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52 posts from May 2005

China increases its cut of the diamond polishing market

India excels at polishing diamonds as tiny as a hundredth of a carat. Masters of this craft in Antwerp and in Tel Aviv excel at handling diamonds of a carat or more.

But pushing into the broad middle as the newest diamond power is China, a nation long enamored of jade that ignored the stones for much of its half century of communist rule.

The past is no longer holding it back. Several dozen privately owned foreign companies, most of them very secretive, have set up diamond polishing and jewelry manufacturing operations in China, many based here in a city about 129 kilometers, or 80 miles, up the Pearl River from Hong Kong. With a potent mix of experience, cheap labor, advanced technology and strict quality controls, they are challenging the industry leaders, especially India.

China now imports $800 million a year worth of rough diamonds and polishes them to become worth roughly $1.1 billion, accounting for 6 percent of the value added by the world's $4.6 billion diamond polishing industry.

India, with a million diamond workers and an 80 percent share of the diamond polishing business, is nervous. Alarmed by the pace and skill with which China is improving, India's diamond industry leaders say that in diamonds, as in so many other businesses, China's advance cannot be stopped.

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Ploughing more cash into Angolan diamonds

With just about eight years life left in its South African land operations, Trans Hex, South Africa’s second largest diamond producer, is looking to replace and grow production.

And while the company may be able to buy some loss-making De Beers operations that fall off the table in future, the main focus is Angola, where the R1.5 billion company has already injected R458 million exploring what has been dubbed ‘elephant country’ when it comes to diamonds.

This has not yet paid off.. In the year to end-March 2005, Trans Hex made a mere R3 million operating profit out of Angola, compared to R363 million in South Africa where rand strength has hampered profits.

However R52 million, or 78% of the company’s R67 million in exploration spend for the last financial year went into Angola. This year it may be more, with group spend budgeted at R75 million and “most of that going to Angola,” according to management.

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Diamonds shine for crypto researchers

A device that makes it impossible to eavesdrop on communications or steal information travelling on a network is being developed at Melbourne University.

The quantum cryptography technology breaks messages sent using fibre-optic cables down to a single beam of photons, the particles that make up light.
It will appeal to anyone wanting absolute security of information and communications, such as large companies, banks and government agencies,

The university's School of Physics received a $3.3 million innovation grant from the Victorian Government to develop the prototype and commercialise the technology.

While most information today was sent via fibre optics, transmitting it with absolute, uncrackable security depended upon the unique properties of light and laws of physics, co-inventor James Rabeau said.

"We are putting tiny, single-photon light sources, made out of diamond, directly on the end of the optical fibres," Dr Rabeau said.

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Africa polishes up on diamonds

Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev offered the clearest support yet of African efforts to develop a thriving diamond manufacturing sector on the continent at the international jewellery conference in India.
"The old excuse that it is economically not viable to polish diamonds in Africa no longer holds water.

"Those who believe that cheap labour costs are the main factor in the success of diamond manufacturing are making a great error ," said Leviev.

African governments are in various stages of negotiations with diamond miners and manufacturers about cutting and polishing diamonds on the continent.

Beneficiation, the process of adding value to diamonds by polishing and cutting, is viewed as a means of compensation for the jobs the mining sector is shedding.

Governments are receiving mixed results because some major players prefer major diamond-cutting centres such as Antwerp in Belgium and Israel that have a supportive infrastructure like a diamond exchange and access to finance.

Other players prefer centres with low costs such as India and China.

Leviev said Africa's diamond-producing countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Angola and South Africa were "no longer prepared to give up their major natural resources to be exported to cheap labour-cost countries".

"They also want to benefit from the added value for their own economies and to give employment opportunities for their own populations," he said.

Leviev said his company had been manufacturing in South Africa and employed many workers.

He said the cost of producing one carat on the continent was about US$35 a carat (about R232) "but we believe that soon we will reach a higher level of production and a cost of $25 a carat.

"In Angola we will be opening a new factory and will have more than 500 local employees by the end of the year.

"In Botswana we have presented the government with a proposal to open a polishing plant that will give employment to 2 000 locals.

"In money terms we are talking about a multiple of 10. This means, for example, that 500 workers in Namibia produce an income the same as 5 000 in India. Or 2 000 in Botswana will produce the same income as 20 000 in India."

Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka urged India, whose diamond tertiary sector is very advanced, to assist South Africa and other African countries in their efforts.

India is home to the world's largest diamond-cutting centre and almost 1 million people are employed in this industry.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said Africa also wanted to use its diamonds for development, peace and prosperity.

"We are looking to become a major international diamond-cutting centre and trading hub without taking anything away from you," she said.

Selekane said Indian cutters and polishers would be brought to South Africa to train locals and that entrepreneurs would be encouraged to invest locally.

De Beers faces EU complaint from Belgian diamond body

De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, is boosting prices and taking business from rival suppliers of uncut and unpolished gems, according to a complaint which a Belgian industry group plans to file with the European Union’s antitrust authority.

The Belgium Polished Diamond Dealers Association, which represents about 150 Belgian diamond companies, says some of its members are losing business to suppliers chosen by De Beers. The association will file the complaint with the EU’s Competition Directorate General in the next two weeks, its president, Andre Gumuchdjian, said in an interview on Friday.

Johannesburg-based De Beers sells three out of five of the world’s rough diamonds, which are uncut and unpolished. The company is trying to boost diamond jewelry sales by forming closer ties with manufacturers and opening retail stores.

