Idex News today posted an article industry insiders say is "fake news", about Dutch bank ABN AMRO leaving the diamond business. Sources at the bank told The Diamond Loupe that the alleged exit news, published by Idex is false and the bank is not closing its diamond financing. A transcript of ABN AMRO's conference call yesterday doesn't even mention the word diamond.
Swiss luxury group Richemont, owner of the Buccellati, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry brands, recorded a 129% increase in sales in the three months ending on June 30. The outstanding performance was led by the Jewellery Maisons and Specialist Watchmakers, with a growth of 142%, to €2.52 billion (US$2.97 billion) and 143%, to €849 million (US$1 billion), respectively.
Figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) on the trade in Antwerp in the first six months of the year demonstrate the city is back on track of the pre-pandemic upturn seen in the first few months of 2020, outperforming 2019 figures on rough trade with double digit growth.
In his final address at last week's Kimberly Process, virtual intersessional, organized under the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation, World Diamond Council President Edward Asscher, representing the diamond industry in the tripartite organization established to eradicate conflict diamonds from the trade, left little room for interpretation on the consequences of a status quo withing the KPCS.
BASELWORLD, which was pronounced dead last year after a mass exodus of exhibitors following the mishandling of the postponement and refunding of deposits for exhibitors, is back!
First Element Diamond Services announced its cooperation with the Del Gatto Diamond Finance Fund (DDFF), offering their clients pre tender financing for their diamond production. This includes not only the full run of mine production but also any special stones that may be recovered.
Thanks to this cooperation, diamond producers and buyers will be able to receive funds before tender sales, which marks a first.
In his latest blog, industry analyst Edahn Golan details how Israeli banks are further cutting financing to the Israeli diamond industry. In 2020, diamond financing in the country fell below $500 million for the first time in 30 years, marking a 33% decrease. Shrinking activity is one of the obvious reasons but complicated admin due to money laundering-related regulations specific to the diamond industry seems to be a burden to most banks. It seems they don’t consider it worth their while anymore.
Covid-19 had a dramatic impact on trade shows and many companies tried replacing them by virtual meetings. Even though companies’ turnovers were unaffected because exhibitors saved money – booths, hotels, travel, etc. - by not participating, virtual meetings lack attendee engagement compared to the live events and face-to-face meetings still prove to be most successful in networking. Furthermore, companies have to be where competitors are, so when trade shows get back on track, companies that ignore them will fall behind.
Antwerp figures, released by the AWDC, indicate the trade in rough diamonds continues to boost recovery from the pandemic year, as rough trade even surpassed the February figures of 2020. January and February 2020 were the last months before the global outbreak of the COVID crisis, now exactly one year ago, when strong performances were recorded across the board and the industry seemed to finally rise from the dip of 2019.
2020 proved to be quite a challenge with regards to hosting in-person trade fairs, and although online alternatives accelerated the digital revolution within the industry, there is no doubt that in-person viewing and buying is still very much the norm.
AWDC’s figures for October indicate that increased trade, particularly rough imports and exports in the diamond hub, continue to narrow the gap, caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond industry, with 2019. Rough exports for October were up 82% in terms of carats, 76% in terms of value, compared to October 2019. Imports increased 78% in carats, 65% in US$.
Lucara, HB Antwerp and Louis Vuitton have added another exceptional stone to the miner, manufacturer and retailer collaboration that started with the 1.758ct Sewelô, announced earlier this year.
In an elaborate report, availabe in full via Idex Online here, industry veterans and experts Chaim Even-Zohar and Pranay Narvekar dissect the 2019 and 2020 pipeline with surgical precision. A few key take-aways from the report:
Last week, the Chinese diamond, gem and jewellery industry gathered in Guangzhou for the 2020 International Jewellery & Diamond Conference, an event organized by the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) and the Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange, that was organized both physically and offline, to allow representatives of the major diamond and jewellery hubs across the globe to contribute and follow the conference via livestream.
