Israel's Sales Down, Determination Up

June 1999


Israel's Sales Down, Determination Up

srael will emerge strengthened from its economic crisis, says the recently elected president of the Israel Diamond Exchange

'Nobody can deny that times are tough right now – not only for us, but for every diamond center," says Shmuel Schnitzer, the new president of the Israel Diamond Exchange. "But it's also a time of opportunity. Because of the world economic crisis, the cards have been reshuffled. If we play our hand right, we can emerge stronger than we were when we went in."

In 1998, Israel polished diamond exports totaled $3.63 billion, down 11% from 1997. But considering sales to Israel's second and third largest export markets – recession-stricken Hong Kong and Japan – fell 50% and 34%, it could have been worse.

"We would have liked to witness an increase in exports to all of our traditional export markets," Schnitzer says. "But that clearly was impossible, given the economic situation in Japan, Hong Kong and other East Asian markets. Nonetheless, throughout the past year, the Israeli industry demonstrated extraordinary flexibility by concentrating its focus on the United States – the world's most dynamic diamond market."

Indeed, Israeli diamond exporters performed remarkably well in the U.S., exporting $2.214 billion worth of polished goods, up 7.6% from 1997.

Moshe Schnitzer Chairs IDI
Shmuel's father, legendary Israeli diamantaire Moshe Schnitzer, was re-elected chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute by a unanimous vote of the IDI Board of Directors. He will serve a three-year term. The Israel Diamond Institute is a non-partisan organization that represents all facets of Israel's diamond sector.

The elder Schnitzer says he's starting his new term at a critical moment. "Apart from the ongoing endeavor to remain competitive as a diamond manufacturing center, the Israeli diamond community has been propelled into an entirely new game of marketing," he says. "One of our immediate tasks is the establishment of contacts with rough diamond dealers wherever they may exist in the world," he says. "We are intent on expanding the rough diamond trade and making Israel a principal center for rough diamond trading."

He says the industry also continues to invest in developing advanced technology to continue the manufacturing of smaller diamonds in Israel.

IDI also appointed Ya'akov Almor as its foreign press officer. Dutch-born Almor, 41, began his career in the diamond trade 12 years ago as an associate editor at International Diamondsand later served as public relations officer of the Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange and the Israel Emerald Cutters Association. He also is a graduate gemologist.


– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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