THE BIRTH OF A BOURSE, THE GROWTH OF AN INDUSTRY

Legend has it that the Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange was conceived over a cup of coffee. It was at a popular Tel Aviv coffee shop, Café Lenchner, where during the 1960s a small but committed group of colored stone dealers used to meet regularly, to discuss business and other matters, and also to buy and sell gemstones.

Operating then in the shadow of the much larger diamond industry, Israel’s colored gemstone ommunity then numbered not much more than 15 individuals. They handled mainly lower-cost
goods, as well as Eilat Stone, an indigenous gemstone found in the south of the country where
King Solomon’s copper mines were once located.

But it was an enterprising community, whose members appreciated early-on that their proximity to the fast expanding diamond industry in Israel provided both opportunity and a pool of technical expertise.
Little had changed over the centuries in the methods and systems used by the international colored gemstone cutting industry and trade, but what was developing in Israel would transform both the lapidary and the business itself, all over the world.

It is impossible to separate the development of Israel’s colored gemstone trade from the growth of its cutting industry, to no small degree because so many of the country’s first dealers were mong its founding manufacturers.
Gemstone cutting in the country dates back to the early 1960s, when the government established a number of lapidaries, as an initiative to boost employment, but by the end of the decade the private sector was in full control.

A fortuitous and ultimately momentous decision was taken 1969, when a group of manufacturers resolved to specialize in the technically-complex craft of emerald-cutting. Within just a few years, massive quantities of newly discovered rough emeralds from Zambia were flowing into the pipeline and Israel had become a key juncture in the market.

The rapid development of the colored gemstone sector was evident by the official export data published by the Israel government. While the total value of exports in 1958 was a paltry $5,489, by 1968 the figure had climbed to $697,385. By 1972 it was already up to $3.18 million.

In 1979 IPSDE purchased a large area of office space in the new Maccabi Building of the Israel Diamond Exchange, moving its trading floor and administration into the complex. The presence of two bourses specializing in diamonds and colored gemstones would revolutionize the trade, presenting to the world its first self-contained trading complex, where buyers could fulfill a variety of requirements within the same, secure structure. It was a concept that would be modeled in other countries, but the Israeli facility would remain the world’s largest.

In 1980 IPSDE was accepted as a member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the ternational body that brings diamond and gemstone exchanges from around the world under a single umbrella. As a result, IPSDE members could access the trading floors of other WFDB members and decisions taken by the IPSDE arbitration board could be enforced across the globe. That same year, the exports of colored gemstones from Israel stood at $49.4 million.

In 1979 IPSDE purchased a large area of office space in the new Maccabi Building of the Israel Diamond Exchange, moving its trading floor and administration into the complex. The presence of two bourses specializing in diamonds and colored gemstones would revolutionize the trade, presenting to the world its first self-contained trading complex, where buyers could fulfill a variety of requirements within the same, secure structure. It was a concept that would be modeled in other countries, but the Israeli facility would remain the world’s largest.

In 1980 IPSDE was accepted as a member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the international body that brings diamond and gemstone exchanges from around the world under a single umbrella. As a result, IPSDE members could access the trading floors of other WFDB members and decisions taken by the IPSDE arbitration board could be enforced across the globe. That same year, the exports of colored gemstones from Israel stood at $49.4 million.

Over the years the influence of IPSDE and the Israeli gemstone sector internationally became more keenly felt. In 1983, IPSDE was the driving force behind the first International Colored Gemstone Congress, gathering in Tel Aviv 280 delegates from 26 countries. During the congress it was resolved to establish the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), which today is recognized as the colored gemstone’s premier trade association.

In 1993 it was Israel’s turn to host an ICA Congress, with more than 300 delegates from 30 countries attending. IPSDE members remain key participants in the association.

More than 40 years after the founding of the Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange and more than 50 years after the founding of a colored gemstone sector in Israel, IPSDE is vibrant trading body, where the children of its founding members have taken their place alongside their parents at the forefront of business. Most of them trade both in colored gemstones and diamonds, providing clients with a depth and variety of merchandise that could hardly have been imagined half a century earlier.

Past Presidents of IPSDE
David Neiditz of blessed memory, 1973-1977
Reuven Tzadkiel, 1977-1978, 1985-1987,1989
Avi Meron (Hon. President), 1978-1985, 1987-1989
Pini Pinchassi (Hon. President), 1989-1995
Moshe Nissan, 1995-1999
Avner Tzofiov, 2000-2002

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