Did you know that 1 out of every 2 diamonds sold in the US comes from Israel? I was just as surprised as you the first time I learned that Israel was a major shareholder in the world market for the sales and distribution of quality diamonds. However, having lived here for over a year now, I can't tell you how many people I meet who work in the diamond trade. Located in the heart of Ramat Gan, a small city suburb bordering Tel Aviv, the Israeli Diamond Exchange makes its home in these towering buildings:
What is more is that the Israel Diamond Exchange is considered to be a world leader in the diamond trade, with the largest diamond trading floor of any country on earth. In fact, the Israeli Diamond Exchange is such a modern and exemplative market that even forward-thinking places like New York City have chosen the Israeli market to model their own markets after.
In the Israeli model, you really have a city within a city. You will find four buildings that are connected using a system of bridges. The exchange also includes a synagogue, a doctor, a restaurant and a barber, among others basic necessities so that you never need to leave the complex for anything.
Basically when you walk into the Israeli Diamond Exchange, you have everything you need in one central place. There is an exchange floor for polished and rough diamonds; there are banks working with the diamonds industry; there are tax offices. With approximately 2,800 members cutting, polishing, importing, exporting, trading and selling the diamonds, it's a very busy place for business. It's everything a diamond dealer needs in one centralized place.
The diamond industry is predominantly composed of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community, by way of Antwerp, Belgium where the diamond business really blossomed before Israel even became a state. Over the years as immigrants continued to flood into Israel from Antwerp, the diamond industry in Israel grew from a single diamond polishing plant in Petach Tikvah to a multi-billion dollar business that is here to stay for good.
Today you can buy diamonds and precious stones at wholesale prices for a significant discount at the exchange. My husband can endorse this fact since this is where he purchased both my engagement ring and wedding band. I gave him the Tiffany's Lucida as a rough guide. Mine came out with a round brilliant instead of a princess cut but the basic shape and style is the same.
I've actually never been inside the Diamond Exchange myself, but after reading up on it I'd really like to take a field trip there. Visitors, you might want to save up a little extra cash for your trip and a make a special visit there yourselves. Be sure to bring a native Israeli who can negotiate for you in Hebrew.