Just about anyone who is anyone in the diamond world is in Antwerp, Belgium this week for a conference on the future of the industry.
The world’s largest center for cutting and polishing gems, Antwerp, is playing host to producers, government officials, jewelers and merchants. Among the issues they are discussing is so called conflict diamonds, that have helped fund wars in Africa and competition from synthetic gems. According to De Beers, the world’s largest diamond seller, prices will rise in the near future as production falls short of demand in the 44 billion euro market for diamond jewelry. Australia is the world’s largest producer by volume, but more than half of its output is industrial diamonds, which are worth less than those that are turned into jewelry. Botswana produces the most gems, as opposed to industrial diamonds. The use of diamonds to finance African rebel groups and fuel civil strife has mostly been curbed by international agreements designed to certify legitimately mined diamonds. The Antwerp conference is also discussing how to respond to new high-pressure high-temperature technology which can create gem quality sythetics and the search for new supplies to meet increasing demand. De Beers plans to spend nearly three billion euros on projects to find more diamonds but analysts are predicting shortages in the next three to four years.