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.
India has introduced a specific, 8-digit HS (Harmonized System) code for synthetic rough diamonds in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the diamond pipeline, an issue for which the Indian diamond industry has been subject to criticism in recent years.
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.
The unrelenting slump in the global rough diamond market showed no signs of letting up in June, as Alrosa's rough sales fell to a low not seen since the miner started publishing monthly results in 2016. The Russian mining giant sold $219.3 million in rough diamonds in June, falling another 16% lower than 2019's previous low in May ($261.1 million), and 43% lower than the $383.7 million earned in June 2018.
Global rough-diamond production fell to 148.2 million carats in 2018, a decline of less than 2% from the 150.9 million carats recovered in 2017; however, a 4% rise in the average price per carat led to a 2.4% increase in the value of the world's rough diamond production, according to Kimberley Process (KP) data. Global diamond production was worth $14.47 billion in 2018 compared to $14.12 billion in 2017, as the average price per carat rose to $97.5 from $93.6.
Seattle-based online jewelry retailer Blue Nile, which cleared about $500 million in revenue last year, has place an embargo on Zimbabwean diamonds over reports of human rights abuses in the Marange district, several Zimbabwe news outlets are reporting.
De Beers' rough diamond sales at Cycle 5 in June were (provisionally) $390 million, making sight number five of 2019 the lowest-earning sight of the year to date, the smallest since the October 2017 sight ($370 million, Cycle 8) and the lowest for a June sale since the miner started releasing monthly sales data in 2016. June is not typically a slow month for rough diamond sales. Cycle 5 sales from 2016-2018 averaged $555 million, or 30% more than in 2019.
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.
Independent Russian diamond miner AGD Diamonds, parent company to Antwerp-based Grib Diamonds N. V., held a public auction last week on Grib Diamonds' electronic trading platform, with revenue from the auction achieving more than $27 million.
The 2019 Kimberly Process (KP) Intersessional, with India as its Chair, will take place in Mumbai starting next week Monday. Ahead of the meeting, Stéphane Fischler, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), urged mining and manufacturing countries in particular to heed the concerns of those in the diamond-consuming countries and to address issues regarding the integrity of the diamond value chain. Those in the industry who are more directly involved with consumers appreciate the urgency of KP reform, as time is running out.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa's rough diamond sales in May continued the downward trajectory they have been on all year, though the decline was less steep than in prior months. Rough diamond sales fell by 6% year over year to $261 million, and declined 17% compared to last month as the market enters its seasonal slowdown. For the year to date (Jan.-May), the mining giant's rough diamond sales have plummeted by 30% to $1.565 billion from $2.256 billion a year ago.
Alrosa recently held two international auctions for special size rough diamonds (larger than 10.8 carats), earning a combined $19 million from 221 stones weighing a total of 3,490 carats. At the first, which took place in Ramat Gan, Israel, the company sold 120 stones with total weight of 1,940 carats, earning revenue of $10.2 million, or$5,258 per carat. The auction included two large diamonds weighing more than 50 carats each.
Lucapa Diamond Co.'s latest sale of diamonds from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola achieved gross revenues of US$10.0 million (A$14.5 million) from run of mine parcels totalling 5,573 carats, representing an average price of US$1,800 per carat. This took total sales of Lulo diamonds to date in H1 2019 to US$22.1 million achieving an average price per carat of US$3,668, "further underling Lulo’s status as the world’s highest average price alluvial diamond production," the miner writes.
ASX-listed Lucapa Diamond Company held the second tender in 2019 of diamonds from the new Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho, selling a parcel of 7,008 carats of rough diamonds sold at Bonas tender house in Antwerp for a total of US$3.5 million (A$5 million). The tender included prices of up to US$26,000 per carat paid for individual Mothae gems.
India's rough diamond trade is facing significant difficulties importing diamonds following a customs directive requiring them to submit a detailed description of the imported diamonds, including country of origin, size, type, color and clarity - an 'impossible' demand, representatives say. The fear among traders is that even a minute discrepancy in the norms may lead to seizure of the shipment as well as a large penalty, which could affect manufacturing activity in Surat, the country’s diamond cutting and polishing hub.
A delegation from Angola paid a visit to Antwerp this week as part of the country’s ongoing efforts to restructure and reform the functioning and reputation of its diamond industry, traveling to the diamond capital for consultations regarding implementation of the Kimberley Process (KP) regulations. The visit follows that of President João Lourenço to Antwerp last June, and the Belgian mission to Angola last November, spearheaded by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Didier Reynders.
