Earlier this year in a cost-cutting move, Signet Jewelers, which claims to be "the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry," asked its employees in Akron, Ohio and Dallas, Texas to apply for a "Voluntary Transition Program" out of the company. “Based on participation," the company wrote, "we may need to take additional actions including an involuntary reduction-in-force.” The message wasclear enough: take the buyout or risk being fired without one. Not enough people took the severance package and assistance in finding a new job voluntarily, and the firings have arrived.
Tiffany & Co has been expanding its workforce in sub-Saharan Africa as part of its drive to increase its transparency and raise ethical jewelry standards across the industry.
Only weeks after recovering a 425-carat diamond, Petra Diamond's famed Cullinan mine has produced another big stone, this time a 209.9 carat D-Colour Type II diamond. The big diamond is the third +100ct Type II D color gem-quality diamond Petra has recovered since March 2019 and the fourth in this financial year. The find will take some of the sting out of the 7% production decline in the third fiscal quarter due to a slowdown at its Finsch mine in South Africa.
A twin-stone colored diamond ring featuring fancy vivid blue pear-modifiedbrilliant-cut diamonds of 3.06 and 2.61 carats was the headline item at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels auction on 16 April, selling for $6.7 million, or $1.2 million per carat. The hammer price fell right within its $6-$8 million pre-sale estimate.
Alrosa's rough diamond production in Q1 2019 declined significantly from the same period in 2018, as did its sales, impacted by a sharp decline in prices and a larger share of small-size diamonds in the sales mix and lower prices mostly for medium-size diamonds.
Botswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company today (April 17) unveiled the polished result of what is said to be the largest blue diamond ever discovered in the southern African country, one of the world’s top producers. The 20.46-carat, oval-shape fancy colored diamond, fashioned from a 41.11-carat rough stone recovered on May 21 2018 at the Orapa mine, has been named "The Okavango Blue" in honor of the Okavango Delta, the country's wildlife-rich world heritage site.
Several diamond and jewelry industry sites are reporting that the U.S. State Department may be prepraring to strengthen and enforce disclosure requirements for all materials used in jewelry. State Department representaitives met with a coalition of industry leaders in New York to explain the new potential regulations. According to Rob Bates at JCK, "The United States believes that jewelry materials and other minerals are funding conflict and rogue regimes, specifically mentioning Iran, Venezuela, and certain countries in Africa, said attendees.
Rio Tinto's diamond production in Q1 2019 declined by a total of 18% on an annual basis from its two mining operations in Australia and Canada due to lower recovered grade. The lower grade particularly affected diamond output at its 100% owned Argyle mine in Australia, where production fell by 22% year-over-year and 13% from the final quarter of 2018 to just under 2.8 million carats.
The Watches & Jewelry business group of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton recorded revenue growth in the first quarter of 2019, driven by the performance of its jewelry, though the group lagged behind other product categories. Bvlgari is said to have "made strong progress" in its own stores.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has reported an "excpetional performance" from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho in its first full quarter of production, while output from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola fell as the miner focused predominantly on lower grade mining areas. The miner held two milestone tenders during Q1 2019: its first ever sale of Lulo diamonds via international tender under the new diamond marketing reforms enacted by the Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, and its first commercial run of mine tender from Mothae via Bonas tender house in Antwerp.
Mountain Province Diamonds has provided an update to the Mineral Resource Estimate for the Faraday 2 kimberlite, reporting a 74% spike to 5.45 million carats of diamonds, outstrippiing the 2017 estimate of 3.13 million carats. The update now cites an inferred resource of 2.07 million tonnes of kimberlite, a 49% increase from the1.39 million tonnes cited in 2017. The overall grade has also increased by 17% to 2.63 carats per tonne, and the average value per carat has jumped 25% to US$140 from the 2017 estimate of US$112 per carat.
