The cutting process is obviously one of the most important steps in the journey of a diamond from a rough and raw diamond to a polished and glittering one. Just as there are specific locations where diamond mines have been located, there are various centers across the world known for their diamond cutting expert resources. The factors that determine the manner in which these centers operate are varied and include customs, regulations, labor costs, prices and the proximity to diamond mines.
In fact most of these centers are created due to some specific environmental, governmental or economic situation. Each cutting center is known for its specialty and while one center may be popular for its expertise in churning out well chiseled small diamonds, the other might be known to be able to produce unique and irregular cuts.
Antwerp is probably the world’s oldest cutting center and it was a key center for the European gem trade in the middle ages. It was known for cutting large diamonds and is definitely the very important center in this industry today. About 80 percent of the world’s diamonds pass through this center and some of the most important and prestigious De Beer sightholders are based in Antwerp.
Russia started its diamond cutting industry in a small manner. Small workshops were set up where the cutting work was completed. However, the discovery of the rich diamond deposits in Siberia turned the course of diamond cutting industry in Russia in 1955. The Russian cut diamonds soon began to be known for their precision and finesse. In 1990’d De Beers made one of the Russian firms, it sightholder and today Russia cuts diamonds from its own mines and also those from De Beers.
Another center that emerged post the World War II was Tel Aviv. This was because most of the skilled diamond cutter Jews fled Holland and Belgium to settle in what we today know as Israel. While the country produced small cut diamonds initially, they soon became the top producers of large diamonds and fancy, unique cuts. Tel Aviv is probably the most technologically advanced diamond cutting center and exports around $4 billion worth of fancy diamonds. Most of these diamonds coming out of Israel are actually absorbed by the US market.
The diamond cutting industry in India emerged when the Argyle diamond mines were found in Western Australia. These mines produced large amounts of roughs that were suited to be cut as small diamonds. Using an expensive diamond cutting center for such work was obviously not feasible since the labor costs would make the small diamonds unaffordable and exorbitantly priced. Therefore, India was a natural choice due to its cheap labor and large workforce.
The diamond cutting centers in India are concentrated in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, two of the closest states to Mumbai, the international trading center of India. Even though most of the diamonds that are cut in this center are below 3 pts, about 90% of the diamonds pass through this center by weight and 35% by wholesale value making it India’s largest export in 2000. More than half a million people are employed in this industry in India.
New York is known for its special cuts, especially for large diamonds. The beauty of the cuts and the size almost equals that of Tel Aviv and Antwerp. Since the labor costs are high in New York, the cutting center confines its operations to large high quality extraordinary diamonds, some of which adorn the fingers, wrists, necks and ears of the wealthiest diamond lovers in the world.
Thailand is known for cutting fashion colored stones. China has received a large amount of government backing in this area and today it specializes in small well-cut rounds. Canada is the most recent entrant in to this area. This has happened due to the discovery of some mines that are under development in the northern tundra. The government would like the locals to benefit from this find and therefore a certain amount of stock of roughs is being sold to the local diamond cutters.
The diamond industry is a dynamic one and the emergence of these diamond cutting centers is also a proof of the same. As diamond mines were discovered and developed and made professional, specific diamond cutting centers were identified based on their proximity, labor cost, specific expertise and skill. These are the very centers that have been mentioned above – some that became large renowned cutting centers after years of hard work and others that had windmills that turned them into profitable centers in a matter of days.
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