André Messika, a supplier of polished diamonds to the luxury jewelry market, has invested in a factory in Namibia, giving his company direct access to De Beers’ rough supply for the first time.
The diamantaire has partnered with Schachter & Namdar Asia (SN Asia), which has held the license for the factory since 2006, and has since become the largest employer of disabled and hearing-impaired people in Namibia.
The companies tested the joint venture in the second half of 2019 and formalized the arrangement in early January, SN Asia CEO Emanuel Namdar told Rapaport News Wednesday. The factory will be known as André Messika Diamonds Namibia, while Messika and SN Asia will maintain their separate selling operations.
“This factory is tailor-made for us, as it gives us an opportunity to work with Namibian diamonds, which are top-quality goods and traceable,” Messika explained in a separate interview on Thursday.
The factory relies on diamonds from Namibia DTC, a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government, which supplies rough sourced mainly from marine mining off the country’s coastline. The goods are not mixed with De Beers’ supply from other countries, meaning they can be clearly authenticated as Namibian merchandise.
SN Asia uses this traceability feature to market its Brilliant Rose cut brand, especially in China. Messika sees an opportunity to tap into the source verification capability to enhance his brand while adding value to Namibia’s diamond sector.
“There is a lot of confusion among retailers and consumers about the industry, and we have to tell our story,” Messika said. “We want to give full traceability to our clients, and Namibia has the perfect product. It’s an opportunity to promote Namibian diamonds [while telling] the factory’s unique story.”
The factory, which manufactures rough into polished below 1-carat, employs approximately 50 people. Of these, 28 are hearing-impaired; a further eight, who work on the operation’s polishing wheels, are wheelchair-bound.
Image: Workers at the polished wheel at the Andre Messika Diamonds Namibia factory, which is the largest employer of disabled people in Namibia.