Industry consultant Ben Janowski takes an in-depth look at the developments that led De Beers to enter into the laboratory-grown diamond jewelry sector, and what Lightbox may mean long-term for the mining giant. Published in full courtesy of Ben Janowski, who will be lecturing at the Antwerp Summer University program, "From Mine to Finger 2018: A deep dive into the world of diamonds."*
Canadian miner Mountain Province Diamonds earned $22.2 million (C$28.9 million) from 334,751 carats of Gahcho Kué goods sold at its recently completed sixth diamond sale of the year. The average price earned of $66 per carat was lower compared to the previous sale of $85 a carat, "driven by a much smaller offering of fancies and specials and a slight softening in prices for smaller, lower priced diamonds," said Reid Mackie, the Company’s Vice President Diamond Marketing, but the price earned was in line with expectations.
Tracr, the end-to-end diamond industry blockchain being developed by De Beers Group in collaboration with industry stakeholders, has announced the appointment of Jim Duffy as General Manager to lead the next phase of the platform’s development. Duffy assumes the new role as the platform starts to build greater scale, with more than $100 million worth of rough diamonds having been registered on the platform since the launch of the pilot in January 2018.
Tiffany & Co. announced earlier this week it would undertake a three-year renovation of its iconic flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, made famous by the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and "one of the most recognized jewelry retail spaces in the world," according to Anthony DeMarco.
Ethics: it's "More than a PR issue!" The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), a non-profit working to improve the lives and working conditions of artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa, issued a response to the recent decision by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on synthetic diamonds and how it could impact the market for artisanally-mined diamonds.
Sales at Botswana's state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) fell by 16 percent in the first half of 2018 to $260 million, said managing director Marcus ter Haar, citing a high comparison base against last year's record growth, as Reuters reports. The company sold 1.778 million carats in the first half of 2018 compared with 1.808 million carats in the same period last year.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA has tested a new payment mechanism enabling foreign clients to purchase rough stones using Russian currency. As an experiment, transactions were conducted with clients from China and India, and if necessary, the company is prepared to use this payment scheme in rubles in the future.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamonds reported a net loss of US$27.5 million (C$35.9 million) during the second quarter despite higher revenues, as the transition to underground mining at the Renard mine impacted the company's carat recoveries and sales during the first half of the year. The move underground has taken longer than anticipated, as equipment availability and management problems have slowed their progress. The recorded loss compares unfavorably to the $3.1 million in profit the company achieved in the second quarter last year.
Angolan mining company Sociedade Mineira da Catoca, the fourth largest producer of diamonds in the world and the largest in Angola, has appointed Benedito Paulo Manuel as its new chief executive. He replaces Sergei Amelin, a Russian, who after three years of office has made his post available "to take on new challenges." Manuel said Catoca would in the next five years focus on improving operational efficiency to boost diamond output and tax contribution. Catoca currently produces over 86% of all Angolan diamonds by volume and 60% by value.
Lucara Diamond Corp.'s Q2 results are a mixed parcel of sorts, as production and the recovery of 'specials' (+10.8 carats) increased while the company achieved softer prices, sold fewer exceptional stones and consequently achieved lower revenues than during the same period a year earlier.
The Diamond Producers Association recently released a statement addressing the controversial changes the US's FTC has adopted regarding the definition and description of diamonds, among other issues.
Following the recent announcement by CEO Nick Hayek Jr. that the Swatch Group would be packing up its 18 brands - including Omega - and its approximately 50-million dollar budget and heading for the exit at BaselWorld, the renowned watch and jewelry trade fair is facing a future of uncertainty. Hayek's statement about Swatch's departure was blunt and clear as a bell: “Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous ... In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. This does not mean that they should disappear.
Russian mining giant ALROSA saw its July rough diamond sales increase by 17% year-over-year to $333.8 million from $286.1 million as demand for expensive high-quality diamonds remained strong. Total sales for the month increased by 16% to $339 million, including $5.3 million in polished diamond sales, a 28% decline from the same month in 2017, excluding the sale of the Dynasty Collection and the 51.38-carat round stone, the central diamond in the eponymous collection.
