Israel’s Diamond Industry Continues to Sparkle
Israel’s diamond industry, one of the largest and certainly the most advanced in the world, is stronger today than ever before. In 2007 net polished diamond exports topped $7 billion, and continued to rise by 6% in the first half of 2008. Import of rough diamonds reached $5.1 billion in 2007, with these imports up over 15% for the first six months of 2008. Exports of rough diamonds – in large part to Israeli factories in the Far East, Eastern Europe and other locations – were valued at $3.37 billion and have risen by over 25% from January to June 2007.
For many years, Israel has been one of the world’s leading centers for both the manufacture and trade of polished diamonds. Processing about one-half of the world’s gem-quality rough in dollar terms, Israeli diamond companies today provide the stones that garnish a vast amount of the diamond jewelry sold worldwide.
As it looks to the future, this wholly export-based industry seeks to expand into new markets, to broaden its ties with rough diamond suppliers, and to continue its technological development in order to streamline the diamond manufacturing process in Israel.
Leading the industry in these efforts is the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI), a non-profit, public interest company funded by the Israeli Diamond Industry and the government professional training department. IDI’s main functions encompass marketing, business promotion and public relations, industry-wide R&D, expansion of rough sources, security consulting and professional training.
"The impressive figures for 2007 and 2008 point to the inherent health of Israel’s diamond industry and its ability to adapt to changing conditions,” said Moti Ganz, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies and President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association. “They also reflect the major efforts of the Israeli Diamond Industry, under the leadership of IDI, to expand its business activities to reach new horizons in both the rough and polished fields,” he added.
Marketing is the KeyAs in all export industries, marketing is one of the main ingredients in success. IDI acts to enhance Israel’s position as a world diamond hub – in developed markets such as the U.S., Europe and Hong Kong and in new markets such as China and India.
Israel’s Diamond Center in Ramat Gan, the largest in the world, was built to accommodate thousands of diamond buyers every year. As the number of buyers visiting the center has decreased, the Israeli industry has redoubled its efforts to reach out to the buyer. IDI has led the way, by opening offices in New York and Hong Kong, and by introducing Israel Diamond Pavilions at leading trade fairs around the world.
This year, for the first time, IDI has added the India International Jewellery Show in Mumbai to its annual calendar. This is in addition to major shows in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong and China.
Tapping New Rough Sources
The necessity of ensuring an ongoing supply of rough diamonds to the Israeli industry has caused IDI to invest great efforts in seeking new sources. According to Eli Avidar, IDI Managing Director, this is one of the most significant challenges facing the industry today. “We are working together as an industry to ensure a steady supply of rough diamonds. We are active in all of the existing and emerging rough diamond centers, and this year made special efforts to develop strong relationships with African producing countries." Avidar noted that IDI organized the Third International Rough Diamond Conference in February 2008, which brought to Israel, in addition to all of the major rough diamond companies, high-level representatives of most of the African diamond producing countries. In late 2007, The Israeli Diamond Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Liberia to promote cooperation in the diamond sector.
Promoting the Industry through the Internet
The Internet is opening up new horizons for the Israeli Diamond Industry. IDI’s portal site, www.israelidiamond.co.il is the definitive website for businesses seeking contact with the Israeli industry. It functions as a daily work tool and venue for the diamond industry in Israel and worldwide, providing industry news, in-depth articles, interviews, photos and video clips, postings of diamond demands, special features such as Wikidiamond, as well as a full index of Israeli diamond companies.
The portal creates a B2B marketplace for the exchange of business contacts that lead to actual transactions. With thousands of registered users in 128 countries, the portal is a dynamic site, with content being updated throughout the day. Every month the site has tens of thousands of entries, and hundreds of thousands of pages viewed. A Hebrew site also exists, as does a Chinese portal, launched last year to support IDI’s marketing efforts into the enormous Chinese market.
Keeping Ahead Through Technology
Israeli technological advances are well known around the world. In the diamond industry as well Israel has made a substantial contribution. Through IDI’s Israel Diamond Technology Center (IDT), research and development is carried out to streamline the manufacturing process – from rough to polished.
From Cottage Industry to Mega-IndustryThe Israel diamond industry has indeed come a long way since it was first launched in the 1930’s by enterprising immigrants from Belgium. A handful of factories operated in Netanya and Tel Aviv in the 1940’s, and came together to establish the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1947. With the establishment of the state in 1948 came a large influx of immigrants, who were enlisted to work in this growing industry. Locally-developed manufacturing techniques made it possible to train workers within months.
As the industry began to export globally, Israeli diamantaires became increasingly cosmopolitan, first selling their goods in the far corners of the world and later setting up offices in New York, Antwerp, Hong Kong and Tokyo. With the entry of the second and third generation of Israeli diamantaires into their family businesses, manufacturing and marketing methods have become more sophisticated. Still the essence of the industry has remained the same for the past 70 years: a high level of professional expertise, combined with originality, creativity and ability to adapt to changing conditions. Building on these assets the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies is confident that Israel will retain its position as a major world diamond center, and its leaders are committed to investing all necessary efforts to ensure that this is so.
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