While the pandemic brought about an unprecedented shock to the whole diamond value chain in 2020, in a way it may also have acted as a catharsis of sorts for an industry that has been struggling to regain footing in recent years, in part due to a misalignment of supply and demand.
Following new outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus across the globe, the organizers of Watches & Wonders, Richemont backed Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) have decided to cancel the live event, scheduled for beginning of April 2021 and replace it with an all online event.
A Canadian court has granted Rio Tinto's Diavik subsidiary the permission to sell the rough stones from the troubled Dominion Diamond Mines, partner in the Diavik mine, which Rio Tinto was holding to recoup US$90+m in debts, unpaid cash calls to operate the mine.
In Luanda, the state-owned diamond company Sodiam has opened a retail store, in collaboration with KGK, the diamond company that also operates a polishing factory in the country. Earlier, Mines minister Diamantino Azevedo announced the government is going ahead with plans to develop a diamond hub in a free-trade zone, which is said to include a research and training facility as well as a diamond bourse.
In Geneva, the 14.83ct fancy vivid purple pink elegantly named "the Spirit of the Rose", after the Russian ballet by Niijinsky, was sold for US$26.6m at the Sotheby's auction to a telephone bidder who remains anonymous, a record price for a fancy vivid purple pink ever sold at auction.
AWDC’s figures for October indicate that increased trade, particularly rough imports and exports in the diamond hub, continue to narrow the gap, caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond industry, with 2019. Rough exports for October were up 82% in terms of carats, 76% in terms of value, compared to October 2019. Imports increased 78% in carats, 65% in US$.
Lucara Diamond and HB Antwerp announce the discovery of another massive rough diamond, coming in at 998ct, destined for Antwerp, where it will be analyzed, cut and polished by HB Antwerp, as part of the partnership between the miner and manufacturer, in which HB Antwerp receives all 10.8ct+ rough stones produced at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana, in return for a share in the profit of the resulting polished.
In its recurring Diamond Insight Report, De Beers Group released new results from ongoing consumer and retail research, especially focusing on the effect of the pandemic.
Lucara, HB Antwerp and Louis Vuitton have added another exceptional stone to the miner, manufacturer and retailer collaboration that started with the 1.758ct Sewelô, announced earlier this year.
In an elaborate report, availabe in full via Idex Online here, industry veterans and experts Chaim Even-Zohar and Pranay Narvekar dissect the 2019 and 2020 pipeline with surgical precision. A few key take-aways from the report:
Last week, the Chinese diamond, gem and jewellery industry gathered in Guangzhou for the 2020 International Jewellery & Diamond Conference, an event organized by the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) and the Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange, that was organized both physically and offline, to allow representatives of the major diamond and jewellery hubs across the globe to contribute and follow the conference via livestream.
As restrictions to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic tighten in countries across the globe, Antwerp continues to be operational, a communication from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) which was sent to the local trade community states. Last Sunday, Belgium's Federal government, following other countries across the globe, announced new measures to flatten the curve, but business operations in Antwerp's famous diamond square mile can continue, including at the Diamond Office, where all diamond imports and exports pass through.
In a press release Alrosa, the Russian diamond miner, announced the results of its latest specials tender, held in Antwerp in October. At the tender, where 28 companies participated in bidding, the miner sold 112 rough diamonds, 10.8ct plus or specials, for a total volume of 1,733ct at a total price of US$6.9m. Alrosa choose Antwerp for its sales as the company "tries to meet the needs of customers by offering rough diamonds in the countries where they operate", Evgeny Agureev, Deputy CEO of Alrosa commented.
According to Mining Weekly, citing Botswana Central Bank data, exports of rough diamonds in Q3 nosedived to -66%. Debswana, the 50/50 joint venture between miner De Beers and the Government of Botswana, representing the bulk of the country's diamond exports, reported exporting a mere US$287m worth of rough in Q3 2020, compared to US$863m in Q3 2019.
The Antwerp diamond industry mourns the death of Jacques – Jacky – Korn, who passed away today.
