By Russell Shor. Reprinted by special arrangement.
Forty years ago diamonds and gemstones were rocketing in price on a boom the likes of which no one had ever seen before. $50,000 for a one-carat D flawless! I was a newbie back then and dealers were telling me that price was cheap. $100,000? $200,000? per-carat. That was more like it, they said.
HRD Antwerp, the Antwerp based diamond grading lab and education provider, has successfully concluded its first jewelry design e-course in China. The company already offered online jewelry sales courses in its online education program.
Using CCTalk, Dingtalk and iPad as platforms, students were able to complete the 11-day Online Jewelry Design course comprising of 2,5 hours of virtual class per day, presented in Chinese by guest teacher Ms Wei.
AWDC, IDI and VDBapp have announced they have extended the online diamond trade show, the first show to be held online with two additional days, through to Sunday April 5th.
In their latest report Bain & C° takes a deeper look into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the luxury segment. A few key take-aways;
The oubreak of the coronavirus has led to uncertainty concerning Lucara Diamond's next rough diamond tender, prompting the Government of Botswana to already give Lucara its permission to hold their next scheduled tender in Antwerp, if necessary. The next quarterly tender isscheduled to take place in mid May 2020, according to a statement from the Canadian miner.
Diamond mining company De Beers announced that its Chief Financial Officer, Nimesh Patel will be joining Spirax-Sacro Engineering. Patel will leave the company at the end of July, a successor remains to be named.
Gem Diamonds is seeking alternative methods to keep revenue flowing during the days of the coronavirus lockdown. Today they announced that the first round of the flexible tender sales process concluded on 26 March 2020 and raised US$12.1 million for a selection of Letšeng’s large, high quality diamonds.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa will allow its long-term contracted clients to defer !00% of their April supply to later this year, a spokesperson has told us. "The spread of coronavirus and counter-pandemic measures implemented around the globe have severely affected the diamond industry. With this in mind, Alrosa supports its long-term clients with a full flexibility for the April 2020 trading session, lifting mandatory buyout requirements."
The Belgian Government has established a range of financial relief measures to support those companies experiencing difficulties resulting from the market downturn caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The lockdowns and social distancing measures introduced in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced many if not most businesses to close and educational courses to be delayed. This has spurred industry organizations and associations to take action and set up initiatives to help people through the crisis. As of today, De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds is offering their Diamond Foundation Course for free (normally $250) to the diamond industry.
De Beers has cancelled its third rough diamond sale (sight) of 2020 in response to the logistical difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. "Due to the public health restrictions on the movement of people and product in Botswana, South Africa and India, which prohibit customers from traveling and prevent the shipment of goods to customers’ international operations, De Beers Group will not hold its third Sight of 2020," the miner wrote in a press release.
Over 500 diamond and jewelry professionals have registered to visit an online diamond trade show, starting this Monday March 30, co-organized by The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI). The show, which runs to April 4, provides a virtual trading space where some 70 Belgian and Israeli diamond traders, 43 of which are based in Antwerp, exhibit their goods on the customized Virtual Diamond Boutique trade platform.
In an effort to tackle difficulties caused by travel restrictions in the framework of the COVID-19 crisis, the Russian miner Alrosa has decided to cancel its special size auction and has set up a digital tender for a number of large rough diamonds, running from March 23 to April 6. Interested buyers will be able to see a full digital scan of the rough, making it easier to decide whether or not to make a bid.
Amidst the largest, global crisis in recent history and against the backdrop of turmoil in the industry as many diamond traders removed their stock from the Rapaport trading network, - in protest of the steep price drops published in Rapaport’s latest Price List (March 20) - the World Federation of Diamond Bourses has now announced it plans to establish a cross-bourse trading platform.
South Africa has joined the list of countries on lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It will go into effect on midnight Thursday 26 March to midnight Thursday 16 April. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move on Monday night. This will be a massive hit to an economy that is already in recession, and likely to its critical mining industry. To help cushion the blow, he announced interventions, including tax relief and other measures.
In the view of the current situation, the nationwide complete lockdown will be in place for 21 days. If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days, we will be pushed back 21 years.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking to the nation of India on March 24.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has announced that the Lulo alluvial mining company, Sociedade Mineira Do Lulo (“SML”), is to receive US$4.0 million (A$7.0 million) under a partnership agreement with leading international diamond manufacturer Safdico International. The partnership was forged in an effort to create added value for some of Lucapa's exceptional rough diamonds.
