The organization formerly known as ‘Diamond Producers Association’, assembling the world's leading diamond mining companies and charged with the generic promotion of diamonds, today relaunched as the Natural Diamond Council (NDC).The NDC will continue the DPA's mandate to promote the desirability of natural diamonds and support the integrity of the diamond jewelry industry.
India's woes continue as more COVID-19 cases in Surat, which some deem a veritable infection hotspot, forced a week-long closure of manufacturing units. Meanwhile, the GJEPC and other industry bodies are extending the voluntary ban of rough diamonds from July 10-31st and said they will be calling on large producers to continue their flexibility towards long-term customers. At the same time, as tensions continue to rise between India and China, traders are forced to reroute polished exports to Hong Kong, which are being blocked by Chinese customs.
Petra Diamonds has announced it is open to offers for (parts of) the company, after a strategic review of mounting debts, now at US$650 million. Only last year, Richard Duffy took over from former CEO Johan Dippenaar, with the task to turn around the troubled miner's balance sheets. The Covid-19 pandemic now foils the ongoing optimization and restructuring introduced by Duffy, as mines were forced to shut down and the global diamond market came to grinding halt.
As the tensions between India and China continue to rise after the military standoff at Ladakh, a fierce trade war between the two countries is looming, and imports and exports are already being affected. India Today reports that while in India, the call to boycott Chinese goods is sounding louder and louder, exporters are experiencing trouble to export goods to Hong Kong and Mainland China, as shipments are blocked by Chinese Customs. On Indian side, the article says, shipment containers from China are also being blocked by Indian Customs in Mumbai and Chennai.
According to Business Standard, the voluntary moratorium on rough diamond imports into the country, might be extended, citing spokespersons of the GJEPC saying that inventory levels remain high, estimated at 2.3 billion US$, with no need for imports to resume as "it would take another two or three months to service previous orders".
Rapaports trade analyis of the import and export figures of polished diamonds in April in the world's largest consumer market for diamonds demonstrate the massive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. According to the report, polished imports dropped to the lowest level, with net polished imports (polished imports - polished exports) sinking to -807 million US$, where in the same period (January to April) last year, the net imports stood at a surplus of 474 million US$.
With more than 150 new positive tests among diamond workers in Surat, India's polishing hub, local communities and industry organizations have instated new restrictions, including an 8-day closure of each manufacturing sub-unit if one person, full closure if more than two persons test positive. Already more than 25 units have been close and cafetaria's are not allowed to open.
Economic Times India reports that fears are rising that one of Mumbai's top angadia's, according to the article "holding several millions of dollars worth of diamonds", has vanished, after closing shop early in the Bharat Diamond Bourse on Wednesday. According to the article, rumours are circulating that the person in question was in financial trouble, due to property deals falling through. In India, the angadia's are an informal but highly popular network of couriers that transport cash and rough and polished diamonds between Mumbai and the country's polishing hub in Gujarat, Surat.
De Beers is currently holding its 5th cycle sight viewings in Antwerp, a new initiative allowing sightholders who wish to do so, to view the goods outside of the usual sights held in Gaborone, Botswana. The goods will continue to be sold from Botswana, but the country has closed its borders for foreigners, forcing De Beers to literally think outside of the box. As the city is home to a large number of De Beers Sightholders, Antwerp is the first location to have such viewings.
In a statement Gem Diamonds has announced it has sold all large diamonds during its latest Antwerp tender, organized in strict compliance with COVID-19 measures. The company realized an average $/ct price of $1707 in H1, up from an average $/ct of $1687 in H1 and $1506 in H2 2019 respectively. A 13 carat pink diamond achieved $40,110 per carat, and a 61 carat white Type II diamond achieved $31,400 per carat. 15 diamonds sold in H1 2020 for in excess of $1 million each and one diamond for over $5 million.
By just about any measure - with the exception of last month - Alrosa's diamond sales in May 2020 scraped rock bottom as the Russian miner enabled its long-term clients to postpone their purchases in an attempt to lower the pressure on the market. Alrosa expects buying activity to improve in the middle of the third quarter.
Beleaguered by the unprecendented challenges now dragging on for nearly a year, luxury brands have started throwing in the proverbial towel on their Russel Street shops in Hong Kong’s bustling Causeway Bay, considered the world’s most expensive shopping street. "Already struggling for survival after months of civil unrest crippled Hong Kong’s economy," writes Pearl Liu for the South China Morning Post, "the final blow for many came this year with the coronavirus pandemic, which killed off any remaining consumer sentiment."
