17 April, 2021

Sparkling Trade

Migrant Gujaratis take over the world's largest diamond bourse

Sparkling Trade
THEY came, they traded, they conquered. That's the story of some 300 migrant Gujarati families from Surat and Bombay, who, within a short span of 15 years, have come to control 50 per cent of the diamond business in Antwerp, the world's largest diamond trading centre, ending the overwhelming five-century-old Jewish domination of the trade in this Belgian port town.

With over 200 Indian offices, and 15 to 20 new ones being set up each year, the bustling Pelikanstraat and the famous square mile in the heart of Antwerp, where the world's diamond capital is housed, has come to wear a different look. Distinctly linked with Hasidic Jews in their hats and flowing beards till the early '80s, today the diamond trade is as commonly associated with the 'foreign' banter of cellphone  carrying Gujarati diamond traders in their $1,000 suits and their silk sari-clad wives driving the latest Lexus, Mercedes and BMW models.

Eighty per cent of the world's rough diamonds and 65 per cent of all polished diamonds are traded here, generating an annual turnover of $16 billion,...

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