Capitalizing on Killing Blood Diamonds: How Israel Should Invest in Manmade Gems

Diamonds might be forever, by diamond deposits surely are not. According to analysts, current diamond deposits are set to dry up within the next thirty years. In light of this, diamond mammoth De Beers Group, which specializes in diamond exploration, mining and retail, has recently embarked on a diversification process parting with its traditional ways. Bizarre as it may sound, quality diamonds can now be grown in labs, bearing such resemblance to “natural” diamonds, that even the most skilled gemologist could not tell one apart from the other. And if one thinks that such disruptive innovation is to deter buyers, they could not be more wrong. The truth is that millennials, unlike their predecessors, care more about issues like ethics, morals and integrity, rather than so-called exclusiveness.

Though being fabricated in a lab, man-made diamonds are still of high quality, and most importantly, can’t be used as a means to fuel wars and wrong doing. Blood diamonds, as we have grown used to call them, have been often used in the past by shady regimes to finances conflicts, such as the Angolan civil war, a 27-year struggle involving the deaths of over 500,000 soldiers and civilians. Despite introducing regulatory schemes such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), meant to impair the sale and purchase of war diamonds, it seems that nothing has been more effective in diminishing sales and demand more than the changing mindset of clientele. Generation Y are not enticed by advertising campaigns featuring glamorous overindulged white women, nor herded into marital practices that allegedly require a certain rock to make them legit. Demand is now seeking ethical products, and lab-growing diamond startups and ventures are just what the doctor prescribed.

One of these newfound ventures is French Courbet, a synthetic diamond enterprise set in Place Vendôme in Paris, right smack in the middle of Parisian jeweler high ground, with neighboring establishments such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. This course of action is indeed awe-inspiring, particularly for a company that does not vend “actual” diamonds, but stones cultivated inside a Silicon Valley laboratory. These products however share the composition of natural diamonds, and are staggeringly 30 to 40% cheaper. Not only are they saving lives, but Gen Y consumers are also saving loads of cash, one rock at a time.

So what are the implications for Israel? The Israel Diamond Exchange, located in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, is the world’s largest diamond exchange and the center of Israel’s diamond industry. As the line between natural and man-made diamonds thins and clientele opinion indifferent, what’s in store for the holy land’s diamond empire? It seems that rise in available supply in different locations, would weaken the Israeli Diamond Exchange stance.  Currently, Africa based mines account for significant portions of market share, geographically convenient for Tel Aviv. However, as mining dwindles (as any non-renewable, resource does), we most probably will see a power shift to where diamonds are fabricated, namely lab power hubs such as Silicon Valley.

Luckily for the Israel Diamond Exchange, it too is situated in a startup, innovation and scientific power house. There are nearly 4000 startups in Israel, ranking in with the highest number of startups per capita worldwide. If local ventures, with the aid of local diamond bosses, seek to capitalize now on this fast growing market, there is no reason why Israel should not remain the diamond capital of the world.

About the Author
Sharon holds a Master's degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University and the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, commonly referred as Sciences Po. During her studies in Paris, Sharon had interned at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the OECD, and was selected as spokesperson on behalf of the European Union of Jewish Students at the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva.
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