Innovation needed in S.Africa’s diamond industry - CNBC Africa

Innovation needed in S.Africa’s diamond industry

Southern Africa

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A single large diamond.

“The demand in South Africa is a lot stronger than in Europe. There’s a big demand for diamonds in this county. People, if they’re choosing an engagement ring or just a piece to wear out, they go for diamonds,” Keith White from Sivana Diamonds told CNBC Africa.

While South Africa is no longer a major global diamond producer, demand for diamonds in the country continues to grow. This provides an opportunity for diamond manufacturers and jewellers to infuse the market with innovation.

However, jeweller training in the country needs to be improved and significantly increased.

“I came in 1995 from the jewellery trade in London, where I’ve been trained, and I noticed that in the trade here, it’s a lot smaller but there weren’t that many young black jewellers trained to a high level,” White explained.

“There were quite a lot in the industry, but it seemed to me that the owners of the businesses just trained them to a certain level and not to the highest level.”


In 2010, White launch a jeweller training programme in an effort to change the training dynamic in the industry.

Fully qualified jeweller training is however a long process and can take three to five years. The programme currently has 10 students and plans to raise the number to 15 by the end of the year.

Despite the world’s adoration for diamonds, the illegal diamond trade, or blood diamond trade, has been a prominent problem in the industry.

Certain policies and agreements have been made to prevent this particular trade and process, but they blood diamond trade is yet to be fully eradicated.

“Since they launched the Kimberly process, all the diamond dealers, on the paperwork, have to state that they guarantee that the stone is not a blood diamond. Experts can actually tell, when they look at a diamond, where it’s come from,” said White.

He nevertheless expects that South Africa’s diamond market will grow as more training and innovative designs in diamond cutting begin to surface.

“What we’re trying to do is create a niche market. I think the way that the manufacturing trade in South Africa has got to go is more designer led,” added White.

“What we’re teaching our students is in trying to give them encouragement to design their own pieces, get their own look, their own niche market. There’s big potential here, the talent is amazing in this country.”