“Have you ever heard of a 20-year-old standing outside a store all night to buy jewellery?” was the question put to delegates at a recent diamond conference in Tel Aviv.
Then Ernest Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, answered his own question: “I haven’t. We have fallen behind the times.”
As the news report continued, the hottest wristwatch this year does not have diamonds on its face; it has an Apple touch screen (for whose products a 20-year-old will queue all night).
In 2010, the companies that cut and polish diamonds made a collective $US900 million ($1.19bn) in profits. This year those profits totalled $US100m. Reuters reports that 300,000 gem-cutters have been laid off in India and China, where most of the manufacturing takes place.