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Israel Takes Its Cut from 813ct. Constellation

Local trade leaders say sawing the rough stone shows the nation’s market-leading prowess, but Dubai might disagree.
Dec 13, 2017 4:20 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... The leaders of Israel’s diamond trade have been trying hard of late to showcase and develop the nation’s prowess in cutting larger stones. It was therefore unsurprising that the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) proudly announced in November that local workers had received a sizable piece of rough for processing. Less expected was that the gem in question would be the 813-carat Constellation, the most expensive rough diamond in history.

Yoram Dvash, the president of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) (pictured), posted a photograph on social media of himself holding the rough, attracting gushing admiration from his followers.

“Having the Constellation diamond brought to Israel for laser-cutting highlights Israel’s role as the global technology capital of the diamond industry,” Dvash said. “This is the diamond exchange we strive for — innovative, creative and energetic.”

Winning the right to saw the mega-stone will certainly help support Israel’s claim as a center for both high-end rough cutting and diamond technology, at a time when the country’s future in polishing as a whole is frequently a subject of speculation.

‘Cutting-edge’ dispute

The diamond came to Israel — specifically to specialist company Diamond Laser Systems — because the bourse has Synova’s Diamond Cutting Systems (DCS) machine, an advanced piece of equipment that uses the Swiss company’s Laser MicroJet (LMJ) technology to slice stones.

However, while the IDI claimed Israel’s LMJ facility was the “most technologically advanced worldwide,” and that the team operating it had “unsurpassed expertise,” peers in Dubai did not see things in quite the same way.

The laser-cutting, the first stage of the manufacturing process, “could have been done in Dubai or Antwerp, two cities on par with Tel Aviv in terms of technology and know-how,” said Konema Mwenenge, CEO of Dubai-based Nemesis International, which paid Lucara Diamond Corp. a record $63.1 million in 2016 for the Constellation in partnership with Swiss jeweler de Grisogono.

Dubai has a Synova, too — the machine is by no means rare — but it only arrived in October, explained Filip Hendrickx, manager of Almas Diamond Services in Dubai, which will polish the diamond at its Nemesis-funded factory. Professionals generally put the machine through its paces on low-quality diamonds, known as borts, and subsequently move on to small gem diamonds before letting the laser loose on a famous 800-carater.

Risk vs. reward

The risk of cutting such a stone may be high, but so is the potential reward. The Constellation is estimated to contain two D-color, flawless polished stones weighing 325 carats and 100 carats respectively, the IDI said.

Almas was slightly less optimistic, predicting a yield of about 50% for the two main stones — meaning marginally more than 400 carats of polished outcome. He estimated a total of about 10 stones. Nemesis said it was too early to know for sure what polished result to expect, and that it was analyzing options.

As for the impact of such an international project as the Constellation, anyone who thought the work-share between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was a sign of improved relations may be showing misplaced hope. Since Dubai has banned imports of Israeli goods, the diamond cannot go straight to Dubai; it will have to get there via somewhere else.

Even so, having the diamond cut in Israel could give a boost to a diamond-cutting sector that has suffered a continual existential crisis. No wonder the IDI took the opportunity to make this known.

Image: Yankele

This article was first published in the December issue of Rapaport Magazine.
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Tags: Constellation, De Grisogono, Diamond Laser Systems, Dubai, IDE, IDI, Israel, Israel Diamond Exchange, Israel Diamond Institute, Joshua Freedman, Konema Mwenenge, Lucara Diamond Corp., Nemesis International, Rapaport News, synova, Yoram Dvash
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