In an extensive report, Rapaport spoke to a number of jewelers across the US, gauging how businesses are faring through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although circumstances were different throughout the US, with states deciding independently on how strict they applied lockdown measures, the majority of retailers came up with ways to adapt, through appointments, curbside pickups or even home deliveries. The impact of the global pandemic is hitting jewelry retail sales, but many jewelers seem optimistic.
Rapaports trade analyis of the import and export figures of polished diamonds in April in the world's largest consumer market for diamonds demonstrate the massive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. According to the report, polished imports dropped to the lowest level, with net polished imports (polished imports - polished exports) sinking to -807 million US$, where in the same period (January to April) last year, the net imports stood at a surplus of 474 million US$.
As announced last week, Rapaport's RapNet - the world’s largest diamond trading network - gave its members the opportunity to vote on whether it should provide diamond listing and pricing services for synthetic diamonds.
It is a joint decision of the profession and the French Union of Jewellery not to grade synthetic diamonds, unlike other international laboratories. These stones do not have to be evaluated on the same scale as natural ones, because they are an imitation of the diamond and must remain so. This decision is unanimous in the profession except for those who want to promote this [lab-grown] material. But it must be remembered that the increase of synthetic diamonds on the market will bring down their price.
Following modest holiday sales, slow trading at the February/March Hong Kong show and a sluggish BaselWorld, typical first quarter inventory restocking of polished diamonds was "subdued" and "cautious" this year, while rough sales tumbled as manufacturing slowed, according to a Rapaport News press release.
Rapaport Auctions is currently holding a melee auction in Antwerp. The auction features large quantities of original, mixed, and finely assorted diamond parcels, ranging in all shapes, qualities and sizes. The organizers say it is an "excellent opportunity to purchase diamonds at great prices." The auction is taking place at the Diamond Exchange Building and runs from March 25-28.
RapNet, a member of the Rapaport Group of Companies and the world’s largest diamond trading network, will be introducing jewelry into its global trading network, as announced yesterday in a press release. RapNet members can now upload jewelry images and data, perform detailed searches, and directly trade jewelry with each other without any fees or commissions. There are no additional fees to use this service.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has told The Times of India (TOI) that it has no plans to lift the ban on trading synthetic diamonds in the bourse, a rule that entered into force in 2015 following a spate of undisclosed mixing of natural and synthetic goods.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) last week published an article on a most curious discovery: "One Natural Melee Diamond Found in Large Batch of HPHT Synthetic Melee".
In what can only be described as a victory for laboratory-grown diamond producers, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dropped the word 'natural' from its definition of a diamond, essentially redefining 'diamond' to include non-mined gemstones, as part its new guides for the jewelry industry. It further gives additional leeway to existing standards regarding the description of lab-grown diamonds (and metal alloys), and has dropped 'synthetic' as an appropriate descriptor of lab-grown diamonds except under certain circumstances.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has conducted a survey of 2,011 US adults about their attitude toward synthetic diamonds, finding a clear majority of Americans do not consider diamonds created in a factory ('synthetic' or 'laboratory-grown') as 'real' diamonds (see the full survey results here).
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.
"Diamond prices softened slightly in October amid slow trading as businesses closed for Indian and Jewish holidays," according to Rapaport's latest press release. "Polished inventory levels dropped during the month, but remain higher than usual for this time of year, exerting downward pressure on prices." They note that the number of unique diamonds listed on RapNet has increased 18% since January to 1.4 million, as dealers are holding large volumes of hard-to-move goods and seeing shortages of select in-demand categories, such as RapSpec A3+, SI-clarity diamonds.
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.
According to three of the leading polished price indexes - Rapaport, IDEX and PolishedPrices - September polished diamond prices trended downward, though they steadied toward the end of the month. PolishedPrices pulled the alarm bell mid-month, with the headline, "Polished index falls to lowest level since December 2009", noting that "The overall index is 4.7% lower than this time last year and has lost 2.2% since the start of the year," before bouncing back the next week.
After bouncing back strongly in the first quarter of 2017, Israel's polished diamond exports slowed significantly in the second quarter, according to data from the Economy and Industry Ministry. Rapaport News writes that Israel's exports of polished diamonds for the half-year ended June declined 3% to $2.55 billion excluding returned goods, while volume fell 6% to 919,422 carats.
