Sourcing

Karen Rentmeesters Takes Over as Interim CEO of AWDC

SourcingApr 16, 2024

Karen Rentmeesters Takes Over as Interim CEO of AWDC

She has been with the organization since 2010, most recently serving as its chief officer of PR and industry relations.

Headshot of Karen Rentmeesters
Karen Rentmeesters has been appointed interim CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre following Ari Epstein’s resignation last week. Rentmeesters is the center’s head of communications. She has been with AWDC for 14 years.
Antwerp—Karen Rentmeesters, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre’s head of PR and industry relations, has taken over as the organization’s interim CEO.

The organization announced the appointment Monday, just a few days after Ari Epstein said he was resigning after more than a decade in the position.

Rentmeesters joined AWDC’s public relations and communications department in February 2010, focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships with local and international industry stakeholders, serving the Antwerp diamond community, and promoting the Belgian city as a trading hub.

Throughout her time with AWDC, she has led teams of various sizes, built an extensive network, and garnered in-depth knowledge about the industry, the organization said.

Rentmeesters graduated from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 2002 with a master’s in communication sciences.

AWDC said Rentmeesters will focus on continuing the center’s daily operations while also searching for a permanent CEO. 

She said, “In the coming period, together with the entire management team, I will do everything in my power to continue Ari Epstein’s good work while providing the necessary peace of mind.

“The entire diamond industry is in the midst of a period of transformation towards greater transparency and faces challenging times. As a sector federation representing the interests of the Antwerp diamond companies, it is important that we guide them through this period and offer them stability. I will be fully committed to that.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

Before quitting last week, Epstein had been with AWDC for a total of 19 years, 13 of them as CEO.

Though AWDC gave no reason for Epstein’s resignation, it comes amid a time of tumult for the diamond industry and for Antwerp as a trading hub.

Following the G7 nations’ ban on importing diamonds mined in Russia, numerous industry groups and leaders have spoken out against the EU’s plan to establish Antwerp as the “rough node” through which all rough diamonds must pass to certify they are not of Russian origin.

The Antwerp diamond industry also has been grappling with significant delays in importing diamonds because of the G7 ban, which went into effect March 1.

Shortly after the ban took effect, a group of more than 100 Antwerp diamond businesses sent a letter to AWDC complaining about the delays, which, they said, were costing them money and causing them to lose business.

Antwerp later hired additional staff for its Diamond Office, which it said was helping to move goods through in a timely manner.

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