Polished diamond exports slide 23% in June [p. 17]

June saw a continuation of the dismal trading that has dogged the diamond market this year, with figures released Monday by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, indicating that June exports of polished diamonds fell 22.7 percent and raw diamonds an even steeper 47.7%. The value of polished diamond exports during the month was $314 million, down from the $406m. sold last June while exports of raw diamonds fell to $195m. from $373m. last year, the ministry said. Imports were also far lower than last year, with raw diamond imports down 26.7% to $195m. from $393m. and polished imports down 5.9% to $323m. from $343m. "Polished exports were down due to the large number of [industry figures] who were returning from the diamond show in Las Vegas, which began at the end of May," said diamond inspector/supervisor Shmuel Mordechai, suggesting that their absence meant less business than normal was done in Israel during June. As for the drop in imported raw diamonds, Mordechai blamed the "large discrepancy between the high prices of raw diamonds and the low prices [received] on polished diamonds," implying that it was more cost-effective to import polished diamonds instead. The ministry said Hong Kong received the largest share of exports with 35% of diamonds sent there, followed by the US with 28%, Belgium with 11%, Switzerland with 7% and England with 3%. The figures were released on the heels of the 32nd World Diamond Congress held last week in Tel Aviv where industry professionals met to discuss issues impacting the diamond business, such as declining profit margins and competition. Among the solutions put forth at the conference was the launch of a code of ethical business practices for diamond exchange members in an effort to boost consumer confidence and restore credibility to the industry.