Grib Diamonds, the Antwerp-based marketing arm of Russian miner AGD Diamonds, on June 16 sold over $20 million of rough diamonds from its fully-owned Grib Diamond Mine in Russia. Despite the troubled times the rough diamond market is going through, Grib was able to sell more than 90% of the goods on offer and approximately 350k carats.
Local authorities have ordered the partial closure of about eight diamond-cutting firms in Surat after 23 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Several of their staff members will also undergo a 14-day quarantine, as will the families of those confirmed to be infected.
Rio Tinto has ended speculation about a potential move to acquire Dominion Diamond Mines' 40% share in the Diavik mine in Canada's Northwest Territories, which would give the global miner full control of the mine in which it currently owns a 60% stake. According to a May 28 court filing, Rio "does not seek to bid" on Dominion's stake, nor does it intend to acquire Dominion's Ekati mine.
In a press release, Sodiam, the state-owned body that markets of Angolan rough diamonds, announced its 2019 figures, with a net profit of US$27million, less than in 2018, as new legislation introduced in 2019 allows miners to market a portion of their production directly instead of through Sodiam. In September of last year, Sodiam introduced its online platform for competitive sales, and according to the release has reduced its operating cost by 17% in 2019. Tax contributions amounted to US$26,6 million, an increase of 21%.
The Indian diamond industry has lost an iconic figure, with the passing of Arunkumar R. Mehta, born in 1940, one of the founding fathers of the diamond trading and polishing industry in the country. Coming from humble beginnings, Arunbhai set up a small diamond polishing unit in 1960, which under his tenure would grow to become one of the biggest names in the industry, multinational diamond company Rosy Blue. Revered for his insight and leadership, Arunbhai Mehta served many positions in various Indian trade organizations.
Mining Weekly reports that Mountain Province, owning a 49% stake in the NWT Gahcho Kue mine, has proposed a deal to Dunebridge Worldwide, an affiliate of shareholder Dermot Desmond, to sell its run-of-mine production, at current market prices at the moment of each sale. The first sale is scheduled for roughly US$22 million later this week. Mountain Province will be entitled to a certain portion of the potential added value - after fees and expenses - generated by Dunebridge when it sells the diamonds in the future.
At its first tender after lockdown measures were relaxed in Antwerp, tender house Koin International has launched an innovative approach to allow customers to virtually participate in rough tenders, through a concept called "Virtual Viewer". Using specialized equipment and technology, including high resolution livestreamed video, a Koin expert acts as the eyes and hands of the client in a realtime viewing experience. The sessions are also recorded, allowing buyers to review goods whenever suits them and make an informed bidding and purchasing decision from any location in the world.
Namibia's Minister of Mines & Energy, Tom Alweendo, has blocked the extension of controversial middleman Neil Haddock, of Dubai based Global Diamond Tenders, who was appointed in 2016 to sell Namdia's diamonds. For years, Haddock and his company have allegedly been selling Zimbabwean and Namibian roug far below market value to Dubai companies.
During a virtual Board Meeting, the Board of Directors of the World Diamond Council, the organization that is mandated to lead the industry's efforts in combating conflict diamonds, elected Edward Asscher as President, serving a second term at the helm of the WDC. In a press release, Edward Asscher, who recently took a step back in the Asscher Diamonds family business, commended outgoing President Stephane Fischler; “In taking over from Stephane, I am filling giant shoes.
HRD Antwerp, the Belgium-based diamond grading lab is expanding its e-learning program, including live online courses on diamond grading and retail sales in which students can interact live with the instructor. The program will be available in several languages, HRD Antwerp announced. The first course, in English, is scheduled for June 15-19, and comprises of daily 3-hour sessions, between 5PM and 8PM CET.
Alrosa reports its first E-sight, offering long-term clients the possibility to purchase on a stone-by-stone basis was a success, “demonstrating market demand for rough diamonds and a willingness to purchase via online channels.”, says Alrosa deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev.
In a second tender, currently going on, the miner is tendering 700 rough stones from 5 to 10ct batches, open for purchase to long-term clients, as well as Alrosa’s spot and auction customers.
