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Israel eyes sustainable growth

19 October 2018

By Olivia Quiniquini   


The International Diamond Week in Israel offers a large quantity and variety of goods to buyers from around the world

Aviel Elia, managing director, Israel Diamond Institute

 

Marketing, innovation and e-commerce are the top priorities of Aviel Elia, the new managing director of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies, as the country’s diamond industry flourishes on the back of greater government support and international recognition of its prowess with large diamonds.

Buoyed by an influx of government funding and support as well as international recognition of its expertise in large, valuable diamonds, the Israeli diamond industry is optimistic of prospects for sustainable business growth, according to Aviel Elia, the new managing director of the Israeli Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI). In an interview with JNA, he disclosed his strategy to bring the Israeli diamond industry to greater heights.

Much of his optimism stems from the Israeli government’s five-year programme, from 2018, to bolster the country’s diamond sector. This, according to Elia, is the first time in around 20 years that the industry is getting a special aid package from the government. “Diamonds account for roughly 15 percent of Israeli exports, down from around 20 percent in 2015. The government is seeing the value of the sector to the economy and the country. The main target is sustainable growth for the industry. We want the big diamond companies to continue flourishing and the smaller players to have steady business,” Elia remarked.

The financial support from the government and its creation of a special fund to help smaller companies address one of the sector’s major challenges in recent years – the withdrawal of credit for the diamond industry. “Credit for diamond transactions has dropped from US$2.2 billion before 2008 to around US$1.5 billion. Hopefully, the government’s interest in the sector as well as the united front and strong performance of the Israeli diamond community will help convince players in the banking and finance world to enter the industry,” he continued.

Marketing measures

The IDI is keeping up the momentum through marketing, innovation and e-commerce initiatives, according to Elia.

In its Fly to Buy campaign that runs till December, IDI is subsidising up to US$1,000 of the cost of buyers’ air tickets if they come to Israel and purchase US$150,000 worth of diamonds at the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE). The International Diamond Week in Israel 2019 from January 29 to 30 is another pivotal event to drive business to the country’s diamantaires.

“The US accounts for 50 percent of demand for Israeli diamonds. Asia, particularly Hong Kong and China, brings in around 30 percent of the business. Our marketing initiatives are geared to strengthen our foothold in our traditional markets and attract new buyers,” said Elia.

Identifying and exploring new markets for the Israeli diamond product is essential for further growth, he added. The institute is likewise on the lookout for new trade shows to participate in. “We are exhibiting in Shanghai this November. Our efforts in China are likely to be more intensive in the coming year,” Elia revealed.

Innovative touch

Innovation and e-commerce are top priorities too. IDE's Diamond Tech innovation centre supports start-up companies that can provide new technological, financial and logistical solutions to the Israeli diamond sector. The institute itself embarks on new programmes and projects geared to foster growth.

IDI’s Get Diamonds platform is also envisioned to play a significant role in the continued success of the Israeli diamond sector. According to Elia, this online trading platform for diamonds by Israeli companies sets the foundation for more projects and further collaborations with major B2B and B2C platforms. IDI has a partnership with R2Net in North America, while the IDE has opened several B2B shops on Alibaba, with the intention of extending this partnership to B2C transactions.

Elia said, “E-commerce is growing exponentially – it is the market of the future; it is the market of the new generation. Buyers are increasingly going online for their diamond requirements. E-commerce is a formidable force in the US and in China. It is only bound to get stronger hence it is imperative we have a presence there.”

All in all, the Israeli diamond industry has plenty working in its favour. Aside from strong government support and IDI initiatives for growth, the country is also carving a niche for itself in the manufacture of large, valuable diamonds, with mining companies increasingly holding auctions of large, rough diamonds in the country, Elia noted. “If we continue to innovate and work as a community with the government, I am optimistic that the Israeli diamond industry faces a bright future,” he said.