We Ensure PDE’s Member Service Package is Top-Class: Ali Pastorini

Ali PastoriniMs. Ali Pastorini is an energetic and visionary young Brazilian business woman and a sports woman who is always striving to win. She is owner of the Del Lima Jewelry and recently promoted as Vice President of the Panama based World Jewelry Hub (WJH) and Senior Vice President of the Panama Diamond Exchange (PDE). Earlier she was Marketing Director of the WJH, home of PDE. Here in an exclusive interview, she spares some of her precious time to share her views with G2J on various issues of the industry and her success. The Excerpts: (Updated on 4th January, 2016)

How and why were you appointed as Senior Vice President of the Panama Diamond Exchange?

ALI PASTORINI: First, it is important to note that it is not that I am moving from the WJH corporate office into PDE, since I have long been part of PDE and never left it. As a Brazilian jeweler looking to improve my business opportunities both regionally and internationally, I took out PDE membership about two years ago. I have always been part of the diamond exchange, both as a member and as an officer. Indeed, my route to the corporate office of the World Jewelry Hub began at the Panama Diamond Exchange.

PDE is an essential and integral component of the WJH program, and its ability to develop into the nerve center of Latin America diamond, gemstone and jewelry trade, gathering together the individuals, companies and collective knowledge of the regional trade are key to the future of the gemstone and jewelry business sector in Latin America, Clearly, important synergies can be created by having a senior official with her feet in both WJH and PDE.

What goals have you set to achieve as the Senior VP of the PDE?

ALI PASTORINI: First to support PDE’s new president, Mr. Mahesh Khemlani. Second, I plan to be involved in the daily operation of the bourse, ensuring that our member service package is not only top-class, but that it is delivered with prompt efficiency. I also plan to be involved in expanding the membership base, at the grassroots level throughout Latin America and around the world.

Do you have any plans of organizing roadshows in Indian cities?

ALI PASTORINI: Right now our focus is on Latin America itself. We have visited India and met with industry leaders, but not conducted a full roadshow with a delegation of PDE members, like we have in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and now the Dominican Republic.

We may do that as at a later date, and presumably it would include Latin American jewelers that want to reach the important Indian jewelry market.

AliHow would you share your time between your Company and the PDE?

ALI PASTORINI: By traveling a great deal and working long hours, essentially. The Brazilian business days starts about two hours before the business day in Panama, so I am up working early every morning.

At the same time one should not underestimate the type of exposure and volume of business contacts I am developing by spending significant time in Panama. That ultimately is the essence of the World Jewelry Hub and the Panama Diamond Exchange.

Give us your evaluation about the global status of Indian jewelry?

ALI PASTORINI: I do not think there is any question that India is a global power today, sharing a status held by just a handful of countries, such as Italy, the United States, China and Thailand, each in its own way.

India’s strength is derived from its very large and skilled workforce, and increasingly from its internal market, which is a luxury enjoyed most probably only by China and the United States.

But, can India, like Italy, create a look that international appeal, almost irrespective of the country in which it is sold? That takes more time, but as we have learned, the Indians are particularly skillful when it comes to adapting.

The global diamond industry has been passing through a bad phase these days. Can you suggest some ideas to regain its lost glory?

ALI PASTORINI: Diamonds have had a tough ride of late, with both prices of rough and polished goods down, and exports slower in the major centers. But I do not believe that is symptomatic of any weakness in the product, but more a result of conditions in the world economy.

The slowing of Chinese growth has been hugely significant. So much of economic growth was predicated on a fast-expanding Chinese market, and when that tailed off somewhat, everyone felt the effects. Let us not forget that all commodity prices are down, and the gold price is not much more than half of its value in 2011.

We need to be patient, and go about our business cautiously so as not to create undue risk. At the same time, we should not be pessimistic about the future. Demand for our product remains strong, and it will not only recover but exceed previous records. Some of that growth will come from emerging markets, like those in Latin America.

Apart from the generic promotion, what should be done to create more awareness about diamonds among consumers?

ALI PASTORINI: As is the case in most other consumer enters, the onus should shift to the jewelry retailers, including the jewelry brands. While this is not the same thing as generic promotion, the collective acts of advertising diamond jewelry raise their profile across the broad. It is a case of a rising tide raising all ships.

AlibenDo you think the lab grown diamonds can pose any potential threat to the trade of natural ones? Why?

ALI PASTORINI: This ultimately depends on whether we are successful in enforcing in the industry the standards of disclosure that are required, and educating the public that synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds are two different products.

The recently published ISO standard is clear. It is deceptive to sell a synthetic diamond without expressly describing it as such, while a diamond that is sold without a descriptor can fairly be assumed to be natural. This suggests that ISO appreciates that synthetic diamonds, while chemically of the same composition as natural diamonds, must still be defined as different and separate products.

We need to make sure the public understands that. The synthetic diamond is a not an exact replacement for a diamond mined from the earth. It is a stone that appears to be, but is not the real thing, in the same way that cubic zirconium or moissanite are not the real thing. Because it is understood that those two are not diamonds, they never threatened the market. The same must be the case with synthetics.

When and how did your brand Del Lima come into existence? What were your primary goals and how far have you achieved them?

ALI PASTORINI: It was officially established about three years ago, in 2012. In reality, however, I and my partner, who also is Brazilian, began working on the concept years before.

Our primary goal was branding and marketing Del Lima jewelry internationally. We were confident about what we were doing, but we would never have expected that, within 11 months after establishing the brand, we would have broken into the U.S. market, with our jewelry being distributed in two important stores, with one in Arizona and the other in California. A few months later we managed to break into the Dubai market as well.

In a traditional and competitive work environment such as the jewelry industry, it is a testament to the times in which we live that two Brazilian women can make it internationally, and realize their dream of becoming part of people’s life through our jewelry.

What are your company’s plans about exploring Indian markets?

ALI PASTORINI: We buy most of our precious stones from Jaipur, which personally is one of my favorite cities to visit. As a manufacturer of jewelry, I have always thought about investigating the Indian market, although I am aware it is tough to break into. What this means is that we definitely must come in with a unique design to attract local customers.

That is for the future, however. India is definitely on our radar, but right now our focus is on the East Coast of the United States.

How have you achieved enviable success in your tender age? What are your future ambitions?

ALI PASTORINI: I was an avid basketball player from the age of 10 years old to the age of 22, and it was a time that taught me to confront challenges. According to basketball rules, the player holding the ball has not more than 24 seconds to make what she or he believes is the best decision. You must quickly study your environment, make a decision and then execute it immediately.

Athletes learn that they may not always be successful, but that too is an important learning experience for life. From the time that I was a pre-teenager, I learned to lose, and then recover quickly, analyzing my mistakes and trying to correct them. I learned that fear of failure should never frighten you into not acting, but rather to become more determined to do the right thing and succeed.

I am by nature ambitious, but I prefer to talk about my dreams. I hope that one day, wherever I travel in the world, I will find people selling and wearing my jewelry.

Interview by Suresh Chotai