Reprinted courtesy of Paul Zimnisky. Despite relatively stable consumer demand for diamonds in established markets like the U.S. and notable growth from newer markets like China, for the most of last decade the diamond industry has felt apathetic. This can in part be explained by an arguably oversupplied supply-chain, insufficient marketing efforts and a general pessimism towards the diamond business as a changing consumer economy challenges traditional industries.
The title of the 10th Global Diamond Report, a collaboration between leading consultancy agency Bain & Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) leaves little to the imagination on its content. The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, not just in terms of its scale and impact on the entire world, but also in its unpredictability. And that also applies to the diamond industry at large, because while the crisis didn't leave the industry unscathed, very few people would have predicted that it would rebound significantly at the finish line.
In his latest editorial piece, JCK News Director Rob Bates talks about an emerging trend in the LGD landscape, where some producers of the man-made stones are differentiating their product highlighting the grown diamonds haven't been treated to enhance their appearance. The vast majority of LGD diamonds have a brownish colour in their raw form and are treated and retouched through various processes, to make them whiter or cleaner, which often leaves a reddish or silvery tinge on the stone, one producer states.
Barely three weeks into the new year, Lucara reports another big find, a massive unbroken, 341ct top quality white rough, recovered in recent weeks from the South Lobe M/PK(S) unit, the 54th 200ct+ diamond the company has produced at its Karowe mine. Lucara recently obtained a renewed and expanded mining licence that enables the further development of the (underground) mine, through to 2026.
In Luanda, the state-owned diamond company Sodiam has opened a retail store, in collaboration with KGK, the diamond company that also operates a polishing factory in the country. Earlier, Mines minister Diamantino Azevedo announced the government is going ahead with plans to develop a diamond hub in a free-trade zone, which is said to include a research and training facility as well as a diamond bourse.
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 Diamond and HB Antwerp announce the discovery of another massive rough diamond, coming in at 998ct, destined for Antwerp, where it will be analyzed, cut and polished by HB Antwerp, as part of the partnership between the miner and manufacturer, in which HB Antwerp receives all 10.8ct+ rough stones produced at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana, in return for a share in the profit of the resulting polished.
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.
Economic Times India reports that this year, some 650,000 diamond polishers in the country's main polishing hub Surat will skip the Diwali holidays this year, as global demand for polished diamonds is ramping up ahead of the holiday season. By continuing to work, many units are trying to make up for losses, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual shutdown of manufacturing. An estimated 5,000 polishing units out of 7,000 total have now resumed activities, at 70% capacity and according to the GJEPC, India's overall exports are now estimated to be at 50%.
HB Company, the Antwerp-based diamond and manufacturing company is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of the Antwerp manufacturing branch of AMC, diamond manufacturing company and De Beers Sightholder, taking over the entire Antwerp staff, technology and equipment. HB Company, which in past months announced a partnership with Louis Vuitton, to cut and polish the Sewêlo, and Lucara Diamond, to purchase all of their 10.8ct+ rough stones, is planning on more recruiting in the coming months, focusing on innovation and the Antwerp legacy in diamond polishing.
In a press release, Antwerp-based HB Company, announces that Boaz Lev, top man at diamond shipping and logistics firm Malca Amit for the past twelve years, is joining the company as one of its managing partners.
According to figures released by the GJEPC, India's rough imports plummeted to 82% in the period between April and July, as a consequence of the global pandemic as well as a voluntary ban on rough imports that was implemented for several months. In value, rough imports decreased sharply from US$ 4 billion to US $712 million, while polished exports fell 47% to US$ 2.7 billion (compared to US$ 5 billion year-on-year).
After months of a virtual standstill in most of India's polishing industry, the Indian diamond industry trade bodies say polishing activity in Surat is now at 20-30% capacity, and they are no longer calling on the local manufacturing sector to voluntarily ban imports of rough diamonds.
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.
India's woes continue as more COVID-19 cases in Surat, which some deem a veritable infection hotspot, forced a week-long closure of manufacturing units. Meanwhile, the GJEPC and other industry bodies are extending the voluntary ban of rough diamonds from July 10-31st and said they will be calling on large producers to continue their flexibility towards long-term customers. At the same time, as tensions continue to rise between India and China, traders are forced to reroute polished exports to Hong Kong, which are being blocked by Chinese customs.