De Beers' rough diamond sales in May were (provisionally) $415 million, making sight number four of 2019 the lowest-earning sight of the year to date, the smallest since the October 2017 sight ($370 million, Cycle 8) and the lowest for a May sale since the miner first released sales data in 2016. The $415 million in reported sales represents a 25% decline from sales in Cycle 4 2018 ($554 million). The company cited macroeconomic challenges and a seasonal decline in demand for rough diamonds to manufacture as weighing down sales at the sight.
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).
Stornoway Diamond Corporation saw its losses widen in Q1 2019 as the miner faced "continued downward pressure on the market price for rough diamonds." The Canadian miner reported a net loss of C$48.4 million (US$36 million) in the first quarter of 2019, in comparison to a net loss of C$11.0 million (US$8.2 million) in the first quarter of 2018. The latest results follow a year in which Stornoway encountered a host of difficulties on its way to a US$246.8 million (CA$329.4 million) loss, substantially widening the loss of US$85.6 million (CA$114.2 million) recorded the year prior.
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.
This weekend, May 11 -13, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) will be hosting what it is calling the "first-ever rough laboratory-grown diamonds tender" on its Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE). According to a press release, 50,000 carats of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) lab-grown diamonds will be on offer. "The tender is in line with DMCC’s strategy to attract, facilitate and drive new trade flows through Dubai," the organization says.
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.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa recently held two auctions of special-sized rough diamonds (+10.8 carats) in Vladivostok and Dubai, earning a total of $18.6 million from the two sales. The miner's haul from the Vladisvostok auction exceeded $9.65 million, with 29 companies from Belgium, India, Israel, the UAE, the USA, Hong Kong and Russia participating. A total of 150 diamonds with a total weight of 2,482 carats were up for sale, with 121 stones (2,030 carats) sold. Two especially large diamonds were sold, weighing 58.92 and 41.48 carats.
A mechanical breakdown and the mining of a lower grade area of the Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho led to a signficant production decline for Firestone Diamonds during the quarter ended 31 March 2019 (Q3 of tFY 2019), but revenue rose on a rebound in the average price per carat and the sale of high value stones.
Alrosa's rough diamond production in Q1 2019 declined significantly from the same period in 2018, as did its sales, impacted by a sharp decline in prices and a larger share of small-size diamonds in the sales mix and lower prices mostly for medium-size diamonds.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has reported an "excpetional performance" from the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho in its first full quarter of production, while output from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola fell as the miner focused predominantly on lower grade mining areas. The miner held two milestone tenders during Q1 2019: its first ever sale of Lulo diamonds via international tender under the new diamond marketing reforms enacted by the Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, and its first commercial run of mine tender from Mothae via Bonas tender house in Antwerp.
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.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa saw its March rough diamond sales gain 8% over its February results, as the market is gradually stabilizing, although it is still lagging far behind its rough sales a year ago. Alrosa sold $369.2 million in rough goods compared with $340.6 million last month and $278.2 million in January, saying demand for smaller-sized stones picked up during the quarter.
Canadian miner Stornoway Diamond Co. rebounded from a difficult final quarter of 2018 to post significant increases in total carats sold, leading to a big rise in gross proceeds. Stornoway in Q1 2019 sold 429,506 total carats at two tender sales a Bonas tender house in Antwerp, earning about US$35 million (C$47 million) at an average price of US$83 per carat (C$110 per carat).
De Beers' third sight of 2018 (Cycle 3) was easily its largest of the year thus far, provisionally realizing $575 million in rough diamond sales, a figure the miner has not reached since their Cycle 5 sale in June 2018. "As we move into the second quarter of the year, we saw a continuation of stable demand for our rough diamonds during the third cycle of 2019," commented Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group. De Beers' sales in Cycle 3 was 16% higher than the $496 million earned in Cycle 2, and 10% more than the $524 million in Cycle 3 2018.
Namibia’s state-owned diamond trading company, Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia) has selected 16 companies to buy its stones from 2019 to 2021, and notably, has identified them publically. Namdia expects to sell diamonds worth over $140 million (N$2 billion) a year to 16 companies from six different countries. Belgium and Namibia top the list with four firms each, with two more companies (Pluczenik Diamond Company and Samir Gems) headquartered in Antwerp but listed under other countries.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa and Angola's state-owned diamond firm Endiama have signed an agreement to develop joint projects including diamond production, exploration, training, research and technology exchange. It identifies areas of mutual interest to develop diamond production in Angola as well as cooperation on mechanisms in diamond sales. The companies also intend to work together on the development of industry self-regulation mechanisms and responsible diamond supply chains in support of the Kimberley Process.