The Antwerp rough diamond trade had its best month of the year thus far, particularly in terms of value, though like much of the rough trade globally it is operating at much lower levels than in 2018. Exports of polished goods slowed in March while prices continue their steady climb above the record average prices achieved in 2018.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa saw its March rough diamond sales gain 8% over its February results, as the market is gradually stabilizing, although it is still lagging far behind its rough sales a year ago. Alrosa sold $369.2 million in rough goods compared with $340.6 million last month and $278.2 million in January, saying demand for smaller-sized stones picked up during the quarter.
As the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) sifts through the wreckage of the devastating Cyclone Idai - which has already claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, displacing hundreds of thousands, destroying crops and leading to a cholera outbreak - preliminary indications are that the firm will miss its first quarter production target due to the cyclone and other challenges, including fuel shortages and effects of the January 14-16 violent demonstrations.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has appointed Iris Van der Veken (pictured) as its executive director, the group announced in a statement. Van der Veken is the first woman to become the organisation’s Executive Director and replaces Andrew Bone who was appointed in June 2015. Bone said last September that he was planning to step down from the post he had held for four years.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamond Co. rebounded from a difficult final quarter of 2018 to post significant increases in total carats sold, leading to a big rise in gross proceeds. Stornoway in Q1 2019 sold 429,506 total carats at two tender sales a Bonas tender house in Antwerp, earning about US$35 million (C$47 million) at an average price of US$83 per carat (C$110 per carat).
De Beers' third sight of 2018 (Cycle 3) was easily its largest of the year thus far, provisionally realizing $575 million in rough diamond sales, a figure the miner has not reached since their Cycle 5 sale in June 2018. "As we move into the second quarter of the year, we saw a continuation of stable demand for our rough diamonds during the third cycle of 2019," commented Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group. De Beers' sales in Cycle 3 was 16% higher than the $496 million earned in Cycle 2, and 10% more than the $524 million in Cycle 3 2018.
Lucapa Diamond Company last week has agreed on funding and refinancing arrangements which will improve its financial position and reduce its financing costs, the company said in an ASX announcement. The move will enable Lucapa to reduce the higher-cost debt used to fund the development of the new high-value Mothae diamond mine in Lesotho.
Firestone Diamonds recovered of a 72 carat yellow, makeable diamond from its Liqhobong Mine in Lesotho, during the past weekend. The 72 carat diamond was recovered together with a 22 carat makeable white stone, followed by an 11 carat fancy light-pink stone. These diamonds will go on sale via First Element tender house at the next tender in Antwerp, which is scheduled to take place from May 8-14 2019 (see the entire Antwerp tender schedule here).
Namibia’s state-owned diamond trading company, Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia) has selected 16 companies to buy its stones from 2019 to 2021, and notably, has identified them publically. Namdia expects to sell diamonds worth over $140 million (N$2 billion) a year to 16 companies from six different countries. Belgium and Namibia top the list with four firms each, with two more companies (Pluczenik Diamond Company and Samir Gems) headquartered in Antwerp but listed under other countries.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa and Angola's state-owned diamond firm Endiama have signed an agreement to develop joint projects including diamond production, exploration, training, research and technology exchange. It identifies areas of mutual interest to develop diamond production in Angola as well as cooperation on mechanisms in diamond sales. The companies also intend to work together on the development of industry self-regulation mechanisms and responsible diamond supply chains in support of the Kimberley Process.
The National Bank of Fujairah (NBF), with years of experience in the diamond sector in Dubai, has opened its first international representative office in the heart of the Antwerp Diamond District, the largest rough trading hub in the world. Opening a representative office will enable the bank to better service their Antwerp-based customers and will provide market intelligence to their headquarters in the UAE. The Dubai-based bank targets buyers and resellers of rough that have suitable business models, secure sources of income and solid product traceability.
Botswana’s GDP per person is one of the top three in Africa and it’s off the back of diamond mining. There is no commodity in the world that means as much to a group of people in terms of lifting them out of poverty than diamonds in Botswana. In terms of revenue and the benefits to the people of Botswana, it can’t be understated. From the President to people living on the ground, they understand the importance of diamonds and the contribution to society.
- Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani, on the social benefit of diamond mining
Diamond mining stocks have taken a beating in recent years, with most believing there is no end in sight. Post-financial crisis oversupply and rising concerns about the assumed influence of laboratory-grown diamonds have tested the patience and tainted the sentiment of investors in the diamond arena. But the imminent shrinkage of supply and continuing demand for the product is not imaginary. Those who doubt the resilience of the diamond industry and have given up on its ming sector may regret selling low.
Lucara Diamond Corp. continues to test and refine Clara Diamond Solutions (Clara), its digital sales platform for selling rough diamonds individually, launching its fourth test run this week. Lucara CEO Eira Thomas and Steve Lincoln, Sales and Marketing Operations Manager at Lucara and Director Sales and Marketing of Clara sat down with The Diamond Loupe to clarify a few aspects of the system and discuss their progress as they gradually expand their trial phase, which commenced in late November 2018.
Expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process to include issues related to human rights and labor relations, as is being advocated by the World Diamond Council (WDC), will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa’s artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential and support the development of their countries’ economies, Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of WDC, told the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week, meeting yesterday in the Belgian town of Genval.
Signet Jewelers, North America's largest retail chain for diamond jewelry, endured an uninspiring fourth quarter as weak holiday sales weighed down revenues, sending the jewelry group to a combined 6% loss in Q4 and a 0.1% loss on Fiscal Year 2019. Signet's total Q4 sales (in the 13 weeks ended February 2, 2019) were $2.15 billion, down $138.4 million or 6.0% on a reported basis and 5.4% on a constant currency basis.
Canadian diamond miner Stornoway encountered a host of difficulties in 2018 on its way to a US$246.8 million (CA$329.4 million) loss, substantially widening the loss of US$85.6 million (CA$114.2 million) recorded last year. The miner's challenges included delays in the ramp-up of the Renard 2 underground mine, the processing of low-grade stockpiles during the transition from open pit to underground operations and weak diamond prices.
Mining in Africa is at the core of our business, just as it always has been, and just as it will be in future ... De Beers is and will remain a natural diamond business.
- De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver discusses Africa portfolio, exploration, technology and laboratory-grown diamonds.
Gemfields reported a $60.4 million net loss for 2018, compared with a $45.1 million profit in 2017, despite achieving record revenues for the year of US$206 million. The company attributed the loss to the impact of a new tax regime in Zambia and and a costly court case that ended in a settlement. Gemfields' share price endured a disappointing 12 months, falling 40% by year-end.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which investigates allegations of deceptive advertising, sent eight letters to jewelry marketers warning them that some of their online advertisements of jewelry made with simulated or laboratory-created diamonds may deceive consumers, in violation of the FTC Act. The organization warned that failure to follow the Guides may result in enforcement actions if the FTC determines the companies engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
The 'Spectacular 88.22-Carat Oval Diamond', said to be perfect according to every critical criterion, sells at the Sotheby's Hong Kong auction for HK$108 million/US$13.8 million to a Japanese private collector who names the stone the 'Manami Star', after his eldest daughter.
De Beers Group announced yesterday it would start providing enhanced transparency regarding diamonds purchased from its Sight sales by introducing a “diamonds from DTC” (DTC = Diamond Trading Company) source of origin claim. Diamonds from the DTC come from mines and recovery areas in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. The idea is to support the diamond trade by providing a factual statement about provenance that Sightholders and Accredited Buyers can use for diamonds purchased from Sights.
Following modest holiday sales, slow trading at the February/March Hong Kong show and a sluggish BaselWorld, typical first quarter inventory restocking of polished diamonds was "subdued" and "cautious" this year, while rough sales tumbled as manufacturing slowed, according to a Rapaport News press release.
Chinese mining company Anjin is set to resume mining in Zimbabwe at the Chiadzwa mining fields in Marange in May this year, while Russia’s Alrosa will complete setting up its office by the end of next month, reports The Sunday Mail from Zimbabwe. Anjin had to shut operations back in 2015 as the Mugabe administration forced the closure of seven mining companies and the subsequent merger of their assets into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). Now the company is expected to invest an initial US$20 million to restart operations.
