European Union finance ministers have agreed to add 10 countries to a blacklist of alleged tax havens, including the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, the agreement means the list will now have 15 jurisdictions, triple the number of what it had before the review. It comes just over a year after the EU agreed to “name and shame” a small number of nations as part of its efforts to fight opaque practices that facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals and individuals.
Searching for a means to safeguard smooth transactions in the event it ends up having US sanctions imposed on it, Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, has found a partner in its efforts to conduct trade in a currency other than the US dollar. Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa’s director of sales, told the South China Morning Post that it has enlisted one of its many Chinese customers - Chow Sang Sang Jewellery - on a long-term contract this year.
De Beers reported a 4% rise in total revenue for FY 2018, reaching $6.1 billion, but its earnings slid by 13% to $1.25 billion driven by expenditures such as the $87 million acquisition of Peregrine Diamonds and the launch of Lightbox Jewelry. Rough diamond sales rose by 4% to $5.4 billion (2017: $5.2 billion), driven by improved overall consumer demand for diamond jewelry and a 1% increase in the average rough diamond price index.
The partial shutdown of the US government is likely to have had a negative impact on exports of small diamonds from India to the US, according to Colin Shah, vice chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). This comes as unwelcome news to an industry that is already experiencing sluggish performance, with The Economic Times citing an 8.5% decline in the value of polished exports in the first nine months of FY2018, sitting at to $22.41 billion.
In a letter circulated to clients just before the turn of the year, India’s ICICI Bank UK Limited (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) announced it will be shutting down its branch in Antwerp effective March 29, 2019, bringing an end to its diamond trade financing. The last working day of the branch will be March 28, 2019, and clients were requested to close their accounts by February 28. The bank entered the Antwerp market in 2006.
Looking towards 2019, independent diamond industry analyst and consultant Paul Zimnisky, who covers the natural and the lab-created diamond industry, has identified three themes that will likely shape the diamond industry, exclusively for The Diamond Loupe. View the pdf verison here.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) this week traveled to Guangzhou, China, for a networking blitz/conference tour on the Mainland, jointly organized with the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange. Mainland China presents a massive new opportunity for growth beyond the traditional markets of Hong Kong and Shanghai, so the AWDC set off with a group of diamond traders to meet up with a delegation of Chinese jewelry manufacturers looking for polished diamond suppliers in Antwerp.
In an open letter to diamond traders, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office addresses the possibility that the UK will temporarily be unable to import and export rough diamonds if the nation leaves the European Union without an exit deal. At the moment, UK traders can trade in rough diamonds within the EU and to countries in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which regulates the international trade in rough diamonds. The EU is a participant of the Kimberley Process (KP) and acts on behalf of the UK.
Botswana Finance LLC, a subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) has signed a $125 million loan guaranty with Stanbic Bank Botswana, a member of Standard Bank Group and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. The loan guaranty will encourage and support lending to diamond manufacturers and polishing companies while allowing the organizations to share credit risk.
Last week, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the University of Antwerp hosted an “Innovation and Diamonds” conference at the Antwerpsche Diamantkring - the only rough diamond bourse in the world - featuring internationally-recognized experts from across the spectrum of the diamond trade, including alternative financing, the impact of digital on the luxury segment, the feasibility of small-scale ethical mining, as well as the earthquake and aftershocks of De Beers’ foray into lab-grown diamonds: LightBox.
According to Elizabeth Burden and Thomas Biesheuvel for Bloomberg, the Union Bank of India (UBI) is planning to pull out of the global diamond hub of Antwerp. The bank has given notice that it will close its branch in the Belgian city within a year, according to Chief Executive Officer Rajkiran Rai Gundyadka. "The viability of the branch isn’t established,” he said.
The 10% decline in bank finance to the gem and jewelry sector over the last few months will adversely impact exports from the industry during the year, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said in a statement yesterday.
Signet Jewelers yesterday announced the completion of the final phase of its strategic outsourcing of credit through the sale of its existing non-prime receivables, for which the group received $445.5 million in cash proceeds.
