Armenia’s diamond-processing industry, once a key sector of the national economy, grew at a double-digit rate for a second consecutive year in 2016 after a rapid decline that began in the early 2000s, according to official statistics.
Refined diamonds were Armenia’s most important export item throughout the 1990s, providing jobs for thousands of people. The sector had a rough time in the following years due to a host of mainly external factors, including a loss of reliable suppliers of rough diamonds.
The onset in late 2008 of a global financial crisis only aggravated the crisis, with Armenian diamond output plummeting by half in 2009 to less than 50,000 carats. The volatile sector’s ensuing slow recovery accelerated in 2013 when government figures showed it expanding by 41 percent.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the sector contracted just as drastically in 2014 before returning to double-digit growth the following year.
The latest NSS data show that Armenian firms, some of them owned by foreign investors, manufactured 125,431 carats of gem diamonds in 2016, up by 54 percent from 2015.
The figure is still well below the 2003 level of almost 290,000 carats recorded by the government agency. The industry employed more than 2,000 people at the time.