U.S.-based Signet Jewelers, 'the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry', has temporarily closed all of its stores in North America effective March 23, 2020 in response to the continued spread and impact of COVID-19. The company has also declined to issue a guidance for Q1 or for the full year of Fiscal 2021, instead opting to provide an update on first quarter sales trends to date.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) yesterday, 23 March 2020 announced the suspension of preparations for its upcoming trade shows following the goverment's announcement of a quarantine for all travellers arriving from outside China. It cannot host an international show under these conditions.
The Rapaport Price List - the benchmark for most polished diamond traders - published last Friday, March 20, announced steep, across-the-board price drops that have angered many diamond traders and unleashed a wave of protest on social media. "Our heart goes out to the diamond community during these difficult times," a statement read. "We understand that today’s reduction of prices in the Rapaport Price List is upsetting." They might have underestimated the response.
Grib Diamonds, the Antwerp-based marketing arm of Russian miner AGD Diamonds, conducted an auction on March 23, 2020, selling 90% of the lots on offer for approximately $20 million. Due to the spread of the coronavirus and the cessation of much of worldwide trade, prices were under considerable pressure, the company noted. This price decline was anticipated following the diminution in activity in the main centres of sales and processing of rough diamonds.
ABN AMRO has announced support measures for clients in response to the impact of the coronavirus. The support extends to some 55,000 Commercial Banking clients with a credit facility of up to 2.5 million euros, for whom the payment of interest and principal will be automatically deferred for six months. While the announcement does not mention diamond industry clients, their inclusion seems implied.
Dominion Diamond Mines (Dominion) yesterday, March 19, announced that it has decided to suspend operations at the Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada to safeguard its employees and the communities surrounding its operations from threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) today officially announced the postponement of the African Diamond Conference due to safety and travel concerns arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The conference was scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa from May 5-6, and will likely be rescheduled for late October.
HRD Antwerp - Diamond High Council grading and certification lab has announced it will keep its diamond labs open and functioning at 50% of their capacity. All educational courses have been suspended. The announcement came in a letter from CEO Ellen Joncheere to HRD Antwerp's clients and students.
The Copenhqgen-based cotume jewelry giant Pandora has announced the temporary closure of all of its owned & operated stores in the U.S., Italy, Germany, France and Spain, and in most other European markets in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. They have additionally temporarily closed many of our stores around the world, along with most of their offices. Office staff is working from home. Pandora employs 28,000 people worldwide.
Gem Diamonds held a tender of small diamonds in Antwerp from the Letseng mine in Lesotho, earning $7.8 million at the sale which concluded earlier this week. The miner called the results "resilient" given the circumstances, as the average price per carat fell 18% below the like-for-like prices reached at the last small diamond tender held in November last year before the Covid-19 economic crisis.
As a measure to curb the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, the Indian government has decided to close the country for all international commercial passenger flights starting March 22nd, for at least a week. The measure will severely impact the exports and imports of diamonds from and to India, as they are transported via commercial flights. One online trading platform informed its users that "they will no longer be able to confirm orders for diamonds that are currently in India. Delivery times for diamonds outside of India remain unaffected."
In his most recent post, industry analyst Edahn Golan takes a look at history and points to a series of disastrous events in the past decades and, more importantly, how despite the fact all of them had major effects on the diamond industry in the short-term, in the long run, the industry managed to recover and even grow.
De Beers third sight (rough diamond sale) of 2020, scheduled for March 30 to April 3 in Gaborone, will go ahead as planned despite Botswana’s announcement of a travel ban on foreigners arriving from “high risk” countries that include Belgium, China and India. Many of the companies that participate in De Beers’ sales are headquartered in these countries.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has released a coronavirus-related update to the Antwerp diamond community, stating that the Diamond Office will remain open. The Diamond Office is essentially the beating heart of Antwerp's diamond trade, being the place where all rough and polished diamonds are imported and exported from the country. In a typical year, that is $46 billion annually, or $210 million every working day.
Diamond jewelry retail sales in the US soared 20% after 9/11. History shows us that after large-scale disasters and economic meltdowns, there is a tendency to spend on diamond jewelry. History has shown us that it will get better after it gets worse.
