsapp group with all contacts of category III so that we can regularly update all of them at the same time with the newest ideas or little successes we booked, to motivate people and strengthen the community ties. 


How are you tethered to Antwerp?

On a professional level, I started to work in the diamond industry 14 years ago because I was bored with my job as an admin at a school in Antwerp. It was the perfect job for several years when my children were still small, but at a certain moment I wanted to be challenged again. Everyone told me I was crazy because it was a very wanted position. Still I quit. I think I got exactly 3 weeks until one afternoon my auntie called me, ordering me to put on some make up, nice clothes and to immediately head to the Hoveniersstraat, where she has been working already her whole life. And a challenge I got… I had no idea of what was awaiting me when I started to work at Gem Diamonds who organizes rough tenders for their own, most beautiful and white diamonds on the planet. I was sent to the HRD to follow a rough diamond sorting course, and I was taught the ins and outs of rough diamonds from mine to our market in a small team, being a representative on the monthly tenders, a sorter, handling the admin, the appointments and contacts with our clients / voters ;-)  After 7 years I was recruited by Mike Akiki to work for Antwerp Cut and to learn everything about diamonds on the other side of the spectrum. Polished, natural fancy colored diamonds but again the most beautiful in the world. There I learned about the combination of technology and craftsmanship, from rough to polished. This was from then on my playfield. No more tenders but instead, diamond fairs all over the world from Hong Kong till Geneva and Japan for example and unfortunately slowly seeing how things started to get more and more complicated. Piles of paperwork, regulations upon rules etc… as everyone knows. On a personal level, I was born, raised and studied in Antwerp and I am very much in love with our city with the size of a village. All my friends and connections are here and Dutch is my mother tongue. 


What are Antwerp's assets?

Constant innovation by local companies for industrial improvement of the manufacturing, with support of the Antwerp city: Diamond Innovation Programs (with Mrs. Wendy Peleman) Recently several innovative projects have been launched f.e. between a diamond company in Antwerp and Verhaert Masters in Innovation (Kruibeke) under this initiative. Vlaio (with support of the Belgian and European government) created a business-friendly investment climate. 


What is the best-kept secret of Antwerp?

Antwerp offers a Polishing education, in the only school in Europe where you can learn to polish diamond: High level diamond polishing education in the "Stemstroom" at the Antwerp Lyceum "Eilandje" where more than 30 young people are participating, they will bring young blood to our industry. Modern top-quality polishing and measurement equipment are available to support the high-quality standards applied in the school. On a complete different note: Cinema Cartoons, where I escape to ever since I was very young and in need of a break, to be treated to the highest quality selection of movies, the world has to offer.