Last week, the United States' Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing states to collect sales tax from online retailers even when a retailer has no physical presence in that state, sending shock waves and uncertainty across the retail landscape. States argued they were losing out on billions of dollars worth of online sales taxes annually as a result of the precedent set by a 1992 court decision, Quill Corp vs. North Dakota; the new Wayfair v.
China will cut import tariffs on nearly 1,500 consumer products as from July 1, including gold jewelry set with diamonds, as well as precious stones, in a bid to boost imports as part of efforts to open up its economy. A total of 18 tax items involving jewelry categories are included in the tariff reduction, with an average tariff rate drop of 68%.
Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) yesterday reported its financial results for the three months (Q1) ended April 30, 2018, which saw worldwide net sales increase 15% to $1.0 billion, led by gains in North America and Asia. As a result of broad-based sales growth, comparable sales increased 10%. Profits soared 53 percent, to $142 million, as shares jumped as much as 17 percent to $119.60 in New York trading, an all-time intraday high and the biggest one-day leap in almost a decade.
ABN Amro, the largest and longstanding financier to the diamond and jewelry industry, is closing its lending offices in New York and Dubai as it continues to cut back on financing to the trade as a whole. Brigitte Seegers, a spokeswoman for the Dutch bank, initially announced the move during a first quarter earnings call last week, which will leave Antwerp and Hong Kong as the bank's last divisions standing.
The so-called "Carat Tax", the institutionalized tax regime which the Belgian federal government implemented for the Belgian diamond trade in tax year 2016, yielded significantly higher revenues in 2017 than expected, according to Belgian newspapers De Standaard and Gazet van Antwerpen. The special tax on diamonds delivered $84 million (€68.4 million, converted at average 90-day exchange rate) to the Treasury against forecasted earnings of $61.25 million (€50 million), and dwarfed last year's earnings of $62.7 million (€51.2 million), a nearly 34% increase in revenues.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), together with its Indian counterpart the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), formally launched today in Mumbai a powerful new tool to bring greater compliance and transparency to diamond transactions. The know-your-customer (KYC) exchange platform, called MyKYCBank, provides a centralized platform for companies in the diamond industry to complete and manage more efficiently their KYC obligations in conformity with global standards.
Hong Kong's imports and exports of rough and polished diamonds saw a solid to significant upswing across all categories during the first quarter of 2018 (Jan-March), according to figures published Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China. Polished diamond imports to the trade hub increased by 10% in value to $5.17 billion from the import of nearly 5.3 million carats worth of the polished gems. Hong Kong's exports and re-exports rose by 4% to $3.53 billion from 3.7 million carats.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet has announced that it is reversing the 5 percent value added tax (VAT) for investors in gold, diamond and precious metals at the wholesale level. Doing so will “contribute to stabilising the gold and diamond sector in the UAE as well as stimulating investment in this sector”, a statement said following the Cabinet decision. The move, which goes into effect immediately, is expected to ease the pressure on gold and diamond traders in the country. Retailers will continue to impose 5 percent on all jewelry transactions taking place at their shops.
Israel’s polished-diamond exports declined 33% to $1.16 billion in the first quarter of 2018, according to Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry as reported by Rapaport News. The results stand in sharp contrast to diamond exports in Q1 2017, which jumped to $1.696 billion as a result of international trade shows, and also fell well short of the $1.467 billion in exports recorded in Q1 2016.
India's cut and polished diamond exports increased by 4.2% to $23.7 billion for the financial year 2017-18 (April - March), while the value of rough diamond imports to the manufacturing hub rose by 10.6% to $18.9 billion, according to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The average price per carat in the category of polished diamond exports saw an 18% increase, from approximately $614 per carat to $725 per carat.
Yesterday evening, during the City of Antwerp’s Mission to Russia, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian diamond mining company, ALROSA, expanding and strengthening the long-standing, privileged relationship between two leading organizations in the diamond industry. The objective of this new cooperation agreement is to improve the scope and efficiency of the ties between ALROSA and AWDC, and to commit to supporting one another across a broad spectrum of topics, from the open exchange of information to the promotion of joint marketing initiat
Eira Thomas was recently appointed as the new CEO of Lucara Diamond Corp., replacing William Lamb, who oversaw the successful creation of the world-class Karowe mine in Botswana. Thomas brings more than 25 years’ experience in the mining industry to Lucara, including 16 years with Aber Diamond Corporation (now Dominion Diamond), where she played an integral role as a geologist at its initial discovery and ultimately became Director of the Board.