- Edahn Golan, from his article, "Ruin to Resurrection, the Perpetual Path"
The 2020 edition of JCK Las Vegas, the leading jewelry event in North America, as well as sister show Luxury will be postponed until later in the year due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement by the show organizers. Reed Exhibitions and the Reed Jewelry Group say they expect to announce a new date "shortly". JCK Las Vegas was scheduled to run June 2–5, with sister show Luxury starting on May 31 and running through June 5.
Reed released the following statement:
Given the spread of coronavirus (COVID-2019), the Russian Federation has decided not to hold the Intersessional meeting in a face-to-face format, the Kimberley Process (KP) Chair announced on the organization's website. "Instead, we propose to organize it in virtual format on 8-9 June, 2020."
A letter from the KP Chair, Alexey Moiseev, to the KP Participants and Observers reads as follows:
India’s exports of cut and polished diamonds declined dramatically compared to last year’s levels of trade, declining by 41% during the month of February 2020, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The GJEPC attributed the decline mainly to the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has updated its estimated volume of carats at the Lulo Diamond Resource in Angola, showing a 25% increase to 100,700 carats despite the depletion of ~19,000 carats from alluvial mining during 2019. The average US$ per carat value for Lulo diamonds modelled in the updated Lulo Diamond Resource has also increase 14% to US$1,620 from the previous modelled estimate of US$1,420 per carat. Overall sales of Lulo diamonds to date total ~US$168 million at an average price per carat of ~US$1,900.
While the rest of the world is tightening measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese customers - constituting a whopping third of global luxury industry’s sales and the driving force of global growth in this segment in recent years - are slowly returning to the country’s luxury shopping malls as local quarantine measures are eased.
The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, India, is facing a potentially massive liquidity crisis as a result of overdue payments owed by diamond traders in China and Hong Kong in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, writes The Times of India. Industry estimates estimate the value of those overdue payments at Rs5,000 crore, about $670 million, in the past month alone.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI) are joining forces to host the first ever Online Diamond Trade Show from March 30 to April 4. The 'virus-free trade show' will take place on the Virtual Diamond Boutique trade platform.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa is offering greater flexibility to its long-term customers at its March trading session, taking "further action to support long-term customers amid global market uncertainty," the company wrote in a press release. Given the current market developments, they say, the company has decided that, starting this week, it will let customers lower their minimum purchase to 40% of their initially-contracted volume and carry the remaining part over to the end of May 2020.
Gem Diamonds yesterday announced that its profit for 2019 took a plunge as weaker diamond prices and fewer large diamond recoveries put pressure on a miner whose product was expected to shelter it somewhat from a challenging market. Gem's profit for the year from continuing operations fell 71% to $15.0 million from $52.4 million in 2018, while its attributable profit lost 77%, falling to $7.1 million from $31.7 million a year ago. The stock market was not kind to Gem's share price, which this week sunk to an all-time low.
Mumbai Customs in India has seized two shipments of diamonds from Antwerp – one rough, one polished – on very questionable grounds, according to a trusted source. Another sixteen shipments are on hold.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa earned less at its February rough sale than in January but defied expectations somewhat by limiting the damage despite the nervousness pervading the indsutry. The miner's February rough diamond sales totaled $342.3 million, representing a 12% decline from January sales of $390.2 million and no change (+0.5%) from February 2019. Total sales for the month fell 14% to $346.4 million from $405 million last month due to a 74% decline in polished diamond sales, which fell to $4.1 million from $14.8 million in January.
Canadian miner Star Diamond Corporation is taking Rio Tinto Exploration Canada to court over what it claims is a breach of their agreement, excessive costs and a failure by the mining giant to share information. The legal proceedings are related to the June 2017 option to joint venture agreement over the Star-Orion South diamond project in central Saskatchewan.
If you want to shine, sometimes you just have to take the plunge. It is by taking this attitude that the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) distinguishes itself when it comes to sustainability, specifically by focusing on corporate social responsibility in Africa.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa has published its financial results for 2019, and while the totality is not pretty, there was reason for optimism to close out the year. As expected, Alrosa’s performance in 2019 was subject to pressure from external factors, and while the miner took steps to respond accordingly, it could not prevent its profit from falling 31% for the year, to 90.4 billion rubles ($1.26 billion) to 62.7 billion rubles ($876 million). For the full details, click 'Read the full article'.
Hong Kong's leading diamond jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook unexpected released key unaudited data for the two months ended 29 February 2020, revealing that sales at all points of sale in Mainland China fell 42 percent while those in Hong Kong and Macau fell 60 percent in the first two months of 2020. The jeweler attributes the decline to the temporary shutdown of "the majority" of its stores in China and Hong Kong due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa met in Antwerp with its long-term clients and representatives of the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC) to discuss the current market situation and potential scenarios, as well as the needs of rough diamond buyers - the key issue for whom was to receive assurances of purchasing flexibility.
