All that Glitters: How to Get into the Direct Diamond Wholesale Business

You can always get a passport and appropriate visas, book an around-the-world ticket and drop in on the epicenters of diamond mining to buy wholesale diamonds direct, but a more practical approach is called for if you’d rather invest in stones than travel expenses. Find wholesale diamond sources from the comfort of your office or home computer before you establish your frequent flyer membership, as once you understand what constitutes excellent, passable and poor-quality gems, you’ll be ready to launch your career. Affiliate with small diamond producers or hook up with the world’s top distributor. Either way, if you get your wholesale diamond business off the ground, it can produce sparkling results.

1. Become a diamond know-it-all before you launch your search so you stand a fighting chance of evaluating myriad grades of diamonds, each of which must pass clarity, color, carat and cut criteria to be fully valued. Learn to differentiate the 4-C’s criteria from industry differentiations of Ia, Ib, IIa and IIb. Take time to meet with stone cutters to understand the importance of both sets of criteria when evaluating diamonds.

2. Sample a variety of websites established to help those wanting to enter the wholesale diamond market. Pick one or more distributors. Contact the Gemological Institute of America for their approved list of diamond distributors so you can deal with the top-producing countries (where 80% of all diamonds are now mined): South Africa, Congo, Ghana, Namibia, Angola, Russia and Australia.

3. Play it safe by choosing DeBeers as your initial wholesale diamond source. This international conglomerate is the most dominant diamond distributor on the planet, selling 5.7 billion dollars worth of the 11.2 billion diamonds on the market in 2004. Meet with other diamond cartels if you prefer doing business with smaller distributors.

4. Do business with the group that offers the best all-around deals in wholesale diamonds. That stated, before you contract with them, compare oranges to oranges: consider the reputations of each. Relying only on good pricing won’t necessarily get you either the highest quality gemstones or guaranteed reciprocity should you find yourself saddled with stones you can’t sell. Negotiate to the end. Diamonds can be as old as 3 billion years. They’re not going anywhere. Squeeze your buying budget until you can’t wring another cent out of it.

5. Arrange to pick up your gems in Antwerp, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv or New York, if overseas travel is one of the reasons you got into this business. Meet the representative(s) of the cartel(s) with whom you’ve contracted at a non-partisan laboratory where an evaluation of the stones you’ve agreed to purchase can be verified by experts. Be particularly cautious about color, as there’s little margin for error when declaring a diamond’s hue the more valuable “fancy” variety.

6. Obtain assurances — in writing — that the wholesale diamonds you’re buying are conflict-free. While no system involving human beings is perfect, public concern about conflict diamonds has grown, which is why 52 governments signed the World Diamond Council’s 2002 Kimberely Process Certification agreement. This accord calls for intercepting diamonds that are being sold to underwrite wars and a reputable source won’t hesitate to tell you that they honor this agreement. Consider this the best protection available.

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