Israel’s diamond industry has undertaken several initiatives this year to lift the level of trading, and morale, in an otherwise challenging market environment. A year into his role as president of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), Yoram Dvash is confident the right platform is being built to strengthen the country’s position as a leading diamond center. He spoke with Rapaport News on the anniversary of his election to outline IDE’s strategy and program to stimulate growth in the coming years.
How has 2016 been for the Israeli diamond market?
Global trading has slowed and our polished exports have fallen 2 percent in the first nine months, but I feel the market has improved since November. That’s been driven by U.S. demand. It looks like there will be a steady flow of orders during this holiday season right up to the last minute.
Other markets remain cautious and a slowdown is evident in three geographical regions which has dramatically affected our business. China slowed after being the engine of industry growth; a weaker ruble and lower oil prices hit demand in Russia; and the Middle East also went down as crude sank.
What is Israel doing to stimulate growth?
We’re trying to create a better environment by encouraging trading and manufacturing as well as easing the regulatory environment.
Explain the steps being taken to improve trading?
We’re opening an auction center, which we believe will be the leading facility for rough and polished auctions. We already have an agreement with four or five companies to hold their auctions there. It will make supply available so our members won’t have to fly all over the world to buy goods, and it will encourage overseas customers to come here to source diamonds.
We’ll have an official opening at the International Diamond Week in Israel (IDWI) from February 13 to 16 where ALROSA president Andrey Zharkov will be the guest of honor.
How important are those bourse events?
This is the sixth time we’re holding IDWI and we expect it to be bigger than ever before. We changed its format a bit, with trading taking place on the bourse floor for three days while the fourth day has been set aside for meetings. We’re also holding eight tenders during the week.
How have IDE’s online platforms been received?
We have undertaken two important online initiatives to increase our members’ exposure to the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) environments.
We’ve come a long way in our partnership with James Allen, an online retailer, as we now have almost 100 companies that are selling to consumers through its platform. We also launched the ‘Get Diamond’ dealer trading platform where we have almost 100,000 stones exclusively supplied by Israeli companies.