In a press release, that notably contains not a single mentioning of the mining company De Beers that established the LGD brand, Lightbox today announced the completion and opening of its US-based production unit as well as a deal with jewelry e-tailer Blue Nile, for a dedicated fashion jewelry collection available on the online retailers website as of today. The manufacturing facility in Portland will produce an estimated 200,000ct of "USA made" lab-grown diamonds annually.
In a joint statement, both parties have announced they have lowered the agreed share price down from US$135 to US$131.5, a significant US$400m less than the original merger. JCK's Rob Bates reports about the rumors that Tiffany and LVMH, who got caught up in a legal battle after the latter announced they would back out of the deal to buy the iconic jeweler, might be back in negotiations to conclude the deal after all.
In a contribution on Rough & Polished India correspondent Aruna details India's figures for September, released by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Key take-aways comparing September 2020 to September 2019:
- polished exports were down 19.6%
- rough imports increased modestly with 16.18%
- LGD polished exports were up 89.55%
- LGD rough imports increased 117.6%
Gem Diamonds reports that its Q3 Antwerp tender results achieved an average of US$2,215 per carat, exceeding (pre-covid) H2 2019 prices. The strong results, excluding a little under US$30m of proceeds of the September tender that arrived after the Q3 period ended, and continued cost control are further boosting the miner's balance sheets, to positive cash flow. The latest tender in September included the sale of the 439 carat Letšeng Icon. The miner reopened the mine in Q2 and has fully resumed all activitities at the Lesotho Letšeng operation, including waste mining activities in July.
Petra Diamonds in its trading update for Q1 FY 2021 (July through to September) reports a 10% decrease in production to 974,346ct, which the miner attributes largely to the continued care and maintenance status of the Wiliamson mine in Tanzania. The miner also reports a 33% increase in revenue, to US$82m, as Petra released inventory from Q4 2020 and rough prices at the latest tenders (September and October) firmed up significantly, although still 10% below pre-covid tender results, the company statement adds.
Rapaport reports that Rio Tinto's Diavik subsidiary Diavik Diamond Mines Inc (DDMI) has asked a Canadian court to allow a sale of Dominion owned rough diamonds from the mine, to compensate for outstanding payments to Rio Tinto, amounting to US$90+ million, to be able to continue operations at the mine. Previously, the court had already granted DDMI the right to hold some of the rough as collateral while Dominion is under protection from creditors.
Rapaport News reports that the Holiday Season rush is boosting markets, demonstrated by a rebound in De Beers third quarter sales, up to 6.6m ct in Q3, compared to barely 300k sold ct in Q2, at the height of the global pandemic. Rapaport calculates that sales increased 10% y-o-y, reflecting pent up demand and easing restrictions in trade and manufacturing hubs across the globe.
In a press release, Russian miner Alrosa has announced it will extend its long-term customer 2018-2020 contracts through to Q1 2021. Normally, the miner would be evaluating its long-term contracts as well as prospective members of its Alrosa Alliance. Due to the pandemic disrupting normal trade and the continued uncertainty, Alrosa has decided to maintain flexibility towards clients and postpone the planned review of clients and the decisions on new three-year contracts for five months.
In a latest update, Australia based miner Lucapa has adjusted its indicated and inferred diamond resource estimates at the Mothae operation to an estimated 280k ct, 3.1cpht at an average value of US$635/ct and 960k ct, 2.44cpht at an average value of US$601/ct respectively. In the release, Lucapa managing director Stephen Wetherall commented on the 280% increase in indicated resource; " The increase in tonnes and carats, ..., strongly supports an expansion in production at Mothae that the partners are considering"
Rob Bates, well-known and widely respected trade journalist and industry expert is debuting as an author with a first in what will be a series of mystery novels, titled A Murder Is Forever. Bates draws from over 30 years experience in the diamond industry and the New York diamond district in particular. Bates says he hopes his friends, sources, and acquaintances in the Diamond District enjoy the novel for its escapism and insider-y details. But he’s keeping his second career in perspective: “I really enjoyed writing the book, and I hope people like it.