As restrictions to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic tighten in countries across the globe, Antwerp continues to be operational, a communication from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) which was sent to the local trade community states. Last Sunday, Belgium's Federal government, following other countries across the globe, announced new measures to flatten the curve, but business operations in Antwerp's famous diamond square mile can continue, including at the Diamond Office, where all diamond imports and exports pass through.
In a contribution on Rough & Polished India correspondent Aruna details India's figures for September, released by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Key take-aways comparing September 2020 to September 2019:
- polished exports were down 19.6%
- rough imports increased modestly with 16.18%
- LGD polished exports were up 89.55%
- LGD rough imports increased 117.6%
Rapaport News reports that the Holiday Season rush is boosting markets, demonstrated by a rebound in De Beers third quarter sales, up to 6.6m ct in Q3, compared to barely 300k sold ct in Q2, at the height of the global pandemic. Rapaport calculates that sales increased 10% y-o-y, reflecting pent up demand and easing restrictions in trade and manufacturing hubs across the globe.
De Beers reports selling US$467m worth or rough diamonds at its latest sales cycle, 57% more than the same sales period in 2019, 40% higher than the previous sale, further confirming rough demand has picked up significantly in view of the holiday season. The miner, who discounted prices by 5 to 10% according to industry insiders, went through several months of near zero sales, at the peak of the pandemic's first wave, and implemented maximum flexiblity to its long-term customers. In the latest cycle, it also extended the usual one-week sales momentum to more than 3 weeks.
UNI Diamonds, the fintech company today announced the release of a free Diamond Price Calculator app, calculating what the company says "real time estimate prices for natural polished diamonds", underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and UNI Diamonds' trading platform data on sales and acutal diamond prices. . According to UNI Diamonds CEO, Mahiar Borhanjoo, "the industry has relied on complicated price lists that are only updated periodically and are based on data sources that are opaque.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent restrictions make it impossible to bring together the industry for the 2nd African Diamond Conference, which was set to take place in Durban, South Africa in May this year, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) together with its partners, Belgium’s Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), have announced a series of webinars, on October 14, 21 and 28, aimed at sharing information on challenges and opportunities for African diamond producing countries and the diamond industry.
Antwerp’s September figures confirm a further, slow recovery of trade in the diamond city, largely due to increased activity in rough trading, as markets and manufacturing resumed and demand ahead of the holiday season grew significantly. Rough imports amounted to 7.8 million carats, for a total value of US$837 million in September, up 38% in value compared to the same month last year. Rough exports grew 20% in volume and 44% in value, to 12.3 million carats valued at US$1.1 billion compared to September 2019.
Figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre on the first six months of the year indicate that in terms of value, trade in the world’s diamond trade hub halved as a consequence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond and jewelry business.
ABN AMRO, the Dutch bank, is closing its Hong Kong diamond business as part of a global trimming of the bank's operations, predominantly outside of Europe. In 2018, ABN AMRO already shut down its US and Dubai diamond operations. A few months ago, the bank reported a net loss of 395 million euros, the first loss in years, and announced it would be reviewing its strategy.
For the sixth sight of the year, De Beers will continue to offer their clients the possibility to view goods in Antwerp and also Dubai, starting on Monday. Alrosa announced earlier this week it will drop mandatory buyout minimum requirements for the July sale, also starting on Monday, and as of August, the volumes will be reduced to 50% leaving clients the option to purchase additional goods via auctions and tenders.
In an in-depth piece, Forbes' Pamela N. Danziger concludes that while official statistics on (diamond) jewelry consumption in the COVID era are scarse, the likely negative effect of the pandemic in the short and medium turn has caused two rivalling segments, the natural and LGD diamond industries, to have ceased hostilities.
After a large number of diamond workers again tested positive for COVID-19, the Surat Diamond Association has decided to shut down all manufacturing and trading operations as well as private vaults for another week, through to July 19, putting the world's largest manufacturing hub for diamonds at an effective standstill once again. The situation will be reassessed on July 19, Indian Express reports.
