Antwerp Diamond Trade Stable in 2017, Starts 2018 Strong

Market Analysis
05/02/2018 11:12

The Antwerp diamond trade booked stable results overall in 2017, according to a press release from industry representative body the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). They note that after a very difficult 2015, the Antwerp diamond trade stabilized in 2016, and this trend continued over past year as the industry traded a total of $US46 billion in diamonds ($US48 billion in 2016). In 2017, a total of 233.6 million carats of diamonds were imported to and exported from Antwerp. This represented an increase in the volume of diamonds traded, with a particularly notable increase in the rough diamond sector. In this regard, the Antwerp trade was illustrative of the diamond trade globally.

On the rough market, where Antwerp retained its position atop the global trade, demand was mainly for smaller rough diamonds, so the value of rough diamonds traded declined while total volumes increased. Some 223.1 million carats worth $23.3 billion were traded on Antwerp’s rough diamond market. The volume of rough diamond imports increased by 6% while the volume of rough exports increased by 27% with respect to 2016. In value, on the contrary, they experienced declines of 11% and 1% respectively. Expectations of a robust rough trade in Antwerp were nevertheless confirmed, as the majority of diamond production from three new mines (Renard and Gahcho Kué in Canada, and Liqhobong in Lesotho) is now traded on the Antwerp diamond market, but the prices achieved for those goods has yet to match expectations. Additionally, more tenders were organized in Antwerp during 2017: 109 tenders were organized by Antwerp tender houses - a 27% increase over the 86 tenders held in 2016 - while the mining companies held another 68 tenders in Antwerp.

The AWDC also noted a declining trend in polished diamonds, but said it was less pronounced than in 2016. On the year, a total of 10.7 million carats of polished diamonds valued at $22.5 billion were imported to and exported from the Antwerp diamond market. Some 5.6 million carats of polished diamonds were exported and 5.1 million carats were imported, valued at $11.1 billion and $11.4 billion respectively. This represents an overall decline of 7% in volume and 3% in value compared to 2016. However, they note that demand from the U.S. market stayed strong while the next most important market, namely, China continued its recovery. Consequently, they say, while the polished diamond market continues to experience difficulties, the decline is less significant than last year.

2018 starts with a bang

The Antwerp diamond trade shot out of the starting blocks in January with significant increases across the board. Year-on-year, polished exports surged 29% in value to over $800 million, with the volume of polished exports rising 21% compared to January 2017. The surge included massive increases in the value of polished exports to the U.S. (+48%), Hong Kong (+95%), Switzerland (+20%), Italy (+42%), Singapore (+965%) and China (+262%), while exports to Israel dropped 5% and those to U.A.E. tumbled by 65%. The volume of polished imports also rose 21% year-on-year, leading to an 8% increase in value to nearly $955 million. Meanwhile rough imports also surged 14% in value to $1.09 billion in the first month of 2018, riding a 16% increase in volume. Rough imports increased in volume as well, up by 6% year-on-year though the value declined 1% to $1.02 billion.