Diamond mining stocks have taken a beating in recent years, with most believing there is no end in sight. Post-financial crisis oversupply and rising concerns about the assumed influence of laboratory-grown diamonds have tested the patience and tainted the sentiment of investors in the diamond arena. But the imminent shrinkage of supply and continuing demand for the product is not imaginary. Those who doubt the resilience of the diamond industry and have given up on its ming sector may regret selling low.
Lucara Diamond Corp. continues to test and refine Clara Diamond Solutions (Clara), its digital sales platform for selling rough diamonds individually, launching its fourth test run this week. Lucara CEO Eira Thomas and Steve Lincoln, Sales and Marketing Operations Manager at Lucara and Director Sales and Marketing of Clara sat down with The Diamond Loupe to clarify a few aspects of the system and discuss their progress as they gradually expand their trial phase, which commenced in late November 2018.
Canadian diamond miner Stornoway encountered a host of difficulties in 2018 on its way to a US$246.8 million (CA$329.4 million) loss, substantially widening the loss of US$85.6 million (CA$114.2 million) recorded last year. The miner's challenges included delays in the ramp-up of the Renard 2 underground mine, the processing of low-grade stockpiles during the transition from open pit to underground operations and weak diamond prices.
Gemfields reported a $60.4 million net loss for 2018, compared with a $45.1 million profit in 2017, despite achieving record revenues for the year of US$206 million. The company attributed the loss to the impact of a new tax regime in Zambia and and a costly court case that ended in a settlement. Gemfields' share price endured a disappointing 12 months, falling 40% by year-end.
Firestone Diamonds increased its first half (ended 31 December 2018) revenue to $27.4 million from three sales at First Element tender house in Antwerp despite soft prices, the miner announced late last week. Firestone managed to top the $26.0 million from four sales in H1 last year through an increase in the volume of carats sold, while the average value per carat fell 4% to $71 from $74 per carat in H1 2018, impacted by prices for smaller, lower value diamonds. The miner also managed to decrease it loss for the period to $6.6 million from $7.8 million in H1 2018.
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.
The Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine, a joint venture between Mountain Province (49%) and De Beers Canada (51%), exceeded expectations in its first full year of commercial production, setting records for carat recoveries and sales despite a challenging end of year 2018. Mountain Province reports that the Gahcho Kué Mine exceeded its upper end of FY2018 guidance of tonnes treated, processing 3,194,000 tonnes (2017: 2,775,000 tonnes) and recovered 17% more carats than last year, settting a new high for the mine of 6,937,000 carats (2017: 5,934,000 carats) with a 4% increase in the average grade.
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.
Diamond Fields Resources, based in Vancouver, sold 47,298 carats of Namibian marine diamonds for $1,105,530 at a tender in Antwerp, including a 5.71 carat pink diamond which sold for $97,076 or $17,000 per carat. This was the first sale of diamonds from the ML111 licence offshore Namibia since mining resumed in 2018.
Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa has released it results for FY 2018, reporting a 6% increase in the value of diamonds sold to $4.4 billion, and a 9% rise in revenue despite an 8% decline in the volume of goods sold, totalling 38.1 million carats for the year. The miner attributes the increase in sales and revenue to stronger prices and improved mix of gem-quality diamonds. While Q4 diamond sales increased 34% q-o-q to 9.0 m carats, the main increase was from industrial quality diamonds, causing Q4 sales to decline 13% q-o-q (-7% y-o-y) to $824 million as large-size diamond sales fell.
Rough diamond buyers almost by default desire ‘original’ rough, flowing directly from the mine of origin to the tender house. With current supply limited and no major increases on the horizon, however, maximizing the volume of available goods becomes more of a priority. Adam Schulman at Koin International tender house in Antwerp believes he has found an answer in KoinDex, a sales system that takes the hidden supply of rough diamonds already available to the market and packages them into parcels deserving of the same respect and attention from buyers that original rough goods receive.
Gem Diamonds Ltd. has sold a 13.33 carat pink diamond on tender in Antwerp for $8,750,360. The price achieved sets a new high on a dollar per carat basis for a Letšeng diamond, at $656,933. For the sake of comparison, over the course of the 2018, Gem recovered a 138.28-carat white diamond which achieved US$60,428 per carat - the highest dollar per carat for a white rough diamond during the year - and a a 4.06 carat, pink diamond that earned US$64,067 per carat - the highest price per carat achieved during 2018.
Searching for a means to safeguard smooth transactions in the event it ends up having US sanctions imposed on it, Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, has found a partner in its efforts to conduct trade in a currency other than the US dollar. Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa’s director of sales, told the South China Morning Post that it has enlisted one of its many Chinese customers - Chow Sang Sang Jewellery - on a long-term contract this year.
