According to figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the Antwerp diamond trade experienced an increase in activity nearly across the board in November comparatively, likely tied to events in India and U.A.E. The volume of rough diamond exports surged by 107% compared to October and 142% year-on-year, reaching 14.6 million carats during the month. The value of those rough exports also spiked by 55% compared to last month and 22% year-on-year, achieving $1.28 billion. Local traders said the introduction of India’s demonetization policy in November last year slowed trading in 2016, while an early Diwali holiday in October suppressed trade last month, prompting a flurry of activity as companies opened again and goods started flowing.
Rough diamond imports also increased by 27% in volume year-on-year as no less than 28 tenders and auctions took place in the diamond capital last month, though the value of those rough imports fell by 13%, a persistent trend throughout the year. However, the volume of rough imports was nevertheless down by more than a million carats compared to October, and yet the value of those imports increased by 9% compared to last month, marking an uptick in prices. During the first 11 months of the year to date (Jan. - Nov.), rough exports are down 1.5% in value at $11.4 billion, despite a 25% jump in volume - now at more than 115 million carats. The value of rough diamond imports is currently 12% lower than in 2016 at $10 billion from the trade of 88 million carats, a 4% rise in volume year-on year. Independent analyst Paul Zimnisky comments, “Higher quantities of lower-quality rough that were previously held back due to subdued demand in response to India’s demonetization are being sold into the market.”
The value of polished diamonds traded during the month of November also trended up, as polished exports rose 19% compared to October and 10.5% year-on-year, falling just shy of $1 billion. This increase was achieved despite a 13% decline in volume, as prices jumped from $1,946/carat to $2,476/carat. Meanwhile, polished imports surged by more than 27% in volume and by 27% in value year-on-year, reaching $881 million for the month. Again, traders cited a pick-up in Indian activity post-Diwali, while one suggested that the introduction of the 5 percent value added tax (VAT) on loose diamonds - rough as well as polished - in the United Arab Emirates starting from January 2018, is causing a surge of activity before the tax goes into effect. This likely impacted the rough trade as well. During the first 11 months of the year to date (Jan. - Nov.), Antwerp’s polished diamond trade has slowly but steadily clawed its way back to 2016 levels, as the value of polished imports currently sits less than 4% below last year’s figure, at $10.3 billion. Polished exports are now down less than 5% year-on-year, at $10.5 billion.