Over the past several weeks, I gave an overview of the main diamond-producing countries and diamond centers. This tour, which took us around the world, would not be complete without a few words on five countries that play an important role in the diamond pipeline.
Known mostly for its semi-precious gem trade, Thailand also has many manufacturing facilities that polish diamonds together with its jewelry manufacturing industry.
Several mid-size and large international diamond firms operate diamond polishing facilities in Thailand. These turn out round, square and fancy-shaped diamonds, mostly weighing one carat or less in a full range of color and clarity.
A local diamond exchange and a diamond manufacturing association supports these activities.
As a popular tourist destination, Thailand also has a reputation as a place with good jewelry and gem retail deals, which has created an active consumer market catering to travelers.
In 2014, Thailand imported 781,288 carats of rough diamonds worth more than $408 million, or $523 per carat, according to the Kimberley Process (KP). Compared to 2013, this is an increase of 12.4% in volume and 16.1% in value.
After India—the world’s first diamond-producing country—saw its diamond resources slowly depleting, Brazil emerged as the next major diamond-sourcing country. It started by chance. Gold miners found diamonds when sifting for gold during the 1720s in Brazil’s Minas Geraes state. The region proved to be rich with diamonds and for some 150 years, Brazil was the world’s biggest diamond-producing country, until diamonds were found in South Africa.
A large jewelry manufacturing industry developed in the country, and today some 1,800 companies are involved in gem polishing and jewelry manufacturing. As one of the BRIC countries, Brazil became an important consumer market in recent years. A country rich with resources and a large population, it is a sizable diamond jewelry consumer market. However, expectations for it to become an even larger market were not fully met.
According to KP, Brazil produced 56,923 carats of diamonds with a stated value of $2.7 million in 2014, the majority of which was exported to other countries for polishing.
Not known for its consumer market or as a polishing center, Angola is nonetheless an important player as a diamond-producing country. It is home to one of the world’s largest diamond mines, CATOCA, and has been a top five diamond-mining country for many years.
Part of its diamond history is a sad one. Fraught with civil war for many years, during the 1990s diamonds mined in the country by rebel forces were allegedly used for financing their arms buying. This was one of the drivers for forming the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to stem the trade in conflict diamonds.
Angola is known for its vast mineral and petroleum reserves. Its economy is among the fastest growing in the world, especially since the end of the civil war. Already a large diamond-producing country, many geologists believe that the West African country’s soil holds many more resources yet to be explored and developed.
In 2014, Angola produced 8.8 million carats of rough diamonds worth $1.32 billion, according to KP. All of it was exported for processing elsewhere.
The small island nation of Mauritius has a very developed jewelry manufacturing industry that serves the entire world. Starting from small workshops and shops, it blossomed into an industry that aims foremost at exports. It is estimated that 90% of Mauritius’ jewelry manufacturing is exported.
Today, jewelry manufacturing is an important economic sector of the country, and its fourth largest manufacturing industry. Total exports of jewelry have increased to $126 million in 2012, according to Statistics Mauritius.
The country’s jewelry manufacturing sector has 574 registered jewelers, employing around 2,000 people, according to local authorities. Their activities are mainly diamond polishing, manufacturing of gold and silver jewelry, polishing semi-precious stones, manufacturing diamond-studded jewelry and jewelry findings.
In terms of cutting and polishing diamonds, the country’s manufacturers specialize in highest quality cuts of pear, marquise, oval, trilliant, round and princess-shaped diamonds. A number of patented shapes are polished in Mauritius by well-known diamond and jewelry brands and exported to France, Belgium, the U.S., Italy and more countries.
In 2013, Mauritius exported $68 million worth of gem quality, loose polished diamonds, according to government trade figures. Since its peak in 2012, total jewelry exports have softened, and in 2014 totaled $120 million. In 2014 it imported more than $100 million worth of rough diamonds.
North America is the largest diamond jewelry consumer market, and South America’s Brazil is the former leading source of diamonds and a large consumer market. Yet laying between them, Latin America may seem left out. That is now changing with the opening of a diamond exchange in Panama, serving as the gateway of diamonds to Latin America as a whole.
In March of 2014, the Panama Diamond Exchange and the Panama Jewelry Hub launched at an investment of $200 million under the leadership of Eli Izhakoff. It was created to serve as a trading platform and gateway for suppliers and buyers from North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to Latin America markets.
The goal is to increase Latin America’s $8 billion fine jewelry retail business to more than $10 billion by 2017. As the first diamond exchange in the region, it will serve an active and growing industry. According to PDE, Latin America has more than 11,500 jewelry stores and nearly 750 wholesalers of diamonds, precious stones and jewelry.
The region is also rich with resources and some 320 mining companies are actively mining diamonds, emeralds and other semi-precious gems.
The world’s diamond bourses
Bangkok Diamonds and Precious Stones Exchange
Beurs Voor Diamanthandel
Bharat Diamond Bourse
Borsa Diamanti d'Italia
Diamant- und Edelsteinbörse Idar-Oberstein
Diamantclub Van Antwerpen
Diamond Bourse of Canada
Diamond Bourse of Southeast United States
Diamond chamber of Russia
Diamond Club West Coast
Diamond Dealers Club New York
Diamond Dealers Club Of Australia
Diamond Dealers Club Of South Africa
Diamond Exchange Of Singapore
Dubai Diamond Exchange
Hong Kong Diamond Bourse Ltd.
Israel Diamond Exchange Ltd.
Israel Precious Stones And Diamonds Exchange Ltd.
Korea Diamond Exchange Co. Ltd.
London Diamond Bourse
Moscow Diamond Bourse
New Israel Club For Commerce In Diamonds Ltd.
Panama Diamond Exchange
Shanghai Diamond Exchange
Tokyo Diamond Exchange
Vereniging Beurs voor den Diamanthandel
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. None of the information made available here shall constitute in any manner an offer or invitation or promotion to buy or to sell diamonds. No one should act upon any opinion or information in this website (including with respect to diamonds values) without consulting a professional qualified adviser.
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Diamond industrialist Ehud Arye Laniado is a man passionate about diamonds. From his early 20s in Africa and later in Belgium honing his expertise in forecasting the value of polished diamonds by examining rough diamonds by hand, till today four decades later, as chairman of his international diamond businesses spanning mining, exploration, rough and polished diamond valuation, trading, manufacturing, retail and consultancy services, Laniado has mastered both the miniscule details of evaluating and pricing individual rough diamonds and the entire structure of the diamond industry. Today, his global operations are at the forefront of the industry, recognised in diamond capitals from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and Hong Kong to New York.