Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Downturn is a diamond market's worst friend

Downturn is a diamond market's worst friend

Diamonds may be forever but traders in Antwerp are hoping Europe's recession won't be as it is turning their businesses pear-shaped.
"Business is down 20-30 percent," moaned Dany Meylemans, boss of one of the diamond polishing companies in the Belgian city known as the diamond capital of the world.
In his workshop nine employees, each wearing an eye-glass, were finishing and polishing tiny facets on the precious gems.
Each individual diamond requires two to four weeks painstaking and precise work, from which the finished article derives much of its value.
Meylemans has seen demand weaken since this time last year.
"For us, the crisis started before the fall of the stock markets," he said.
But the fall in demand worsened in the first four months of this year when imports of uncut diamonds to Antwerp, north of Brussels, plunged by 45 percent and exports by 30 percent.
For polished diamonds, those worked on by the Antwerp craftsmen, the figures are 32 percent and 28 percent down.
Those kind of statistics reverberate throughout a city which handles 80 percent of world trade in uncut diamonds.
The diamond traders, many instantly recognizable by the suitcases chained to their wrists, still ply their trade in a few streets in Antwerp's diamond quarter established in the 16th century.
There they operate cheek by jowl with the brokerages, banks and specialist bourses all under the unblinking gaze of security cameras.
At the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, which handles trade in polished diamonds, the tables are almost empty.
In the big diamond certification laboratories many of the multi-faceted experts are also notable by their absence.
The sector has had to go cap in hand to the regional Flemish government seeking a 200-million-euro (US$280-million) guarantee.
However this figure is tiny compared to the annual trade of US$42 billion enjoyed by the diamond market, which "is not in enormous danger," according to Freddy Hanard, president of the Antwerp World Diamond center (AWDC), the coordinating body for the town's diamond industry.
"The crisis is there" but "Antwerp is resisting very well," he said.


Updated : 2021-05-15 07:07 GMT+08:00