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Buffeted by the winds of change, battered by high costs, the New York diamond manufacturing industry is not the healthiest patient on the Street. And yet, in spite of the dark clouds, the industry continues to hold on, adapting to changing times, finding ways to survive, providing a vital service to the diamond business. It does so for one of the simplest reasons: very important and valuable stones owned by New York diamantaires yield the best results when they are polished under close and constant supervision.
At the start of 2001, industry insiders said that the number of cutters actively working in the field in New York had declined from about 3,000 in the 1980s to no more than 600, and even that figure was widely disputed. Most believed that there were no more than 300 cutters at work, including part-timers. Such was the fragile state of the industry.
Today, the number is likely to be even lower, although diamond polishing tools and equipment supplier Slamco, the firm in the best position to make an accurate assessment, is in the middle of its own survey of the industry and is not ready to provide a figure. Whatever the true number, there is no denying that this is scarcely a growth industry. More telling than the actual number, however, is the very real possibility that sometime in the very near future Slamco will close its doors after 90 years of supplying the industry with essential tools and goods. David Lam, a third …