The Diamond Market in The Middle East

By Lynette Carrington

Middle East diamond market has been emerging in the past decade and has hit a fever pitch. Diamonds have long been valued as a prized investment in addition to being highly sought after for use in jewelry, or even as highly coveted collector’s items. Dubai, Israel and Iran are all hotbeds of diamond activity in The Middle East.

The Middle East routinely attracts the finest brands from around the world because it is a global retail destination. At a recently concluded World Diamond Conference, which was jointly inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in India, Karim Merchant, CEO and MD of Pure Gold Jewelers addressed the prospects for the diamond industry in the Middle East.

"The Middle East diamond market is growing very rapidly," said Karim Merchant, who spoke to an international audience during the conference. "Many companies that target this market do not realize that the Middle East and the GCC markets have unique, attractive characteristics. The retailer in China or India caters to customers from their own countries. But in the Middle East, we have a very diverse, unique mix of customers from different nationalities and there are also a high number of tourists in countries like the UAE. This requires a different approach to merchandise and sales."

A huge player in the emerging Middle East diamond market is Nemesis International DMCC. Nemesis offers a variety of services in the world of diamonds including retail and wholesale services, expert valuation of both rough and polished diamonds and trading of diamonds and jewelry.

During a recent Dubai Diamond Exchange, Edward Asscher, President of World Diamond Council, said, “Dubai is an established part of the diamond community. The city has brought new energy to the industry and a much-needed gateway to the Middle Eastern retail market.

Some of the bigger diamond companies in The Middle East include Pure Gold Jewellers. Nemesis International DMCC, De Beers, Graff Diamonds, Middle East Diamond Resources Limited, Mahallati Jewellery and Sable Metals and Minerals.

Some of the top diamonds connected to The Middle East:

1.The Taylor-Burton

This beautiful gem was bought in 1969 for late actress Elizabeth Taylor by her then husband, Richard Burton. At the time, the pear-shaped diamond was the 12th largest diamond in the world. After Taylor and Burton divorced, she sold the diamond at auction for $5 million. This 68.00 carat gem is now owned by Robert Mouawad of Mouawad Jewelry Group, Saudi Arabia.

Value: Purchased for $5 million in 1979.

Statistics: 68.00 ct., pear shaped, D color, flawless

Owner: Robert Mouawad

2. The Wittelsbach Diamond

This legendary diamond is “a very special color,” explains Christie’s expert David Warren. The stone was allegedly bought by King Philip IV of Spain. Sometime later, it was included in the Austrian and Bavarian crown jewels respectively. Its rare deep grey-blue color and royal history make it a museum quality diamond. In 2010, multinational jeweler Graff cut the gem amidst much controversy. Due to the cut in 2010, the famous stone lost many of its imperfections sustained during its 350 years of history. The stone is now owned by H.H Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of the Qatari Royal Family.

Last sold: $24.3 million, estimated value: $80 million

Carats: 35.56 ct., cushion-shaped, fancy deep greyish blue, very slight inclusions (VS2)

3. The De Beers Millennium Star

This gem is the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection and is the world’s second largest pear-shaped diamond. The De Beers Millennium star famously survived an attempted theft from London’s Millennium Dome in 2000. The 203.04 carat stone is internally and externally flawless and took more than three years to be cut to its current pear shape form.

Value unknown, but insured for $100 million.

Stats: 203.04 ct., pear-shaped, D color, flawless

A Historic Acquisition

In 2016, the Nemesis International DMCC director called out its acquisition of the Constellation Diamond as finding “a Mona Lisa in the attic.” The 813-carat diamond comes from the Karowe Mine in Botswana, the same mine where the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond was found. Nemesis International DMCC acquired the diamond from Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp. which mined the stone. The Constellation Diamond was acquired by Nemesis for $63 million.

At the time, Nemesis International DMCC Director Nickolas Polak told “Gulf News,” ““We have to find the magic of the stone. We will find the most spectacular stones from it.” The size of the stone, the clarity and the splendor is exceptionally unusual. In terms of clarity and color, it’s magnificent.” Nemesis International DMCC has assigned the diamond to Swiss brand de Grisogono for creator Fawaz Gruosi to determine the final creation of the rough-cut stone.