Asian Crisis Buyers’ Market

Early this year a group of Korean retailers helped organize a series of “Patriotic Diamond and Gold Buyback” drives to help their country’s beleaguered economy recoup some precious foreign exchange. Before the first quarter was out, Korean consumers sold back more than $50 million worth of diamonds through Israeli and Antwerp diamond dealers who had backed the local retailers’ drives. The diamonds’ ultimate destination: the American market. The Korean drive and the less organized procession of diamonds streaming out of Asian dealers’ inventories are the main reasons American retailers will continue to have their pick of diamonds in most sizes and qualities this year, despite De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation’s (CSO’s) drastic cutback in its sights. “It’s still a buyer’s market out there,” says CSO’s Harry Garnett, who heads its market liaison division

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