In a recent speech in Basel, Shmuel Schnitzer, the president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, as well as the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, noted that the protecting the reputation of the industry is extremely important.
This can only be done, he said, if the industry is on guard, and deals with issues like conflict diamonds, as well as products like synthetics and treated stones, which he said are fraught with reputational risk for the industry.
“I believe that an essential component of the diamonds’ magic and attraction is the fact that it is a natural product, which was born deep below the earth’s surface, millions of years ago,” he said.
“A person who buys a diamond to express his love and commitment does not want to want to go for second best. Natural diamonds need not be threatened by synthetic or treated stones, but it is important that we explain to the consumer the difference between the real thing and diamonds that are produced in a laboratory.”
Schnitzer also said the improved political climate in the Middle East has been good for Israel. “The resumption of a dialogue between Israel and the Arab world, and in particular between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, has brought about a significant change in the economic confidence of the region,” he said. He noted that, while buyers declined after the second Intifada, in 2004 the number of visitors to the exchange was back to the level of the mid-1990s, and the number of buyers visiting Israel last year was 25 percent higher than it was in 2003.
He also noted that while Israel used to be considered solely a manufacturing center, today it stands with Antwerp as one of the worlds’ largest rough diamond trading centers.
He noted that Israeli imported some $5.15 billion in rough in 2004 — meaning that more than 54 percent of the world total in value terms passed through Tel Aviv during the year.