After the $2 billion worth of fraud allegations against Indian jewelry tycoon Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems chief Mehul Choksi shocked the Indian diamond industry, the last thing it needed was more bad news, which is precisely what they got. Jewelry chain Kanishk Gold, which also owns the Krizz jewelry brand, has been named in defrauding 14 banks, including the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the State Bank of India (SBI), for an amount close to as $126.4 million, or Rs 824 crore. Taking into account interest due, the loss to banks exceeds $153 million (Rs 1,000 crore). The SBI has sought th
Tiffany & Co. reported that its global net sales for FY 2017 (ended January 31, 2018) increased 4% to $4.2 billion, reflecting sales growth in most regions - particularly in the U.S. and China. However, its comparable store sales remained flat for the year despite 9% sales growth in the fourth quarter (Q4). During Q4, on a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales rose 6% and comparable store sales were 1% above the prior year, falling short of estimates of a 2.7% gain.
Russia's ALROSA, the world's largest diamond producer, saw its profits tumble by 41% in FY 2017 owing to a variety of factors, including: a 13% ruble appreciation against the US dollar, a 9% decrease in the average price of gem-quality diamonds sold and fallout from the tragic Mir mine flood. The financial downturn took place against the background of increases in the volume of diamonds sold as well as production.
The latest fallout from the Nirav Modi-Gitanjali scandal that has rocked India's diamond and jewelry sector comes in the form of the State Bank of India's (SBI) decision to tighten the collateral demands on borrowers from the industry. India’s largest lender has told borrowers in the gems and jewelry sector to either bring in more collateral to back their existing loans or reduce the size of them in a timely manner.
After shooting out of the starting blocks in January with significant increases across the board, imports to and exports from the diamond capital came back down to earth in February, following De Beers' pattern from its second sight of the year where rough sales fell 17% from January. According to figures published by the AWDC, February rough diamond exports fell 21% in volume and 6% in value to $1.02 billion from $1.09 billion in February last year.
India's polished diamond exports during the month of January 2018 rose to US$2.08 billion from US$1.62 bn in January 2017, a jump of 28.8% according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Meanwhile, rough imports were up by 13.68% in value terms during the month to US$1.44 billion as compared to US$1.27 bn imported during the previous January. In volume terms, however, rough imports declined from 15.3 million carats during January 2017 to 13.3 million carats during January this year.
Israel's diamond trade decined in terms of the volume and value traded for the third straight year, according to Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry as reported by Rapaport News. The industry's polished exports fell 4% on the year to just under $4.5 billion, while volume of polished exports fell 6% to 1.7 million carats. Rapaport further notes that exports to the US, the largest market for the Israeli diamonds, declined 7% to $1.69 billion, while shipments to Belgium bounced back, surging 20% to $420 million.
The Nirav Modi bank fraud investigation in India appears to have spread its wings, as three more major Indian jewelers - Gitanjali, Ginni and Nakshatra - have also come under the gaze of various investigating agencies following the Punjab National Bank's (PNB) declaration of nearly $1.8 billion (Rs 11,400 crore) fraud, committed allegedly by Nirav Modi.
The Bank of Israel has agreed to open a $285 million (Nis 1 billion) credit line to diamond traders in the form of government-backed loans in response to calls from the industry to alleviate a credit crunch that is hurting their competitiveness.
The Israel Diamond Exchange is turning to digital currencies to inject new life into a marketplace, in the hopes that the introduction of virtual currency will make trading more efficient and less opaque. The two new cryptocurrencies are backed by gems: the first, called Cut, was launched last week for use between dealers in the diamond market. Citing a recent report by Israel’s Justice Ministry, Reuters writes that current transactions are “often carried out anonymously, with the shake of a hand and minimal documentation”.
