India became one of the largest diamond cutting centre in the world
At the end of the 1980’s, the important production of « near gems » and mostly the mine of the Australian diamond giant Argyle, was responsible for a change in the cutting and polishing business. The cutting centres started to locate their activities close to the production areas.
It started to develop at large scale the cutting and polishing industry in India, where cost of workers are very low.
This shift in the market is followed by the appearance of diamond cutting industries in other countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, China etc…
With a tradition of more than thousand years, which included some small activity in the cutting of diamonds, India in the last fourty years has become the biggest centre in the world for polishing and cutting diamonds.Even bigger than Israel despite the fact that the mining production is rather small.
The diamond cutting industry in India is still very unorganized : it consists of approximately 100 000 small companies employing over 2 million people. In the north of India, the province of Gujarat houses 80% off all the processing of diamonds produced in the country, with a concentration of 90% in diamond cutting companies in the single city of Surat.
The stones that are processed in India are of smaller size, generally smaller than 0.5 carat, resulting in the fact the companies are not technically well adapted to cut stones from 1 to 2 carat.
In 1999 the laboratory for authentification, the International Gemology Institute (IGI), was set up. It is equipped with ultramodern and complete equipment and it employs 120 experts.
The new division of diamond cutting centres
The most important traditional cutting centres are found in Belgium (Antwerp), Israel (Tel Aviv) and the United States (New York). These centres are still of importance because of their special added value provided from their knowledge and experience in stones of large size and high quality.
In fact, for stones of great value, the possibility of saving costs on cutting labour is marginal.
Dealing room of the stock exchange of the diamonds of Ramat Gan ( Israel )
After India, new parties that have come to the diamond cutting industry are China, Armenia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Bharat Diamond Bourse à Bandra near Bombay
The cutting industry is responsible for 29% of the added value of the “diamond pipeline”, which is the difference between the total value of all rough diamonds sold and the total value of all cut diamonds sold.
Between them, China plays a big role in the diamond world hierarchy, in terms of cutting and jewellery as well as in terms of consumption. The cutting industry contains of 20000 to 30000 persons and most of the companies are located in the cities Panyu (Guangzhou) and Shenzhen (Shandung).
China Diamond Exchange Center in Shangaï
With the founding of a diamond exchange centre in Shanghai, the start of the two laboratories of gemmology and a recent lowering in taxes on importing cut stones, China has adopted an energetic policy backed by a large production resources and low production costs.
The latest big change has taken place because of the demand from production countries, particularly in Africa, to start cutting and polishing industry in those countries. Africa wants to process the diamonds in their own region.
An African oligopoly of sellers is being formed opposit to the very large amount of traders and cutters worldwide. At the start of 2011 it is even more strong, because the demand will exceed the offer : the price is expected to therefore go up.