Rising prices of rough and polished diamonds led to substantial value gains for Antwerp’s diamond trade in July, which surged during the weeks preceding its traditional August recess, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). Rough diamond imports surged by 23% and exports by 18% compared to the same month a year ago, while polished imports gained 28% in value and exports gained more than 8% compared to the month of July 2017.
De Beers Group (provisionally) sold $530 million in rough diamonds during the sixth Cycle of 2018, representing a 9% decline from the $581 million sold during the previous cycle, and an 8% drop compared to the same period a year ago. The company attributed the slowdown to a seasonal decline rather than any structural change to demand, having remarked recently that the outlook for 2018 global consumer demand remains positive in most of the main diamond-consuming countries, based on world economic prospects, positive consumer sentiment and continued investment in marketing.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has responded to the revised U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) guidelines released last week as they relate to the issue of descriptors for diamonds. The industry body regrets the "bias towards the lab-grown diamond sector", said WFDB President Ernie Blom, adding, "we do not feel that the views of the diamond sector were taken sufficiently into account", and called for the FTC to revisit their decision.
Canadian diversified junior mining company Tango Mining has sold a 42.26 carat diamond recovered from run of mine (ROM) gravel in the alluvial Oena Diamond Mine in the Republic of South Africa for $476,143, or $11,267 per carat, on tender at the Kimberley Diamond Exchange.
Despite a slight uptick in revenues (to $3.2 billion from $3.1 billion), higher production costs weighed down De Beers' first half underlying earnings (EBITDA/earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) by 9% percent, falling to $712 million from $786 million. While the company's top representatives emphasized its strong first half both operationally and financially, with continued growth in consumer demand, De Beers CFO Nimesh Patel attributed the decline in EBITA "principally" to "the stronger [South African] rand.
In what can only be described as a victory for laboratory-grown diamond producers, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dropped the word 'natural' from its definition of a diamond, essentially redefining 'diamond' to include non-mined gemstones, as part its new guides for the jewelry industry. It further gives additional leeway to existing standards regarding the description of lab-grown diamonds (and metal alloys), and has dropped 'synthetic' as an appropriate descriptor of lab-grown diamonds except under certain circumstances.
The 10% decline in bank finance to the gem and jewelry sector over the last few months will adversely impact exports from the industry during the year, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said in a statement yesterday.
Lucapa Diamond Company completed the first sale of alluvial diamonds for H2 2018 from the Lulo Diamond Project in Angola: the parcel of 2,527 carats achieved gross sale proceeds of US$2.0 million (A$2.7 million), representing an average price per carat of US$800 (A$1,079), as several large stones were excluded from the sale.
Petra Diamonds posted a 21% rise in revenue to $576.4 million for the twelve months to June 30 from $477 million a year earlier, citing higher diamond prices (+2% on like-for-like basis) and production (+15%); but the miner worried investors by saying it expects to produce 4.6 million to 4.8 million carats in 2019, well below the 5.0-5.3 million carats it forecast in July last year.
World Diamond Council (WDC) executives traveled to Angola last week for a series of meetings with stakeholders involved in the Kimberley Process (KP). WDC Acting President Stephane Fischler and Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda made the trip at the invitation of Angolan authorities, marking the first time there has been a WDC mission to Angola outside of a formal KP meeting.
ALROSA has announced that mining operations on the new diamond deposit Zarya are entering their final stage, having removing 10 million cubic meters of overburden over the last two years, and the company expects diamond mining will start in 2019. The deposit is estimated to contain total diamond resources of 3.5 million carats worth more than USD 1 billion. Its development will allow the miner to replace the declining reserves of Komsomolskaya pipe, where mining operations are nearing their completion.
