An annual tradition, industry veterans Chaim Even-Zohar and Pranay Narvekar present the 2018 iteration of The Tacy Diamond Pipeline, with an in-depth look at the impact that the rise and acceptance of laboratory-grown diamonds has had on the industry this past year.
Rio Tinto has unveiled the collection of diamonds on sale at what may be one of its last tenders of the world's rarest pink and red diamonds, as the life of the Argyle mine in Western Australia is winding down. The mine produces more than 90 percent of Australia's diamonds, and is one of the only known sources of pink diamonds in the world.
A combination of factors has led to widespread uncertainty and a global downturn in the diamond industry during the first half of 2019. Antwerp - the world’s leading diamond trade centre - has not escaped its impact, particularly in the rough diamond trade. Economic uncertainty generated by an unstable geopolitical climate has also fostered a heightened sense of caution among the banks that finance the trade, as well as diamond brokers and consumers of luxury goods.
Alrosa held a tender for polished diamonds in New York this June, earning $3 million from the sale of 20 polished diamonds with total weight of 140.4 carats for an average value of approximately $21,430 per carat. The diamonds on tender included 8 gemstones of standard color and 12 fancy colored polished diamonds, most of them with Fancy Yellow and Fancy Intense Yellow characteristics.
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.
The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair last week (20-23 June) provided a snapshot of a cautious diamond industry in the midst of a period of weak sentiment and even weaker demand, according to several traders we spoke with this week. And they do not see any quick fixes on the horizon. While it may not be the largest diamond show of the year, Hong-Kong June is the most important mid-year jewelry sourcing event in Asia, and as such provides us the opportunity to take the pulse of the polished diamond trade. The consensus? Sentiment is poor.
‘Wait and see’
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.
India's rough diamond trade continued its 2019 downturn in May, as less manufacturing is taking place amid a tightening of available financing and weak demand for small goods, according to data gleaned from the Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of polished diamonds also recorded their fifth consecutive month of decline in 2019, despite a solid increase (11%%) in the average price per carat.
Bonas Group, one of the world's leading rough diamond brokering and tender houses, is holding a private sale of polished diamonds and colored gemstones in Antwerp later this month. Viewings will take place at the Bonas office in Antwerp, in the Diamond Club on the 9th floor from 17 to 21 June 2019, each day from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. The sale will close on Monday, 24 June at 11:00 Antwerp (CET) time, and will be an online highest bid tender on www.bonasbids.com.
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.
While more than 300 million voters go to the polls this week for the European Parliament elections, members of RapNet - the world’s largest diamond trading network - will have the opportunity to vote on whether it should provide diamond listing and pricing services for synthetic diamonds, yet ultimately the organization itself will decide.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa was unable last month to follow up on their modestly encouraging rough-diamond sales from March, as the $316 million earned in April represents a 14% decline from March 2019 and a 20% decline from April 2018. Polished-diamond sales during the month did not fare any better, as Alrosa earned $2.9 million, a 64% decline from March ($8 million) and a 68% decline from April 2018 ($9.1 million).
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the coordinating federation for the Antwerp diamond industry, is joining forces with Ars Nobilis, the umbrella organization for the Belgian jewelry sector, in an effort to streamline the Antwerp diamond trade with jewelry manufacturers and retailers in Belgium. The two representative bodies yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding stating that the members of Ars Nobilis will be able to call upon the services of the AWDC regarding legal advice, training, public relations and communication, advocacy and security.
Antwerp’s polished-diamond trade continues to see rising prices in 2019 following a year which the industry recorded its highest ever average price per carat for polished exports. According to figures from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), year-over-year, the average price of polished-diamond exports rose by 42% in April to $2,663 per carat from $1,871 per carat in April of 2018. This led to a 14% increase in the value of polished exports in April despite a nearly 19% decline in the volume of goods exported.
India's rough diamond imports continued its first quarter recession in March, signalling a slowdown in manufacturing amid a tightening of available financing; polished exports also declined for the third consecutive month. Rough diamond imports fell by 16% in value during the month to $1.4 billion on a more than 9% decline in the volume of rough imports, and their value has declined by 24% during Q1.
Just about wherever one looks in the diamond industry - natural or synthetic - demand is not keeping up with supply, or is out of balance, writes Edahn Golan on his Diamond Research & Data site.
