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Antwerp Company Obtains DTC Sightholder Status

Thursday, 7th July 2005
Source: Antwerp Diamond List Magazine (July-August issue)
EXELCO: New Opportunities in Sight
Among the 11 new sightholders appointed by the DTC for the 2005-2008 Supplier of Choice period, one Antwerp company can be spotted. Indeed, Exelco has joined the ranks of those privileged companies who receive a regular rough supply from mining giant De Beers. The total number of DTC clients now stands at 93.

Jean Paul Tolkowsky, Lior Kunstler and Leon Kunstler, each descend from families who have been in the diamond industry for respectively seven and four generations, teamed up in 1994 and created Exelco NV. The Company is the leading manufacturer of Ideal cuts, and has its main focus on the Japanese market. Commenting on the company’s successful application, Tolkowsky said: "Collaborating with the DTC will further raise the profile of our retail stores in Japan and our branding programs with international retailers".

Exelco was already going directly to the end consumer, bringing added value to the diamond chain, before the introduction of Supplier of Choice in 2002. But the DTC sight will bring extra opportunities for the company, who specializes in diamond jewelry for the bridal segment, or "gifts of love" as they prefer to call it. Under its own name, Exelco is the number 1 jeweler in Japan in this particular segment with a total of no less than 39 retail stores, with another opening scheduled for September. "We are definitely planning to open more stores in the rest of Asia," Kunstler said. Since 1994 the company has been targeting the Japanese market opening its first store in 1997. It has seen an aggressive expansion ever since, this against a background of slumbering economy and falling diamond sales. But Exelco is also planning to spread its wings outside of Japan, with Taiwan (Taipei) and China (Shanghai) as main target markets.

The company cuts and polishes its diamonds at its own facility in Thailand, called H&A Cutting Works Limited, situated near Bangkok. The polished diamond production is focused entirely on Triple Excellent Ideal Cut Hearts & Arrows diamonds, from 0.20 to 5.00 carats. Around 98% of all exported stones carry the Hearts & Arrows pattern. The facility employs around 500 employees, and is growing with 20 to 30 workers on a monthly basis.

Staff retention is high as there is continuous investment and participation in training, health and social security programs. In May 2005 Exelco was the first diamond company to obtain the SA 8000 (Social Accountability SA 8000) certification, in addition to the earlier acquired ISO 9001 2000 Quality Management Systems Certification.

50% of the company's polished diamonds are destined for its own jewelry stores, which sell exclusively diamond jewelry. The jewelry itself is also created in-house at a manufacturing facility in Tokyo. Each season, several new collections are launched, including rings, pendants, earrings, and bracelets. The unique, custom made pieces feature diamonds, ranging from D to J colors and from IF to SI2 qualities. Exelco also supplies some of the top 5 jewelry houses in Europe.

When being asked about their business philosophy, both Tolkowsky and Kunstler unanimously answered: "First there is the search for excellence, then the urge of continuous innovation. And above all, it is very important to always stay human".