The Diamond industry of Israel is an important world player in producing cut diamonds for wholesale. In 2010, Israel became the chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. As of 2016[update], cut diamonds constituted 23.2% of Israel's total exports and they were the country's biggest export product, amounting to 12% of the world's production.
What was to become the Israeli diamond industry began in 1937, eleven years before the State of Israel was established, when the first diamond polishing plant was opened in Petah Tikva by refugee experts from the Netherlands. In 1938 the 15% import duty on imported rough stones was removed. By 1944 the industry employed 3,300 workers in 33 factories, with £P 1,320,000 capital investment, entirely Jewish. The value of exports was over £P 3,200,000 mainly to the United States, Canada, and India; it was the largest value of any single commodity exported from Mandatory Palestine that year.
Between 1944 and 1948 the industry suffered from the increasing lawlessness and in February 1948 closed down completely.
First years of the State of Israel
After a state was declared, the consumer economy was shifted to a war economy. This came at the height of a diamond crisis, as many war-torn economies were struggling to re-establish.
In the beginning of the 21st century, Israel is one of the world's three major centers for polished diamonds, alongside Belgium and India. Israel's net polished diamond exports slid 22.8% in 2012 as polished diamond exports fell to $5.56 billion from $7.2 billion in 2011. Net exports of rough diamonds dropped 20.1% to $2.8 billion and net exports of polished diamonds slipped 24.9 percent to $4.3 billion, while net rough diamond imports dropped 12.9 percent to $3.8 billion. The United States is the largest market accounting for 36% of overall export market for polished diamonds while Hong Kong remains at second with 28 percent and Belgium at 8% coming in third.
In 2007, when diamonds still constituted almost 24% of Israel's total exports, 12% of world diamonds (by their value) were polished in the country. In 2010 this number decreased to 9%. As of 2016[update], diamonds amounted to 28% of Israel's total exports and they were still 12% of the world's production.
The industry is located in the "Diamond District", located in Ramat Gan in the Tel Aviv District. The complex is made up of four buildings, interconnected with walkways. The entire trading operation takes place in this complex. The Diamond Tower in the district contains the world's largest diamond trading floor.
The Israeli diamond industry guarantees all diamonds are 100% naturally made and participates in the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme whose goal is to ensure no blood diamonds enter the marketplace.
Some human rights campaigners, however, say the Kimberley Process defines conflict diamonds too narrowly, only relating to uncut stones, enabling Israel's diamond-cutting industry to avoid attention. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, among others, has called for diamonds processed in Israel to be considered conflict diamonds.
- Economy of Israel
- Moshe Schnitzer, key player in the international diamond trade, from 1967-1993 President of the Israel Diamond Exchange
- Miskin, Maayana (June 18, 2010). "Zimbabwe Diamond Activist Jailed before Israel Appearance". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
- The Early 1900s Archived 2006-11-07 at the Wayback Machine by Shira Ami
- 'A survey of Palestine'. Vol 1. Originally published 1946-47. ISBN 0-88728-211-3. Page 445.
- The Scotsman, March 8th 1948: 'Clare Hollingworth, Jerusalem, by Air Mail : One of the biggest casualties of the Palestine civil war occurred last month in a veil of obscurity. The entire Jewish-owned diamond polishing industry of Palestine, which had grown during the war to be the second largest in the world after that of Holland, was closed down. It is considered unlikely that the industry, which in 1946 exported £5,501,000 worth of cut diamonds, mostly to the United States, will reopen again on anything like its former scale. Four official reasons are given for ‘suspending work’. The first is that 2500 workers in 34 diamond-cutting plants walked out as a result of ‘hold-ups by dissident underground organisations.’ Secondly, Mr O. Ben-Ami, president of the Diamond Manufacturing Association, states that £200,000 of diamonds have been stolen since 1944. The third reason is that insurance companies, after raising diamond insurance rates for Palestine to 12 per cent. recently declined cover altogether. Fourthly, the Palestine Post Office no longer accepts registered mail. The fate of the diamond industry illustrates the twin dangers which threaten the whole of the new industrial system which the Zionists have built up rapidly in Palestine in recent years, and on which many Zionist economists based their hopes for the livelihood of a future Jewish state. The dangers are the dislocation caused by the guerrilla struggle waged by Jewish extremists, which has now developed into an economically paralysing civil war, and the post-war revival of international trade at competitive prices, which has revealed the shaky basis of wartime expansion of Zionist industry.'
- Meirav Arlosoroff, When Ben-Gurion Saved Israel’s Economy at Any Price, Haaretz, 23 March 2018
- Jewellery Business - Israel’s 2012 polished diamond exports decline
- "Diamond Exports". Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Israel 2012 diamond exports fall, may rebound if no more crises | Reuters
- - Israel's Polished Diamond Exports -22% in 2012
- Minerals Yearbook, 2008, V. 3, Area Reports, International, Africa and the Middle East - ISBN 9781411329652 page 48.1 The mineral Industry of Israel: "Israel's total exports amounted to $45.9 billion in 2007, of which diamonds accounted for 23.9%"
- Minerals Yearbook, 2008, V. 3, Area Reports, International, Africa and the Middle East // USGS - ISBN 9781411329652 page 48.1 The mineral Industry of Israel: "In 2007 .. Israel accounted for 12% of the value of the world's polished diamond production"
- Minerals Yearbook: Area Reports International Review 2010 Africa and the Middle East // USGS - ISBN 9781411331747 page 48.1 The mineral Industry of Israel: "In 2010, Israel accounted for 9% of the value of the wolr's polished diamond production"
- Israel Diamond Industry Organizations Archived January 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS SAY KIMBERLEY PROCESS MUST SUSPEND ISRAEL AND BAN ISRAELI DIAMONDS EXPORTS
- Israel's blood diamonds (BDS, March 31, 2010)
- SOUTH AFRICA: Avocados, Diamonds at Core of Anti-Israel Trade Campaign (IPS, Jan 26 2007)
- South African Officials Must Reject Israeli Blood Diamonds and Secure Jobs in Diamond Beneficiation (IPSC, June 3, 2013)