The coronavirus is creating havoc to public life and economic markets across the globe, but its rapid growth in Iran has countries across the Gulf region becoming increasingly concerned. Multiple media outlets are reporting that the United Arab Emirates has called on residents to avoid cross-border travel and has imposed quarantine restrictions to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a measure the Financial Times is calling it “a blow to the state’s position as a global business hub.”
The cautious optimism that had returned to the Antwerp diamond industry following the first month of 2020 was short-lived, as the explosive spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in February effectively closed eastern markets and caused great uncertainty across the global diamond trade. Antwerp's rough-diamond trade still enjoyed the boost from the miners' strong January sales, but the warning signs appeared there as well - particularly toward the end of the month.
Lucapa Diamond Co. announced yesterday (Wednesday March 4) it had received applications for a $2.8 million share placement to advance the Lulo kimberlite exploration program and for general working capital and corporate purposes. Investors looking to get in on the action which will issue 25,899,916 new shares at an issue price of $0.11 per share - representing a discount of approximately 13% to the volume weighted average price - must be a 'to sophisticated and professional investor' by today (March 5).
Retail sales across all products in Hong Kong took a major downturn in January 2020, falling by more than 21% and marking the12th consecutive month of falling sales. Earnings in the category jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts were hit the hardest, falling 42% year-on-year to US$632 million (HK$4.92 billion).
Gem Diamonds dug up a 114-carat high quality D color diamond on 2 March 2020 at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho. It is the second stone larger than 100 carats they have unearthed this year. The previous one was an exceptional 183-carat white Type IIa diamond receovered a month ago (3 February 2020). That very same day, the company said, they also recovered another two high-quality diamonds, one of 89 carats and the other of 70 carats.
The 2020 JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows will take place as scheduled, the show organizers confirmed, though they will be monitoring the situation. Last week, precautionary considerations due to the outbreak of the coronavirus led to the cancellation of two European fairs, Baselworld and Watches & Wonder Geneva (formerly SIHH).
The optimism at the beginning of the year regarding improved demand for rough diamonds has shifted to uncertainty following the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus; as expected, De Beers' sales at the second sight of the year took a nosedive, ending at a provisional $355 million. That result is 36% off the pace of their first sale of the year ($551 million) and 28% lower than the $496 earned at the second sight of 2019.
The Royal Asscher Diamond Company’s president, Edward Asscher, has retired on his 50th anniversary with the company. "You have to able to let things go in life," he said. "There comes a time when you should no longer stand in the way of continuity. The next generation has to determine the further course on their own." Edward Asscher said he is delighted that his daughter, Lita Asscher and son, Mike Asscher, will be taking over the company as co-presidents. Lita (42) is responsible for America, while Mike (39) will take care of business in Asia and Europe.
The diamond trade, like many global industries, slowed significantly in February as the economic impact of the new coronavirus COVID-19 spreads across the world. Consumers in China, the world's second largest maket for diamond jewelry, have stayed at home as large sections of society and social life have shut down. Sales through Hong Kong, one of the world's largest diamond distrubution centres, have essentially halted. "Manufacturers and dealers are facing a severe liquidity crunch," writes Rapaport in a press release. "Diamond prices dropped as a result of the slowdown."
Alexey Moiseev, Russia's Deputy Minister of Finance and Kimberley Process (KP) Chair, last week held a briefing to highlight the priorities of the Russian chairmanship in the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2020, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance. Moiseev noted that one of the key priorities of the Russian chairmanship was to update the definition of conflict diamonds and stemming their flow to the market.
Elodie Daguzan, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council (WDC), last week expressed the WDC’s support for the artisanal diamond miners in the countries that comprise the Mano River Union (Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea). The WDC was there to discuss the implementation of a regional approach to reinforce the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPSC), which aims to assist artisanal diamond miners in obtaining better access to the legitimate diamond supply chain while receiving fair value for their work.
Newfield Resources is on track to produce the first diamonds from its Tongo diamond mine in Sierra Leone in the fourth quarter of this year, the company announced last week in a press release. Newfield Executive Director, Karl Smithson, said the ASX-listed company is ready to commence the drilling and blasting of the underground decline.