A deal that was announced between LVMH and Tiffany & C° earlier this year, in which the France-based luxury conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault would acquire the iconic jeweler for $135 per share, is potentially falling through, as LVMH is reconsidering its engagement amid the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest in the USA. According to Retail Dive, LVMH’s press release suggests that it is looking to lower the offer, and some sources say that move is based
According to Reuters, De Beers, together with the government of Botswana is looking into (temporarily) shifting its sight viewings from Gaborone, Botswana, to major trading hubs, closer to their clients, for example in Antwerp. Reuters cites De Beers Executive Vice President, Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley; “If we can move our product closer to them it would give us the flexibility to restart sales as soon as the markets reopen”.
As of April 1st, a new 2% tax on online sales, the “Equalization Levy” (EL), came into force in India which is having a major impact on Indian diamond manufacturing and trading companies who buy rough or polished stones via online channels, such as online auctions or tenders, trading platforms. Foreign companies that are considered an “e-commerce operator”, defined as a non-resident that owns, operates or manages a digital or electronic facility or platform for online sale of goods or the online provision of services”, will be forced to charge 2% on top of the sales amount, when selling to
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse today announced that its President, Jacques Korn, who held the position for the past four years, is stepping down for personal reasons and will be replaced by current Board member and Vice-President, David Gotlib. In its announcement, the Bourse's Board of Directors commends Jacky Korn as a man who, bowing on a long career in the diamond community, carried out his duties of co-managing one of the world's oldest diamond institutes with great dedication.
News outlet Caixin reports that China will continue its severely restricted international flights policy through to at least October. Since the end of March, China has cut international flights by 90%, and has implemented the so-called "Five-One" policy, in which for each domestic airline, only one flight per week to a foreign destination is allowed to operate. Foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week and all flights are limited to 75% capacity, according to restrictions implemented by China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC).
Alrosa announced that it is currently offering its long-term customers over 800 rough diamonds in the 5 to 10ct range, the largest volume the company has ever put on its digital platform. Since the implementation of the system, Alrosa has made several improvements to the platform, and now allows its customers to bid on a stone by stone basis in a semi-automated bidding process.
According to a Business Wire news release, Canadian miner Dominion has signed a letter of intent with an affiliate of the Washington Companies to sell all of Dominion's assets for approx. US$126 million, and has made an agreement for up to US$60 million in short-term financing from Washington. In April, Dominion filed for and obtained insolvency protection under the CCAA. The agreements will allow Dominion to resume operations at the Ekati mine and meet obligations owed to employees.
While India has allowed some activity to resume in Surat, the country's polishing hub, the industry has announced that the voluntary moratorium on rough imports is delayed to June 1st, with the call to its members to not import rough diamonds for the entire month of June, possibly longer.
In a joint letter, 73 organisations are calling on governments and mining industry actors to increase efforts towards the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations across the globe. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter says, the already vulnerable artisanal miners, often women, and the communities they support, are becoming even more vulnerable. The report refers to "high value commodities such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, cobalt, mica and particularly gold."
As many countries are easing out of strict quarantaine, GIA has announced it has reopened its labs in Antwerp, Carlsbad, Gaborone, Johannesburg and Tokyo, each with modified schedules. In Antwerp and Johannesburg, visitors are welcome by appointment, in Tokyo, Carlsbad and Gaborone, the labs will only accept submissions via shipment.
Reuters reports that, while the country's economy is slowly returning to normal as COVID-19 measures are gradually relaxed, the Israel diamond industry continues to be at a standstill, as the Tel Aviv diamond bourse remains closed and the diamond district as whole still is a ghost town. While activities in other major hubs, like Antwerp, have resumed, the Israeli industry is struggling to reopen its facilities and comply with continued restrictions and social distancing measures.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a paradigm shift, not only in how we live our lives, stay in touch with friends and family or do our shopping, but also in the way we do business. In an industry that has long relied on face-to-face interactions, particularly in the rough trading business, the crisis is accelerating business processes at a rapid pace. The Diamond Loupe spoke with Johan Erikson, CEO of First Element, a tender house operating in Antwerp, on how their processes have changed in the past few months to adapt to “the new normal”.
Rapaport reports that the Russian precious metals and gemstones repository, the Gokhran, may buy up part of the Russian miner's diamond stockpile, for an amount that ranges anywhere between $500 million and $1.7 billion. Rough sales have dropped dramatically as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the miner offered its clients maximum flexibility in purchasing obligations. During past crises, notably in 2009, the state repository alleviated the company in a similar way, at that time buying $1 billion worth of diamonds.
