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Americans Buying Fewer Gems Puts the Hurt on Diamond Hub Antwerp

  • Antwerp firms struggle with finance squeeze and thin margins
  • Signet and Tiffany have reported drops in U.S. diamond sales
Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

An ugly year for diamonds in the vital U.S. market is piling pressure on Europe’s historic center of the $80 billion global trade.

Diamond trading companies in the Belgian port city of Antwerp, which has been the industry’s trading capital for five centuries, were already feeling the pinch from a tightening credit bubble and thin margins. That’s now being compounded by falling demand from some of the industry’s biggest customers, notably retailers Signet Jewelers Ltd. and Tiffany & Co.