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Home > Israeli Diamond Industry > History > 1980s


The Israeli Diamond Industry in the 1980s

By Shira Ami

Although the crisis that began in the late 1970s became known as “the crisis of the eighties,” most of the 1980s were marked by prosperity and growth, until the onset of the next crisis. Israel is such a large and important world diamond center that crises hit it hard, but it is also always the first to recover, to adapt to changes and to adjust its structure to the new situation

So it was with the “crisis of the eighties,” in the diamond industry in Israel and throughout the world. By overcoming the many difficulties and tremendous losses, the Israel diamond industry pulled out of the crisis and led the world industry to renewed growth, which continued until the end of the decade.

 Nati Harnik Enlarge
Diamond district in Ramat Gan at night in the 1980s - image courtesy of the Government Press Office

In the course of the 1980s, diamond exports from Israel tripled in value (from about 900 million dollars in 1982 to 2.7 billion dollars in 1989). The volume of carats exported almost doubled, from about 2 million carats in 1982 to about 3.9 million carats in 1989. The total import of rough quadrupled in value – from about 500 million dollars in 1982 to about 2.1 billion dollars in 1989. In volume, imports doubled, from about 3.7 million carats in 1982 to about 7.2 million carats in 1989. The direct import of rough from the CSO grew five times greater in value, from 188 million dollars in 1982 to 830 million dollars in 1989.

A structural change took place in the Israel diamond industry. Many of the leading factories reduced their operations or stopped their work altogether. At the same time, an increasing number of small factories, owned by new manufacturers, joined the manufacturing circle, giving a boost of encouragement to the industry. These plants were based on rapid turnover, and made a considerable contribution to the ability of the Israel diamond industry to recover from the crisis.

No less important a change was the diversity in manufacturing, which expanded to include additional types, thanks to a reduction in manufacturing costs and greater flexibility in direct supply of rough. The marketing destinations also changed: as the dollar grew stronger, more than half of the exports were sent to the United States, while the Far East and Europe received about one-quarter of the export each.

In the last year of the decade, the upward trend began to level out, after several years of sharp increases. The annual summary of figures shows a moderate increase of about 7.5% in the overall export value, in comparison to 1988, and a decrease of about 9% in carats. Export of local production declined more than 12% and import of rough rose about 3% in value and declined about 16% in carat volume. At the time, we didn’t know that these were the first signs of the “crisis of the nineties.”

Source: HaYahalom - State of Israel Jubilee edition

By: Shira Ami
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