Diamond trade drops 18%

The terrorist attacks on the United States last month have hit the diamond trade hard, resulting in an 18% drop in exports from the world’s largest trading center, Antwerp’s Diamond High Council said Tuesday.

The body that represents Antwerp traders said diamond sales to the United States, the world’s largest consumer market for gems, were down 38% since Sept. 11,” the Associated Press (AP) reported. Sales to Israel were down 45%.

Antwerp, which handles 80% of world trade in rough diamonds and controls 50% of trade in the cut gem, is struggling with the slowdown in the diamond trade, which started well before the attacks, as the U.S. economy started to cool.

Exports of uncut gems were already down by a fifth in the first nine months of this year, while exports of cut gems dropped by 4% from January to September.

This year’s gloomy outlook follows last year’s growth driven by the then booming U.S. economy and lust for luxury goods. Diamond exports totaled $13.2 billion last year, up by almost 9%.