Breaking Down De Beers' Sight: Another Diamond Glut Looming?

Rough Market
31/01/2016 18:39

Diamond industry analyst Edahn Golan breaks down how De Beers arrived at its overall sales figure for its first rough sight in 2016: $540 million. Golan writes that De Beers has several sales channels. The largest is to their sightholders - contracted clients who each buy at least $15 million worth of rough diamonds annually - and the accredited buyers, which have second dibs on the offered goods. The current estimate in the market is that De Beers sold a little over $490 million worth of rough diamonds via the sightholder system. These figures include ex-plan goods supplied above and beyond the ITO, and 'specials' - very rare gem-quality rough diamonds weighing 10.8 carats or more, also counted here as part of the additional goods. Specials can be very lucrative to buyers and are also high-priced as rough, which can greatly alter the total value of a sight. The figures exclude the revenue that goes to the government of Namibia or Ponahalo Holdings, a Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment company.

In addition to the sights, De Beers sells rough through auctions. These are done through De Beers Auction Sales, formerly known as Diamdel. The goals of these sales are to: supply rough diamonds to companies other than the sightholders, gather information about prices in the market and, more recently, vet future sightholders. Golan concludes that rough diamonds sold by De Beers in the last cycle were really more than $540 million. This figure only takes into account what is attributable to its balance sheet and does not include revenue that goes to others, such as the governments of Namibia and Botswana. Meanwhile ALROSA, the other large supplier, sold an estimated $400 million worth of goods, which brings supply to the market between the two miners alone to nearly $1 billion. Together with Rio Tinto, Dominion and Petra, the supply exceeds $1 billion. He concludes that "'Fresh' polished goods are always needed – they offer buyers the opportunity to get the cream of the crop. But let’s not fool ourselves. Demand from consumers is not that high, and we should fear another small glut."