Gem Diamonds has recovered an exceptional, 134-carat Type I yellow diamond from Letšeng Mine in Lesotho, the miner's third important find in recent weeks and its second remarkable colored stone this year. It has been nearly two years since Gem Diamonds recovered a yellow stone of that magnitude.
Firestone Diamonds increased its first half (ended 31 December 2018) revenue to $27.4 million from three sales at First Element tender house in Antwerp despite soft prices, the miner announced late last week. Firestone managed to top the $26.0 million from four sales in H1 last year through an increase in the volume of carats sold, while the average value per carat fell 4% to $71 from $74 per carat in H1 2018, impacted by prices for smaller, lower value diamonds. The miner also managed to decrease it loss for the period to $6.6 million from $7.8 million in H1 2018.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is updated its grading reports for laboratory-grown diamonds to align with the revised Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, and as of July 1, 2019 will drop term 'synthetic' when referring to diamonds created in a lab.
Eurostar Diamond Traders, one of the largest diamond companies in Antwerp, last week was declared bankrupt by the Antwerp Corporate Court. The manufacturing company, established in 1978 by Kaushik Mehta, said to have debts reaching up to half a billion euro ($560 million).
More than 400 compliance professionals from around the world gathered in London yesterday for the presentation of the international "Women in Compliance" awards, an honor that shines a spotlight on female compliance professionals. Trisevgeni Stavropoulos and Iris Leerdam, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre's (AWDC) two female compliance officers, took home the hardware for “In-house Compliance Team of the Year”.
Polished diamond manufacturers in Surat and Mumbai have started liquidating their inventories at significant discounts of up to 30-40% in the attempt to settle loans with banks, writes the Times of India. The Indian daily says that diamond companies have been "given the ultimatum to settle their outstanding loan accounts before March 31."
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the umbrella organization of the Antwerp diamond industry, participated from 24 to 28 March in the Belgian State Visit to South Korea, where they co-organized an event to highlight a new partnership between Antwerp and Korea's leading jewelery brand, Golden dew. During the State Visit, and in honor of the jeweler's 30th anniversary, Golden dew launched three special cuts it developed together with three different Antwerp diamond companies.
Just about a year ago, the executive chairman of Botswana Diamonds John Teeling told us, "Instead of being an explorer, I would like to be a producer. We would like to get to production." According to yesterday's announcment from Botswana Diamonds, it looks as if he is going to get his wish: the junior miner said is on track to commence bulk sampling and become a diamond producer by mid-2019.
Global diamond jewelry sales grew 4% over last year to $85.9 billion in 2018, driven by persistently high demand in the first half of the year, according to Alrosa's global luxury and jewelry market research. The global jewelry market grew at a slightly slower pace than the 5% growth achieved in 2017, a softening the miner attributes to a slowdown in key consumption markets in the second half of 2018.
Arctic Star Exploration Corp. of Vancouver has begun this year’s exploration program at the 40% owned Diagras joint venture diamond property in Lac des Gras, Northwest Territories, Canada (NWT). Margaret Lake Diamonds holds the remaining 60% and is the project operator. Preliminary results have been "encouraging."
Rapaport Auctions is currently holding a melee auction in Antwerp. The auction features large quantities of original, mixed, and finely assorted diamond parcels, ranging in all shapes, qualities and sizes. The organizers say it is an "excellent opportunity to purchase diamonds at great prices." The auction is taking place at the Diamond Exchange Building and runs from March 25-28.
Following test drilling carried out earlier this month at the Verkhne-Munskoye diamond deposit located in the west of Yakutia, Russian diamond miner Alrosa has announced that it has the potential to "become one of the richest in large diamonds among Alrosa’s deposits."
Coronet, the signature brand of Hong Kong-based Aaron Shum Jewelry, has been awarded its ninth Guinness World Record, this time for the most diamonds set on a watch: 15,858, weighing a combined 50.01 carats. Unveiled at BaselWorld last week, the watch is named Mudan 牡丹, which is Chinese for peony, a flower recognized as the King of the flowers in the Chinese culture.