Bloomberg reports that in a response to France's plans to start taxing US-based tech companies, which were the result of failed EU-US negotations a month ago when the US representative walked out, the US is now planning to impose a 25% tax on luxury (especially handbags) and beauty products imported from France. The total value of the goods listed by the US Trade Representative's website, Bloomberg reports, amounts to roughly 1.3 billion US$.
Rapaport reports on a letter, sent by Israel Diamond Exchange President Yoram Dvash, to the Israeli government, pleading for more support for the Israeli diamond industry, which is "on the verge of collapse". Barely reopened after months of standstill in the trade, Israel recently has been facing an increase in COVID-19 cases and consequent tightening of pandemic restrictions, once again halting the trade on the Ramat Gan bourse floor. The ramifications for the Israeli diamond industry are severe, the letter explains, and the crisis is getting worse.
According to market sources, INFORMA MARKETS (IM) will be announcing the postponement of the mother of all trade fairs, commonly known as Hong Kong September, to November shortly. However, many believe the postponement is just putting off the evil hour of a cancellation.
DMCC announced yesterday that LGD producer Lumex, established in 2018 by the Rosy Blue Mehta family, has joined Dubai's diamond bourse. According to a press release, DMCC is hoping to expand its synthetic diamond segment further, alongside the trade in natural diamonds. In 2019, DMCC already ventured into the LGD space by organizing an LGD exclusive tender of 50.000cts.
After trade in both rough and polished diamonds came to a near standstill on a global level due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the past three to four months, Antwerp figures for June indicate cautious signs of recovery on the Antwerp market.
According to Business Standard, the voluntary moratorium on rough diamond imports into the country, might be extended, citing spokespersons of the GJEPC saying that inventory levels remain high, estimated at 2.3 billion US$, with no need for imports to resume as "it would take another two or three months to service previous orders".
Economic Times India reports that fears are rising that one of Mumbai's top angadia's, according to the article "holding several millions of dollars worth of diamonds", has vanished, after closing shop early in the Bharat Diamond Bourse on Wednesday. According to the article, rumours are circulating that the person in question was in financial trouble, due to property deals falling through. In India, the angadia's are an informal but highly popular network of couriers that transport cash and rough and polished diamonds between Mumbai and the country's polishing hub in Gujarat, Surat.
A deal that was announced between LVMH and Tiffany & C° earlier this year, in which the France-based luxury conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault would acquire the iconic jeweler for $135 per share, is potentially falling through, as LVMH is reconsidering its engagement amid the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest in the USA. According to Retail Dive, LVMH’s press release suggests that it is looking to lower the offer, and some sources say that move is based
According to Reuters, De Beers, together with the government of Botswana is looking into (temporarily) shifting its sight viewings from Gaborone, Botswana, to major trading hubs, closer to their clients, for example in Antwerp. Reuters cites De Beers Executive Vice President, Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley; “If we can move our product closer to them it would give us the flexibility to restart sales as soon as the markets reopen”.
As of April 1st, a new 2% tax on online sales, the “Equalization Levy” (EL), came into force in India which is having a major impact on Indian diamond manufacturing and trading companies who buy rough or polished stones via online channels, such as online auctions or tenders, trading platforms. Foreign companies that are considered an “e-commerce operator”, defined as a non-resident that owns, operates or manages a digital or electronic facility or platform for online sale of goods or the online provision of services”, will be forced to charge 2% on top of the sales amount, when selling to
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse today announced that its President, Jacques Korn, who held the position for the past four years, is stepping down for personal reasons and will be replaced by current Board member and Vice-President, David Gotlib. In its announcement, the Bourse's Board of Directors commends Jacky Korn as a man who, bowing on a long career in the diamond community, carried out his duties of co-managing one of the world's oldest diamond institutes with great dedication.