The Shirley Temple blue diamond caught everyone's attention exactly three years ago when it hit the auction block at Sotheby's New York with an estimated price between $25 million and $35 million. The highest bid was $22 million, which was below the ring's reserve price and it failed to sell.
Botswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company today (April 17) unveiled the polished result of what is said to be the largest blue diamond ever discovered in the southern African country, one of the world’s top producers. The 20.46-carat, oval-shape fancy colored diamond, fashioned from a 41.11-carat rough stone recovered on May 21 2018 at the Orapa mine, has been named "The Okavango Blue" in honor of the Okavango Delta, the country's wildlife-rich world heritage site.
The Antwerp rough diamond trade had its best month of the year thus far, particularly in terms of value, though like much of the rough trade globally it is operating at much lower levels than in 2018. Exports of polished goods slowed in March while prices continue their steady climb above the record average prices achieved in 2018.
The 'Spectacular 88.22-Carat Oval Diamond', said to be perfect according to every critical criterion, sells at the Sotheby's Hong Kong auction for HK$108 million/US$13.8 million to a Japanese private collector who names the stone the 'Manami Star', after his eldest daughter.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is updated its grading reports for laboratory-grown diamonds to align with the revised Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, and as of July 1, 2019 will drop term 'synthetic' when referring to diamonds created in a lab.
Polished diamond manufacturers in Surat and Mumbai have started liquidating their inventories at significant discounts of up to 30-40% in the attempt to settle loans with banks, writes the Times of India. The Indian daily says that diamond companies have been "given the ultimatum to settle their outstanding loan accounts before March 31."
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.
With 86 percent of all rough diamonds flowing through Antwerp on their journey from mine to market, trends from the diamond capital give a fairly good indication of what is happening in the rough trade globally. According to February's figures from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the trade in smaller, lower-priced goods is picking up again, but this does not mean demand is robust, as prices continue to tumble - something that cannot be said for the polished trade, where prices remain high.
Described as “perfect according to every critical criterion,” an 88.22-carat diamond will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, with the auction house expecting the oval-cut gem to fetch as much as HK$100 million (about US$12.7 million). According to an announcement released by Sotheby’s yesterday, the stone is one of only three oval-cut diamonds with a weight greater than 50 carats “to appear at auction in living memory, and the largest to be auctioned in over five years.” The 88.22-carat, D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa, Oval Brilliant Diamond will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s Ho
Expectations of a sluggish start to the year for the Indian diamond trade were confirmed by the January statistics from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), as exports of cut and polished diamonds from India dropped by 16% year-on-year, while rough imports fell by 40%.
According to new research published by the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), one of the most overlooked facts concerning the diamond industry is that the world’s diamond mines are rapidly depleting. Within a quarter of a century, the majority of the 45 most notable diamond mines operating today will cease to exist, and the last diamond will be unearthed in 60 years. According to the FCRF, diamond prices will rise as supply wanes.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa has mentioned several times recently that it is aiming to become the leader in the international market for colored diamonds, and is making its case with a media preview of its collection of large colored diamonds, including unique pink, bright yellow and pink purple gems. The star of the show was a pink oval diamond weighing 14.83 carats - the largest pink diamond in the history of Russia.
"If even a fraction of Chinese production is upgraded to jewelry-quality diamonds, it would have a very significant impact on the global supply which is only in the low-millions-of-carats," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Xinhua News journalists Wang Zichen and Shi Linjing.
The South Korean government, following years of negotiations with the Korea Diamond Exchange (KDE), has abolished the special 26% Individual Consumption Tax (ICT) on imports of loose polished diamonds exceding KRW 5,000,000 ($4,460), leaving in place only the simplified rate of 5% import tax and 10% VAT which already applied to all imports. KDE President Nam Chang-Soo said, "We hope that the abolition of the tax will have a very positive effect on diamond jewelry sales in South Korea."
A quick comparison of retail prices show a price difference [between LGDs & naturals] of 20-40%, depending on the specific goods and the retailers’ branding, market positioning, etc. Wholesale prices behave very differently. In the wholesale market diamonds are priced as a commodity ... a much more accurate way of measuring price changes over time. Polished wholesale prices of LGDs are 50-85% lower than those of natural diamonds ... the smaller the goods, the larger the price difference. On average, 1-ct. lab-grown goods were priced 64% lower than natural diamonds at the end of December, while third-carats were 75% cheaper. If you are wondering why the price gap in retail prices is so much smaller, the answer is simple: retailers are keeping a wider margin.