The Antwerp diamond trade booked stable results overall in 2017, according to a press release from industry representative body the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). They note that after a very difficult 2015, the Antwerp diamond trade stabilized in 2016, and this trend continued over past year as the industry traded a total of $US46 billion in diamonds ($US48 billion in 2016). In 2017, a total of 233.6 million carats of diamonds were imported to and exported from Antwerp.
India's GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council met on January 18 slashed the tax rate on 54 services and 29 items, including polished diamonds. Diamond processors and jewellery exporters in the country Around 94 percent of the diamonds processed in the country would attract 0.25 per cent GST effective Friday, according to Business Standard, down from three percent, following the GST Council's decision. This adjustment, however, only applies to trade between Indian states.
Recent reports ranging from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council's (GJEPC) lobbying efforts to change the Goods & Services Tax (GST) for the diamond industry, to Indian manufacturing companies looking to set up cutting and polishing units in Russia and an estimated $158 million in couriered diamond parcels seized on suspicion of tax evasion have the Indian industry hot under the collar about the GST.
The tax regimes in the four major diamond midstream trading centers - Antwerp, India, Dubai and Israel - have been the topic of great discussion and significant change in recent years. The beginning of this year saw the tax policies in both Belgium (Antwerp) and Israel (Tel Aviv) change. These countries levied a minimum tax on diamond companies, which was levied as a percentage of the turnover. While this was termed as a “turnover-based tax”, it was never truly a turnover-based tax.
Bain & Company, together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has published their seventh annual report on the global diamond industry, "The enduring story in a changing world", covering industry developments in 2016 and the first half of 2017 as well as the challenges the industry faces and how it is turning them into opportunities. Their report looks at key issues along the value chain, from rough-diamond production and sales, to midstream performance and global diamond jewelry demand in major markets.
Moda Operandi, the American online luxury retailer originally founded in 2011 as a platform to provide consumers access to full collections straight from the runway, has just received a brand-new influx of cash. Billionaire entrepreneur and executive director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Adrian Cheng and Apax Digital co-led its latest round of funding, which totals a massive $165 million in growth capital. That number doubles Moda Operandi's total funding, which had reached more than $130 million as of its Series E round in February 2015.
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.
ABN AMRO announced on November 30 that Diamond & Jewellery Clients (D&JC) will become part of Trade & Commodity Finance (TCF) within ABN AMRO’s Commercial & Institutional Banking business. It also announced that Geert van Reisen has been appointed interim Global Head of Diamond & Jewellery Clients, until all internal formalities have been arranged, with effect from 1 December 2017. Geert van Reisen takes over from Erik Jens who has decided to pursue his career outside the bank.
Tiffany & Co. saw its worldwide net sales increase 3% to $976 million in the third quarter for the three months ended October 31, 2017, while comparable store sales declined 1%. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, their comps held steady. Their net earnings increased 5% to $100 million from $95 million. The uptick in net sales was driven by a 15% rise in the Asia-Pacific region, to $283 million, as strong growth in mainland China contrasted with declines in most other countries, which the jeweler attributed largely to lower Chinese tourist spending.
In the midst of a five-day Belgian State visit to India, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) - umbrella organization for the Antwerp diamond industry - joined hands with its Indian counterpart, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), to host a roundtable discussion today (Nov. 9) in Mumbai concerning the contributions of the diamond industry to social and economic development.
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.
Dominion Diamond Corporation and The Washington Companies yesterday announced the completion of the latter's takeover of the Canadian diamond miner, officially acquiring all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Dominion for US$14.25 per share in cash. In total it amounted to a $1.2 billion acquisition. Dominion will operate as a standalone, private company, and Patrick Evans has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.
According to Rapaport News, based on figures from the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Israel's diamond trade as a whole has slowed in 2017, as exports of polished diamonds to the US, Israel’s largest market, declined 15% to $1.26 billion during the nine-month period. Exports to Hong Kong are also down, but only by 3% to $1.01 billion. Rapaport writes: "The country’s exports of polished diamonds fell 12% year on year to $3.38 billion during the first nine months of 2017, while the volume of goods sent out dropped 11% to 1.297 million carats.