Canada’s Mountain Province Diamonds second quarter output at the Gahcho Kué mine jumped by 20 percent to 1.9 million carats compared with 1.6 million carats a year earlier as plant optimization led to better-than-anticipated performance, and recovered grade continues to outperform expectations. The plant treated 899,000 tons during the quarter, 17% ahead of the same quarter last year despite a decline in ore tons mined, and achieved a higher average grade.
Firestone Diamonds, a new diamond producer with operations focused in Lesotho (Liqhobong Diamond Mine, owned 75% by Firestone and 25% by the Government of Lesotho), reports it achieved "exceptional operational performance result[ing] in several new production-related records during the final quarter." Specifically, its Q4 recoveries were 36.8% higher than Q3 at 263,512 carats, resulting in a full year total of 835,832 carats, within guidance of between 800,000 and 850,000 carats.
Zimbabwe's state-owned diamond mining company, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), reported a massive 44 percent increase in rough diamond production during the first half of 2018, according to The Sunday Mail, with investment in modern mining and processing equipment and the resumption of conglomerate mining* identified as the main drivers.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA ramped up the volume of processed ore from their alluvial diamond operations, resulting in a 15% increase in overall production compared to the prior quarter while remaining 18% off the pace of production volume during the same quarter a year ago. The miner produced 8.5 m carats during the last three months compared to 7.4 million carats in Q1.
A full house at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, including stakeholders from across the spectrum of the diamond industry, greeted De Beers Group representatives Paul Rowley and Nimesh Patel as they explained the company's foray into the synthetic diamond jewelry market and reinforced its commitment to the natural diamond industry.
Bellweather jewelry group Chow Tai Fook built on its 2017 sales gains by recording a solid first fiscal quarter of 2018 (three months ended 30 June 2018), citing "impressive growth" in the Hong Kong and Macau market. Benefitting from "improving local consumer spending and an increase in visitors from Mainland China", retail sales surged by 21% in Hong Kong and Macau, while same-store sales (SSS) increased by 26%. Sales on the Mainland also fared well, increasing by 11%, with same-store sales up 4%.
De Beers Canada and Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. today announced they have entered into an agreement whereby De Beers will acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of Peregrine for $0.24 per share in cash for a total equity value of approximately C$107 million (US$81 million). Peregrine Diamonds is a TSX-listed diamond exploration and development company and owner of the high quality Chidliak diamond resource located in Canada’s Nunavut Territory.
De Beers rough diamond production increased three percent to 9.0 million carats during the second quarter of 2018, "reflecting production increases to meet stronger demand as well as the contribution from the ramp-up at Gahcho Kué", the company today announced.
Paramount Jewels has placed the winning bid of $5.2 million for the more than century-old New York jeweler A. Jaffe, a Nirav Modi-owned company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The takeover includes the business and brand, meaning all of A. Jaffe’s core assets: its name, intellectual property, design patents, accounts receivable and inventory; all the assets, the companies said in a statement, that are “needed for A. Jaffe to continue as the successful brand that it is recognized as in the industry and to consumers.”
There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth’s interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to set off a diamond rush, writes MIT News. The scientists estimate the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.
Rio Tinto reports rough diamond output at its Argyle Mine in Australia nearly hit 3.5 million carats for the second straight quarter in 2018 (3.48 million carats in Q2, 3.5 million carats in Q1), marking an 8% increase over output in the second quarter of 2017 and continuing the gains recorded in the first quarter. The mining giant has now topped 7 million carats produced at Argyle in the first half of 2018, a 13% increase over the first half of 2017. Rio Tinto attributes the increase over Q2 2017 to an increase in tons processed following improved plant availability.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 5% during the month of June 2018 as compared to a year earlier, while overall exports from the gem and jewelry sector grew by a marginal 0.9% in the same period, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of cut and polished diamonds from India during the month rose to $2.08 billion from $1.98 bn in June 2017, an increase of 5.07% y-o-y. Rough imports were down by 14.2% in value terms during the month to $1.53 bn as compared to $1.79 bn imported during the previous June.
