DiamondsIsrael News photo: Flash 90

A first-ever cooperative effort between the United States and Israel is adding the sparkle of diamonds next week to the floor of the Bourse, the Israel Stock Exchange building. 

Polished diamonds worth more than $1 billion will be offered for sale at a trade show to be held on the trading floor of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) in Ramat Gan.

More than 150 Israeli firms have signed up for the first-ever U.S. / International Diamond Week trade show, where a wide range of the polished stones will be on display and for sale.

“This would be an impossible achievement to pull off anywhere else, but the diamond week is taking place within the bourse complex, on the trading floor, where the security is second to none,” said IDE vice president Moti Fluk, who heads the event’s organizing committee.

Scheduled for March 17-20, the last day of the event also falls on the same day that U.S. President Barack Obama will step onto the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport for a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The seven-day Jewish holiday of Passover, a national holiday in Israel (eight days in the rest of the world), follows right after, on the evening of March 25, and begins a period in which traditionally no weddings are held. As a result, there is a massive rush into jewelry stores in the days just before the holiday.

It is expected the show will help Israeli diamond merchants further recover from the worldwide drop in diamond prices that affected the industry around the world.

Five Israeli companies opened 2013 at the UBM Mumbai Jewelry & Gem Fair in Mumbai, and trading of the polished gemstones in Ramat Gan seems to be lively, with steady demand from the United States.

Still, Israel’s net polished diamond exports stood at $5.6 billion in 2012, a 23 percent drop over the same period a year earlier. The net rough diamond export total was $2.8 billion in 2012, compared to $3.5 billion in 2011, a 20 percent decrease.

Last June the Rapaport Diamond Trade Index, derived from the average asking price for the top 25 best-quality 1-carat diamonds, dropped to $9,391. The RDTI is seen as a global benchmark for the gemstones.