Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Antwerp, City of Diamond Traders

Der Spiegel have an interesting article on the changing situation amongst the diamond traders of Antwerp.

The Belgian city of Antwerp has the largest diamond market in the world. Orthodox Jews controlled the trade for centuries, but now globalization has seen them displaced by dealers hailing from India.

... The High Diamond Council, the trade's main governing body, has only recently caught up with the times. Earlier this month Indians won five of the six elected seats on the 11-member board. Indians already account for €15 billion ($19 billion) of the annual diamond trade of a total of €23 billion.

While competition between them is harsh, the Jews and the Indians -- most of them belonging to the Jain faith -- have a friendly, neighborlike relationship. There are even some Jewish-Indian married couples in Antwerp. "Judaism and our Jainisim have a number of similarities," diamond dealer Ramesh Mehta explains. Like Jews, he says followers of Jainism are used to working hard and they reject every form of violence.

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