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Dubai 'well-positioned' to claim top spot as world's largest rough diamond trading hub: DMCC chief

Khaleej Times - Joydeep Sengupta

12 Mar 2022

The rare Light of Africa diamond, a unique 103.49-carat polished gem, was presented at the Dubai Diamond Conference recently

The UAE added one more feather to its illustrious cap last year. It emerged as the top trading hub for rough diamonds, overtaking Belgium, according to Ahmed Sultan bin Sulayem, the head of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), home to the Dubai Diamond Exchange.

Over $22.8 (Dh83.74) billion of rough diamonds were traded through the Arabian Gulf country last year, said bin Sulayem, DMCC chief executive officer (CEO) and executive chairman. The polished diamond sector continues to grow.

Data shows that the UAE's rough diamond trade has grown by 76 per cent since 2015. There has been an 83 per cent spike in the diamond trade over the past two years, despite the Covid-19 challenge.

Now, DMCC has an office in the Israeli Diamond Exchange (IDE) in Tel Aviv, and the IDE has an office in the Dubai Diamond Exchange since the opening of diplomatic and trading ties with Israel, the Middle East's second-largest diamond centre, after relations were normalised in 2020.

Dubai’s unique geographical location has helped leverage its pole position in the diamond trade. The world’s busiest international airport is in Dubai. Similarly, its proximity to Africa, where diamonds are largely mined, and India, where 90 per cent of the world’s diamonds are polished.

In this light, the Dubai-based Stargems Group, which has a legacy over 40 years in the diamond industry, presented the Light of Africa, a unique 103.49-carat polished diamond at the Dubai Diamond Conference, held at Atlantis the Palm Jumeirah on February 21. The gemstone was cut from a 299.3-carat rough stone, acquired by Stargems Group last year from Petra Diamonds. The rare rough diamond was unearthed from the Cullinan mine in South Africa.

The dazzling gemstone inspires awe at sight, catching and reflecting light for mesmerising effect. The Dubai Diamond Conference brought together the world’s most notable industry leaders, providing the perfect opportunity to showcase the exquisite stone. Ahmed Sultan bin Sulayem attended and opened the event.

Khaleej Times spoke with Shailesh Javeri, the chairman of Stargems Group.

Can you explain the backstory about the Light of Africa and the stone's journey from rough to polished stone?
The diamond was mined from The Cullinan Mine; an open pit mine in the Gauteng province of South Africa, famed for its rich history of producing the world’s largest and highest quality stones, including The Cullinan Diamond, the largest rough diamond ever discovered.

The Light of Africa originated from a 299.3 carat rough diamond, unearthed from the Cullinan mine by Petra diamonds. Stargems Group acquired this from Petra Diamonds and subsequently cut and polished this diamond to create a 103.49 carat diamond named The Light of Africa.

What’s the speciality of the 103.49-carat D-flawless diamond and where does it stand among the biggest diamonds in the world?
The Light of Africa is a D-Flawless, Type II-A, emerald cut diamond, inspiring awe at sight. As a Type II-A diamond, which comprises only one or two of the earth grown diamonds, the Light of Africa is one of the world’s most rare and highly valued diamonds. Type II-A diamonds are considered one of the purest types of diamond, containing no significant amount of nitrogen impurities. The result is a colourless and truly brilliant diamond. The expert craftsmanship of the Stargems’ diamond cutters using state-of-the-art technology paired with the stones rich legacy has given rise to a precious and unparalleled gemstone set to make waves in the industry.

What were the highlights of the Dubai Diamond conference?
The international conference was held under the theme The Future of Diamonds, which addressed market trends, insights, and the resilience of the diamond in challenging economic conditions.

Ahmed Sultan bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and CEO, DMCC, announced that the UAE reached the top spot globally as a rough diamond hub, trading over $22.8 (Dh83.74) billion worth of rough diamonds last year. The conference convened 550 government officials, trade association members, and leaders of businesses across the supply chain – from miners and manufacturers to financiers and retailers.

What is the outlook of the diamond industry in a post-Covid-19-pandemic era?
Following turbulent market conditions in 2020, the diamond industry proved its resilience and demonstrated outstanding recovery last year.

Every sector of the diamond industry performed well last year and emerged from the Covid-19-induced crisis well-positioned for future growth. This year, demand for diamonds has been on the rise due to a lot more liquidity in the market and improved market sentiments. The industry witnessed a huge response post-pandemic and is looking forward to sustained growth this year.

Why do you think diamonds are not considered a safe haven asset, unlike gold?
Gold has a ticker price and can be valued clearly, making it a very liquid asset. Every diamond is unique which adds to its charm but also makes it more difficult to evaluate. I believe diamonds are a store of value, but it is important to buy from a trusted jeweller to ensure the diamond purchased is of top quality.

What kind of challenges is the diamond industry facing?
The diamond industry has been challenged by various disruptions such as global financial and economic instability, geopolitics, technological advancement, and, of course, the evolving perceptions of the new generation of consumers.

Customer preferences are changing rapidly meaning the industry needs to ensure it stays on top of all these moving parts and continues to innovate. This also involves communication of the message that natural diamonds are making a genuine improvement to the communities in which they are mined.

How has Dubai emerged as a diamond hub?
There is no doubt that Dubai's strategic location makes it easy to reach any part of the world. Due to its proximity to Africa, where diamonds are mined, and India, where 90 per cent of the world's diamonds are polished, Dubai is well-positioned. During the conference, it was announced that Dubai is now the largest rough centre globally. We don’t see Dubai’s emergence as taking away from the other centres but rather it is growing the industry globally.

Source : Khaleej Times
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