Polished diamond sales fell 33% to $1.51 billion in the first half of 2012 from $2.26 billion in the first half of 2012, Diamond Supervisor Shmuel Mordecahi reported yesterday, raising fears of a serious crisis in the industry.
June diamond exports totaled just $95 million, compared with $250-300 million in an average month. "Last June was catastrophic from every perspective. I can't remember such a thing in the diamond industry in the past seven years. This is definitely a negative and dangerous trend," Mordechai told "Globes".
Total diamond exports (polished and rough) fell to $3.26 billion in the first half from over $4 billion in the corresponding half. Rough diamond imports fell to $1.99 billion in the first half from $2.47 billion in the corresponding half, and polished diamond imports fell to $2.2 billion from $2.81 billion.
As for the reasons for the plunge, Mordechai told "Globes", "If people have no money for meat, they definitely have no money for diamonds. If this trend continues, it will be felt in Israel, where the industry employs 20,000 people. There is concern that hundreds, or even thousands, of employees will be sent home within months. This is a very influential industry on the economy, and its employees are well compensated."
Mordechai said that, in addition to the slump in diamond exports in June, there was relatively thin trading in two diamond shows in Las Vegas and Hong Kong, which he says is an indicator of motivation in the industry.
A few weeks ago, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor Sharon Kedmi convened top diamond industry executives and set up a committee to review measures to develop the industry. Subjects on the agenda include expanding the diamond industry to the periphery, job training for haredim (ultra-orthodox) and Israeli Arabs, and creating a comfortable domestic environment to prevent loss of the industry abroad. The committee is due to submit its recommendations later this year.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 3, 2012
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