"Polished diamond prices softened in June after the JCK Las Vegas show demonstrated a cautious and changing US market," announces Rapaport News in a press release on polished prices in June. Their message confirms the trends noted in recent months: retailers reducing standard inventory, which is contributing to a build-up of older stock midstream, while consumers seeking lower price point jewelry.
Rapaport has issued a press release on the current rough and polished diamond markets, which boils down to the following: "Amid sluggish polished markets, rough trading remained strong." The second quarter of the year is typically a slow period for diamond trading, and April this year proved no different.
Signet Jewelers, as part of its effort to support and reinforce its Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds (D-SRSP), has been working on a project with product-testing firm United Laboratories and the Diamond Producers Association to create a facility for testing synthetic diamond screening equipment, writes Rapaport News.** The intention is to create an industry standard for such equipment so that, "su
Polished diamond prices are still soft at the start of 2017, with Rapaport's RapNet Diamond Index showing prices for the benchmark 1-carat polished diamonds down 1.2%, a trend confirmed by PolishedPrices, while IDEX noted a slight rise in February despite, "the downward path seen from mid-2016." Rapaport writes, "Diamond trading this February was slower than in previous years, with buyers pushing for deeper discounts and suppliers expecting firmer pric
Citing data from its RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI), Rapaport News writes, "Diamond manufacturing profits were squeezed in January amid strong rough demand while polished prices softened." Despite a disappointing holiday season, demand of rough is strong as jewelers will need to restock after the holiday season. This is demonstrated by De Beers' First Cycle sales of $720 million, its largest sight since July 2014.
Avi Krawitz of Rapaport News sat down with Joseph Kuzi, CEO of EGL Asia and director of Diamond Services, a Hong-Kong based synthetics testing facility, to talk about the phenomenon of undisclosed synthetic diamonds. He heard that the technology behind and production of synthetic diamonds is increasing rapidly, and just because we do not hear about every instance where undisclosed mixing of synthetic and natural diamonds is discovered, does not mean it is not widespread.
According to a Rapaport press release: Polished diamond prices softened in December as Indian liquidity dried up due to the government’s demonetization policy eliminating 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. Trading slowed with dealers taking vacation during the holiday period," The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat, RapSpec A3+ diamonds fell 1.3% in December. RAPI for 0.30-carat diamonds edged up 0.2%, while RAPI for 0.50-carat stones fell 2.2%. RAPI for 3-carat diamonds slid 1%. RAPI for 1-carat diamonds declined 3% in the fourth quarter and 5% for the full year.
Citing a presentation by Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American, the parent company of De Beers, Rapaport News writes that De Beers' prices for rough diamonds fell 5% this year despite the solid recovery of the rough diamond market.
Citing data from the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), Rapaport News writes that jewelry business closures in the U.S. increased 31 percent to 416 nationwide in the third quarter, although most companies had “ceased operations,” which means they closed for reasons other than financial difficulty or consolidation. "These totaled 392, representing a 42 percent jump from a year ago. Bankruptcies crept up to 10 cases from nine a year earlier.
According to diamond pricing giant Rapaport, "Diamond markets were steady in September. The polished market was supported by relatively high rough prices as suppliers held polished prices firm, preferring to delay sales rather than suffer losses from expensive rough." The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for one-carat, GIA-graded polished diamonds declined 0.2% in September. The index dropped 2.7% in the third quarter and is down 2% since the beginning of the year. Prices for three-carat stones also remained flat at -0.2% after declining 1.5% in the third quarter and 9.8% for the year.
One-carat diamond prices remained under pressure with low trading volume during the August vacation period, according to a statement from the Rapaport news service. Inventories of polished are building up due to steady manufacturing and soft demand as dealers prepare for the fourth-quarter holiday season. However, there is some improvement in items weighing less than one carat as Chinese bridal demand stabilizes.
Imports of polished diamonds to the U.S. increased 0.3% to $1.72 billion, writes Rapaport News citing the latest (unspecified) government figures, "underlining continued stability in the largest market for diamond jewelry." The volume of polished imports, however, increased 7.2% to 790,061 carats, and accordingly, the average price fell 6.4% to $2,171 per carat.