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".
With more than 150 new positive tests among diamond workers in Surat, India's polishing hub, local communities and industry organizations have instated new restrictions, including an 8-day closure of each manufacturing sub-unit if one person, full closure if more than two persons test positive. Already more than 25 units have been close and cafetaria's are not allowed to open.
Local authorities have ordered the partial closure of about eight diamond-cutting firms in Surat after 23 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Several of their staff members will also undergo a 14-day quarantine, as will the families of those confirmed to be infected.
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.
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.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa has suspended operations of its diamond polishing plants until the end of summer due to falling demand, CEO Sergei Ivanov said in an interview to RCB television channel broadcast on Wednesday. The miner also announced today (April 30) it is granting its rough diamond clients "maximum flexibility" for the May trading session and has not set an "obligatory buyout limit", adding that "deferred goods will be offered during future sales periods. Clients interested in purchasing rough are free to request and get the goods they need.”
In a letter signed by GJEPC Chairman Agrawal, President of the Bharat Diamond Bourse Anoop Mehta and Marendra V Gandhi, President of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association, the industry organizations are calling on their members to implement a cessation of rough diamond imports for the duration of one month, starting May 15.
The writing appears to be on the proverbial wall: the Indian diamond industry is careening toward a temporary ban on rough-diamond imports which, if implemented, will effectively bring rough diamond trading to a halt. How can manufacturers survive without rough, you may ask? If Chaim Even-Zohar’s calculations are correct, it is because they are sitting on $1.5-$2 billion of rough diamond inventory already, with another $5 billion in polished ready for sale. The question then becomes: why buy more?
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.
The Government of India has decided to extend its nationwide lockdown until 3 May to slow down the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, but is inclined to allow some factories, including some diamond manufacturing units, to resume operations with restrictions.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has announced that the Lulo alluvial mining company, Sociedade Mineira Do Lulo (“SML”), is to receive US$4.0 million (A$7.0 million) under a partnership agreement with leading international diamond manufacturer Safdico International. The partnership was forged in an effort to create added value for some of Lucapa's exceptional rough diamonds.
The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, India, is facing a potentially massive liquidity crisis as a result of overdue payments owed by diamond traders in China and Hong Kong in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, writes The Times of India. Industry estimates estimate the value of those overdue payments at Rs5,000 crore, about $670 million, in the past month alone.
At meetings in Botswana coinciding with its second rough diamond 'sight' of 2020, De Beers detailed to clients its plans to scrap the one-size-fits-all supply model and create three different types of contract: manufacturer contracts, dealer contracts and integrated retailer contracts, a company representative explained to us. Each type of contract is said to be designed around the broad needs of the three types of business model to which they apply. The move is designed to help the diamond miner ensure that each buyer gets the stones most suited to its needs and business type.
Sarine Technologies could not overcome the market-driven losses sustained in the first half of 2019, ending the year with a net loss of US$1.4 million as group revenue fell 12% to US$51.3 million amid tough industry conditions. The group stumbled to a net loss of US$2.8 million in the first half of FY2019 before the gradual stabilisation of conditions in the industry in the second half of 2019 helped them halve that loss by the end of the year. Sarine made a modest net profit of US$0.2 million in Q3 2019 with further improvement on profitability to US$1.2 million in Q4 2019.
India’s exports of polished diamonds continue to fall short of last year’s levels, declining by 5.7% during the month of January 2020, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The value of rough-diamond imports for manufacturing fell again as well, despite a notable increase in volume. Meanwhile, India's synthetic-diamond imports (rough) and exports (polished) continue to grow rapidly.
Indian diamond manufacturer and exporter Star Rays announced it is working towards becoming India’s first carbon-neutral diamond company, highlighting its commitment to sustainable business practices.
Safdico International (South African Diamond Corp.), a subsidiary of Graff Diamonds and a leading diamond manufacturing and trading company has signed a deal with Australian miner Lucapa whereby it may purchase up to 60% of the annual rough production from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola.
One of the larger Indian diamond manufacturers, importer/exporter and De Beers Sightholder M. Suresh has opened a diamond cutting and polishing center equipped with high-end technology in the Free Port of Vladivostok, says the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East. Russian miner Alrosa will supply them with rough diamonds for polishing.