Botswana Diamonds (BOD) on Wednesday released an update on the company's Sunland Minerals exploration projects in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana - Sunland Minerals is a JV with ALROSA - noting they were encouraged with the latest results. The exploration company has completed its mineral sampling over the 8 previously discovered and announced high contrast geophysical anomalies in the Gope Region of the Kalahari Desert, with all 8 anomalies turning up kimberlitic indicator minerals ("KIMs") - 267 in total. Analysis of the KIMs concluded that the sources were likely to be local.
"Brand Russia, at this particular point in time, is not particularly strong overseas." David Ferguson, retail analyst in Moscow
“Mine to market is becoming very popular.” Sergei S. Ivanov, CEO, ALROSA
Lucapa Diamond Co. has announced the recovery of a 114 carat diamond from the alluvial Lulo Diamond Project in Angola, the 11th +100 carat diamond recovered to date from the prolific Lulo diamond field and the third so far in 2018. The 114 carat diamond adds to a significant inventory of large diamonds currently held for a later sale by Lulo mining company Sociedade Mineira Do Lulo.
Rio Tinto's Arglye mine in Australia - the world's main if not only source of pink diamonds - may be heading for closure in 2020, but not before going out with a bang. The miner will headline one of its last ever pink diamond tenders with the Argyle Alpha vivid pink diamond, weighing 3.14 carats, which was actually uncovered in 2015. It the largest stone of its color in the history of the annual sales event.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has announced that former Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) President Peter Meeus will take over as head of its World Diamond Mark (WDM) marketing program.
BlueRock Diamonds, a junior miner listed on AIM in London and operating the Kareevlei Diamond mine near Kimberley in South Africa, announced its production increased significantly in 2017, yielding high-quality diamonds with an average value per carat of $362. The miner said that it met its two primary targets in 2017 – operational profitability and monthly processing volume of 25,000 tons, which unearthed 2,438 carats in the first half of the year, compared with 543 carats, a year earlier.
Namibia's diamond mining industry is estimated to maintain a high growth level during 2018 before contracting in 2019 due to the depletion of onshore diamond deposits, according to the Bank of Namibia's economic outlook for July 2018. The sector's projected growth is 10.9% in 2018, which is reasonably high, despite a slowdown from 12% in 2017. The diamond sector is, however, expected to contract by 5.3% in 2019 due to lower production from onshore mines during that year.
In June 2018, Russian mining giant ALROSA Group sold $390.3 million worth of rough and polished diamonds. The miner's earnings from rough diamond accounted for $383.7 million of total sales, an 8% increase over the $354.4 million sold in June 2017. The company also sold $6.6 million worth of polished diamonds, four million less than in the same month last year. During the first half of 2018, ALROSA sold $2.639 billion worth of rough diamonds, also an 8% rise over the first half in 2017.
Global rough diamond production in 2017 grew to levels not seen since 2008, and achieved its highest overall value since the Kimberley Process started gathering statistics in 2004 - and most likely the highest value ever for a single year of production. The volume of diamond output in 2017 surged by 19% to 150.9 million carats (126.4m cts in 2016), with the average price increasing 8% to $105 per carat.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamonds saw its sales and diamond output slip in the second quarter, with the results, "reflect[ing] the ongoing transition from open pit to underground mining and the introduction of ore-waste sorting." Stornoway held two tenders in Antwerp compared to three in Q1, earning US$21.9 million (C$28.6 million) from the sale of 201,283 carats, compared to US$43.3 million (C$56.6 million) from the sale of 399,135 carats in Q1.
Petra Diamonds late last week announced that it had sold its stake in the Kimberley Ekapa Mining joint venture (KEM JV) to its namesake partner, Ekapa Mining, for about 300 million rand ($22 million).
