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Feb. 2001

De Beers Hints at Sales Slowdown Following Weak Holiday Sales

Though their official figures will not be available until the end of February, De Beers officials have said that sales did, indeed, drop during the holidays.

A spokesman told Reuters that, while there was sales growth for the year, holiday sales slowed — particularly in the United States, the company’s biggest market. Company spokesman attributed the slowdown to the weakening economy and political uncertainties.

India’s Diamond Workers Strike To Protest Trader’s Arrest

India’s main diamond market—one of the world’s largest—shut down in January as members of the diamond industry went on a one-day strike to protest the arrest of one of their own.

The arrest of diamond trader and financier Bharat Shah triggered the strike. Shah, also well known as a film maker in India, was arrested on allegations of links to organized crime in the country. Shah is the president of the Mumbai (Bombay) Diamond Merchants’ Association.

More than 100,000 diamond traders shut down for business and took out advertisements in local newspapers to condemn the arrest of Shah. Reports said that the strike also protested the media’s alleged condemnation of the entire diamond industry during the arrest of Shah.

Lazare Kaplan Sees Record Polished Sales; Angolan Mining Hurts Rough Sales

Lazare Kaplan’s net sales fell 30% in their second quarter, ending Nov. 30.

The termination of buying from Angola has struck a blow to Lazare Kaplan’s rough sales, and even a record increase in polished sales—and the huge profit margin from processing brown diamonds into white Bellataire stones— could not quite make up for the loss.

The company reported record polished stone sales increases of 108% in the second quarter of 2000, to $62.6 million, from $30 million during the same period last year. Net income was also up by $.09 cents per share, yet net sales were down—to $78.3 million
from 111.9 million in the second quarter of 1999.

Rough diamond sales, however, were down 80%—or $81.9 million to $15.7 million from $81.9 million in the second quarter of 1999. The huge drop in rough diamond sales is traced to the company’s cessation of buying operations in Angola.

Russia Will Issue Export Quotas

Russia is expected to issue precious metal and diamond export quotas, currently held up in bureaucratic red tape, sometime in February, in a move toward beginning exporting. Authorities will reportedly issue one-year quotas to Alrosa, which sells rough diamonds, and Norlsk Nickel, which mines 20% of the world’s platinum.

South African Mafia Implicated In Mugging of Diamond Merchant

The mugging of Cape Town diamond merchant Bernard Sher has been linked to Mafia kingpins Vito and Pietro Pallazzolo, along with jeweler Abdulla Azies Samaai, according to press accounts.

Sher was robbed by a gang last year. According to recent court testimony, Samaai, who is accused of hiring the gang, was paid by the brothers to pay off the muggers. Sher was robbed of $254,000 in diamonds.

Israel Polished Exports Up 19.4 %

Israel’s net exports of polished diamonds rose 19.4% in 2000, to $5.3 billion from $4.457 billion in 1999, according to Israel’s Industry and Trade Ministry.

The diamond industry remained strong despite continuing threats of terror. Imports of polished diamonds rose 43%, rough diamond imports were up 7.5% and exports of rough diamonds grew 25.6%. The United States remained Israel’s largest market. in 2000.

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