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.
The New York Times writes about how luxury brands who are not typically identified with the high jewelry category are drawn to big and exclusive diamonds, as a path to be part of what is considered a growth segment. LVMH's Louis Vuitton, partnering with high-end miner Lucara and Belgium-based manufacturer HB Antwerp, the newspaper reports, aims to continue its legacy of creating bespoke pieces, with the 1,758ct enigmatic Sewelô, and the 549ct clear white Sethunya.
In his latest blog, industry analyst Edahn Golan dissects 2020 and comes to the conclusion
- December 2020 US jewelry sales knocked it out of the park and rose to US$13.74bn,
- total retail sales for 2020 were flat despite several months of complete lockdown at the peak of the pandemic, totaling US$62.68bn
- a rebound owed to strong consumer demand, retailers' (esp. independents) ability to adapt to restrictions and reach out to consumers, improved gross margins and higher average ticket prices (from US$596.25 to US$1,110.66)
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.
Alrosa, the Russian mining giant, ended 2020 on a high note with total sales figures of US$521.6m, which, according to Rapaport, were the highest since March 2018, marking what deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev said was strong demand from the market.
Following a vote on Monday, members of the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) have decided to lift the ban that was instated in 2015, prohibiting the trade in LGD. According to BDB officials, companies will have to adhere to a set of rules to be able to trade LGD, such as the creation and registration of separate entities for those trading in both (natural) diamonds and LGD, implementation of separate inventories and processes etc. Earlier, India's GJEPC announced the addition of a LGD membership category, following requests of members.
In Geneva, the 14.83ct fancy vivid purple pink elegantly named "the Spirit of the Rose", after the Russian ballet by Niijinsky, was sold for US$26.6m at the Sotheby's auction to a telephone bidder who remains anonymous, a record price for a fancy vivid purple pink ever sold at auction.
AWDC’s figures for October indicate that increased trade, particularly rough imports and exports in the diamond hub, continue to narrow the gap, caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond industry, with 2019. Rough exports for October were up 82% in terms of carats, 76% in terms of value, compared to October 2019. Imports increased 78% in carats, 65% in US$.
Lucara, HB Antwerp and Louis Vuitton have added another exceptional stone to the miner, manufacturer and retailer collaboration that started with the 1.758ct Sewelô, announced earlier this year.
As restrictions to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic tighten in countries across the globe, Antwerp continues to be operational, a communication from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) which was sent to the local trade community states. Last Sunday, Belgium's Federal government, following other countries across the globe, announced new measures to flatten the curve, but business operations in Antwerp's famous diamond square mile can continue, including at the Diamond Office, where all diamond imports and exports pass through.
On November 12, Sotheby's will have another exceptional diamond for sale, with the 14.83ct fancy vivid purple pink elegantly named "the Spirit of the Rose", after the Russian ballet by Niijinsky. The rich pink is one of the largest in its kind and was discovered in Yakutia almost three years ago by Russian mining giant Alrosa. Expectations for the unique diamond are high, with estimates as high as US$38 million.
UNI Diamonds, the fintech company today announced the release of a free Diamond Price Calculator app, calculating what the company says "real time estimate prices for natural polished diamonds", underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and UNI Diamonds' trading platform data on sales and acutal diamond prices. . According to UNI Diamonds CEO, Mahiar Borhanjoo, "the industry has relied on complicated price lists that are only updated periodically and are based on data sources that are opaque.
De Beers' LGD jewelry line, Lightbox Jewelry is expanding its scope and will now be sold in 28 additional stores of 10 independent retailers in the US and Canada. Since its launch, Lightbox has been priced uniformly at US$800 per carat. In an interview with JCK News, Nick Smart, the company's commercial director commented that Lightbox products offer "an attractive margin" for the retailer and that in the LGD space, prices have already come down significantly, close to the level of Lightbox' pricing model.
The Economic Times India reports that, with the all but last sale of Rio Tinto's Argyle Pink diamonds, the precious fancy colored stones have become increasingly popular among India's high net worth individuals. In the past decade, the rare pinks' value has grown significantly, year after year, and prices are estimated to go up even further as the world's primary source, the Argyle mine in Australia, is set to close soon. That scarcity is also making other high quality diamonds an interesting investment, as no major mines have been discovered in recent years.
For the first time, the International Standards Organization (ISO) has established guidelines on diamond grading, specifying terminology, classification and methods for grading natural diamonds above 0.25ct in order to create more consistency between grading labs. The guidelines are based on CIBJO's Blue Book and are the result of a request made by the Swiss Association of Standardization. Recently, the ISO guide to the use of terminology for natural and synthetic diamonds and simulants, which defines diamonds as a natural mineral, was reconfirmed in a review.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre and Israeli Diamond Institute, in collaboration with VDB Expo, this morning kicked off a three day Online Diamond Trade Show, featuring 50 exhibitors from Israel and Antwerp. The event, which is open 24 hours a day and has direct communication features including live videochat, already has 800 registered professional buyers, from over 50 different countries. In the pre-covid era, traders would now be gearing up to ship goods and travel to the Hong Kong September show.
