Antwerp's rough diamond trade continued its path to recovery after the 2015 downturn, as according to the April figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, its rough trade surged 32% in value and 39% in volume compared to April 2015, as Antwerp traded nearly $2.5 billion on 18.75 million carats of rough stones during the month. April rough exports increased nearly 30% year-on-year in volume as well as value, while rough imports spiked by 50% in volume and 34% in value compared to the same month a year ago. This is clearly not a y-o-y anomaly, as the value of rough diamonds traded in April rose nearly 19% (+ $390.6 million) over the March figures on a 4% increase in volume. Antwerp's rough exports for the first four months of 2016 are up 23% in volume and 6.4% in value, while rough imports have risen 13% in volume and 2% in value over the same period in 2015.
Antwerp's polished diamond trade experienced another month of modest decline in April, with polished imports up 1.5% in volume but falling 7.5% in value compared to April 2015. Polished exports fell 6% in volume and 13.6% in value year-on-year. The overall polished trade for April clocked in at nearly $1.8 billion, being clearly outpaced by Antwerp's rough trade. Some interesting details emerge from the polished figures, as exports to the U.S. and Hong Kong, together good for nearly 50% of Antwerp's polished export market, fell only 0.8% to $446 million compared to April 2015, while exports to Switzerland, Israel and UAE fell 38%, 5% and 24% respectively. Exports to India, while representing a minor market share, were notable for their 49% decline in value.
Meanwhile, Antwerp's polished trade displayed a noteworthy trend in terms of the value of goods traded. April polished imports from the U.S., while declining 22% in volume, increased 14% in value. This trend repeats what we see in exports to the U.S., showing that Antwerp's trade with the U.S. is mainly in higher value goods. Polished imports from UAE, on the other hand, rose a full 100% in volume, yet still lost 11% of their value compared to April 2015, while a 1% decline in exports to UAE delivered a 24% fall in value, together indicating that the polished trade with UAE involves high volumes of lower priced stones. Imports from India remained steady in volume and added 12% in value compared to 2015, yet are still down 6% in volume for the first four months of the year. Polished imports from Israel jumped 42% in volume and 17% in value for the month, but have still fallen 14% in value for the first four months of the year.
AWDC spokeswoman Margaux Donckier: "While we are certainly heeding the cautionary warnings about strong rough sales from the major miners and overly optimistic purchases from the middle of the pipeline, and are therefore not jumping to the conclusion that a full-blown diamond-industry recovery is underway, the results we have seen over the past few months are certainly cause for optimism. Antwerp is clearly the preferred global marketplace and bellweather of the industry, so if one wishes to know how the diamond industry is performing, look no further than Antwerp. Accordingly, we remain hopeful that the industry as a whole continues to achieve positive results."