De Beers third sight (rough diamond sale) of 2020, scheduled for March 30 to April 3 in Gaborone, will go ahead as planned despite Botswana’s announcement of a travel ban on foreigners arriving from “high risk” countries that include Belgium, China and India. Many of the companies that participate in De Beers’ sales are headquartered in these countries.
In a letter to their partners obtained by The Diamond Loupe, De Beers Group writes, “Despite the challenges experienced by most businesses, our team will be working with each of you to meet your supply needs and provide maximum flexibility.” CEO Bruce Cleaver added, “Where we have closed our offices, our teams are fully equipped and connected to work remotely. Our teams in China, Singapore and Italy have been working remotely for some time with no disruption to service. Our mining and sorting operations continue unabated, and our Sight and online auction sales operations are adapting to overcome travel restrictions to continue to meet your needs.” How they would overcome the travel restrictions was not specified.
It would make sense that De Beers might be looking for a digital platform on which to hold the sight, but this remains unclear. Other options have been suggested as well: De Beers could hold a ‘blind’ sight, where buyers do not get to view the goods ahead of purchasing; or De Beers customers could send local staff to the sale, as many have representatives in either Botswana or South Africa.
When we reached out to the miner for comment, they confirmed the sight will proceed but did not specify how. “As the situation around the globe continues to evolve rapidly, we have been meeting with customers to understand their requirements,” a spokesperson for De Beers confirmed to The Diamond Loupe. “While this is an extraordinary situation and COVID-19 has had an impact, our customers continue to express some demand for rough diamonds and have communicated their desire for the Sight to proceed. We are therefore focused on standing with our customers, meeting their requirements and proceeding with Sight 3.”
Image courtesy of Regent Lighting.
Botswana and De Beers conduct 10 deals each year, where representatives from De Beers’s 80-odd customers fly to Botswana for about a week, where they inspect and purchase stones.