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 virtual preview, Rio Tinto has showcased its 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, entitled One Lifetime, One Encounter, one of the last of a series of annual tenders held since the exceptionally rare pink, violet and blue diamonds were first discovered in the Western Australian Argyle mine in 1979. This year's tender features 2.24ct Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond, named Argyle Eternity, the largest Fancy Vivid round brilliant ever offered at the tender.
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.
With the announcement of the cancellation of the November GemGenève Show, it seems like the last international offline trade show is now officially off the calendar. Today, Informa Markets issued a release that states "Jewellery & Gem WORLD Hong Kong (JGW) goes virtual for 2020", with the traditional trade fair resuming in September 2021.
Following the success of the Online Diamond Trade Show, held earlier this year, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI), have re-joined forces to host a second edition of the show from the 14th till the 17th of September. The 'virus-free trade show' will take place on VDB Expo, a platform for conferences and trade shows created by and powered by Virtual Diamond Boutique.
Rapaport reports that their price index shows polished prices have improved in July, as a reduction in diamond supply, on both rough and polished side, are causing supply shortages for certain goods. The RAPI index for 1ct diamonds was up 1.9%, which Rapaport claims is boosted by increased demand from investors for high-end, D - IF stones. Year to date, the index fell 4.8%. Rapaport believes that in the long run, the need for more efficiency in supply and demand, enabled by technological innovations will result in a more profitable trade.
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.
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$.
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?
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.
AWDC, IDI and VDBapp have announced they have extended the online diamond trade show, the first show to be held online with two additional days, through to Sunday April 5th.
Amidst the largest, global crisis in recent history and against the backdrop of turmoil in the industry as many diamond traders removed their stock from the Rapaport trading network, - in protest of the steep price drops published in Rapaport’s latest Price List (March 20) - the World Federation of Diamond Bourses has now announced it plans to establish a cross-bourse trading platform.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) yesterday, 23 March 2020 announced the suspension of preparations for its upcoming trade shows following the goverment's announcement of a quarantine for all travellers arriving from outside China. It cannot host an international show under these conditions.
The Rapaport Price List - the benchmark for most polished diamond traders - published last Friday, March 20, announced steep, across-the-board price drops that have angered many diamond traders and unleashed a wave of protest on social media. "Our heart goes out to the diamond community during these difficult times," a statement read. "We understand that today’s reduction of prices in the Rapaport Price List is upsetting." They might have underestimated the response.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has released a coronavirus-related update to the Antwerp diamond community, stating that the Diamond Office will remain open. The Diamond Office is essentially the beating heart of Antwerp's diamond trade, being the place where all rough and polished diamonds are imported and exported from the country. In a typical year, that is $46 billion annually, or $210 million every working day.
India’s exports of cut and polished diamonds declined dramatically compared to last year’s levels of trade, declining by 41% during the month of February 2020, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The GJEPC attributed the decline mainly to the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
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.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI) are joining forces to host the first ever Online Diamond Trade Show from March 30 to April 4. The 'virus-free trade show' will take place on the Virtual Diamond Boutique trade platform.
Mumbai Customs in India has seized two shipments of diamonds from Antwerp – one rough, one polished – on very questionable grounds, according to a trusted source. Another sixteen shipments are on hold.
The cautious optimism that had returned to the Antwerp diamond industry following the first month of 2020 was short-lived, as the explosive spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in February effectively closed eastern markets and caused great uncertainty across the global diamond trade. Antwerp's rough-diamond trade still enjoyed the boost from the miners' strong January sales, but the warning signs appeared there as well - particularly toward the end of the month.
The 2020 JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows will take place as scheduled, the show organizers confirmed, though they will be monitoring the situation. Last week, precautionary considerations due to the outbreak of the coronavirus led to the cancellation of two European fairs, Baselworld and Watches & Wonder Geneva (formerly SIHH).
The diamond trade, like many global industries, slowed significantly in February as the economic impact of the new coronavirus COVID-19 spreads across the world. Consumers in China, the world's second largest maket for diamond jewelry, have stayed at home as large sections of society and social life have shut down. Sales through Hong Kong, one of the world's largest diamond distrubution centres, have essentially halted. "Manufacturers and dealers are facing a severe liquidity crunch," writes Rapaport in a press release. "Diamond prices dropped as a result of the slowdown."
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.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa announced on Tuesday that it has sold a 6.21-carat cushion cut Fancy Intense Pink Purple diamond to Larry West, owner of one of the world's largest collections of exceptionally rare fancy-colored diamonds, for an undisclosed price. Alrosa cut and polished the diamond from a 20.18-carat stone found in Yakutia, a region in northeastern Siberia, in August 2018.