Petra Diamonds Ltd., the London-based diamond miner with five mining operations in South Africa and Tanzania, has reported that Q1 FY 2018 (for the period from July 1 to Oct. 20 2017, covering production and sales from July 1 to Sept. 30 2017) production was down 4% to 1,053,817 carats (Q1 FY 2017: 1,097,523 carats) mainly due to a planned reduction in tailings production at Finsch and Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (“KEM JV”).
With the Antwerp diamond industry facing a host of challenges, and developing multiple initiatives, when it comes to financing, it appears that one bank recognizes an opportunity. Avi Krawitz of Rapaport News today reported that the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to open a representative office in Antwerp. Davy Blommaert, head of diamond lending at NBF, told Rapaport News on the sidelines of the Dubai Diamond Conference, “I’ve been pushing for the move for a long time because there’s an opportunity to cherry-pick some clients.”
The Bureau d'Évaluation et de Contrôle de Diamant et d'Or (BECDOR) in the Central African Republic, which oversees the country’s production and trade of diamond and gold, maintains a database and assesses the value of diamond parcels that are to be exported from the country, has just set up a new price list - defining mineral prices between government and traders. The new price list for these mineral resources is designed to enable the State to have enough financial resources to meet its obligations, reports APA News (Agence de Presse Africaine).
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of De Beers Group, today announced it will provide diamond verification services to Singapore Diamond Mint Company’s (SDM) new investment-grade diamond product, Diamond Bullion, listed on the Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX).
Australian junior miner Lucapa Diamond Company today announced it has secured $15 million in debt financing to bring its high-value Mothae kimberlite diamond project in Lesotho into production in 2018. The secured US$15 million three-year debt facility has been arranged with private Singaporean company Equigold. It is repayable in eight quarterly payments commencing December 2018, by when Lucapa expects Mothae to be in steady state production under its Phase 1 development plan.
According to The Economic Times, Indian diamond traders that participate in rough diamond auctions at Mumbai's Indian Diamond Trading Centre (IDTC) are complaining that taxation issues are reducing their activity to mere window shopping. "Diamantaires can see the rough diamonds they bid for at the IDTC, but the delivery doesn't happen locally .. despite their successful bids at Bharat Diamond Bourse", the newspaper writes.
Last week, a delegation of leading jewelers and diamond traders from across Europe spent three days getting acquainted with their counterparts in Antwerp, enjoying a behind-the-scenes look at the diamond capital and doing business at high-level networking events.
As Bloomberg first reported last week, Exelco North America, the local branch of the prominent Belgian diamond company Exelco NV, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. in an apparent attempt to prevent KBC Bank from liquidating the company's assests. Back in June, Belgian bank KBC Group NV seized assets from Exelco in an attempt to recover unpaid loans, according to court documents.
The Times of India this past weekend was the bearer of somber news from the Surat diamond industry, writing that, "Most of the small and medium diamond manufacturers have literally stopped the manufacturing of diamonds ahead [of Diwali] and are waiting to down their factory shutters early." With Diwali coming on October 19 (compared to October 30 last year), De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver was optimistic as rough diamond sales in Cycle 6 (ended 31 July) surged to $572 million.
Dominion Diamond Corporation yesterday announced that its, "Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the previously-announced plan of arrangement pursuant to which Northwest Acquisitions ULC, an entity affiliated with The Washington Companies, has agreed to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of the Company for US$14.25 per share in cash." In other words, shareholders are expected to receive $14.25 US per share in cash when the acquisition closes. The aquisition arrangement is worth a total of US$1.2 billion.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, announced sales had jumped during the April-to-August period as a result of Asia's strong performance.
Alrosa today announced the results of its rough specials and polished diamond auctions, held at the Eastern Economic Forum. The rough specials of 10.8+ carats, 1,293cts total achieved a total sales price of USD14.8 million, while 33 of the 36 polished stones, 2 to 12 carats were sold for a total sales value of USD 1.7 million. According to Alrosa VP Okoyomov the auctions were attended by some 50 companies from the US, India, Israel, Belgium and the UAE.