Rapaport Magazine

Israel

By Avi Krawitz
Summer Slows, Busy Fall Expected

Trading in the bourse was quiet in July as U.S. wholesale customers were on vacation and demand from the Far East slowed. There were fewer foreign buyers in the bourse, particularly as Indian buyers have been largely absent from the market. Isaac Berman, owner of I. Berman Diamonds, noted that India influences the Israeli market for two reasons. “Indian buyers represent a significant portion of foreign buyers in the bourse and they’re not coming,” he said. “Secondly, Israeli buyers went to Mumbai to purchase polished and they unexpectedly found an expensive market there” so they were unable to purchase the volume they sought.
   Diamond demand in India has slowed due to the recent rupee depreciation, high rough prices, tight liquidity and unfavorable government policy. Berman explained that Indian suppliers have held their prices firm to compensate for their high rough costs.
   For Israeli suppliers, India remains a tough market to penetrate and the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) pavilion at the August India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) will be relatively small, with just eight companies participating. Instead, Israeli dealers and manufacturers are looking toward the Hong Kong September show to set the tone for the market in advance of the holiday season, despite Far East demand being slow at the moment. For now, Berman notes that the U.S. is the only market that is showing signs of life.
   “July is summer vacation in the U.S. so I hope that after the vacation period the market will improve,” Berman said. “Then we have the Hong Kong show, which is always positive in September, and that will lead us to the high season. So I’m optimistic for the rest of the year.”

Polished Trade Declines
   The market could do with a lift as recent data published by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor indicated that Israel’s polished diamond trade with other countries contracted in the first half of 2013. Polished exports fell 2 percent to $3.23 billion during the six-month period while polished imports fell 5 percent to $2.08 billion.
   The data showed mixed trends in the different markets where Israel operates. Exports to Hong Kong were down 14 percent for the half year, while exports to Belgium declined 10 percent. Exports to India rose 15 percent and to Switzerland, jumped 87 percent, a large increase but on a smaller base. The ministry did not report final export numbers to the U.S., Israel’s largest market, but gave no explanation.
   Shmuel Mordechai, Israel’s diamond controller, explained that the data signaled stability in the market despite the challenging global environment. “We are seeing a slight improvement in the market and hope that the second half of 2013 will signal a recovery in the trade,” Mordechai said.
   Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) members are not happy with the recent resumption of investigations by the tax authorities in the bourse and a general meeting to update them on the situation was scheduled to take place after press time.

Rough Ride
   Local manufacturers and rough dealers expressed concern about trends in the rough market as prices continued to rise in July. Premiums from trading De Beers and ALROSA boxes remained low during the month and profitability from manufacturing very tight.
   Despite their complaints, a relatively large volume of rough continued to be traded through the country in 2013. Rough imports rose 3 percent to $2.04 billion in the first half of the year, with the volume of goods up 39 percent to 5.508 million carats. Rough exports increased 8 percent to $1.64 billion, with the volume rising by 26 percent to 6.157 million carats.

Diamond Week Returns
   In an attempt to facilitate a stronger trade in the second half, IDE has scheduled its second U.S. & International Diamond Week in the bourse for August 26 to 29. In addition to the U.S. delegation of buyers expected to attend, IDE reported that a large and diverse group of buyers from Hong Kong and China will also participate.
   The Far East delegation will be led by Conroy Cheng Chi-Heng, a director at Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, and will include representatives from Chow Sang Sang Jewellers, Dheres, Brilliant Trading, Kunming Trading, Lee Hen, Wu Leung Lee and Aharoni & Sons. Other buyers groups attending the event include a delegation from the Diamond Dealers Club of New York, a delegation from India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and a buyers group from Russia.
   “The participation of such a prominent delegation of diamond buyers offers yet more proof of the fruitful relationship that the Israeli diamond industry and trade have developed with the markets in Asia and in particular with Hong Kong and Greater China,” said Yair Sahar, IDE’s president. Approximately 350 Israeli diamond manufacturers and dealers are expected to exhibit at the event, presenting more than $1 billion worth of polished goods for sale.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2013. To subscribe click here.

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