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LIBERIA: Former rebel fighters dig for diamonds

Boaki spent Liberia's civil war fighting for the rebels. Now it's peacetime, the former gunman spends his days in muddy creek waters, illicitly searching for diamonds, the gems that helped fuel the 14-year conflict.

UN sanctions banning the export of diamonds have been in place since 2001, but exploring for the glittering stones is not illegal so long as you have the requisite permit from the government.

However, practically all the miners interviewed by an IRIN correspondent in a diamond-rich area of Gbarpolu County, some 200 km northwest of the capital Monrovia, said their operations were illicit.

"Every time we see UN helicopters patrolling the sky, we leave the diamond creek," said Boaki, a young man in his 20s who used to fight for the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel movement.

Now he looks for diamonds near the village of Weasua, a place so famed for the gemstones that Liberia's ramshackle national airline, which boasts a couple of rickety Russian planes, is named after it.

"We know that there are sanctions on diamonds and it always comes to our mind that the UN soldiers in the helicopters are trying to photograph us or attempting to arrest us," Boaki said, pulling on his tattered camouflage T-shirt.

Experts say small-scale diamond mining activity has mushroomed in Liberia in recent months, particularly in the northern areas that border Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.

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De Beers to re-enter Angola after four years

Diamond giant De Beers will re-enter Angola, the world's fifth biggest diamond producer, after sealing a deal with Angolan state gem firm Endiama to form a joint venture, the companies said on Friday.

De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer, plans to build on "significant discoveries" made during previous exploration from 1996 to 2000, Richard Napier, head of new business, told Reuters.

"It's certainly our desire to move very quickly to try to bring something to discovery as soon as we possibly can," he said.

De Beers left the country in 2001 following the breakdown of an agreement with Endiama, but the two sides reached a settlement at the end of last year following arbitration, creating the foundation for the current deal to be signed.

De Beers, 45 percent owned by mining conglomerate Anglo American Plc, spent $32 million during its previous exploration programme and the firm would probably spend more than that in a shorter period this time, Napier said.

"It'll probably be over shorter time periods, because the work we will be doing will include significant drilling programmes over some of the kimberlites that were brought to discovery during that earlier programme," he said. Kimberlites are a common host rock for diamonds.

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Diamond Hybrid “Doing for diamond what cultured did for pearl."

The newest revolution in jewelry in nearly 50 years will make its inaugural appearance on “The Tony Danza Show” this week. The world-renowned boxer, turned sitcom star, turned talk show host is shocking the world once again with the unprecedented giveaway of a nearly three carat Diamond Hybrid. The show, which is drastically gaining popularity not only by its A-list celebrity appearances but also by its seemingly outrageous audience giveaways, is about to embark on one of its most glamorous and glitzy giveaways to date, worthwhile of a true Hollywood debut.

With the success of talk show integrations ranging from Opera’s car giveaway to Ellen’s Rad2Go Q Chariot Christmas extravaganza (orchestrated by product placement guru’s Feature This!), it seemed to be only logical for Diamond Hybrid to make its first red carpet appearance by giving away a nearly three-karat diamond to a randomly selected audience member on the 27th of May 2005.

This never before seen three carat Diamond Hybrid will be a round Hearts and Arrows, considered by experts to be the ideal cut. The Hybrid will come laser engraved and with an appraisal card of authenticity. Currently, only natural diamonds have been held to such high and exacting standards.

The comparison to a natural diamond is breath taking. Not since Kokichi Mikimoto invented the cultured pearl has the jewelry industry been so revolutionized.

In contrast to "imitation" diamonds such as a CZ or created moissanite (both lab created) natural and Hybrid diamonds, which are carbon bonded, register a diamond signature on a Microspectroscopy test (the industry standard for diamond signature testing). Using the breakthrough technology of Amorphous (aligning diamond crystals together) the diamond hybrid has transformed the jewelry industry. Diamond Hybrid is now available at a fraction of the cost, with the same integrity, clarity, brilliance and luster as that of its natural "cousin"

For more information or purchasing instructions, please visit

Diamonds become a best friend to more women

Purists may despise the invention of laboratory-grown diamonds, saying perhaps that what makes diamonds precious (or costly) is the billion years they take to form.

You know: dinosaur remains -- story and all.

Slowly but surely, simple logic seems to have started overriding the illusion of the value of mined diamonds, forged largely by the major mining firm De Beers, which crafted the "A diamond is forever" slogan.

The success of De Beers' campaign, which uses a celebrity couple marking their engagement with a diamond ring on the woman's left hand, has turned diamonds into a symbol of eternal love, thus spurring sales of the gem, especially in the United States and Japan.

The growing demand has caused diamond prices to skyrocket, making them more expensive than sapphires and rubies, which are a 1,000 times rarer than diamonds.

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Generous media mogul Oprah Winfrey has treated staff working on her hit daytime Tv show to a 20th anniversary holiday to remember.

The Tv star has reportedly surprised her Harpo Productions staff with all-expenses-paid family vacations in Maui, Hawaii.

The gift, which includes plane flights, accommodation and even spending money, was handed out to staff at the end-of-season wrap party.

Meanwhile, Mariah Carey revealed on yesterday's (24May05) Oprah show the talk show titan also handed out gifts to all her famous friends who attended her Legend's Ball earlier this month (MAY05).

Oprah handed out gift packages, so we're thinking, 'Oh, maybe we'll get a nice little trinket; she hands all of us diamond earrings - black diamonds and white diamonds. They're so spectacular."

As a special thankyou for including her in the Legend's Ball, Carey stunned Oprah by presenting her with a plaque featuring the sheet music for Bebe Winans' Legend.