Five countries lead diamond supplies to the US

Edahn Golan

Diamond supply to the US comes from all over the world. As the world’s largest diamond consumer market, the US is the country that imports the most diamonds – more than $400 billion worth of polished diamonds in the last 30 years.

To be precise, between January 1989 and August 2020, US gross imports totaled a mammoth $426,142,353,096 worth of polished diamonds.

By the end of 2024, there is a good chance that this number will reach a massive half trillion dollars. Where do these diamonds come from, and what does it say about diamond mining?

Where do US diamonds come fom?

For most of those 30 odd years, and until 2015, Israel was the leading source of diamond supply to the US. Belgium was a close second until 1992, when matters started to change in the midstream of the diamond pipeline.

By 1993, India’s diamond manufacturing sector was large enough and its drive to conquer market share strong enough to rise from the third to second largest source of polished diamonds to the US.

In 2016, India was already the largest supplier of polished diamonds to the US. By then, manufacturing in Israel found it impossible to compete with India on cost or scale.

The three – India, Israel, and Belgium – accounted for 90-93% of US diamond imports until 2005. At that time, imports from South Africa became of growing importance. Never a source of many polished diamonds, the high average value of diamond imports from South Africa, however, were enough to propel it to the fourth largest supplier of US diamonds.

At fifth, value over volume

Throughout the years, a fifth country was an important source of diamonds. Very different from the other four, Switzerland closes the list of top five diamond suppliers to the US.

While the three leading diamond suppliers to the US are the world’s largest polishing and trading centers, and South Africa is a diamond producing country with an active polishing activity, Switzerland is neither.

Without a meaningful polishing industry or any diamond mining, the European country better known for its banking system, is an important diamond supplier to the US for a very different reason.

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