Israeli diamond exports surge in September

Polished diamond exports from Israel surged in September, rising to 434,254 carats worth $482 million, according to the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade–office of the Diamond Controller.

This represents an increase of almost 50% in value, and 42% in weight, compared to the same month in 2001. In the first three quarters of the year, diamond exports from Israel rose 17% in value, to $3.97 billion, after returned goods had been accounted for, the Israeli diamond controller office states.

An industry analyst explained the sharp rise in September to diamond exporters sending their goods to the Hong Kong show and to their clients in the United States as they stocked for the pending holiday season.

“Major retail outlets, jewelry chains, and the larger individual retailers all aim to have their inventories ready for the Christmas season no later than mid October, “notes Aharon Tamir, the senior sales director at the Waldman Diamond Company (WDC) Group, in Ramat Gan. “For companies that work only with major chains, it means that the season peaks pretty early, although you must remain ready for last-minute calls for goods.”

With the current jitteriness in the U.S. marketplace, Tamir says polished diamond suppliers had to develop nerves of steel. “Manufacturers like ourselves need to plan ahead many months in advance, and that right now means that we read the crystal ball at time when last minute changes in demand are very likely,” Tamir says. “However, since we serve all sectors of the American market, work will probably continue hectically until mid December.”

Tamir expects that in the coming months, supply of polished diamonds will outgrow the demand, thus creating pressure on the sales prices of polished goods. “The market is already seeing a softening of the prices of larger goods—the first market segment where a buyers’ market is emerging. Manufacturers and dealers who are left with large stocks may be prepared to lower profit margins, which in any case are narrow.”

In Europe, activity is slow, Tamar says. “The falling stock markets, together with an uncertain economic forecast, have made the European consumer very cautious. The only country that is showing true growth is the United Kingdom. We need to be patient and hope that the other European countries will follow its lead,” he noted.