The Diamond Capital of the World

Start Slideshow View as a List
http://615857_121228_diamonds1_6464.jpg
As I write in Foreign Policy's January/February issue, over 90 percent of the world's rough diamonds -- legal and otherwise -- are sent on a secret journey to the city of Surat, India. Here, they are polished, brokered, and laundered before going back to every diamond-buying country in the world.
http://615858_121228_diamonds2_6462.jpg
The system here runs on mafia-like trust, with no official paperwork. Here, a small-time polisher shows rough-cut stones that he received in exchange for the Post-it note on the right, which details the value and carats of the merchandise. Polished diamonds and certifications lie underneath.
http://615859_121228_diamonds3_6462.jpg
After the polishers get a delivery of rough cuts, they grind them with simple tools in order to bring out the many facets (faces, or sides) that, when done well, make the finished product reflect light like a prism.
http://615860_121228_diamonds6_646port2.jpg
Once polished, a broker will pick up the stones for distribution. This particular broker, seen here pulling out a parcel in the Surat Diamond Association office, had over $1 million dollars (wholesale) in merchandise on him, with no security or protection of any kind.
http://615861_121228_diamonds8_6462.jpg
A polisher inspects some of his finished goods before they head off to Mumbai.
http://615862_121228_diamonds13_6462.jpg
Dozens of halls like this line Surat's Mahidharpura diamond market. More than 3,000 dealers come here daily, each carrying tens of thousands of dollars' worth of stones around their stomachs. Security is nonexistent, and transactions are conducted openly as legal and illegal stones mingle freely.
http://615863_121228_diamonds17_6462.jpg
A boy waits for the Gujarat Mail train -- which couriers take to transport the stones from Surat to Mumbai -- to arrive. 
http://615864_121228_diamonds18_6462.jpg
Couriers hurry to their spots as the train arrives.
http://615865_121228_diamonds22_6462.jpg
Many diamond polishers started working long before they turned India's legal working age of 15 by cutting their teeth in Surat's other big industry: textiles. The picture above shows automated silk sari machines in the city.
http://615866_121228_diamonds27_6462.jpg
At the India International Jewellery Show, where roughly 25,000 buyers arrive each August from around the world to make around $1 billion in deals, merchants move upstairs with diamond dealers after inspecting their merchandise to discuss prices, shipments, and long-term contracts.
Previous Next Close