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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Diamond News : Uncertainty abounds as sightholders anticipate new list

November 16, 2007

By Michelle Graff

New York—The Diamond Trading Co. (DTC) acknowledged on Friday that it is an uncertain time for U.S. diamond dealers as they await the Dec. 12 release of the DTC's updated sightholder list.

Earlier in the week, in response to this uncertainty, the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America (DMIA) sent a letter addressed to DTC Managing Director Varda Shine underscoring the importance of retaining as many U.S. sightholders as possible.

On Friday, in an e-mail to National Jeweler, the DTC stated that it "understands that this may be a time of uncertainty for some, but we would reassure people that the selection process...doesn't favor anybody."

The DMIA's letter, copied to high-ranking government officials including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, included an attachment breaking down the amount of aid the United States supplies to African nations, many of which are the world's top diamond producers.

In its response on Friday, the DTC said it supports producer countries' aspirations to improve local economies in southern Africa. But the response also pointed out that the DTC only supplies a small percentage of N.Y. sightholder requirements, and that the diamonds reserved for polishing in southern African amount to less than 5 percent of world diamond production.

Both the DTC and DMIA President Ronnie Friedman acknowledged that the letter from the DMIA to the DTC was the first of its kind.

In an interview on Thursday, Friedman said that while the DMIA always has communicated with the DTC, the letter marked "the first time we sent a letter like this in this kind of way."

Friedman was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The nine U.S.-based companies currently included on the DTC's sightholder list are: Almod Diamonds Ltd., Dynamic Diamonds Corp., Hasenfeld-Stein Inc., Julius Klein Diamonds LLC, Lazare Kaplan International Inc., Louis Glick Diamond Corp., Michael Werdiger Inc., Premier Gem (Group) and Stuller Inc.


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