News outlet Caixin reports that China will continue its severely restricted international flights policy through to at least October. Since the end of March, China has cut international flights by 90%, and has implemented the so-called "Five-One" policy, in which for each domestic airline, only one flight per week to a foreign destination is allowed to operate. Foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week and all flights are limited to 75% capacity, according to restrictions implemented by China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC).
While India has allowed some activity to resume in Surat, the country's polishing hub, the industry has announced that the voluntary moratorium on rough imports is delayed to June 1st, with the call to its members to not import rough diamonds for the entire month of June, possibly longer.
As many countries are easing out of strict quarantaine, GIA has announced it has reopened its labs in Antwerp, Carlsbad, Gaborone, Johannesburg and Tokyo, each with modified schedules. In Antwerp and Johannesburg, visitors are welcome by appointment, in Tokyo, Carlsbad and Gaborone, the labs will only accept submissions via shipment.
Reuters reports that, while the country's economy is slowly returning to normal as COVID-19 measures are gradually relaxed, the Israel diamond industry continues to be at a standstill, as the Tel Aviv diamond bourse remains closed and the diamond district as whole still is a ghost town. While activities in other major hubs, like Antwerp, have resumed, the Israeli industry is struggling to reopen its facilities and comply with continued restrictions and social distancing measures.
Rapaport reports that the Russian precious metals and gemstones repository, the Gokhran, may buy up part of the Russian miner's diamond stockpile, for an amount that ranges anywhere between $500 million and $1.7 billion. Rough sales have dropped dramatically as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the miner offered its clients maximum flexibility in purchasing obligations. During past crises, notably in 2009, the state repository alleviated the company in a similar way, at that time buying $1 billion worth of diamonds.
ABN AMRO, the Dutch bank that also has a dedicated Diamond and Jewellery branch, reports a net loss of 395 million euros, or about double what analysts had expected, and the first loss reported since 2013. New CEO Robert Swaak commented that the loss was driven by high impairments due to two exceptional client cases, as well as 1.1 billion € provisions made to account for loans going bad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. ABN AMRO will review its overall strategy, with a focus on anti-money laundering controls and an improved digital approach, the CEO added.
Times of India reports that India's Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as the Gems and Jewellery industry at Seepz MIDC can resume operations, albeit with a strongly reduced workforce (10%). India's diamond and jewellery industry has been suffering as the country continues to be under strict lockdown, and export shipments are blocked. Both area's are located in so-called "red zones", which is why only limited workforce can be allowed, state officials said.
The organizer of the BaselWorld show, the MCH Group, has announced they are cancelling the 2021 edition of the show - slated for end of January beginning of February next year after negotiating an "amicable settlement" with some of the major brands who recently announced their departure from the show.
The Antwerp diamond trade came to a nearly complete standstill as a result of the measures announced by the Belgian Government to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to reopen next Monday, May 4, and industry organizations the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses (FBDB) are taking measures to ensure it can do so safely.
Times of India reports that a 700 million US$ shipment of loose diamonds, destined for Hong Kong, is stuck at the Bharat Diamond Bourse, despite efforts to persuade government to allow the Bourse to resume activities with minimal workforce. According to a spokesperson for the Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council (GJEPC), the diamond industry in India, already heavily impacted by lockdown measures, could suffer even more because of exports being blocked; "if business would shift to China and Thailand ... it would be a permanent loss".
By Isi Morsel, C.E.O. Dali Diamond Co.
The diamond industry, from mine to retail, is facing new challenges that are rocking it to its core. Retail stores around the world are closed and that reverberated up the diamond pipeline, bringing wholesaling activity, jewelry manufacturing, diamond polishing, and diamond mining to a complete standstill.
"Can't an overflowing river upstream, cause a lot of damage, from the midstream all the way up to the delta? As the crops along the overflown river's path would be washed out, wouldn't this cause a lot of famine, for an unwanted period of time? Shouldn't the flow be controlled before such a scenario happens? Sometimes, man-made dams are necessary, with some pains in the near future, but fertile and fruitful in the long run..."
