A trader at the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange displays rough diamonds on a white background | File photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israel's diamond industry continues its rebound from the COVID pandemic, and since the start of 2021 has seen a sharp rise in all four main categories of the diamond trade, according to a monthly review published by the Diamonds, Special Stones, and Jewelry Administration in the Economy and Industry Ministry.
According to the report, in the first five months of 2021, Israel's net export of rough diamonds totaled $755 million, an increase of 150% over the same period in 2020. May 2021 was up 595% compared to May 2020, when the COVID pandemic was at its height. Total exports of rough diamonds for the first five months of 2021 reached $660 million, a 160% year-on-year increase.
In May 2021, Israel exported $9 million worth of rough diamonds to the United Arab Emirates, comprised 6.5% of all rough diamond exports for the month. Israel's imports of rough diamonds from the UAE for May 2021 stood at $19 million, or 11.5% of all rough diamond imports for the month.
Polished diamond imports increased by 150%, whereas polished diamond exports rose by 70%.
Ofir Gur, director of the Diamonds, Special Stones, and Jewelry Administration said in response to the newly-released figures that "This past May continued the meteoric growth we in the Israeli diamond industry have predicted in the past few months.
"If we look at the last few months and the situation in the global market, the Israeli diamond industry has many reasons to stay optimistic. Some of the main ones include the recovery of the world diamond sector, the increased prices, and the depleting stocks of the big diamond mining companies," Gur said.
Diamond Exchange President Boaz Moldavsky said, "On one hand, the numbers indicate the strength of the diamond industry and the potential the sector has to contribute to the Israeli economy. However, the report does not reflect the financial situation of thousands of [exchange] members.
"Over 50% of the traders aren't managing to return to the level of business they had before the onset of the pandemic, and that is a very worrying figure that we need to change," he said.
According to Moldavsky, to restore Israel to a position of leadership in the international diamond industry, the government must provide "major" incentives that will increase trade in diamonds, including the encouragement of capital investments that would allow Israel to compete with other diamond exchanges like India or Dubai.