File image: IOL.
File image: IOL.
Yair Shimansky was only two years old when he set sail for the first time on a trip with his dad who was always traveling, as his job as sea captain obliged him to do so. After completing high school and his service in the Israeli army, Shimansky travelled to Japan where he sold diamonds for two years. It was at that point where he learned advance optics and the art of shaping light in a diamond from every angle. 

In 1991 he came to South Africa and took up a Gemology course while also selling handcrafted jewellery on a market in Durban and later launched his first standalone Shimansky Jewellery store.  
 
Shimansky Jewelers is a clean, classic, timeless and contemporary jewellery store, with creations that are designed to celebrate the special moments in one’s life. These moments can honour an engagement, an anniversary, a birthday or spoiling a loved one.

“At Shimansky, each piece has a strong emotional value attached to it for both the buyer and the receiver; and we believe the emotional value far surpasses the monetary value in Rands or Dollars.
What sets Shimansky apart from their competitors, is the rare privilege of a license to buy and polish rough diamonds, directly from South African mines. This ensures that only the finest diamonds are used for Shimansky’s creations.
 
Every step in a Shimansky design; the cutting, polishing, and manufacturing, is managed in-house to ensure that each piece of designer diamond and tanzanite jewellery is completed with the pursuit of excellence. Perfection takes time, and we don’t rush to take a diamond’s journey to the very end” says Shimansky.
 
How did you get into business?

My business journey started with a visit to my parents who lived in Durban. It was there that I met the woman who became my wife. The seed to start a small jewellery business was planted and instantly we decided to stay in the coastal city. 

Our business was simple; we made silver jewellery and sold it from a little barrow. Our success there was unimaginable, from a little business in a flea market, to our first store. 

One vivid memory I have of those early days - soon after the launch of our store, we had no money for a security alarm system and I actually slept behind the desk to safeguard the store. It feels like just yesterday.
 
What are your thoughts on SA Diamond Industry?

Investing in diamonds offer the best value and return on investment for an investor, especially when considering its size and the size to value ratio. Diamonds are considered a portable, hard asset investment with no holding maintenance cost. 

What sets it apart from other investments – diamonds can be sold anywhere in the world to maximise its value, especially in places where there’s a high demand for the stones. To be in a good investment position, buy smart in the beginning, as buying the wrong diamond will not be considered an investment diamond at all. 

How can diamond investment benefit the SA economy?
Diamond investment is borderless and South Africa can benefit greatly by honing in on diamond polishing and exporting. This is a specialized skill and provided it’s used correctly, can contribute largely to job creation and foreign investment for our country. 
For local and potential South Africans investors, diamond investing can be used as a great tool to safeguard him/her from the Rand depreciation and of course adds to a diversified investment portfolio. 
Diamonds are Africa’s most glittering commodity but they haven’t had a steady market growth in South Africa over the years. Why invest in a struggling industry?  

I don’t agree that this is a struggling industry, in fact diamonds are gaining popularity all over the world, especially in the USA where there’s an overwhelming demand for supreme quality diamonds. 
How lucrative is Diamond manufacturing as a business?

This has become such a lucrative industry. And as mentioned above, diamonds are gaining popularity the world over, mainly as a direct result of the increase in wealth it’s brought and continues to bring to Asia. As previously mentioned too, in the USA specifically, we’ve also found that there’s been an overwhelming demand for top quality diamonds. More people are favoring this investment, along with art, as there is no exchange of cash.

Knowledge and experience combine with the latest technology are critical to having a profitable diamond cutting and polishing business combine with capital and marketing abilities.

What are the pros and cons of being in SA’s diamond industry?

Pros: South Africa is a diamond producing country, the closer we are to the source the better the selection and value. 
Cons: Far too much red tape from government’s side, as well as being so far (geographically) from the main markets like the USA and Asia. 
How transparent are the process from a behind the scenes perspective in production of raw diamond excavation (mining), manufacturing and moulding to consumption?  

Every step is recorded from start to finish, which assures integrity and transparency in our manufacturing process and is in-line with the customer expectations.
 Where do you see the future of SA’s diamond industry in a few years to come?

Unless there are changes in policy and capital, as well as market access, there won’t be much change. Some countries like India, Israel and Belgium are great supporters of the diamond industry, which we appreciate.