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 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
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
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.