The De Beers Group of Companies today announced the value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales) for the eighth sales cycle of 2016, with the provisional sales figure coming in at $485 million. This represents a 24% decline from the $639 million sold in cycle 7. However, it is also a sight higher than the estimated $250-$400 million sold during cycle 8 a year ago, when sightholders were refusing to buy new rough. Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Demand for De Beers’ rough diamonds in Cycle 8 continued to reflect the improved midstream trading environment compared with 2015. Our rough diamond sales were slightly ahead of expectation during the Cycle, given the normal seasonal demand patterns, the shorter than usual period between Sights 7 and 8, and the forthcoming holidays in some of the major diamond cutting centres.”
Cleaver's remarks about sales being "better than expected" despite this being the smallest sight of the year thus far has to do with the industry's seasonal nature: the holiday period from Thanksgiving in November through the Lunar New Year in Asia in January or early February is the busiest period for jewelry sales. De Beers’ customers buy more rough stones earlier in the year to prepare for this period. As Thomas Biesheuvel writes for Bloomberg, "So far, the diamond industry has defied expectations of a second-half slowdown. While rough-diamond prices have gained 7.4 percent this year, Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani and other executives have cautioned that the final six months of 2016 could be more difficult for the industry."