Edahn Golan, from his diamond research blog, "LGD Prices – Not What You Might Expect"
The price of vivid yellow diamonds is expected to rise this year as a result of declining supply, according to Q4 figures from the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF). Jim Pounds, FCRF advisory board member and executive vice president of diamond at Dominion Diamond Mines, which has produced high levels of vivid yellow as its Ekati mine in Canada, commented, "as the mine transitions from open-pit mining to underground, a substantially reduced amount of stones will be available during 2019. Therefore, we anticipate a slight increase in vivid-yellow prices.”
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.
The Diamond Pro, described as "an unbiased online diamond jewelry advisory website," has launched Ringo, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that helps any online diamond buyer determine the best diamond options based on their specific requirements. The "first-of-its-kind tool" is intended to enable buyers to determine if a diamond is clean to the naked eye based solely on its picture, and be assured they are making the best purchase based on certification, desired shape, setting style and precious metal type.
The value of India's polished-diamond exports grew by approximately 6% to over $24 billion in 2018 despite a 10% downturn in the volume of goods exported, according to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The rise in value is attributable to a 17% higher average price per carat, calculated at $775, for the 31.5 million carats exported, reflecting an industry-wide trend in 2018 of softening trade in smaller, lower-quality goods and more robust demand for larger goods.
The Antwerp diamond trade was nothing if not balanced in 2018. The industry traded a total of $46 billion in 2018, representing an increase of less than a percentage point over 2017 ($45.9 billion). The value of value of the goods flowing in and out of Antwerp was once again divided equally between rough and polished goods, with the polished trade good for $22.9 billion and the rough trade representing $23.1 billion.
Russia's Alrosa has appointed Rebecca Foerster as President ALROSA USA Inc., and will mainly be responsible for the development of polished diamonds sales and customer service. ALROSA’s office in New York was opened in 2006, but it has not been operating since 2016 for organizational reasons. The full-scale operation was resumed in 2018, when two rough diamond auctions were held there. This year, ALROSA plans to hold four rough diamond auctions in New York and significantly increase its office activity in selling its own polished diamonds.
Alrosa finished the year with a 6% increase in rough and polished diamond sales after a strong December in which the Russian miner's rough sales rose 44% year-over-year to $324 million from $228 million, which was also good for a 23% rise over November. The company sold $5 million in polished diamonds in December.
Tiffany & Co. has announced that, effective immediately, it will begin sharing with consumers the provenance (country of origin) of its diamonds weighing 0.18 cts. and up. This "Diamond Source Initiative", which Tiffany's calls "a significant step for diamond transparency," will go further than current industry standards, and responds to increasing consumer demand to know they are making responsible purchases.
"For the first time since 2011, 2018 saw the Israeli diamond trade stabilize," writes The Israeli Diamond Industry, bringing to an end what the President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), Yoram Dvash calls “a few years of crisis." According to the Diamonds, Gemstones and Jewelry Administration in the Ministry of Economy, exports of polished diamonds fell by only 2.5% percent to approximately $4.5 billion, representing an improvement over sharper declines in recent years, while polished imports reached $3.0 billion, an improvement of 4.1% over last year.
Laurelton Diamonds, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiffany & Co. and supplier to the famous jeweler, will be holding tenders of rough as well as polished goods in Antwerp during the month of January. The tender of rough and sawn goods gets underway on Tuesday, January 8 at the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility located in the Antwerp World Diamond Centre building, Belgium, and will continue until Thursday, January 17. The tender will include a selection of white and Cape Rough parcels in sizes from +5cts to -7 in regular and high quality assortments in Cts and Grs.
The downturn in India's diamond trade continued unimpeded in November, as its two critical indicators - polished-diamond exports and rough-diamond imports - tumbled once again. According to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), polished diamond exports fell to $1.56 billion, a decline of 12% as compared to the $1.78 bn exported in November 2017, and a 32% decline from $2.3 billion exported last month.