Press release, Antwerp: The HB Company, the leading, cutting-edge diamond manufacturer from Antwerp, today announces its collaboration with Louis Vuitton and Lucara Diamond Corp.
In May 2019, the Antwerp diamond industry celebrated the 100th anniversary of the brilliant cut, the world’s most successful diamond shape, created by Antwerp mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky. This anniversary celebration also served as the launch of a unique project called `t Steentje* (‘the Stone’). The project: to polish a single diamond as a community. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the Antwerp diamond industry arranged to have 57 well-known (and not-so-well-known) residents of Antwerp polish a single diamond: one person for each facet of a brilliant.
The Supervisory Board of Alrosa has approved the miner's three-year strategy for developing and streamlining its diamond cutting and polishing units for 2020-2022, as well as the plan to integrate the recently-acquired manufacturer Kristall into the Alrosa Group. The plan includes a set of measures focused on improving product mix efficiency, production cycle optimization and the creation of a consolidated sales system for polished diamonds, a strategy they believe will improve the operational efficiency of Alrosa’s consolidated diamond cutting activities.
Former CEO and now chairman emeritus of Rosy Blue Alliance, Dilip Mehta, has announced a new venture into synthetic diamonds, partnering with his sons to launch a business in Surat. Mehta is just the latest of many diamond veterans to test the synthetic-diamond waters. Speaking to the Times of India, Mehta made clear that the venture was fully independent of Rosy Blue. "This one is our own venture and nothing to do with Rosy Blue," he is quoted as saying.
In a preliminary update for Q3 2019, Singapore-listed diamond equipment and services provider Sarine noted that "the significant drop (40% less y-o-y) in the quantities of rough stones entering the production pipeline" has temporarily eased the excess inventories in the midstream, "somewhat alleviating" the issue of working capital in the short term.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has exported a 46 carat Lulo pink diamond to Antwerp and it is currently undergoing studies for polishing (initial possible polished solutions pictured above). A decision on the optimal polished solutions will be taken by the Sociedade Mineira do Lulo (SML) and the Lulo partners once the studies are concluded. While Antwerp is not the manufacturing center it once was, many of the world's most valuable and complex rough diamonds still find their way to Antwerp for analysis and polishing.
As has been anticipated for some time now, the Supervisory Board of Russian diamond miner Alrosa has green-lighted the acquisiion of a 100% stake of Production Corporation 'Kristall' from the Russian Federation. The move brings the leading polished-diamond manufacturer in Russia and Europe under the Alrosa Group umbrella. The value of the 100% equity interest in Kristall was determined on the basis of an independent appraiser's report at RUB 1,886 million, approximately US$29 million.
The Government of India has succumbed to internal and external pressure and lowered the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate for wide variety of products and services - including 'job work' in the diamond industry - in an attempt to revive the economy. The announcements come as welcome news and should provide a much-needed boost to the gems and jewelry industry in India, hopefully stemming the tide of job losses in the sector.
The 21st Presidents’ Meeting of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) begins today, September 23, in Dubai. It will take an in-depth look at the issue of synthetic diamonds with a panel discussion dedicated to this issue, while another panel will discuss traceability, provenance and blockchain technology.
The ongoing slump in the global diamond industry is having a negative impact on jobs in the expansive diamond manufacturing industry of India. The world's largest cutting and polishing centre appears to be heading toward an employment crisis, at least in the short-term. Estimates from industry insiders are that the diamond industry in Gujarat have seen job losses of up to 10%-15% already, with more on the way if consumer demand does not pick up in the near future.
Sarine Technologies is expecting its second straight quarterly loss as the "prevailing negatives in the diamond industry midstream" are hurting their financial results. Demand for their diamond-manufacturing equipment relies on the manufacturing sector and thus indirectly on the rough trade that supplies it - two segments in the midst of a slump.
The diamond industry has hit its halfway mark of 2019 and the song remains the same as Rapaport releases their H1 figures detailing across-the-board declines in polished diamond prices amid, as we noted last week, a period of weak sentiment and even weaker demand, all of which is taking its toll on manufacturers and those that supply them.
