Israel looks to glitter in world diamond trade – by Ari Rabinovitch (Reuters India – August 29, 2013)

RAMAT GAN, Israel – (Reuters) – The Israel Diamond Exchange flexed its muscles this week, hosting a four-day show it hopes will strengthen its position as a major hub, and market leaders voiced optimism the struggling industry would have a strong end to the year.

Hundreds of companies crowded the world’s biggest diamond trading floor on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, where buyers, under heavy security and armed with eye loupes, ambled through rows of tables that displayed $2 billion of precious stones.

It was the largest event the exchange had held. Official figures were not made public, but Yair Sahar, president of the exchange, said sales were in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and he expected the show to provide a $2 billion boost by the end of the year.

“The eyes of the world are watching us. The mining companies, the jewelry manufacturers, they are wishing – ‘please be successful’,” Sahar said. Israel is already a key trading center and diamonds account for about 20 percent of all industrial exports. Manufacturing has dwindled, but trading has thrived, reaching an annual turnover of $25 billion.

Now it wants to expand its role.

The four-building exchange unveiled plans to triple its size, though it could take several years to get the necessary approvals.

And with the industry in flux in the wake of the global financial crisis, Sahar said mining companies such as Alrosa (ALRS.MM) and Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) were for the first time coming to do business.

“In the last few months we saw all those companies bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of rough to share with the Israeli companies, to share with the manufacturers,” he said.

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