JCK's Rob Bates weighs in on the growing consternation over rumors of De Beers' supposed dual pricing system, which Charles Wyndham discussed at length last week. Bates writes that, "De Beers isn’t commenting on an online report, and persistent trade rumors, that it offered dramatic discounts on select boxes to a handful of clients at the last sight." While Bates respects that De Beers does not comment on pricing, "this story suggests the development of a new pricing mechanism, which would be worthy of comment. Further, these stories have damaged trade confidence, which already is quite wobbly ... If these rumors are not true, De Beers needs to stamp them out—quick ... If the stories are true, that raises potentially thorny questions. A De Beers decision to lower prices across the board would be understandable. But if it just bestowed the goodies on a few lucky clients, one wonders: Why those companies? What was the mechanism? And what will this mean for prices going forward?"
De Beers' spokesperson Lynette Gould, who was not doing any commenting, points out that De Beers has instituted a number of measures to improve trade confidence. "Most of these are welcome," writes Bates, "but sadly, very few seem to have worked, and the market remains on edge. The mood at the last sight was reportedly as gloomy as ever. A healthy holiday season coupled with smart buying and selling could turn things around, of course, but this latest brouhaha—and De Beers’ frustratingly close-mouthed reaction to it—will likely not help."