Which country has the most diamond mines
The yield is in a small box lined with black velvet: five diamonds, with 17 smaller ones in a blue box next to them. "For rings and a collar," says Dov Frei. These gemstones, which the diamond dealer acquired on behalf of jewelry manufacturers that day, cost US $ 15,000. He put a larger diamond in an envelope called a letter. The price? Frei prefers to keep it to himself.
His workplace is a table strewn with notes almost in the middle of the room in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv. Anyone who wants to come here has to undergo strict security controls - the stock exchange is as secure as Fort Knox, where the US gold reserve is stored. In addition to the usual controls known from airports, the passport or, in the case of Israelis, the identity card is withheld. Visitors have to have their own photo passport made with their own fingerprint. The last revolving door in the direction of the stock exchange hall can only be opened if you insert the previously produced card into a reader and your index finger into another. Only then does another world open up, the Bursa, Ramat Gan's diamond exchange.
What six pioneers began in 1937 with the first trade and grinding work in what was then Palestine has developed into one of the most important branches of industry in Israel. Around 20,000 people are employed in this branch. The last annual turnover of the Israeli diamond industry was 28 billion US dollars. But their share in total economic output has been falling for years. The gemstone business is just not hip. Even if Tel Aviv is proud to have the world's largest trading floor for diamond trading, in terms of turnover Antwerp and the competition in Mumbai, which was only founded in 2010, are bigger. For traders like Frei it was clear: something had to happen.
"Everything here is really true to the original"
Now Israel's economy is no longer big because of its diamond trade in the world, but because of its startups. So it made sense to "get the store going with a start-up," says Eli Avidar, Managing Director of the stock exchange. A new crypto currency was therefore launched at the end of May, which is intended to polish up the reputation of the stock exchange and make the Bursa more attractive and modern again.
There are still two worlds: In the old world, a lot of business is still done with a handshake and without an invoice. In the new, the regulations for the banks were tightened after the financial crisis, which also meant that the diamond industry had to become more transparent. And now the Israeli Bursa wants to facilitate money transfers or lending within the diamond industry with a crypto currency based on the gemstones. With the technology developed by the Israeli start-up Carats.io, transactions can be confirmed within minutes and the data stored securely and encrypted in the blockchain.
In the boardroom of the management, on the other hand, time seems to have stood still. "Everything here is really true to the original," says stock exchange boss Avidar, pointing to the furniture from the 1960s.
Lured by tax advantages, the stock exchange moved to Ramat Gan in 1966, in a neighboring town to the northeast of Tel Aviv, in the city's first high-rise. There are now four towers connected by bridges. The total area is 100,000 square meters with 2,200 rooms, 1,400 companies have branches here, and 12,000 people work in the building complex.
Anyone inside no longer needs to go out for the most essential things: In addition to restaurants, there is a synagogue and a clinic under the same roof. The hairdresser and the dentist not only have their rooms next to each other in the basement, but also have the same first name: Avi. There is a club for retirees. Israeli banks are located on the first floor next to a branch of the Indian National Bank. There are also counters for express services that specialize in bringing expensive freight safely to other parts of the world. In this own cosmos there is even its own telephone network, and dealers can reach each other on their cell phones with speed dials.
On a normal day there are 600 traders in the trading floor who trade with one another or look for gemstones or want to get rid of them on behalf of others. As in a classroom, narrow black tables are lined up next to each other, the distance between the rows is wider so that a chair can also be placed on the other side of the table. The hall is filled with a constant murmur, but there is never any loud shouting. Negotiations are usually carried out in intensive dialogue, bent over the table and diamond.
There are actually two trading rooms: one for rough diamonds, the other for cut gemstones. 3000 dealers are accredited on this diamond exchange. Before being admitted, they had to take courses, find two guarantors, and take a polygraph test. The gemstone business is a matter of trust. Conflicts are resolved internally - without police or outside courts. All members must submit to the judgments of their own arbitration tribunals. Anyone who does not abide by the rules in the Bursa can be punished with a lifelong ban on trading - and this also applies to the other stock exchanges around the world. The profiles of the excluded are displayed in showcases on the walls, a form of pillory.
On the other hand, things are discreet when it comes to the values that are stored in the bursa safes. Gemstones worth at least ten billion dollars are said to lie dormant there. The diamonds in the briefcases and wheeled suitcases that most traders pull behind them in the aisles are not even counted here. Some also have handcuffs with them, which they then connect to their suitcase when they leave the secure world of the bursa.
The value is measured according to the 4 Cs: Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut, i.e. carat, color, purity and cut. A carat, which is 0.2 grams, costs around US $ 20,000 in the best quality, but the more carats a stone has, the more expensive it becomes. Every day, gemstones worth a total of $ 200 million are said to be on display in the trading floor in Ramat Gan.
How much is ultimately paid also depends on the negotiating skills of the dealers. It often takes a long time for buyers and sellers to agree on a price. "You have to feel like haggling, otherwise you are out of place here. You also need experience and a keen eye," says the diamond dealer Frei.
And patience. The tweezers are dipped into the letter, the diamond is lifted onto a small scale, then literally examined and classified according to the 4c criteria. The glass front of the hall faces north because the incidence of light from there is considered ideal to be able to look closely at the diamonds. In the natural light and glow of special lamps, the gemstones are carefully assessed at the individual places at the long rows of tables before the haggling begins.
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