Gem Diamonds, which operates the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, recovered four high-quality diamonds larger than 100 carats in January 2018 and never looked back, riding a record number of +100-carat diamond recoveries in a single calendar year (15) to increased revenues and profit, but they have declined to pay out a dividend. The first big find of the year was the exceptional 910-carat Lesotho Legend, which the miner sold last March for $40 million.
Diamond-rich Botswana expects mineral revenues in the 2019/20 fiscal year to drop by 4 percent to 13.6 billion pula ($1.26 billion) due to a decline in royalties and dividends, a minerals ministry budget document showed last week. Botswana is heavily dependent on its diamond resources which, according to the World Bank, is responsible for 25% of the country's GDP, approximately 85% of exports earnings and about one-third of the government's revenues.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa sold $340.6 million worth of rough diamonds and diamond powder in February 2019. While such a result is very low for this time of the year - a 36% decline from last February, when the Alrosa sold $532.8 million - it is nonetheless a 22% improvement over the $278.2 million revenues achieved last month, which gives some hope that the polishing wheels are turning again. For the first two months of the year, Alrosa's rough sales are down 40% from 2018, falling to $618.8 million from $1.032 billion last year.
Diamcor Mining, a publicly traded junior diamond mining company based in Canada and operating in South Africa, sold 1,220 carats of rough diamonds recovered from ongoing processing exercises performed at its Krone-Endora at Venetia Project in South Africa for US$376,000, achieving an average sale price of $308.06 per carat. This represents an increase of 76% compared to the company’s average price per carat of $176.16 realised on all rough diamonds tendered and sold to date, and included the sale of a 44 carat gem quality rough diamond.
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.
De Beers sold $490 million worth of rough diamonds in Cycle 2 2019, holding steady at just $10 million less than their January sale but at a lower level than last year. The miner's sales fell 13% compared to the $563 million sold at their second sight last year, and combined sales for the first two sights of the year have fallen by 20% compared to 2018.
Australian diamond miner Lucapa has reached two milestones in the space of a month: first, the inaugural international tender of Angolan diamonds offered for sale via a competitive tender under the new diamond marketing policy enacted by the Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, and the maiden tender of goods from the Mothae mine in Lesotho held at Bonas t
Trans-Atlantic Gem Sales (TAGS) held their first tender of 2019 this month from 12 - 19 February in Dubai, selling a record $50.1 million worth of rough diamonds, as per a press note from the company. The sale featured a total of 79,213 carats of high-quality stones, included exceptional, special rough diamond collections with large and single stones from Angola, Namibia and South Africa. TAGS said the tender achieved an average price of $633 per carat.
Australian junior miner Lucapa Diamond Co. held the first sale of diamonds at the Bonas tender house in Antwerp from the new 1.1Mtpa Mothae kimberlite plant in Lesotho, marking the mine's arrival on the international market. The parcel of 5,411 carats of rough diamonds recovered during the plant ramp-up phase in Q4 2018 and in the first month of commercial mining operations at Mothae in January 2019 sold at tender in Antwerp for a total of US$3.8 million.
Rio Tinto's 2018 diamond profits increased by 28% to $118 million from $92 million a year earlier despite a slight downtick in revenues from diamond sales, which fell 1.6% to $695 million from $706 million in 2017. The miner's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 4.9% to $301 million from $287 million in 2017, while capital expenditures declined 25% to $64 million..
Tender house Koin International will hold their regular tender for South African miner KEM (Kimberley Ekapa Mining) from 4 - 8 March in Antwerp This is a full Run of Mine production of 50,000cts including melee through to 10.80+ single stones and fancy colors. In addition, the sale will include KoinDex, Koin International’s innovative new monthly tender with ‘Trigger Pricing’. The “Trigger Price” is a displayed price which means buyers have access to a guaranteed sell point.
Viewings will take place by appointment in Antwerp at the offices of Koin International.
The Kimberley Process (KP) is set to adopt a draft resolution that opens up the potential to expand its mandate beyond the narrow confines of eliminating 'conflict diamonds' as currently defined. The draft resolution is entitled "The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts," which it will include in the provisional agenda of its next session, committing the KP to discuss a report on the implementation of the Kimberley Process.
A delegation of ministers and miners from the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho visited the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and its Diamond Office today for the final days of the first run-of-mine tender of diamonds from Lucapa's Mothae mine, held at Bonas tender house. About 5,000 carats will be up for grabs in Antwerp and is said to include specials from Mothae, featuring high color whites weighing 78 carats and 38 carats as well as an 89-carat yellow. We will provide additional information from the sale when available.