Shashin Choksi, midstream trader, responding in a Telegram industry group channel to the message from De Beers CEO, Bruce Cleaver, "A River Runs Through", in which Cleaver indirectly appeals to the (Indian) industry to not impose an import ban on rough diamonds; "When this crisis ultimately recedes, as it will, if the upstream is intact but there is no functioning downstream, or a midstream but a significantly depleted source upstream, then we have no functioning river system at all. While all companies, including ours, are taking rapid action to brace for the crisis, that action must be responsible and sustainable and recognise that just as the challenge is a shared one, so, too, must be the solutions."
Revenue from India’s diamond polishing industry is set to plunge to its lowest level in a decade as COVID-19 measures in the U.S. and Europe (Belgium) has hindered sales and caused prices to fall, reports an India credit-rating agency. The agency projects sales in fiscal 2021 (April 2t020 - March 2021) to drop to the lowest level in a decade, $13-15 billion, which is 21%-32% lower than the estimated ~$19 billion in fiscal 2020 revenues and 38%-46% lower than the $24 billion earned in fiscal 2019.
Reed Exhibitions has announced that it will not be organizing its JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows this year altogether. The organizer is planning to set up "a virtual event" this summer and will partner with the Jewelers International Show, Oct. 13–16 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
For a few days now, rumor in the industry has it that the Indian diamond industry - or at least some members - want to impose a voluntary ban on rough imports into the country. The rumours aren’t confirmed by any official body, but some sources claim the voluntary ban would start one week after India lifts the strict lockdown measures - preliminary scheduled for May 3 - and would be instated for one month, others claim the ban would last as long as three months.
Five major watch brands, Rolex, Patek Phiippe, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard today announced they will be leaving BaselWorld. The exit follows a letter by Rolex topman Hubert du Plessix pleading for a refund for the brands set to participate in the canceled 2020 edition. In a joint statement, the brands announced they plan to start a new show, which remains unnamed, scheduled for April 2021, in conjunction with the organizers of Watches & Wonders (FHH).
The Hermès flagship store in Guangzhou reportedly made $2.7 million on its reopening day, boosting hopes on increased consumers' luxury shopping once quarantine measures are lifted. Many hope that the so-called "revenge spending", with people purchasing luxury goods to treat themselves after being in isolation for weeks, signals the recovery of luxury spending, although some fear it could be no more but a "one-off" shopping spree.
Industry analyst Edahn Golan takes an in-depth look at the industry performance of the first quarter of 2020 which, needless to say, is dominated by the impact of the Corona virus pandemic. In his extensive analysis Golan discusses polished diamond price evolution, the state of the midstream in all major trading hubs, banking and evolutions upstream and regarding LGD (Lab Grown Diamonds).
Golan identifies a number of key take-aways for Q1:
“We assumed that it would take two to three months to recover, I think in three or four months, we will be back to normal. The present data is better than we expected.”
Kent Wong - managing director of Chow Tai Fook elaborates in an interview with JCK News Director Rob Bates on how China's largest jeweler re-emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, providing valuable lessons for the rest of the world on consumer trends and how companies can manage during and after the pandemic subsides.
In their latest report Bain & C° takes a deeper look into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the luxury segment. A few key take-aways;
ABN AMRO has announced support measures for clients in response to the impact of the coronavirus. The support extends to some 55,000 Commercial Banking clients with a credit facility of up to 2.5 million euros, for whom the payment of interest and principal will be automatically deferred for six months. While the announcement does not mention diamond industry clients, their inclusion seems implied.
While the rest of the world is tightening measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese customers - constituting a whopping third of global luxury industry’s sales and the driving force of global growth in this segment in recent years - are slowly returning to the country’s luxury shopping malls as local quarantine measures are eased.
India's representative body for the diamond and gem trade, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), has appealed to the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India to revise credit terms for exporters and importers in the gems and jewelry trade which has been badly affected by the Hong Kong protests last year and the subsequent recent novel coronavirus outbreak.