Birth of a $4 Billion Industry (excerpt)

By Martin Berman-Gorvine/em>
Asia Precious, December 1995
The rise of the Israeli diamond cutting industry began in 1937, 11 years before the Jewish state declared its independence, when two immigrants began cutting diamonds in a town outside Tel Aviv. Massive growth began only a few years later, with the outbreak of World War II, as refugees from German-occupied Belgium and Holland made their way to the country, bringing with them equipment and expertise.
Most cutting plants were based in Tel Aviv and Netanya, a town north of Tel Aviv and also on the Mediterranean coast. Today, Israel's diamond cutting plants are clustered largely in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan and in Netanya.
The Israeli diamond trade weathered the worldwide crash of the early 1980s. A more difficult problem was posed by competition from the new centers of India and Thailand, where labor costs are lower. The Israeli industry has met this challenge by developing automated cutting techniques and computerization, which have spread to the rest of the world, permanently changing the character of the industry.
Today, the Israeli diamond trade continues to occupy its leading international position. In the first six months of 1995, Israel had the highest polished diamond exports to the U.S. in terms of value, at U.S. $748.3 million. Israeli-cut diamonds are also extremely prominent in Japan, Europe and Asia's emerging markets.
Original article copyright © 1995, Asia Precious Publications Ltd.
Note: spelling Americanized from original.
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