Antwerp Diamond Trade Records Healthy October in Soft Market

Rough Market
06/11/2017 13:14

The Antwerp diamond industry had a solid month of trading in October, particularly on the export side, as the value of rough and polished exports both took a turn for the better despite soft midstream demand for rough and a seasonally slow polished landscape. Furthermore, according to figures published by the AWDC, the trend of high volumes of low-value rough exports abated for the first time in months, as the increase in the value of rough exports (+15%) nearly kept pace with the increase in volume (+19%) on a year-over-year basis. In real terms, rough exports for the month totaled more than 7 million carats, as their value increased to $830 million. The volume of rough imports also increased 10% while their value stayed more or less flat at a 0.74% increase. Meanwhile, the value of polished exports rose by 5.5% to just under $818 million, while their volume fell by 4%. The value of polished imports was down by 1% on a 20% increase in the volume of polished diamonds traded.

For the year 2017 to date (Jan.-Oct), the volume of rough exports has increased nearly 17% to over 101 million carats compared to fewer than 87 million carats traded in same period a year ago. Nonetheless, their value has fallen almost 4% to $10.1 billion, as a single month was not enough to cancel the effect of a long trend of low-priced goods. On the import side, the volume of rough trade has increased over 2% while their value has fallen by 12%. It is worth noting that while ALROSA (Antwerp's largest rough supplier) has increased diamond production by 6% this year, their rough sales have been down by 15% for each of the past three months, according to an industry report by analyst Paul Zimnisky. ALROSA's rough diamond sales in September were down 32% (in U.S. dollar terms) year over year, however the weaker demand can primarily be attributed to the Indian festive holiday of Diwali falling on October 19 this year, which falls 11 days earlier than last year.

For the year to date, Antwerp's imports of polished diamonds have fallen by 9% in volume and 6% in value to $9.4 billion. Exports of polished diamonds have fallen 10% in volume and also 6% in value to $9.5 billion. The value of both have declined roughly $600m compared to the first ten months from a year ago, but the gap has been narrowing for each of the last six months. According to the major indexes, polished diamond prices are down approximately 6% for the year to date.