The government of South Korea on December 27, 2019 agreed to eliminate its 5% import tax on loose polished diamonds, effectively opening up the South Korean market to new sources of polished diamonds. Yesterday, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) confirmed that Diamond has been designated as a specific good that will be exempted from customs duties pending completion of the final legislative approvals. The abolishment of the import tax is expected to go into effect on April 1.
Independent diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky examines the growing acceptance of synthetic diamonds from a known but rarely-discussed angle: synthetic diamonds deliver higher profit margins to retailers than natural diamonds.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa has decided to relocate its March auctions for rough and polished diamonds from Hong Kong to other trading centers. The move follows the decision of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) to reschedule the Hong Kong trade shows from March until May in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
De Beers Group Industry Services has announced a new collaboration with leading US wholesaler, RDI Diamonds Inc., to become its premier source of diamond grading reports, the company stated in a press release. It will be the first time De Beers has provided grading services in the US.
"Effective immediately, GIA [Gemological Institute of America] will suspend diamond sealing services," the organization said in press release last Friday. The statement continues, "The Institute is taking this action after recently encountering a small number of GIA sealing packets that had been compromised by third parties after the sealing packets left GIA." The organization discovered "that the diamonds originally enclosed in the compromised packets had been replaced with HPHT (high-pressure, high-temperature) treated natural diamonds."
Lucara, the Canadian mining company that owns the Karowé mine in Botswana announced they will be collaborating with luxury brand Louis Vuitton and an Antwerp-based high-end polishing company (HB) to polish the largest rough diamond ever found in Botswana, the 1758ct Sewelô diamond recovered in April last year. In the arrangement, the stone - qualified as near-gem, variable quality, will be polished into a collection of diamonds, and apart from an up front non-material payment, Lucara will retain a 50% interest in the polished results.
India's polished-diamond exports declined in value by 15.5% over the full course of 2019 on a 13% decline in the volume of goods exported, according to statistics published by India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The decline in the polished trade triggered a slowdown in manufacturing, and consequently of their demand for rough imports, which declined 18% in value on a 9% decrease in the volume of rough imported.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has delivered an exceptional result from its first foray into a cutting & polishing partnership, marking a milestone for Lucapa’s move along the diamond value chain. value chain. The first stone they selected was a 36.20-carat rough diamond from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho, which was polished in Antwerp in partnership with a leading international diamantaire, yielding six D-color diamonds. The two largest of the polished diamonds were both graded as D Flawless by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
2019 was a challenging year for the global diamond trade. The entire industry, from miners to manufacturers and from diamond traders to jewelry retailers saw their trade figures and profits decline during the past year. Antwerp, as the leading diamond trading hub, was caught in the middle of the industry-wide storm. “Geopolitical instability led to economic turmoil, which negatively impacted consumer confidence,” says Ari Epstein, CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa ended a challenging 2019 on a high note, with December rough diamond sales increasing 7.4% year-over-year to $352.1 million, good for their second largest monthly haul of 2019. The company also sold $11.6 million in polished diamonds last month, an increase of 132% over December 2018 and also representing their highest monthly earnings for polished diamonds last year. These end-of-year improvements, however, were not enough to correct the significant downturn in sales that typified 2019.
Bonas, a leading international diamond tender house based in Antwerp, will hold a gemstone tender alongside the February Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Fair (BGJF) for the very first time at the IMPACT Challenger Center, Bangkok, the group announced in a press release.
Softer demand for polished diamonds in 2019 led to a drop in polished prices, yet the year ended on a positive note according to two of the three leading diamond-price indexes, Rapaport's RapNet and PolishedPrices, while Idex saw no improvement in December.
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.
ALROSA USA, the rep office of the Russian mining giant sold 255 polished diamonds, total weight 435ct and a mix of different cuts, and including 21 fancy colored diamonds, to companies from various countries. Total revenue of the auction amounted to US$4.8 million, exceeding the US$3 million of the first auction held in New York last summer.
The sale of the "in-house" manufactured diamonds through auctions, as well as the expansion and active presence of the company in key consumer markets like the US is in line with ALROSA's approach to expand its scope beyond mere mining.
Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Diamond tenders, the 35th since the mine started producing the rare pink, red and violet diamonds, received a lot of interest, the company says. As the Argyle mine is due to close next year, the 2019 tender is most likely one of the last tenders, explaining the double-digit growth in bids made on the lots of polished pinks, reds and purples. The most valuable diamond in the selection, the Argyle Enigma, was bought by Australia-based Star & Kiven Diamonds (Aurostar group), who also won the winning bid for the Argyle Verity.
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.
India's exports of cut and polished diamonds in October declined by 15.4% year-on-year to $1.95 billion as compared to $2.30 billion in October 2018, according to the provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India. The $1.95 billion is the same amount exported in September, which represented an 18% decline from the year prior. The volume of polished diamonds exported declined 8% to 2.8 million carats, as the average price per carat for the month fell 22% to $689 per carat. For the fiscal year to date (April - Oct.