Rapaport Auctions and Trading issued a press release today offering clients, "the opportunity to purchase parcels of melee that are 100% natural and untreated," and their timing could not be more appropriate. On July 18, Morgan Stanley released a report on the effect of synthetic diamonds on mined diamonds, which says that the share of synthetics is so far negligible, but not for long.
Polished markets cautious. Hong Kong show begins with low expectations for Chinese demand after relatively weak JCK Las Vegas show. Prices stable at De Beers sight with boxes selling at mid-single-digit premiums amid concerns that rough market fails to reflect sluggish polished demand. Manufacturing steady.
Two Israeli diamond firms – LYE Diamonds Ltd and ESGD Diamonds Ltd belonging to Gaby and Yossi Yelizarov – have laid down a lawsuit in New York against the Rapaport Group and the GIA relating to a case of a mystery treatment that the GIA said temporarily improves a diamond’s color. The GIA said it discovered the treatment last year which it claims temporarily improves a diamond’s color. The lawsuit case relates to a case a year ago when the GIA said that it discovered around 500 diamonds that, in its view, had been treated by a previously unknown color-improving process, JCK explains.
Based on preliminary data from the US Department of Commerce, IDEX reports that total sales of fine jewelry and watches in the US market rose by a solid 4.2% in March when compared to March 2015, leading to a 4.9% overall increase US sales of fine jewelry during the first quarter of 2016, rising to $16.8 billion compared to $16 billion a year ago. However, preliminary March sales for specialty jewelers only gained 3%.
"I see or rather have been told that my mate Boney (ed: Rapaport) has lowered prices in the better end of the larger sizes
Given that his price list is concocted by him for him, except those who willingly enrich him by buying it, he of course has every right to do whatever he wants with prices…, which of course is exactly what he does anyway.
I would presume that most in the industry would be less than amused at his latest participation in the workings of their daily life.
In the light of demand for polished diamonds which is far from spectacular and rising inventory levels, rough diamond trading was "surprisingly upbeat" in April, writes Avi Krawitz in Rapaport, asking whether the industry is again headed for an oversupply of polished goods in the market which will push prices down. De Beers posted its largest sales cycle so far this year at last week’s sight – and that despite raising prices by an average of 2%. Meanwhile, ALROSA sold most of its offering after slightly reducing prices.
Rapaport News reports the following: "Hong Kong’s polished diamond imports declined 11% to $17.52 billion in 2015, according to data from the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong. In volume terms, polished imports fell 12% to 18.6 million carats. Polished imports from India, Hong Kong’s biggest diamond trade partner, fell 13% to $7.22 billion compared with the previous year. Imports from Israel slumped 23%, while shipments from the U.S. slid 12%. Polished exports decreased 3% to $13.31 billion during the period, with exports to Mainland China down 14% to $2.3 billion.
"It was with profound disbelief that I read your press release today entitled: "Rapaport Launches New Investment Diamond Grading Report". In all honesty, my initial response to this press release was simply: Has Rapaport totally lost their f----g minds? It’s not enough that the “Rap Sheet” ruined the profitability of the retail diamond markets, or that the effort to “commoditize” diamonds was such an incredibly absurd (read: failed) idea. Now Rapaport wants to promulgate the selling of diamonds to consumers as “investments” like stocks and bonds?
Bloomberg Business reports that Swiss watch exports posted their first annual drop in six years, hurt by slumping demand for less expensive timepieces that are competing for buyers with Apple Inc. and other smartwatch makers. December exports declined 3.8%, pushing shipments down 3.3% on the year to 21.5 billion Swiss francs ($21.2 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday. That compares with a 1.9% rise the previous year.
Bart De Hantsetters, President of the Belgian Diamond Manufacturers Association looks back at a difficult year for the global diamond industry and shares his views on how Antwerp should tackle the current crisis.
In a letter addressed to RapNet members, Rapaport announces changes in the RapNet structure, which will now include four Service Packages. Prices for the RapNet Dealer (available for members listing up to $7 million worth in diamonds) and RapNet Primary Supplier packages (for members listing over $7 million worth at the same time) will be raised starting January 1st to $100/month or $1,100/year and $500/month or $5,500/year respectively.