Antwerp’s dominance as the world’s biggest trading hub for rough diamonds is being tested by strategy changes at some of the largest gem suppliers and growing competition from rival trading centers.
In the most immediate challenge, De Beers, the biggest producer by revenue, is moving the sorting and trading of rough stones to Botswana from London to secure access to the world’s largest supplier of diamonds by value. The shift, to be completed next year, is part of the African nation’s efforts to build its own trading center in the capital of Gaborone and ends a decades-long De Beers practice of holding sales in the U.K.
Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Pierre De Bosscher, chief executive officer of the Antwerp Diamond Bank, Ari Epstein, chief executive officer of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, and Anish Aggarwal, partner at Gemdax, talk with Bloomberg's Andrew Clapham about De Beers's decision to move its sorting and trading of rough diamonds to Botswana from London, and its potential impact on Antwerp as the world's biggest trading hub for the stones. (Source: Bloomberg)
“Being close to London will no longer be an advantage to the Antwerp diamond industry and some players might move to different locations,” said Jackie Morsel, vice president of Dali Diamond Co., one of De Beers’ 76 international diamond customers, known as sight holders.
For more than 40 years, Morsel has made the 200-mile (320 kilometer) trip from Antwerp to buy his supply of rough diamonds from De Beers in London. This time next year, he will have to travel more than 5,000 miles to Botswana for his purchases.
While four-fifths of rough diamonds still pass through Antwerp, the city faces growing competition from the Middle East and Asia, as well as Africa. Dubai in the United Arab Emiratesand Mumbai, India, in particular are making strides in developing the gem-trading industries in those cities.