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Diamond manufacturer approved
Almod Diamonds to begin production in 2017

Jessica Davey-Quantick
Northern News Services
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Diamond row is set to be back in business after Almod Diamonds Limited sets up shop at a former factory on Archibald Street, near the airport.

The company has been approved as a NWT Diamond Manufacturer by the GNWT. Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann explained what made Almod an attractive fit for the NWT during a press conference about the announcement Monday.

"Almod brings decades of experience as a manufacturer, polisher and retailer of diamonds," he said.

"They have a strong and unique position within the global diamond marketplace, and that will allow them to succeed in our territories where others have struggled."

The New York-based company will take possession of the property, listed by Coldwell Banker at $995,0000 tomorrow.

Almod CEO and president Albert Gad expects production to be underway in three to six months. The operation will employ about 10 people cutting and polishing stones - but Gad said those jobs won't be going to Northerners, instead being filled with previous employees from other parts of the world, at least for the first two years.

That's how long as he says it will take to train Northerners how to cut Almod's proprietary, patented diamond cut, which is named the Crown of Light.

"A regular diamond, regular round brilliant, is 58 facets, and it's flat on top. The Crown of Light is 90 facets with a dome on top. Those 90 facets and the dome create more sparkle," said Gad.

"The reaction's always the same, 'Wow.'"

Touting itself as the largest duty-free jeweler of the Caribbean, Almod has over 100 locations and more than 3,000 employees in Namibia, New York city and Ukraine.

Polished diamonds will be sold through Almod's retail affiliate, Diamonds International.

Gad said he hopes to cash in on the tourism boom in Yellowknife by opening a retail store here.

"Imagine people going on 5th Avenue or in Paris or in London and walking into a shop to buy a five-carat diamond. It could be a tremendous amount of money. Now imagine if you could actually come to the source and save a lot of money?" he said.

"This becomes a region for people to come and purchase their big diamond."

Earlier this fall, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment rescinded the rights to the NWT Polar Bear diamond trademark from Deepak International Ltd. The company's plans to open diamond polishing plants ended this month with lender Callidus Capital Corp winning a $4.53-million lawsuit against the company and its management. Company president and CEO Deepak Kumar used $18 million worth of equipment as security for the loan, which he claimed was stored in shipping containers, but was never found.

MLA Kevin O'Reilly said the fact no public funds are involved in Almod's partnership with the territorial government gives him hope is a good sign.

Almod is not seeking any additional GNWT assistance or incentives, and has entered into a monitoring agreement as required under the government's Diamond Policy Framework.

"Due diligence ... was done by the department, so I have some faith in that. What they tell us about the size of their operation, the number of retail stores and so on, this is not a junior company," he said.

The agreement doesn't include use of the Polar Bear trademark, but both Schumann and Gad said its use was something under consideration.

Mines in the NWT provide 10 per cent of their rough diamonds to NWT producers.

Schumann wasn't able to confirm how that would be divided between Almod and the only other current producer in Yellowknife, Crossworks.

Currently, the amount is decided by what each company can afford to purchase.

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