A combination of factors has led to a nearly 50% decline in production by small diamond manfacturing units in India, not the least of which is a significant decline in the price of small diamonds (0.30 carats), writes the Times of India (TOI). According to the most recent RapNet Diamond Index, the price index for diamonds weighing 0.30 carats has fallen by 16% over the past year, and about 25% since January. The vast majority of these stones are manufactured in Surat and has caused already-low margins for manufacturers to plummet.
Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky is one of the greatest diamond cutters of all time. His many accomplishments include the fashioning of the priceless, 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond, cut from a 599.19-carat rough stone, which is still the largest D Flawless diamond in history, and the Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world at 546 carats. Sir Tolkowsky - known as Gabi - is also renowned for creating the “Flower Cuts” for De Beers, which accentuate the brilliance of typically lower-quality and lower-color stones with their unconventional angles and facets.
100 years ago, at the age of 19, Antwerp diamond polisher and engineer Marcel Tolkowsky was the first person to scientifically determine the perfect way to cut a brilliant diamond - 57 facets precisely positioned in such a way as to achieve the maximum brilliance, fire and scintillation.
Tiffany & Co has been expanding its workforce in sub-Saharan Africa as part of its drive to increase its transparency and raise ethical jewelry standards across the industry.
Media reports out of Africa are claiming an agreement (MoU) has been reached between the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) in Gaborone, whereby the latter would commence processing of Zimbabwe's diamonds. The diamond deal is said to be one of the agreements sealed during the high-level Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) summit held in Harare last week.
Sarine Technologies recorded a fourth-quarter net profit of $93,000, down 85% from $613,000 the year before, citing challenging industry conditions, weak sentiment in the midstream and a downturn in consumer spending in China due to uncertainties stemming from the impact of trade tariffs. The company notes that credit for India’s manufacturing sector tightening, Indian Rupee exchange rate volatility and the 'legitimization' of laboratory-grown diamonds all conspired to generate weak results.
HRD Antwerp, Europe’s leading reference for diamond and gemology education, diamond certification and grading, this summer (June 3-7) is launching a course in Rough Diamond Management and Production Control. The course will introduce the business concepts required to acquire and trade rough diamonds, foremost among which are various techniques for determining the value of rough stones, the key component at the basis of any career in rough diamond trading and management.
A hub dedicated to the diamond industry in Angola will be inaugurated in 2019 in Saurimo, Lunda Sul province, the minister of Mineral Resources and Oil announced at the end of December. Diamantino Azevedo said that setting up the hub, a project developed jointly by state diamond mining and processing company Endiama and state diamond sales company Sodiam, is in its final phase. The minister also said that the hub project includes a diamond cutting and polishing factory, a professional technical school and other institutions and industries linked to the diamond business.
A diamond jewelry manufacturer from Antwerp, Giovanni Daems, is the first to develop a new, patented technology for a fully-automated diamond setting machine, which it unveiled this week at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Nearly one in five people engaged in India’s diamond industry, or about 100,000 workers, are said to be at risk of losing their jobs in the next six months, a representative of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) told The Economic Times. “The diamond trade in Surat could potentially lose one lakh (100,000) jobs in the next two quarters due to the increase in duty, lack of ease of doing business and the liquidity crunch.
The GIA has announced that Chinese retailer LAELIM Jewelry and Belgian diamond manufacturer IGC Group will pilot GIA’s M2M (Mine to Market) program, which allows for complete transparency and traceability of diamonds along the value chain, writes GIA in a press release. This is one of the first instances where a manufacturer and retailer implemented the M2M program in partnership, and LAELIM is the first retailer in China to participate.
The majority of small and medium diamond manufacturing units in India are planning to close shop and take an early Diwali vacation as sentiment in the diamond cutting and manufacturing centre is faltering, writes the Times of India. Depreciation of the Indian rupee has put heavy pressure on the trading of polished diamonds amid dwindling demand, falling polished prices, firm rough diamond prices and the banks squeezing loans to the industry.
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.
While welcoming the Indian government's recent Increase of the import duty on jewelry from 15% to 20% as a way to strengthen the jewelry manufacturing sector, Chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Pramod Kumar Agrawal said the hike on cut and polished diamonds and processed colored gemstones would negatively impact exports and trade of cut and polished diamonds.