Tiffany & Co. last week reported record sales and net earnings for the full year 2018 despite its holiday sales failing to meet expectations due to external events, economic uncertainties, and market volatilities. Worldwide net sales rose by 7%, reaching a record $4.4 billion due to growth in all regions and higher spending attributed to local customers and foreign tourists. Net earnings were $586 million, compared with $370 million in the prior year, notwithstanding a 1% worldwide net sales decline to $1.3 billion.
Gem Diamonds unearthed a 161-carat top-quality Type II white diamond at the Letseng mine in Lesotho on 21 March 2019. It is the first recovery announced of a diamond weighing more than 100 carats in 2019, but not their first major find of the year. Last month, Gem recovered a high-quality 13.33-carat Type I pink diamond, which sold for $8,750,360 in Antwerp.
With the 2019 edition of Baselworld getting underway Thursday, Graff Diamonds has revealed two of the three Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond watches to be showcased. Yellow diamonds are extremely rare, so it takes patience - and good contacts - to collect enough to set them in a timepiece or a piece of jewelry; it can take years to source enough stones of the same color, intensity and size. Each watch is built in 18-karat yellow gold to underscore the brilliance of the watch's diamonds, and each features round and fancy oval diamonds that are meticulously set by hand.
Lucapa Diamond Co. reports that its inferred diamond resource estimate of in-situ carats at its 40%-owned Lulo diamond mine in Angola has nearly doubled since it was last analyzed in May 2017, increasing 90% to 80,400 carats. The modelled average price per carat also rose to $1,420, a 17% increase over the previous modelled estimate of $1,215 per carat. Overall sales of Lulo diamonds to date total ~US$141 million at an average price per carat of ~US$2,100.
Despite a 22.12% vote recorded against his re-election at Petra Diamonds' 2018 Annual General Meeting, the miner will keep company founder Adonis Pouroulis on as its chairman, while adding in a statement that "we have considered the concerns raised by our shareholders." While the company has been attempting to right the ship in the midst of sharply declining shares and a huge debt increase incurred in the process of expanding its iconic Cullinan mine in South Africa, they stated that the appointment of a new chair was "not appropriate" at this time.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has launched a new e-learning program for diamond retailers, entitled “Behind the Brilliance of Diamonds.” Developed to help all US retailers, the hour-long program - split into 3 informative modules – offers educational material and quizzes, going beyond the 4Cs to highlight the intangible value of natural diamonds.
The Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine, a joint venture between Mountain Province (49%) and De Beers Canada (51%), exceeded expectations in its first full year of commercial production, setting records for carat recoveries and sales despite a challenging end of year 2018. Mountain Province reports that the Gahcho Kué Mine exceeded its upper end of FY2018 guidance of tonnes treated, processing 3,194,000 tonnes (2017: 2,775,000 tonnes) and recovered 17% more carats than last year, settting a new high for the mine of 6,937,000 carats (2017: 5,934,000 carats) with a 4% increase in the average grade.
Nirav Modi, who allegedly defrauded Indian state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) of $2 billion, was arrested and denied bail by a London judge who said there were "substantial risks" that the celebrity jeweler could flee while the country seeks his extradition. Modi was arrested in central London on Tuesday evening on behalf of Indian authorities who want to extradite him to face charges.
After a small rise in January, export growth in the watch industry gained momentum in February, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The industry exported goods worth the equivalent of CHF 1.8 billion francs ($1.8 billion), up 3.4% from February 2018. However, a 58 percent surge in shipments to the U.K. in February accounted for 80% of the increase worldwide and is explained by stockpiling ahead of Brexit. In the first two months of the year, the U.K. imported 242 million Swiss francs ($242 million) of timepieces from Switzerland.
While still lagging behind the levels of activity recorded in February 2018, India's diamond trade last month rebounded from a remarkably poor showing in January 2019. According to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), exports of cut and polished diamonds from India fell by 3.51% year-on-year during the month of February 2019 to $2.34 billion as compared to the $2.43 billion exported in February 2018. However, February's exports represent a 34% increase over the $1.75 billion shipped out in January, which will come as a welcome sign to the Indian industry.