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Israel: Diamonds
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Industry > Diamonds


Israel's diamond industry in the 1980s differed considerably from its 1950s version. Until the early 1980s, a handful of large firms dominated the Israeli diamond industry. The nucleus consisted of European Jewish cutters who had immigrated during the Yishuv. In the 1970s, Israel surpassed Antwerp as the largest wholesale diamond center, accounting for more than 50 percent of all cut and polished gem diamonds. Diamonds were the only export in which Israel was more than a marginal supplier.

Unlike other industries, the diamond industry was affected entirely by external factors not under Israeli control. The diamond industry imported rough diamonds, cut and polished them, and then exported them. The slump in the industry from 1980 through 1982 surprised many Israeli firms that had speculative stockpiles. The result was a complete restructuring of the industry in FY 1984, and the creation of approximately 800 new and smaller manufacturing units. These small entities in mid-1986 concentrated exclusively on cutting, leaving the marketing to larger export firms. This latter task was supported by the 2,000-member Israel Diamond Exchange and the 300-member Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange, together with the quasi-governmental Israel Diamond Institute.

The success of this revitalization can be seen in the trade figures for the industry. In 1982 net diamond exports were US$905 million, equal to 18 percent of total exports; in 1986, however, diamond exports had grown to nearly US$1.7 billion, or approximately 24 percent of total exports.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Israel was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 84 of 206


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