The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls, has opened a new center in Israel, the fourth-largest diamond market in the world. One of 16 global locations, the center will include the eighth diamond lab in the world — the sixth outside the United States, and is based in the Israel Diamond Center in Ramat Gan where it currently employs 20 people. In the next phase, the GIA will create an educational and learning center for cutting and polishing diamonds at the Israeli facility that will be one of a handful of such facilities outside the United States. Expected to enroll about 100 students a year, this new center could attract young Europeans looking to be diamantaires — diamond manufacturers or producers. Normally trainees go to the GIA’s centers in Carlsbad, California, or New York City, but for Europeans, Israel is a much shorter plane ride away with fewer time zones to cross.
The opening of the center will cut the time to market and reduce risks and insurance premiums of Israeli-traded diamonds in the industry, said Udi Sheintal, managing director of the Israel Diamond Institute, the non-profit organization that encouraged the GIA to come to Israel. Sheintal is well known to AICC as the former Israeli Trade Commissioner to the US when he was based in Atlanta from 1993-1997. He continues to serve on the Chamber’s Israeli Advisory Board.
The Israeli diamond market was worth about $20 billion in 2011, and until now, Israeli diamond traders would buy their raw diamonds close to the source outside of Israel or in a trade, and then ship the diamond to the United States in order to get a certificate of quality issued by the GIA. This created backlogs of weeks and months and a high cost associated with insurance premiums while the gems were in transit. Having an American center of excellence in Israel will accelerate Israeli diamond turnover, Sheintal added.
“Israel has long been a center for the global diamond trade,” said Donna Baker, GIA president and CEO, who came to Israel in September to inaugurate the new center. “We hope that having direct access to GIA diamond grading services in Israel will support the success of Israeli companies.”