Rio Tinto‘s Australian Diamonds program has launched its latest campaign in India highlighting a new range of affordable bridal and fashion jewelry from the company’s Argyle diamond mine in Australia, the company announced in a press release. Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian women’s cricket team is the official ambassador for the new campaign, helping promote the popularity of diamonds in fashion and bridal jewelry, particularly for younger Indian consumers.
Antwerp's polished diamond trade in June rode rising prices to another month of gains, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), as the Belgian polished trade reasserted its modest upward trend in 2018. The value of polished exports increased 4% year-over-year to $1.04 billion despite 6 percent decline in the volume of goods traded, backed by a 10% climb in average price per carat, to $2,395 from $2,183. The average price did fall short of a May high of $2,688 per carat, likely skewed by the value of goods flowing to Las Vegas for the JCK trade show.
Rain clouds have chased away the forest fire hazard at Stornoway Diamonds' Renard Mine in Quebec, and the miner expects to commence remobilization of staff to the mine this morning, July 4. "Over the last 48 hours, rainfall and a shifting of the prevailing winds have allowed the principal fires south of the Clarence and Abel Swallow Airport to be contained, allowing for the safe transit of mine staff to the Renard Mine. Stornoway expects to recommence full mine operations forthwith." Hopefully this will be the last appearance of the 'dog days of summer' for the Canadian miner.*
Polished diamond prices have been rising steadily in the first half of 2018, according to analysis on the RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™), and this trend continued in June. Having risen by 3.4% in H1 2018, the index for 1-carat diamonds climbed another 0.8% in June. According to the RAPI, 0.30 ct. stones have continued to rise more sharply than any other category, gaining 3.1% in June and 9.7% since January.
Signet Jewelers yesterday announced the completion of the final phase of its strategic outsourcing of credit through the sale of its existing non-prime receivables, for which the group received $445.5 million in cash proceeds.
Following successful auctions of special size rough diamonds (weighing over 10.8 carats) in Vladivostok, New York, Israel and Dubai, Russian miner ALROSA earned total sales revenue of $10.4 million at their latest auction in Hong Kong, which is more than 1.5 times higher than the starting price. In total, 100 gem-quality lots with a total weight of 1,550 carats were sold. The companies from the largest diamond trading centers, including Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel, India, the UAE and Russia, attended the auction. 28 firms were recognized as winners for different lots.
Stornoway Diamond Corporation has announced that operations at the Renard Diamond Mine have been temporarily suspended due to a local forest fire. As of 6:30am EST on Monday July 2, the fire was located 12.6 kilometres south of the Renard Mine, but just 3.6 kilometres south of the Clarence and Abel Swallow Airport and within 0.1 kilometre of the mine’s access road. It covers an area of 18 kilometres by 6 kilometres and is being fanned by northerly winds.
Angolan President João Lourenço has vowed to reform Angola’s diamond industry, increasing its transparency in order to facilitate the exportation of goods, attract foreign investment and increase government revenue from the country's natural resources.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has announced that Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) is participating in the Institute’s M2M (Mine to Market) program, a digital platform tracks rough diamonds through to the resulting polished gem. As part of a pilot initiative, a selection of ODC rough diamonds GIA has evaluated for its M2M program will be offered at the ODC July 2018 Spot Auction. The GIA's new service offers retailers a new method of being able to uncover a stone’s history.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) announced that the 2018 World Diamond Congress, the biannual meeting of the WFDB and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), will take place in Mumbai, India, during the latter part of October. This year’s Congress was due to take place in Tel Aviv from June 19 to 21, but was postponed due to security concerns.
Canadian miner Mountain Province Diamonds (49% participant with De Beers Canada in the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada’s NWT) announced the results of its recently completed fifth diamond tender sale of 2018, and the total proceeds from the sale - US$30.3 million (CDN$40.0 million) - set a new high for Mountain Province’s tender results to date. The tender also included the sale of the miner's highest value individual diamond, as well as the highest attributable value per ton ($234) to date, with a normalised value at US$86.