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Q: diamonds ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: diamonds
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: amyst777-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 27 Oct 2003 11:27 PST
Expires: 26 Nov 2003 11:27 PST
Question ID: 270161
I am trying to find out how diamonds are transported - say rough
diamonds from a mine in Australia to New York to be polished and cut. 
How are they carried?  How are they stored?  I am looking for real
Subject: Re: diamonds
Answered By: byrd-ga on 28 Oct 2003 20:11 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello amyst777,

As I’m sure you’ve already discovered, the international gem trade is
a rather secretive business about which not much is published or even
publicly discussed, nor is it an easy task to uncover much information
about it.  Part of the reason is security.  If a shipment isn’t
labeled “diamonds, ” and/or if its details are not revealed, it is
less likely to be stolen or its security otherwise compromised.  But
another part of the reason for all the secrecy is that illicit trade,
or smuggling, has always been and is likely to always be part of the
diamond trade, and secrecy, of course, is a given in illegal
activities. The trade in rough diamonds especially is shrouded in
mystery, although due to recent global actions, that is becoming less
so. As I’m sure you know or suspect, there can be a number of
different means by which diamonds are transported and/or stored

The usual legal course that rough diamonds follow on their way to
becoming finished stones is something like this: first the diamonds
are mined, and the ore is then sent to a sorting facility. Since you
inquired specifically about Australia, you may be interested to read
about the movement of rough diamonds from the Argyle mine (Australia’s
largest) in the Kimberley region of West Australia, which are
“delivered to the process plant by haul truck.”  See a detailed
description here:

At the processing facility,  rough diamonds are extracted from the
ore, sorted as to size and quality, inventoried and stored in safes,
vaults, or secure and bonded warehouses either at the processing site,
or they may be shipped to a central location for interim storage.  In
the case of Argyle diamonds, they are sent to the central facility in
Perth, where they are stored until being sent to market. From there
the diamonds are transported to one of several world rough diamond
markets.  80% of the world’s gem-quality diamonds are sent to the
Central Selling Office (CSO) in London.  Another of the world’s
largest markets for rough diamonds is in Antwerp, Belgium.  Sometimes
rough diamonds are sent directly from the mines to storage to market
without first being sorted.

There are several methods of transporting diamonds to market and any
given consignment of diamonds may make use of one or more of these
methods, which are often determined by the size of the shipment:
official governmental mail or post (registered and insured), private
courier service (such as FedEx, UPS or armored companies like Brinks),
including freight shipment, or personal transport.

How the diamonds are packed is also determined largely by the size of
the batch.  Small quantities can be packed in a small box or satchel;
larger quantities in crates or sealed shipping containers. Since
diamonds are so small and portable, individual stones or very small
quantities may even be carried in paper envelopes, small plastic bags
or pouches, or any variety of small container.  I even heard a comment
once about rough diamonds being wrapped in old newspaper to conceal
them.  And of course, whether carried by an individual, mailed, or
shipped as freight, diamonds may travel by any of the usual means of
transport, including road, rail, water or air.

Once the diamonds arrive at market, they may be displayed under secure
conditions and sold to representatives of companies that specialize in
cutting and polishing rough stones.  Such companies may be small
two-or-three-person operations, or large scale multinational
corporations.  The diamonds may also be shown by appointment to
individual buyers at their offices, or offered publicly at scheduled
shows.  Here is a fascinating interview with a diamond buyer that
gives a firsthand glimpse into the process:

Following the sale, the diamonds will be transported, again by the
methods mentioned, to the buyer’s processing facility, where they will
be cut and polished and either made into jewelry or further sold to a
jewelry maker or manufacturer, or a maker of industrial diamond


Let’s take your theoretical movement of rough diamonds from Australia
to New York.
As Argyle is Australia’s only major diamond producer, your diamonds
likely originated from one of its mines.  And then, since most (though
not all – see link below)  U.S. companies deal with polished and cut
stones rather than rough, your diamonds likely found their way through
a middleman somewhere along the way, likely via Antwerp or Bombay
(Mumbai), India, where they were sold to a diamond polishing and
cutting company.  Here’s a link to an Argyle brochure explaining how
and where its production is sold:   And here’s
another about Australia’s diamond trade with India:

The actual transport might have been by freight shipment, or perhaps
in a small quantity carried inconspicuously by a salesman or dealer
from Argyle’s Perth office in a locked satchel or briefcase aboard a
commercial airline flight.  Once the stones had been cut and polished,
say in a company in Bombay, a representative of that company could in
turn have shipped them to another representative, perhaps via Federal
Express, which would have delivered the parcel to his New York office.
 That dealer could then have offered them for sale to buyers in New
York’s Diamond District, where they might have been purchased by a
jewelry manufacturing company to be made into rings or bracelets or
other jewelry.