Junior miner BlueRock operating the Kareevlei mine in Kimberley, South Africa, reports stronger than expected production and higher grades in Q3, or 5,577 ct compared to 3,973ct in Q3 2019, at an average price of US$330 per carat. In May, BlueRock announced it will be collaborating with Antwerp-based tender specialist Bonas Group for the sale of its rough diamonds.
On November 12, Sotheby's will have another exceptional diamond for sale, with the 14.83ct fancy vivid purple pink elegantly named "the Spirit of the Rose", after the Russian ballet by Niijinsky. The rich pink is one of the largest in its kind and was discovered in Yakutia almost three years ago by Russian mining giant Alrosa. Expectations for the unique diamond are high, with estimates as high as US$38 million.
De Beers reports selling US$467m worth or rough diamonds at its latest sales cycle, 57% more than the same sales period in 2019, 40% higher than the previous sale, further confirming rough demand has picked up significantly in view of the holiday season. The miner, who discounted prices by 5 to 10% according to industry insiders, went through several months of near zero sales, at the peak of the pandemic's first wave, and implemented maximum flexiblity to its long-term customers. In the latest cycle, it also extended the usual one-week sales momentum to more than 3 weeks.
AWDC's Head of Public Affairs, Karla Basselier, is leaving the Antwerp umbrella organization after 9 years in office. The jurist who was, among others, in charge of lobbying for the diamond industry on local, national and supranational political levels, is taking up the post of chief of staff in the cabinet of Belgium's Vice Prime Minister Van Quickenborne, in the recently formed new Belgian Federal government, effective immediately.
The new AWDC Board of Directors has elected Chaim Pluczenik as new President the AWDC among its members replacing outgoing President Nishit Parikh, who retired after two years in office as President and didn’t apply as a candidate in the recent elections. Board members Bart De Hantsetters, representing the (manufacturing) industry and Isi Morsel, representing the trade have been appointed as Vice Presidents.
GIA has launched the earlier announced new grading reports for lab-grown diamonds, LGDR by GIA, a range of four digital reports in which the descriptive terms and grade ranges are now replaced with 4C color and clarity specs, described using the same scale GIA uses for natural diamonds. In terms of look and feel, the LGDR, digital only reports differ from the classic GIA natural grading reports and each stone will be inscribed with a report number and the words "Laboratory-grown", the GIA adds in a press release.
UNI Diamonds, the fintech company today announced the release of a free Diamond Price Calculator app, calculating what the company says "real time estimate prices for natural polished diamonds", underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and UNI Diamonds' trading platform data on sales and acutal diamond prices. . According to UNI Diamonds CEO, Mahiar Borhanjoo, "the industry has relied on complicated price lists that are only updated periodically and are based on data sources that are opaque.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent restrictions make it impossible to bring together the industry for the 2nd African Diamond Conference, which was set to take place in Durban, South Africa in May this year, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) together with its partners, Belgium’s Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), have announced a series of webinars, on October 14, 21 and 28, aimed at sharing information on challenges and opportunities for African diamond producing countries and the diamond industry.
CBC news reports that negotiations around the US$126 million sale of a number of Dominion's assets, including the Ekati mine, to affiliates of owner Washington Companies have reached an "impasse" with no chance to reach an agreement before the deadline of Oct 14.
De Beers' LGD jewelry line, Lightbox Jewelry is expanding its scope and will now be sold in 28 additional stores of 10 independent retailers in the US and Canada. Since its launch, Lightbox has been priced uniformly at US$800 per carat. In an interview with JCK News, Nick Smart, the company's commercial director commented that Lightbox products offer "an attractive margin" for the retailer and that in the LGD space, prices have already come down significantly, close to the level of Lightbox' pricing model.
Antwerp’s September figures confirm a further, slow recovery of trade in the diamond city, largely due to increased activity in rough trading, as markets and manufacturing resumed and demand ahead of the holiday season grew significantly. Rough imports amounted to 7.8 million carats, for a total value of US$837 million in September, up 38% in value compared to the same month last year. Rough exports grew 20% in volume and 44% in value, to 12.3 million carats valued at US$1.1 billion compared to September 2019.
