Quixotic quest for diamonds in suburban Haifa
Company puts its faith in signs - from geologists and a rabbi.
Somewhere in the Carmel hills, diamond exploration company Shefa Yamim hopes to uncover the exact spot where faith meets science.
Inspired by the words of a revered rabbi who prophesized that precious stones were divinely buried in the area, the firm has been mining for about a decade along the steep hills and lush valleys that surround the city of Haifa.
Now, Shefa Yamim, the first and only diamond explorer in Israel, says it has found strong signs that significant diamond deposits are indeed hidden in the Holy Land, surprising many who had dismissed the mission as a pipe dream.
Potential new mines are big news in an industry that gets most of its diamonds from 20 or so mines, and where no large discovery has been made in 15 years.
Israel is a major center for diamond polishing, but it was never considered to be a possible source for rough diamonds. Top Israeli diamond dealers even have their own mining operations in Africa, but with booming demand for the gems driven by prosperity in China and India has encouraged speculative projects.