But bear in mind this is only one possible scenario out of many.  As
you see, the world diamond trade is enormous, extremely complex, and
made up of many variables, limited only by demand and ingenuity.


Depending on your desire to learn about this rough diamond trade, you
might consider this course, which claims to offer “an insider view for
the professional rough diamantaire, mine owner producer (or mine
employees) and rough diamond buyers (whether city based, in the field
or by the mine). Also for specialized buyers, evaluators for mine
runs, industrialists, diamond cutters, investors and speculators. We
teach many jewelry trades people and those who are just entering the
rough diamond world who require specific as well as general holistic
expertise. We cover the full spectrum of this ancient yet cutting edge
technologically specialized industry. Every aspect of knowledge on
rough uses with current up to date cash values along with world
consumption markets are areas of possible learning. “  The course
outline includes section on “How to Carry Diamonds,” and on the
transport of rough diamonds.

Here is a very comprehensive site that gives a great deal of
information about the international diamond trade, and which you
should find quite helpful in your quest to learn about the transport
of diamonds:   The overall site is
somewhat out of date, and some of the links no longer work, but follow
as many as you can because, taken together, they will give you a very
good understanding of the workings of the rough diamond trade.  Here’s
another more direct link to information about rough diamonds:

This page, entitled “Import and Export Procedures for Diamonds in
Belgium” describes in detail how rough diamonds are brought to and
from market:

Here’s a page with instructions for shipping samples to a U.S. cutting
and polishing company.  It’s interesting to note that they specify not
labeling the parcel as containing gems.


Diamond smuggling, of course, follows a somewhat different course,
though treading in some of the same paths.

Here are some articles about smuggling:


Here’s a link to an online discussion about small-scale trading in
rough diamonds.  I don’t know whether or not it’s authentic, and it
doesn’t appear to be smuggling-related, but it is interesting, and
gives some unusual details, which could also apply to the illicit
diamond trade:


However, all the above notwithstanding, the historic and previously
mysterious means of rough diamond transport is about to change.  There
has been for the past several years, and is currently a great deal of
international concern over the global trade in what are known as
“conflict diamonds,” or “blood diamonds.”  These are rough diamonds
illegally traded on the world market  by insurgents who use the monies
thus generated to finance armed conflict and uprisings against
legitimate democratic governments.  The countries of origin of most of
these conflict diamonds are in Africa, specifically Angola, Sierra
Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and, most recently, Liberia. 
While conflict diamonds represent only 4-5% of the worldwide diamond
trade, that is nevertheless a very significant amount of money. 
Furthermore, the total of trade in illicit diamonds of every kind,
including those that circumvent established laws and systems in order
to avoid paying taxes, amounts to nearly one-fourth of the total
global diamond trade.

Therefore, to try to put an end to such illicit trading, and in
particular to make every attempt to remove conflict diamonds from
international trade, there has been a global effort to regulate the
international movement of diamonds, beginning with the United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against Angola in 1998.  Following
that, out of a meeting in South Africa in May, 2000 came the Kimberley
Process Certification Scheme proposal, which took official effect in
January of this year, and to which most of the diamond producing,
processing and importing countries of the world have now officially
subscribed.  However, due to its relative recency, specifics of
individual implementation of this process are still being worked out,
though it is hoped that these steps will be standardized before too

There is a very good and detailed report that describes not only the
historic dealings in rough diamonds, but the reasons for and details
of the current worldwide initiatives to control this trade.  It is
entitled “Dirty Diamonds: Armed Conflict and the Trade in Rough
Diamonds” and can be found here:

This is a Briefing Document by Global Witness. June 2000,  which also
gives a comprehensive outline of the problem with the beginnings of
the proposed solution: 

Here is a transcript of a speech by FCO Minister of State, Peter Hain,
at the International Diamonds Conference, London, Wednesday 25 October
2000 urging United Nations member countries to adopt the Kimberley

