Israel’s polished diamond exports rose 15% in 2002

Israel’s net polished diamond exports from from January – December 2002, as reported by the Diamond Controller of Israel’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, rose 15% to $5.209 billion, compared to $4.529 billion in 2001.

Net polished exports for December reached $263.6 million, compared to $251.8 million in the same month in 2001.

Rough imports for the year increased 30.2% to reach $4.395 billion, compared to $3.375 billion in 2001. Rough imports directly from the Diamond Trading Company remained stable at $800 million. Rough exports increased by 59.5% in 2002, totaling $1.622 billion, the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported. Polished imports grew by 34% to reach $2.389 billion since January.

In 2002, the United States remained the largest market for Israel’s polished exports, continuing to account for 68% of total exports. Gross sales to this market rose to $5.704 billion, compared to $4.933 billion in 2001. Hong Kong imported $989.7 million in polished diamonds or 12% and Belgium $528.9 million or 6%. A marked increase in polished diamonds exports to China was reported, totaling $80.8 million as compared to $27.6 million in 2001.

Moshe Schnitzer, chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute, said that the continued growth in polished exports from Israel reflects the strength of the Israeli industry. “Despite the fact that 2002 was a difficult year for our markets, we are pleased that most of our clients remained loyal. We were also able to add a significant number of new buyers, from our traditional markets and from developing markets in the Far East,” he said.

Schnitzer also stressed that Israeli diamantaires have become more aggressive in marketing their goods, with more Israeli companies exhibiting in major trade shows and traveling to diamond markets abroad.

The Israel Diamond Institute, he added, will continue to promote this approach in 2003 by establishing Israeli national pavilions at leading trade fairs. The first significant show in the new year is VICENZAORO 1, which this month will bring seven Israeli diamond companies to exhibit diamonds and diamond-studded jewelry in the Israeli pavilion.

As for 2003, Schnitzer says he is cautiously optimistic. “A lot depends on the geo-political situation in the region,” he says, “specifically if there is going to be a war in Iraq.”