Mining Weekly reports that UK-based BlueRock, operating the Kareevlei mine in Kimberley, South Africa, will be marketing its goods through Antwerp starting at the end June, in an agreement with Bonas-Couzyn, the Antwerp-based diamond consultancy and tender house. By choosing Antwerp, the world's largest rough market, over the much smaller domestic market, the company hopes to boost sales as the market recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
ABN AMRO, the Dutch bank that also has a dedicated Diamond and Jewellery branch, reports a net loss of 395 million euros, or about double what analysts had expected, and the first loss reported since 2013. New CEO Robert Swaak commented that the loss was driven by high impairments due to two exceptional client cases, as well as 1.1 billion € provisions made to account for loans going bad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. ABN AMRO will review its overall strategy, with a focus on anti-money laundering controls and an improved digital approach, the CEO added.
Consumers across Asia are rushing to luxury stores to buy luxury items before an expected price hike. After Louis Vuitton raised prices last week - the third price hike in 2020, many consumers expect other brands like Chanel, Dior and Gucci will follow suit. Higher prices are one strategy to make up for losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jing Daily reports.
Across Asia, thanks to pent-up demand and the inability for shoppers to travel and buy luxury goods abroad, the luxury market has seen growing in-store traffic and sales.
HRD Antwerp, the Antwerp-based diamond grading lab is reviving the HRD Awards with a 17th edition of the internationally renowned jewellery design competition. Aptly themed "Happiness - A New Beginning", the contest invites designers across the globe to submit their designs via an online module, before May 20th 2020. A panel of international experts will judge all designs and award 11 prizes during an online award ceremony on June 14th.
Times of India reports that India's Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as the Gems and Jewellery industry at Seepz MIDC can resume operations, albeit with a strongly reduced workforce (10%). India's diamond and jewellery industry has been suffering as the country continues to be under strict lockdown, and export shipments are blocked. Both area's are located in so-called "red zones", which is why only limited workforce can be allowed, state officials said.
A Canadian judge has ordered the Rio Tinto subsidiary, in the joint venture managing the Diavik mine, to release Dominion's share of production that Rio Tinto has been holding as collateral for overdue payments. Dominion Diamonds filed for protection last week granting the company protection from creditors.
De Beers has launched its online "Buy platform", a segment of the De Beers Group Auctiones, where Registered Buyers can now buy rough diamonds online. The platform works like any other e-commerce platform, where buyers can search, "view" and select goods, add them to their shopping cart and complete their purchase via a virtual checkout. In addition buyers can create favorite products, which are assorted in four categories; "very high-end", "high-end", "mid market" and "low-end".
Canadian mining company Lucara Diamonds reports a net loss of $3.2 million in Q1, a result of the continued strain on the diamond mining industry and decreased revenues from sales, despite the fact that operations at Karowé have continued throughout the crisis and production was in line with guidance. In the same period last year, the company achieved a net income of $7.4 million, while cash flow dropped to $2.4 million, compared to $10.6 million in Q1 2019.
Four years ago, I wrote an article on The Diamond Loupe entitled: “Greetings from Underworld – Baselworld 2016 meets (modest) expectations”, a title that left little to the imagination.
The organizer of the BaselWorld show, the MCH Group, has announced they are cancelling the 2021 edition of the show - slated for end of January beginning of February next year after negotiating an "amicable settlement" with some of the major brands who recently announced their departure from the show.
The Antwerp diamond trade came to a nearly complete standstill as a result of the measures announced by the Belgian Government to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to reopen next Monday, May 4, and industry organizations the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses (FBDB) are taking measures to ensure it can do so safely.
Times of India reports that a 700 million US$ shipment of loose diamonds, destined for Hong Kong, is stuck at the Bharat Diamond Bourse, despite efforts to persuade government to allow the Bourse to resume activities with minimal workforce. According to a spokesperson for the Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council (GJEPC), the diamond industry in India, already heavily impacted by lockdown measures, could suffer even more because of exports being blocked; "if business would shift to China and Thailand ... it would be a permanent loss".