Here is a 2001 article on conflict diamonds and the background of the
Kimberley Process from the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy

More links on the background information and rationale behind the
Kimberley Process:

DRC: “Diamond Mining and Conflict:

U.S – White House Diamond Conference January 2001:

The reason for understanding the Kimberley Process is that this
process, both now and when it is fully implemented worldwide, is
having and will have a direct effect on the specific means by which
rough diamonds are handled throughout certification, sales, storage
and transportation.  It spells out specific, detailed steps in exactly
how rough diamonds may be legally handled and transported throughout
the world.  These steps include:

     1)Diamonds must be packaged in tamper-resistant sealed packages. 
Transparent packaging is recommended, i.e. rough diamonds must be
sealed in transparent, tamper-proof bags, along with
     2)Official tamper-resistant, forgery-proof documents certifying
their origin and legitimacy, which must remain with the diamonds at
all times.
     3)Participating countries must refuse to export/import diamonds
to/from non-participating countries, and
     4)Any irregularities, such as missing documents or evidence of an
attempt at tampering or altering must result in the confiscation of
the package by the official government Customs department of the
country in which such irregularity was noted.

The Kimberley Process has its own website, where you can read more
about the specifics of compliance with its requirements, as well as
background and other information:

World Diamond Council’s “Essential Guide to Implementing the Kimberley
Process” contains very specific instructions which apply not only to
rough diamonds, but also to warranties on polished diamonds, both
before and after Jan. 1, 2003:   or


Diamond producers (mines) worldwide: 

DeBeers – South Africa:  This is a
multi-national corporation and currently the world’s largest producer
of what is known as hard-rock and placer diamonds.  The DeBeers rough
diamond trade (which comprises nearly two-thirds of the world’s rough
diamonds) is largely handled by London-based Diamond Trading Company:  Note: As a result of
global concern over conflict diamonds, DeBeers ceased purchasing
diamonds on the outside market as of 1999. Here is a statement of
their position on the issue:

Argyle – Australia (Kimberley region of Western Australia):

Leicester Diamond Mines – Canada

Diavik Diamond Mines – Canada 

Diamond mining in Brazil 

Diamonds in Russia 


Listing of diamond centers and companies by region: 

Antwerp Diamond High Council:
Diamond industry in India: 

Israel Diamond Institute: 

United States accounts for only about 4% of rough diamond imports, but
45% of polished stones.

New York Diamond District: 



Internet Diamond Trade Network:

International Gemological Institute: 

International Diamond Manufacturers Association:

World Federation of Diamond Bourses 
-- Bourse Directory: 

World Diamond Council:

Miscellaneous Links

Lev Leviev, the man who took on the DeBeers diamond cartel and is

Diamond fingerprinting techniques for the future: 

Some recommended reading: 

“Diamond: A Journey to the Heart of an Obsession” by Matthew Hart

“Blood Diamonds” by Greg Campbell

I hope this information proves useful to you and that it meets or
exceeds your expectations.  Should anything need clarification, or you
have any questions, please use the “Request Clarification” feature
before rating and closing the question, so I might be able to ensure
your satisfaction with the information provided.  Thank you for the
opportunity to work on this most interesting topic.

Best wishes,

Search strategy:

The search terms I found most useful included:
“rough diamonds” shipping OR storing OR transporting OR carrying
“rough diamonds” international movement
“rough diamonds” smuggling
“rough diamonds” portability
“rough diamonds” containers OR packaging
“rough diamonds” storage OR shipment OR carriage
“bringing diamonds to market” 
“how are diamonds moved”

From returns on these basic searches, I followed other links, and read
everything I could.  Then I used  search terms to find information on
individual topics.  These included names of mines, of associations, of
cities, of countries, of companies, of markets, and of the Kimberley

Request for Answer Clarification by amyst777-ga on 28 Oct 2003 21:30 PST
Thank you for all your help on this complex question.  I am wondering
if you found anything more specific about the diamond trade in
Antwerp?  The specific location of the trade centers, etc?
thanks again

Clarification of Answer by byrd-ga on 29 Oct 2003 10:09 PST
Hello Amyst,

I’m glad you’re pleased with the information thus far, and I'll be
happy to provide you additionally with further information about
Antwerp’s specific role in the rough diamond trade, along with
information about locations of individual offices and centers in that

