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Welcome Karan Tilani, Head of Asia at the World of Diamonds Group of Companies

As a shareholder and director of the World of Diamonds, Karan overlooks the development of the Group in Asia. He believes, that after recently forged partnership with Lamborghini Singapore for the Formula One Season in 2014 & 2015 and official sponsorship for Boudoir Noire and the Amber Lounge Singapore 2015, Luxury Lifestyle Awards can be considered as the next event to make his company more recognizable in a luxury world.

Can you tell us when you started working in the diamond and jewelry industry? Why did you choose to work in this industry?

The WOD Group has always been behind some of the finest diamonds and jewelry pieces. Through joint ventures with maisons in Europe and the Americas, the Group is almost fully integrated in diamond mining, polishing, high jewelry creation and distribution to leading houses of the world.

Officially, it’s been over 3 years for me in the diamond industry. I have always been fascinated with the sparkle and intricacies of a diamond and this gradually developed into my passion. The trade has also been a family business and I wanted to pursue the continuity of our heritage.

How did you become interested? What is compelling about this industry?

I have been appreciating diamonds since the age of 14. Born into a family of prestige, I had the privilege of bringing the valuable gemstone to school for show-and-tell sessions. As a connoisseur of extraordinary diamonds, my aunt has been attending auctions to secure important pieces; she married a diamond mogul and was eventually in the trade. Being exposed to the family business in my early teens, I was captivated by the tiny, brilliant stones which command sky-high prices. The fact that it takes immense patience and skill to release the beauty of a diamond evoked my interest.

What are three main challenges in your work?

Due to our widespread market reach, we have directors, executives and partners based in almost every part of the world. I often experience situations where some of our partners are uncomfortable in making decisions in certain countries because of varying cultures and working styles.

A second challenge I face being associated with one of the world’s largest privately held diamond corporations is meeting the unique demands of the mega-rich. I’ve personally recommended many of the high-fliers whom have approached us to shop at some of the luxury brands, which also have boutiques here in Singapore. We don’t engage in the retail scene as it’s a conflict of interest, since we already work with several upscale jewelers. To the discerning few whom we cater to directly and who embrace the epitome of luxury, we have had requests for a diamond encrusted Spirit of Ecstasy (the bonnet ornament on Rolls-Royce automobiles), diamond chandeliers and even diamond shoelaces. For the wives of billionaires and members of royal families, catering to their every whim involves extraordinary diamonds, hours of intensive labor undertaken with painstaking excellence and exceptional designs.

Lastly, thefts, robberies and kidnappings are pertinent in the diamond industry. It’s a life-threatening danger that lurks behind every important member of the trade. Our Group has a strong foothold in the Russian Federation and I’ve had to accept overseas travel with bodyguards, as much as I despise the additional attention.

What do you enjoy most about your work? What fascinates you most?

The various interactions I have with clients and partners are what I enjoy most about being in the diamond industry. Plying the trade is much more than a life full of glamour; it gives me an insight to the complexities the mega-rich face. The wife of a Russian oligarch had to once choose between an exotic 22 carat fancy pink diamond and a rare 5 carat blue diamond as the centre stone of her ring. Being able to provide a solution to some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet by understanding what they are really looking for, is indeed self-fulfilling. And because I am a perfectionist, this is fascinating.

Working across various industries provides diversity to my job scope. Recently, the Group launched and sold an extraordinary perfume collection complete with lavishly gold plated His & Her fragrances, a Fabergé-inspired egg embellished with intricate detailing and lamb skin interior, and a statement blue diamond ring. In partnership with an ultra-luxury Spanish perfume house, the creation involved exceptional designs, hours of intensive labor undertaken with painstaking excellence and extraordinary diamonds.

Could you please tell us more about the main changes that the diamond industry has seen in the last ten years?

The world has seen several new diamond mines in Russia and Canada. This has increased the supply of rough diamonds with a desirable quality in the market; both countries have the capacity to rival the highly-valued diamonds from the Cullinan Diamond Mine in South Africa and the Letšeng Diamond Mine in Lesotho.

Not neglecting the advent of technology, diamonds today can be cut even more precisely, in rather fancy shapes and of larger sizes. Diamonds are natural crystals and their surface graining has a huge impact on how they will be fashioned into brilliant gemstones. For example, sawing a diamond incorrectly by 0.05 millimeters could result in thousands of dollars in wastage. Replacing traditional mechanisms, laser sawing relies on computerized systems and results in higher quality output.

Synthetic diamonds, also known as cultured diamonds, are diamonds that are grown in controlled environments. This should not be confused with diamond look-alikes such as cubic zirconia, or moissanite. With technology, we can replicate the process in which natural diamonds were formed – by using graphite placed in a heavily compressed chamber and through simulating temperatures. Instead of viewing synthetics as a threat to our highly-prized natural diamonds, our Group capitalized on the opportunity to offer conflict-free diamonds. Although the WORLD OF DIAMONDS is strongly against blood diamonds, slavery and the forced use of child labor is still very much practised by several diamond mining corporations worldwide. And because of widespread corruption, most cases go unreported. Today, our Group is at the forefront of producing superior-grade scientifically-created diamonds, having exclusive access to state of the art diamond growing technology coupled with the time-honored tradition of diamond cutting - although this still accounts for less than 10% of our business.

What is the main advantage of your Group compared to all your competitors?

Our Group enjoys a long-standing reputation in the diamond industry and considerable factors have contributed to our unrivaled influence. With several arms catering for varying needs, we are very selective of our partners – known to be the most established names globally. Being almost fully vertically-integrated, we also have ready access to plenty of resources from the mines to the market. Our Group believes in reducing variable costs where possible; we purchase factories and buildings instead of leasing them. As sustainability is a key focus, we maintain our ethical sense by discriminating against blood diamonds and ensuring full transparency in our operations. The thousands of skilled individuals whom we provide careers and livelihoods to on all five continents whether directly or through our partners, has also garnered us strong support from various non-governmental organizations.

Tell us more about yourself – where you are born and educated; where do you get your inspiration and what do you do when you are not working and how you relax and rejuvenate.

Born and bred almost fully in Singapore, I graduated from a business faculty in a local polytechnic. I decided to then pursue my interest with an overseas education at the respected Gemological Institute of America (GIA). While seeking to incorporate diamonds in the fashion and real estate markets, I got fully lured into the diamond industry and was officially involved in the family business.

I am driven by art. Rejuvenation for me is venturing into abstract and expressionism. Although not a commercial artist, I am fortunate that the few works which I have completed did reach out to some highly prominent individuals. As a result, the TILANI Foundation was established with a vision of touching the hearts of the less privileged. We are blessed to enjoy such levels of comfort and safety in this first-world nation, unlike in many other countries where families are dislocated as a result of armed conflicts. Here, I try to attend as many non-profit initiatives as I can that’s organized by a few friends in the high society.

Travelling is a pleasure. On business trips to South America and Russia, I savor the helicopter rides during the exploration of diamond mines. If it’s a vacation, I frequent cruising in the French Riviera or embracing tranquility in The Bahamas.

What is the most important lesson in life for you and what do you wish to accomplish personally in your work?

I have come to realize that contentment should be derived out of passion and not from monetary achievements. I personally aim to eradicate blood diamonds completely.

If you have a genie who can grant you a wish, what would that be?

That wish would be to restore the livelihoods of the millions of individuals who have been displaced and used as slaves as a result of illegal diamond mining operations. I aspire to present a new future for Africa.

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