Alrosa announced today it will temporarily put its Aikhal underground mine and Zarya open pit operation in care and maintenance starting May 15 in response to the decreased demand and sales of diamonds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aikhal underground mine is scheduled to reopen at the end of September, while the Zarya mine will remain closed to the end of the year, with regular reassessment of market conditions. Combined, the two operations produced 2.6m carats last year.
By Isi Morsel, C.E.O. Dali Diamond Co.
The diamond industry, from mine to retail, is facing new challenges that are rocking it to its core. Retail stores around the world are closed and that reverberated up the diamond pipeline, bringing wholesaling activity, jewelry manufacturing, diamond polishing, and diamond mining to a complete standstill.
"Can't an overflowing river upstream, cause a lot of damage, from the midstream all the way up to the delta? As the crops along the overflown river's path would be washed out, wouldn't this cause a lot of famine, for an unwanted period of time? Shouldn't the flow be controlled before such a scenario happens? Sometimes, man-made dams are necessary, with some pains in the near future, but fertile and fruitful in the long run..."
Shashin Choksi, midstream trader, responding in a Telegram industry group channel to the message from De Beers CEO, Bruce Cleaver, "A River Runs Through", in which Cleaver indirectly appeals to the (Indian) industry to not impose an import ban on rough diamonds; "When this crisis ultimately recedes, as it will, if the upstream is intact but there is no functioning downstream, or a midstream but a significantly depleted source upstream, then we have no functioning river system at all. While all companies, including ours, are taking rapid action to brace for the crisis, that action must be responsible and sustainable and recognise that just as the challenge is a shared one, so, too, must be the solutions."
The value of Hong Kong's total exports of goods during the first quarter of 2020 declined by 9.7% over the same period in 2019, with exports of jewelry ("miscellaneous manufactured articles (mainly jewelry, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares)") falling by $10.5 billion or -20.4%, according to the government's Census and Statistics Department. In March alone, year-on-year the jewelry category declined by $3.7 billion or -20.8% compared to a 5.8% decline in the value of total exports of goods decreased from the special administrative region.
Revenue from India’s diamond polishing industry is set to plunge to its lowest level in a decade as COVID-19 measures in the U.S. and Europe (Belgium) has hindered sales and caused prices to fall, reports an India credit-rating agency. The agency projects sales in fiscal 2021 (April 2t020 - March 2021) to drop to the lowest level in a decade, $13-15 billion, which is 21%-32% lower than the estimated ~$19 billion in fiscal 2020 revenues and 38%-46% lower than the $24 billion earned in fiscal 2019.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa has suspended operations of its diamond polishing plants until the end of summer due to falling demand, CEO Sergei Ivanov said in an interview to RCB television channel broadcast on Wednesday. The miner also announced today (April 30) it is granting its rough diamond clients "maximum flexibility" for the May trading session and has not set an "obligatory buyout limit", adding that "deferred goods will be offered during future sales periods. Clients interested in purchasing rough are free to request and get the goods they need.”
Star Diamond Corporation recently announced that Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. (RTEC) has commenced the processing of bulk samples from RTEC's trench cutter program at the Orion South Diamond Project in Saskatchewan, Canada. These bulk samples, estimated by RTEC to be approximately 8,271 wet tonnes, were collected in 2019 and are stored on-site in approximately 6,848 cubic metre bulk bags.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre continues its AWDC Webinar Series tomorrow, April 29 from 15:00-16:00 with a presentation on the "Rough Market: a Q&A with Paul Zimnisky."
Daniel Langer, consultant for some of the world's leading luxury brands, in an article in Jing Daily says that despite our intuition - people spend and will spend less on luxury in and after a crisis - the luxury segment is more resilient than others.
Auction house Sotheby's says that despite the corona virus pandemic, their online auctions have been a tremendous success with over 90% of the lots on offer sold and over 60% of them selling at prices that exceeded estimate prices, totaling US$6.1 milion. Catharine Becket, "magnificent jewels" expert at the auction house commented to Bloomberg that wealthy people are "leading dreary lives" quarantined at home, and buying an exclusive, bespoke or prestigious piece offers them joy and hope for when things return to the new normal.
Gem Diamonds has been granted permission by the government of Lesotho to reopen its Letšeng Mine following the three week lockdown, with effect from Monday 27 April. The country will remain on lockdown for more than another week, until May 5. The miner said it is taking all of the necessary precautions to protect its people. The mine is located in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho at an elevation of 3,100 m (10,000 ft). It is the world's highest diamond mine.