Hennig Tenders will be holding a 2nd tender of Angolan RoM goods in Antwerp from 12-21 October, following a 1st succesful tender of +5ct Angolan RoM rough which concluded last week. This follow-up tender of a large volume of rough stones of smaller sizes (4 carats and below) will consist of a combination of bespoke cuts in both the high value 2.5-4 carat assortments and the RoM parcels in all other sizes as well as some fancy colour stones.
In its latest tender in Antwerp, GRIB Diamonds sold over 400,000ct of rough diamonds from its mine in the Russian Federation with proceeds in excess of US$ 25 million as well as US$ 2 million of Angolan goods. According to GRIB Diamonds, prices were slightly lower, on average 5%, as the market recalibrates after the large increase in demand seen in the September GRIB spot sale.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre has announced the appointment of six new Board Members representing the trade on the Board of Directors. In the past two days, the Antwerp diamond community participated in Covid-19 safe elections at the AWDC’s building, choosing two representatives among their peers of small, medium-sized and large companies, as voters and candidates are divided in three categories, according to their average turnover.
Australia based Lucapa Diamonds and Endiama have sold 3,862 carats of diamonds from the Lulo operation in Angola for a total amount of US$ 5.6 million or an average US$1,450 per carat at its latest sale. Earlier this month, the company reported on record-breaking recovery of high value rough diamonds vrom the MB06 flood plain, and the latest sale further strenghtens Lucapa's outlook for H2 2020.
The Economic Times India reports that, with the all but last sale of Rio Tinto's Argyle Pink diamonds, the precious fancy colored stones have become increasingly popular among India's high net worth individuals. In the past decade, the rare pinks' value has grown significantly, year after year, and prices are estimated to go up even further as the world's primary source, the Argyle mine in Australia, is set to close soon. That scarcity is also making other high quality diamonds an interesting investment, as no major mines have been discovered in recent years.
For the first time, the International Standards Organization (ISO) has established guidelines on diamond grading, specifying terminology, classification and methods for grading natural diamonds above 0.25ct in order to create more consistency between grading labs. The guidelines are based on CIBJO's Blue Book and are the result of a request made by the Swiss Association of Standardization. Recently, the ISO guide to the use of terminology for natural and synthetic diamonds and simulants, which defines diamonds as a natural mineral, was reconfirmed in a review.
Mountain Province, owning a 49% interest in the Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories, resumed Antwerp sales this week for the first time since the pandemic broke out, a positive signal that boosted the miner's stock, up 9% on Monday. “The results of the first small sale, post the covid-19 pandemic are an encouraging start considering that the market has been at a standstill for nearly six months. The results of the sale were a positive sign as the markets for rough and polished diamonds start to return.”, CEO Stuart Brown commented.
Economic Times India reports that this year, some 650,000 diamond polishers in the country's main polishing hub Surat will skip the Diwali holidays this year, as global demand for polished diamonds is ramping up ahead of the holiday season. By continuing to work, many units are trying to make up for losses, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual shutdown of manufacturing. An estimated 5,000 polishing units out of 7,000 total have now resumed activities, at 70% capacity and according to the GJEPC, India's overall exports are now estimated to be at 50%.
In its first ever celebrity campaign, the Natural Diamond Council is featuring Ana de Armas, rising Hollywood star who recently was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Knives Out and starring in the upcoming No Time To Die Bond film. The new campaign will be released on September 20, during the virtual Emmy awards.
Petra Diamonds today announced that it has recovered five extremely rare blue rough diamonds at its Cullinan mine, of 25.75 ct, 21.25 ct, 17.57 ct, 11.42 ct and 9.61 ct respectively. The last discovery of a blue rough stone dates back exactly one year ago, and blue diamonds are considered as one of the most rare in fancy colored stones, making it all the more extraordinary that five diamonds are recovered in one week's production.
Osisko Gold Royalties, one of the secured creditors which acquired Stornoway's assets and properties a year ago as well as its debts and liabilities yesterday announced the Renard mine operations will resume later this month, after a four-month suspension due to liquidity issues. The restart plan includes a further cost reduction of $30 million and a commitment to boost working capital with another $30 million by shareholders. Stornoway is also expected to bring over 300k carats of unsold rough to the market later this year.
