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.
Angola state-owned diamond mining company Endiama plans to float as much as 30% of its shares in an initial public offering (IPO) in 2020, according to Chairman José Manuel Gango Junior from an interview on the sidelines of the Africa Mining Indaba. He said the sale is part of a government plan to increase transparency in the diamond sector and bolster production. “We are preparing Endiama for a public listing and we are currently assessing the company’s value,” Gango Junior told Bloomberg.
As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
According to several reports, LVMH's raised offer of 16.7 billion US dollar - from the 14.5 billion offered and declined earlier - might be convincing enough to persuade TIffany's and the deal could be concluded fast, insiders say. If so, Tiffany's would be joining LVMH's portfolio, which includes Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton and Dior and put the luxury conglomerate in a more interesting position to compete with rivals, such as the Swiss-based Richemont.
The first ever direct tender in Antwerp of 350,000 carats of rough diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) delivered on all expectations.Out of 115 companies, both Antwerp-based companies and foreign buyers from Israel, India, Dubai and other countries, attending the viewings, 79 companies placed 426 bids on 36 lots.
Over the course of the next five to ten years, tax experts believe more indirect and direct taxes will be levied in the Arab Gulf states (GCC), such as the UAE, including taxes on wealth and property, corporate and income tax. As oil prices are expected to remain low, the new taxes, some of which will be implemented by the end of this year, should open up new sources of revenue to fund budgets, which are under pressure as oil revenues decline.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa's Shareholders have decided to pay dividends for the first half of 2019 in the amount of 28.3 billion rubles ($434 million) or 3.84 rubles ($0.059) per share. Therefore, the company will allocate 100% of its free cash flow for the corresponding period to pay out dividends, the miner has stated in a press release. The six months dividend yield will be at around 5%.
Warning - gory financial details ahead
Two years after becoming the biggest shareholder of the firm that owns De Beers diamonds, metals tycoon Anil Agarwal announced an exit from Anglo American by divesting his near 20 percent stake. Agarwal, the founder and controlling shareholder in Indian resource giant Vedanta Resources Plc., in March 2017 paid $2.5 billion for a 12.43 percent stake in Anglo American, and then bought a second tranche in September 2017, bringing his stake in the mining group to 19.3 percent. The bonds were to mature next year but Agarwal decided to exercise a call option and take profits on his investment.
The De Beers Group recorded a 27% decline in first-half earnings to $518 million (2018: $712 million) due to the challenging midstream trading environment and slowing consumer demand growth, parent company Anglo American stated in their interim financial results. The difficult market has led to a decrease in rough diamond prices and has put pressure on the margins of those in the trading business, the company said.
ABN Amro sent a letter to several of its diamond clients stating that it would be limiting finance for rough purchases "in view of the continued lack of profitability in the purchase of rough goods." The letter, which was obtained by JCK and IDEXonline, was sent last week from an Antwerp branch of the Dutch bank to a number of its clients declaring a moratorium on rough loans, pointing implicitly to the industry's reckless behavior in writing, "We recommend you to show constraint [sic] and only consider purchasing rough when there is sufficient profitability." In other words, the b
Firestone Diamonds today announced its 75%-owned subsidiary Liqhobong Mining Development has received a waiver from ABSA Bank for certain of its covenants measured as at 30 June 2019 in terms of the $82.4 million facility agreement, with the support of its bondholders. The next measurement date will be 30 June 2020.
Retailers and importers across the US - including those in the diamond and jewelry trade - breathed a collective sigh of relief this past weekend following the announcement of a temporary trade truce between the US and China, and an agreement to reopen negotiations. This past weekend at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, U.S. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to a ceasefire that will forestall another punishing round of of $300 billion in tariffs Mr.
The withdrawal of India’s beneficiary status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program is expected to have a "moderate" impact on India's exports of gems and jewelry to the US, but will not directly impact diamond exports - contrary to what some have been reporting.
Russia diamond-mining giant Alrosa's shareholders at their Annual General Meeting decided to allocate 100% of free cash flow for the second half of 2018 to the period-end dividend – 30.3 billion rubles, or approximately $480 million. Taking into account the nearly $692 million (43.7 billion rubles) in dividends the company paid for the first half-year of 2018 (equaling $0.09 or RUB 5.93 per share), the total dividend for 2018 will amount a record $1.17 billion (RUB 73.9 billion) or $0.16 (RUB 10.04) per share.
Watches of Switzerland went public on the London Stock Exchange last week, enjoying a better-than-expected debut. Shares are set to openly trade days after conditional trading started for the UK’s dominant luxury watch retailer. Watches of Switzerland (WoS) is owned by US private equity company Apollo Global Management and is the top UK seller of luxury timepiece brands like Rolex and Mayors. Under the leadership of chief executive officer (CEO), Brian Duffy, WoS’s sales have grown to make up 35% of luxury watch sales in the UK.
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse (Beurs voor Diamanthandel) has made just one change in its 2019 composition of its Board of Directors, adding Mr. Bhavesh Morakhia as a new director. Jacques Korn remains President, David Gotlib remains the Bourse's Vice President, while Rajender Gehani and Raphael Rubin have been reelected as Executive Directors. Members of the board are elected for a four-year period.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa reported significant improvements in revenue and profitability in Q1 2019 as compared to the previous quarter, with the caveat being that their 2019 financial results are lagging far behind the same period a year earlier (Q1 2018).
The list of Chinese products to be hit by 25 percent tariffs imposed by the U.S. government at the behest of President Donald Trump is expansive and is potentially about to cover the entirety of consumer products from China, including a broad swath of jewelry products, as the trade war escalates rapidly. On May 9, the U.S.
Lucapa Diamond Company last week has agreed on funding and refinancing arrangements which will improve its financial position and reduce its financing costs, the company said in an ASX announcement. The move will enable Lucapa to reduce the higher-cost debt used to fund the development of the new high-value Mothae diamond mine in Lesotho.
The National Bank of Fujairah (NBF), with years of experience in the diamond sector in Dubai, has opened its first international representative office in the heart of the Antwerp Diamond District, the largest rough trading hub in the world. Opening a representative office will enable the bank to better service their Antwerp-based customers and will provide market intelligence to their headquarters in the UAE. The Dubai-based bank targets buyers and resellers of rough that have suitable business models, secure sources of income and solid product traceability.
While still lagging behind the levels of activity recorded in February 2018, India's diamond trade last month rebounded from a remarkably poor showing in January 2019. According to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), exports of cut and polished diamonds from India fell by 3.51% year-on-year during the month of February 2019 to $2.34 billion as compared to the $2.43 billion exported in February 2018. However, February's exports represent a 34% increase over the $1.75 billion shipped out in January, which will come as a welcome sign to the Indian industry.