The rough diamond trade in Antwerp during the month of November was marked by a resurgence of imports and exports of lower-priced rough after three sluggish months concerning the volumes of goods traded, while the polished trade experienced a general slowdown.
Independent diamond industry analyst and consultant Paul Zimnisky, proprietor of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, takes an in-depth look at developments in the laboratory-grown diamond market in his latest contribution to the discussion, "2018: The Year of the Lab-created Diamond". Here he focuses on the impact (or current lack thereof) that De Beers launch of its Lightbox lab-grown diamond line (announced late May 2018, first available late September 2018) has had on the pricing of laboratory-grown goods.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 19% on a year-over-year basis during the month of October, reaching $2.31 billion compared to the $1.93 billion exported in October 2017, according to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The strong showing was backed by the increased quantity of goods exported, up 8% to 2.9 million carats from 2.7 million a year ago, as well as an increase in the average price per carat, which climbed 11% to $791. However, polished exports fell slightly from $2.37 billion last month.
Following more than a year of detailed analysis, cutting and polishing by an elite team of gemologists and master craftsmen, Graff Diamonds has started to unveil some of the more than 60 polished diamonds cleaved from the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona. The polished diamonds, Graff writes, range in size from under a carat to in excess of 100 carats, each diamond will have D color, the highest grade for a diamond, and exceptional clarity. They will be set mounted as solitaire rings, earrings and pendants.
The Antwerp diamond trade in October booked value gains across all categories - particularly for polished-diamond exports and imports - with the exception of rough-diamond imports, which followed the recent decline in production and sales from the diamond miners.
Polished diamond prices in October gave back some of their gains for the year, as prices declined slightly ahead of India's Diwali festival, when polishing factories close for the month of November. This according to figures from Rapaport's RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI). Rapaport says inventory levels have risen but sentiment has not been dented as expectations for the US holiday season are positive.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Alibaba Group announced today that they have entered an exclusive partnership to offer Antwerp certified diamonds directly to Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s B2C marketplace, Tmall. The cooperation agreement was signed in the framework of the first China International Import Expo (CIEE), which is being held this week in Shanghai.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 6.6% during the six-month period ended September 30, 2018 (H1 FY 2018-19) despite a dip of 10.8% in exports during the month of September, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of cut and polished diamonds from India during September fell to $2.37 billion from $2.65 bn in September 2017, while polished diamond exports from April-September 2018 increased $2.68 billion from the $11.90 bn exported over the same months last year.
The polished-diamond trade in Antwerp during September again witnessed a surging average price per carat, particularly for imports (+22%), however, the trading center remained quiet after the traditionally slow summer holiday, as a result of which the volume of goods traded declined notably. Some have attributed the September slowdown to the Jewish holiday period, while others tell us that Indian companies are still hesitant to acquire smaller goods, with many having already purchased what they need for the upcoming Diwali holidays.
A Fancy Pink diamond weighing 5.03 carats, VS1 clarity, sold for more than $2.9 million, or $583,551 per carat at Bonhams London Fine Jewelry sale last week (26 September), setting a new auction world record for a Fancy Pink diamond per carat. The previous auction record for a Fancy Pink diamond held by Sotheby's Geneva, May 2016, was $528,021 per carat.
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.
Russian miner ALROSA's first “True Colours” auction of fancy colored diamonds garnered $9 million from 210 stones. Described as, "another significant step towards our goal of becoming the world leader in the production of coloured diamonds," the bidding was very active, the company said, and most of the lots were sold for well above their starting price.
In an effort to narrow the current account deficit (CAD), the Indian government on Wednesday increased the import duty on 19 'non-essential items' including polished diamonds, gemstones and jewelry, but excluded rough diamonds from the increase. The import duties on cut and polished diamonds, lab-grown diamonds and cut and polished colored gemstones increased from 5% to 7.5%.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), a member of De Beers Group, yesterday announced that its industry-first synthetic screening device, SYNTHdetect, was awarded Industry Innovation of the Year at the JNA Awards in Hong Kong. The announcement follows the launch earlier during the week of IIDGR's SYNTHdetect XL, a larger version of the original model that provides additional efficiencies for users, allowing a multiple pieces of jewelry to be screened at an even faster rate while using the same technology as the original SYNTHdetec.