Alrosa announces it sold 133 special (10.8ct+) rough diamonds, with a total weight of 2,173 ct for a value of US$ 7.4 million during its most recent auctions held in Belgium and Israel, to a total of 20 companies. The auctions are the single channel currently for Alrosa's specials. According to Deputy CEO, Evgeny Agureev, the total revenue significantly exceeded expectations, demonstrating demand for high quality rough is high.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre and Israeli Diamond Institute, in collaboration with VDB Expo, this morning kicked off a three day Online Diamond Trade Show, featuring 50 exhibitors from Israel and Antwerp. The event, which is open 24 hours a day and has direct communication features including live videochat, already has 800 registered professional buyers, from over 50 different countries. In the pre-covid era, traders would now be gearing up to ship goods and travel to the Hong Kong September show.
HB Company, the Antwerp-based diamond and manufacturing company is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of the Antwerp manufacturing branch of AMC, diamond manufacturing company and De Beers Sightholder, taking over the entire Antwerp staff, technology and equipment. HB Company, which in past months announced a partnership with Louis Vuitton, to cut and polish the Sewêlo, and Lucara Diamond, to purchase all of their 10.8ct+ rough stones, is planning on more recruiting in the coming months, focusing on innovation and the Antwerp legacy in diamond polishing.
Mining Review reports that Lucapa's Lesotho Mothae mine, which had been placed on care and maintenance due to the pandemic at the end of March, will resume activities later this year. In addition, the Lesotho government has approved a proposal that will allow the Australia-based miner to market its rough diamonds through direct partnerships with diamantaires, similar to what Lucapa has implemented for its Lulo (Angola) operation. “Mothae is a unique mine and an important contributor to the Basotho nation.
Media reports say LVMH has now definitively backed out of the US$16 billion deal that would merge Tiffany with the French luxury conglomerate. In a response, Tiffany has allegedly filed a lawsuit against LVMH, denouncing LVMH's claim that Tiffany had breached its obligations as stipulated in the merger agreement.
Grib Diamonds sold 100% of its wholly owned Russian production in Antwerp yesterday, Monday 7th September. 390K carats of Russian goods were on offer which sold for more than $25M. Over 300 companies were invited to participate in the viewing of which 159 were active in the auction. “Bidding was stronger than any Grib sale seen since December 2019 with nearly 5,000 bids made. Prices rose to levels not seen since the beginning of the 2020, with particular strength noted in the cheaper goods and smalls.”, the company said.
For the second consecutive month, Lucapa had a record-breaking production at its Angolan Lulo operation, recovering 3852 ct, as mining focused on the MB06 Ieziria flood plain.
According to industry insiders, some 120 people were arrested last week, as Chinese authorities carried out a raid in several cities in a case of diamond smuggling. Idex Online reports that the arrests were made at Indian-run diamond factories in China, further straining trade relations between India and China, after a couple was caught with 150 parcels of undocumented diamonds, allegedly smuggled into mainland China via Hong Kong, in Shenzhen.
Ireland headquartered Botswana Diamonds is looking to raise £300,000 (US$394,403) via a share offering to fund further exploration and development of its assets in South Africa and Botswana this year. In South Africa, the company is drilling on the (M8) Marsfontein concession and other identified kimberlite targets at Thorny River, while in Botswana, efforts are focused on the recently acquired Sekaka Diamonds KX36 project.
Tender company Hennig Tenders will be holding a dual tender with viewings both in Ramat Gan and Antwerp of a large volume of original run of mine Angolan goods of 5ct and up, both single stones and parcels. The tender will also include a signicant selection of fancy colour stones, with a 45ct exceptional pink rough as the standout stone at the tender.
Bloomberg, citing the encouraging jewelry sales results of brands like Signet, Tiffany and Macy's, reports that US shoppers - at least those who can - are spending their money on diamond jewellery, rather than trips or restaurant visits. High-end products have been performing particularly well in the last quarter and those spending are spending more than normal on items, the article states.