Feature Gems & Gemology, Fall 2005, Vol. 41, No. 3

A Review of the Political and Economic Forces Shaping Today’s Diamond Industry

During the past 15 years, political and economic forces have converged to radically transform the structure of the diamond industry worldwide. This article examines how upheavals in the former Soviet Union and several African nations—as well as the arrival of new sources such as Australia and Canada—led to the restructuring of the rough diamond market. This in turn created new competitive pressure at the wholesale and retail levels, including the movement to establish new diamond cuts and diamonds as branded items. At the same time, technological advances have enabled the faster, more efficient manufacturing of rough diamonds, created new treatments, and fostered the introduction of economically viable gem-quality synthetics. While demand for diamond jewelry remains strong in the U.S., which accounts for nearly 50% of world consumption, new markets such as India and China are likely to spearhead continued growth. In addition, new social and governmental initiatives have affected how the entire industry conducts business.