Monday, September 3, 2012
Israel diamond industry boosted by lab opening
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) opened its first laboratory in Israel on Monday, giving a boost to the country's diamond industry, one of its largest export earners.
Israel is a major center in global diamond trade and the sector is a key economic driver. Exports of polished diamonds totaled $3.26 billion in the first half of 2012 and rough diamond exports totaled $1.52 billion.
As in other places, Israel's diamond sector has been hit by the global downturn, with polished diamond exports falling 19 percent from the same period in 2011, and industry leaders welcomed the move by the GIA - which grades and evaluates diamonds - as offering a way for local dealers to cut costs and increase turnover.
"It is not possible for a leading center in the world ... to be without a world leading laboratory," said Moti Ganz, chairman of the Israel Diamond Industry.
Rather than ship diamonds abroad, a time-consuming and expensive process, grading and other services will now be available locally, Ganz said, estimating this would save the industry between $30 million and $50 million a year.