Tiffany & Co. has announced the impending discontinuation of its manufacturing activities at its Antwerp subsidiary, Laurelton Diamonds, with the internal company reorganization coming as a result of changing market conditions. The manufacturing unit will be dismissing 24 of its 27 employees, confirming the speculations that have been circling through Antwerp's diamond district for more than a week. While Tiffany's will be shifting the Antwerp polishing activities elsewhere, Laurelton will continue its Antwerp activities but will shift its focus to sourcing, sorting and cutting diamonds. Tiffany & Co. previously shuttered its polishing units in Canada (2009) and Namibia (2015).
"Laurelton reduced its polishing unit from 27 to 3 polishers as a consequence of changing market conditions," says Antwerp World Diamond Centre spokeswoman Margaux Donckier, "Companies are pursuing thorough optimization and efficiency in their business activities, in particular by following a 'demand-driven supply chain' model; otherwise stated, a business operation that responds to market demand rather than starting from supply." Donckier pointed out despite the loss of jobs at Laurelton, Antwerp remains the premier location for investment, pointing out the recent arrival of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s largest diamond grading and certification lab, which will be opening a large lab later this year in the Antwerp Diamond Bourse. Donckier says,"GIA is setting up a lab in the heart of the Antwerp diamond district for certifying diamonds, scientific research and other services. The new GIA lab will furthermore represent additional jobs in the Antwerp diamond industry." Melissa Smet, Director of the Syndicate of the Belgian Diamond Industry (Het Syndikaat der Belgische Diamantnijverheid), also sees some positive trends. “A few new polishing units have opened in recent months. They might operate on a small scale, but companies are again looking for workers.”