The Antwerp Diamond High Council site ( ) has some
very good information about the Antwerp diamond district.  It says,
“At the basis of the Antwerp World Diamond Center lies its efficient
infrastructure. Concentrated on a top security area of merely two
square miles, it comprises more than 1,500 diamond companies and four
diamond bourses. Naturally, specialised banks, security and transport
companies, brokers, travel agencies, hotels and restaurants are also
well represented in the vicinity.”   You can read more about it here:

You can also find names and places from which to obtain additional
information, including a free directory listing all the diamond
traders and manufacturers in Belgium, here:
 , and a partial directory listing, here:

Please be sure to look this (HRD) site over carefully, as there are
some photos that give a good feel for what the markets are like,  as
well as much good information about Antwerp’s diamond trade, both
historical, present-day, and the planned future.

In addition, the Diamond Key site ( ) has
some good information about Antwerp.  Here’s a direct link to a map of
the diamond district in Antwerp:  and you can
find a clickable map here: 
Also, here’s a direct link to a partial listing of 40 diamond offices,
with their telephone numbers and emails if available:


Here are links to websites of some individual Antwerp trading houses,
companies and diamond manufacturers, including international ones with
Antwerp offices:

AAAA Diamond


Antwerp Diamond House 

Barnika Diamant Diamonds 

Blanka Diamonds 

Crisdian Diamond Manufacturers

DAEMS Diamonds 


Diamondland (bills itself as the largest showroom of “Diamond City” or

Gembel Group 

GemBrokers (Antwerp Trading Office) 


IDH Diamonds 

Star Diamond Group 

Sussholz Diamonds 

Wins Diamonds 

Wolf Ollech Diamond Polishing Factory 

If you would like to continue searching for additional links, the
search term I used that gave the greatest returns was:
 -- antwerp diamond trader OR office OR manufacturer OR buyer OR
seller OR dealer OR exchange OR broker


More links about Antwerp:

Antwerp World Diamond Center: 

Diamond Exchange Bourse of Antwerp 

Diamond Museum in Antwerp: 

Diamond Trading in Belgium: 

Faces of the Antwerp Diamond District: 


Also here are a few more links to information on diamonds and the
diamond trade in general that I ran across while searching for
information on Antwerp:


“Diamants Infos”  
This site is put up and maintained by people in the trade, legitmate
gemologists and dealers on a mission to inform others about diamonds
and the diamond trade.  They write English with an accent, but it’s a
charming one and their meaning is entirely clear.  Here’s an example:
“As you can note it, buy rough diamonds is not a simple thing, it is a
business of specialists and experts, a very good knowledge of rough
diamond is very important, good relations are essential and of course
the financial capacity must be sufficient.”   I believe it would be
worth your time to explore this site fully.

Directory of websites of international diamonds dealers, cutters,
manufacturers, etc. 

How Stuff Works 

Fascinating article: “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?” 

Interesting book excerpt: “The Secret Movement of Diamonds” 

Another book excerpt: “The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Diamond

Omnia Diamonds – an Australian wholesale diamond merchant 

A rough diamond scam exposed: 

Worldwide Diamond Importers (with a section on Antwerp)

International Diamond Exchange: 

New York Diamond Registry: 

I hope this further information and these additional links will expand
your understanding of the rough diamond trade, and in particular
satisfy your desire to learn more about Antwerp and its role in that
trade.  Please let me know if you don’t understand anything or need
further clarification.

Best regards,

In addition to the search term given above, other search terms
  antwerp diamond center
  antwerp diamond trading
  antwerp diamond
  diamond CSO OR Antwerp
amyst777-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thank you so much for this thorough and comprehensive answer.  Very,
very helpful in my journey to figure out where my old family ring came
from, and try to find a contemporary new one!  Fascinating.  Again,
many thanks.

Subject: Re: diamonds
From: byrd-ga on 29 Oct 2003 14:54 PST
Hello Amyst,

Ah, I certainly agree that diamonds are fascinating in themselves, but
a family mystery added to that? How fun and what a marvelous challenge
it will be to solve! I enjoyed my small part in your effort and wish
you best of luck as you continue to unravel what will surely prove to
be a very interesting story.  Thank you very much for the five-star
rating and generous tip!

Warmest wishes,

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