Antwerp's diamond trade trended strong across the board in March, as the rough diamond trade experienced an increase in volume as well as value, while the polished trade saw better results than in previous months. The volume of rough exports from Antwerp increased 7% year-over-year to 10.75 million carats, while rough imports jumped nearly 16% compared to the same month a year earlier, reaching 9.4 million carats. The value of goods traded reflected slightly lower prices: the dollar value of rough exports increased 2% to $1.43 billion, while the value of rough imports rose more than 6% to $1.05 billion, despite the more significant increases in volume. The month-to-month prices of rough goods paint a very different picture however, as the volume of rough exports in March tumbled 11% compared to February 2017, while their value rose nearly 5%. Likewise, while Antwerp imported 1.7% fewer rough carats than a month ago, the value of those goods jumped 16%.
Rough exports are up for the first quarter of 2017, as Antwerp has exported 6.7% more carats in Q1 2017 than in 2016. In real terms, for Q1 2017 Antwerp exported 33.2 million rough carats worth $3.3 billion, good for a 2% increase in value. Rough imports increased 4.5% in volume compared to the first three months last year, with their value declining 4%. In Q1 2017, 26.7 million carats of rough goods were imported to the diamond capital, with a value of $2.9 billion.
Market sentiment for the polished diamond trade was mixed in the month of March, improving after the Hong Kong trade show but cautious as a result of slow trade at Baselworld, another important indicator of trade confidence. Exports of polished diamonds were steady in March year-over-year, with less than 1% movement in volume and value; in dollar terms, polished exports were valued at $1.2 billion for the month. Meanwhile, polished imports increased 16% in volume while falling 6% in value to $1.5 billion. For the first quarter of 2017, polished imports are down 5.7% in volume and 10% in value compared to 2016, with imports to Antwerp totaling $3.1 billion during the three-month period. Polished exports for Q1 2017 were down 13% in volume and 11% in value compared to Q1 2016, coming in slightly higher than imports at $3.15 billion.