Israel has an opportunity to forge a new specialism in diamond synthesis as its polishing sector diminishes, according to a leading hi-tech executive and founder of a lab-grown venture.
The country’s once-thriving diamond-manufacturing industry has mostly shifted to India, with only a trading sector remaining, noted Benny Landa, a pioneer of digital printing and chairman of Israel-based synthetics producer Lusix.
“We have a chance to bring back to Israel a diamond-production industry — but diamond synthesis, not polishing,” Landa said Tuesday in an on-stage interview at a conference in Tel Aviv organized by national newspaper Calcalist. “Diamond polishing will never return to Israel, but there’s a chance that a very large industry will exist here [in Israel].”
Israel’s diamond industry sees itself firmly as a natural-diamond sector, with synthetics banned from the bourse trading floor. A spokesperson for the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) disputed Landa’s assertions, noting that the IDI and the Israel Diamond Exchange were working to expand the cutting sector. The spokesperson cited the bourse’s technology center, which hosts startups related to diamonds, including polishing.
“In contrast to what Benny Landa said, which clearly represents his own interest, there certainly is a diamond-polishing industry in Israel,” the spokesperson told Rapaport News. “In fact, Israel specializes in the polishing of large stones, and its expertise in this area is respected worldwide.”
Landa is best known for founding Israeli digital-printing company Indigo in 1977, and selling it to computer giant HP in 2001 for $629 million. More recently, he set up Lusix, which operates 76 chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactors synthesizing diamonds in the city of Rehovot. Landa wants to expand the business in Israel, but only if the regulatory conditions are favorable, he cautioned.
“If they impose regulation on [lab-grown] diamond production, no one will invest in a factory in Israel, because it would be the only country with regulation on diamond growth,” he added.
The IDI said regulators should take measures to ensure synthetics were not sold to consumers as natural diamonds due to “deception or confusion.”
“Just as there are regulations concerning the natural-diamond sector, so too there must be regulations concerning lab-grown diamonds,” the spokesperson argued.
Image: Benny Landa. (Landa Corporation)