April 16, 2006

Processing about one-half of the world’s gem-quality rough diamonds in dollar terms, Israeli diamond companies today provide the stones featured in a vast amount of the diamond jewelry sold worldwide.A unique new diamond mined in Canada and polished in Israel is expected to add increased sparkle to the display counters of US jewelry stores in coming years.

The Canadian-Israeli partnership has produced ‘Arctic Love Diamonds’, a new gem – originating in the Diavik Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories – that is cut, polished and marketed by the Israeli Waldman Diamond Company. The diamond, to be launched June 3 at the JCK Show, a major international jewelry and gemstone exhibit and trade show in Las Vegas, will then be marketed all over North America.

The Waldman Diamond Company (WDC), an international diamond manufacturing and trading firm headquartered in Ramat Gan, has been supplying the American market since 1978.

It is one of 40 Israeli diamond firms participating in the Las Vegas show, a testament to Israel’s leading role in the manufacture and trade of polished diamonds. Processing about one-half of the world’s gem-quality rough diamonds in dollar terms, Israeli diamond companies today provide the stones featured in a vast amount of the diamond jewelry sold worldwide, according to the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

The Arctic Love Diamond is expected to have special appeal to North American consumers because it is an extremely high quality gem, distinguished by its exceptional brilliance, notes Alexander Waldman, WDC founder and CEO.

There are also moral and ethical reasons that make the Canadian gem attractive.

“When you buy a diamond from a Canadian mine you know you are getting a clean product, a non-conflict diamond,” Waldman told ISRAEL21c.

‘Conflict’ diamonds refer to gems that are used by rebel forces to finance arms purchases, thus fuelling conflict in a particular region of the world. Frequently, children are used as forced laborers in such mines. Much of the world’s diamond supply originates from such civil war-strewn regions, among them the African states of Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Once diamonds are brought to market, their origin is difficult to trace, and once polished, they can no longer be identified, making the diamond trade a tempting means of financing guerrilla warfare.

In recent years, the United Nations and human rights groups have called for more scrupulous monitoring of the origin of diamonds in order to prevent the purchase of conflict diamonds.

In this respect, diamonds of Canadian origin should appeal to socially conscious consumers all over the world.

“We provide a certificate of origin, so the consumer can trace the diamond from the mine to the finished product,” says Waldman.

All Arctic Love Diamonds will be cut and polished at WDC’s state-of-the art cutting facilities in Israel and will be accompanied by a diamond grading report from either the Gem Trade Laboratory of the Gemological Institute of America (GTL-GIA) or the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL), in addition to a unique ‘Certificate of Origin.’

Enterprising immigrants from Belgium launched Israel’s diamond industry in the 1930s. A handful of factories operated in Netanya and Tel Aviv in the 1940s, and merged to become the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1947. During World War II, when the traditional European centers fell under German occupation, Israel became a major source for polished diamonds. With the establishment of the state in 1948 came a large influx of immigrants, who were enlisted to work in this growing industry. Locally-developed manufacturing techniques made it possible to train workers within months.

As the industry began to export globally, Israeli diamond traders became increasingly cosmopolitan, first selling their goods in the far corners of the world and later setting up offices in New York, Antwerp, Hong Kong and Tokyo. With the entry of the second and third generation of Israelis into their family diamond businesses, manufacturing and marketing methods have become more sophisticated. Still the essence of the industry has remained the same for the past 60 years: a high level of professional expertise, combined with originality, creativity and ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Those characteristics help explain the record $10 billion in cut diamonds exported from Israel last year alone.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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