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Beyond magnificence and splendor, the world of diamonds evolves on stirred grounds. When the stake is so important, interests collide. But technology develops following its onward course. Here are some interesting off-stage events in the diamond industry and innovations in technology.
De Beers sued by head of the Diamond Bourse
Derek Parsons, the president of the Diamond Bourse of the Southeast United States has filed a lawsuit against De Beers, on the charge of the company's disregard of American competition law. Their Supplier of Choice policy puts the American dealers at a disadvantage. The suit was not launched on behalf of the Miami bourse but on behalf of diamond dealers in America, condemning the criteria on which De Beers makes the sales – they would sell only to their sightholders, discouraging the non-sightholders and keeping prices artificially high at a non-competitive level.
Diamond mining expands
De Beers holds control of only 50% of the roughs market
Diamond rising prices have stimulated the exploration and mining in more countries such as Canada, Russia, Angola, India, Brazil. Nevertheless, about 40% of diamonds still come from Botswana and South Africa. De Beers' control on the rough diamond market was declared to have decreased from 70% to about 50%. Canada, Russia and West and Central Africa are considered by specialists an important potential diamond source. India and Brazil are prospected by geologists also due to the fact that they are known to have been a diamond source in the past.
The largest diamond reserve of Africa lives in extreme poverty
Although the fourth largest producer in the world by value and the holder of the largest diamond reserves in Africa. Angola's per capita gross national income GNI is estimated at $650 per annum. People' s main means of subsistence is agriculture. The diamond sector has been seriously affected by the long war and by gem smuggling. Yet it still represents a very important potential driver of economic development. Since 2002, when the conflict between the government and the UNITA rebel movement ended, developing the sector has become a national priority and the government has already made changes to the diamond sector regulations. Serious redevelopment and investment is needed in this area. At present, artisanal mining operates in Angola and it brings very little economic benefit to local communities.
Increasing conflict in Russia between diamond cutters and miners
The Russian company Alrosa is the largest diamond miner in the world outside De Beers. Diamond cutters accuse Alrosa of favoring exports and providing larger stones for the foreign market and offering only small-sized diamonds to the internal market. On the other hand, Alrosa says that cutters cannot be allowed to pick the assortment of size they want. The result is that Russian cutters are buying million dollars in rough stones from South Africa each month. Russian manufacturers had a production of $1.1 billion in 2003, and Alrosa is estimated to produce around $2 billion worth rough diamonds this year.
Find-diamonds computer program
Partition Enterprises has been working together with the De Beers company and the University of Queensland to develop a program that calibrates the density separator x-ray sorting machines more accurately, thus maximize the diamond yield. Partition will showcase their products at the Electra Mining 2004 Exhibition in Johannesburg.
De Beers sightholders
Sightholder firms have to satisfy various criteria such as a high degree of expertise in valuing rough diamonds, high experience in cutting and polishing. De Beers has 125 sightholders to whom they assure a monthly direct supply of rough diamonds and from whom they collect around $ 600 million. The privilege of being a sightholder company is carefully preserved, as being a sightholder means being „on the cards”, otherwise the supply of diamonds may become dangerously scarce for that company. That is why the offered diamonds will be eventually purchased regardless of their quality – the pack diamonds can be argued on but they are very rarely rejected, as the sightholder cannot afford to lose its status and break the relationship with De Beers Diamond Trading Company, relation that is essential for business. In Japan, the only company appointed as sightholder is Tasaki.
Innovative complementary grading tool
A new feature will be added in grading reports: the light performance. Although the concept of measuring the light performance of diamonds has been introduced six years ago, this standard of diamond evaluation was never introduced into the grading reports of diamond grading laboratories. GemEx Systems, Inc. of Wisconsin and EGL USA of New York will provide a combined diamond grading report to diamond customers – besides the certification of the 4Cs, its light performance will be measured. The specific section in the report will contain the results of diamond analysis under six different lighting angles. The GemEx Light Performance Report makes the difference between diamonds with similar 4C characteristics that can differ in brilliance, fire and sparkle. The analysis is the result of a patented spectrophotometer technology based on the computerized BrillianceScope that measures diamonds’ brilliance, fire and sparkle, providing a powerful tool for the cutting, sales, buying and marketing of fine diamonds.
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