While most of the world went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, Dubai and Antwerp reopened for business in the summer. Both centers held viewings for goods as clients were unable to travel to remote locations such as - in the case of De Beers clients - Botswana.
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 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) this week traveled to Guangzhou, China, for a networking blitz/conference tour on the Mainland, jointly organized with the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange. Mainland China presents a massive new opportunity for growth beyond the traditional markets of Hong Kong and Shanghai, so the AWDC set off with a group of diamond traders to meet up with a delegation of Chinese jewelry manufacturers looking for polished diamond suppliers in Antwerp.
This past Monday, the JCK Las Vegas show and jewelry week surrounding it came to its conclusion with steady trading reflecting a confident US market, despite a significant dip in the number of exhibitors and foot traffic at the various shows. The exhibitors and organizers acknowledged the decline of visitors, but were adamant that those attending the events headed out to the desert with a greater sense of purpose than in prior years, as buyers were looking for specific goods and exhibitors were maintaining existing relationships.
The 709-carat "Peace Diamond", considered the 14th-largest rough diamond in history and recovered by artisanal miners in Sierra Leone’s Kono district in March, sold at Rapaport's auction in New York for $6.5 million, approximately $1.2M less than was originally offered for the stone. This despite - or perhaps because of - its tour through the major diamond trading centers. Renowned jeweler Laurence Graff was the buyer. Martin Rapaport, surrounded by Sierra Leonean officials at their press conference in New York, apologized that his efforts did not yield what they had hoped.
The Government of Sierra Leone has appointed the Rapaport Group as the marketing and sales agent of the "Peace Diamond". The 709-carat diamond, discovered by a local pastor and diamond digger in the village of Koryardu, is the third-largest diamond ever found in Sierra Leone and the 13th-largest ever to be unearthed. The Peace Diamond is special because it is a development diamond, Rapaport said in a statement. Over 50% of its sale value will directly benefit the community where the diamond was discovered and the people of Sierra Leone.
“It is time for the international community and the diamond industry to put the process into the Kimberley Process and enable the initiative to move into a new chapter. Or it will really become ‘bull—,’” said Brad Brooks-Rubin of the Enough Project.
"The Kimberley Process (KP) is one of the key institutions that the diamond industry depends on to deliver the assurance that not only are rough diamonds responsibly sourced," writes Vinod Kuriyan, chief editor of GEMKonnect and a veteran analyst of the diamond industry, "but that they deliver fair value to artisanal miners and the local communities in the sourcing area." His defence of the KP was prompted by Martin Rapaport's statement on stage last week at the
"Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group, called on India to show reciprocity in its trade relationship with the United States," writes eponymous Rapaport News of their founder's “State of Diamond Industry” presentation at GJEPC's "Mines to Market" conference yesterday, marking 50 years of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
The diamond and jewelry trade will benefit as the new policies create a more prosperous middle class and greater numbers of wealthy consumers. Global uncertainty will also increase demand for investment diamonds as a store of wealth.
- Martin Rapaport, Chairman of the Rapaport Group, on his positive view of Trump presidency for diamonds & jewelry.
Martin Rapaport has released a statement claiming that due to the EU not being a major diamond consumer in recent years, with demand expected to fall even further as a result of potential currency and equity downturns in the EU and Great Britain, the impact of the Brexit will be that, "Global investment demand for higher quality diamonds as a store of value will increase due to global economic and political uncertainty." He does not anticipate that Chinese or Indian diamond demand will be impacted in a negative way. Furthermore, "The important U.S.
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.
"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.
Last week, Martin Rapaport published an in-depth diatribe rejecting the claims of synthetic diamand producers that their product is more ethical than naturally mined diamonds, going so far as to call the way synthetic diamonds are marketed as "evil".
Martin Rapaport has written an in-depth diatribe rejecting the claims of sythetic diamand producers that their product is more ethical than naturally mined diamonds, exposing the value proposition of synthetic diamonds as a ruse and calling natural diamond miners to join together to aggressively market and natural diamonds and attack synthetics. It is nothing less than a call to arms for the natural diamond industry, and he goes so far as to call the way synthetic diamonds are marketed as "evil".
I have been a strong proponent of generic diamond marketing. Fragmenting the diamond market with diamond brands is having a negative effect on the consumers’ perception of generic diamonds. Currently, we are not only witnessing diamond brand wars but a new war is developing involving diamond reports. De Beers is taking on the GIA by opening their grading facilities to the general trade and Martin Rapaport is taking on the world with his new Investment Diamond Report ... These reports, like branded diamonds, are harmful to the marketing of generic diamonds.
The Rapaport Group has issued a press release announcing the launch of "a new diamond grading report - the Rapaport Investment Diamond Report (IDR). The new report conservatively grades diamonds based on Gemological Institute of America (GIA) standards. Additional gemological information including tint, location and color of inclusions as well as high resolution images are provided online and with the report. All Rapaport Investment Diamond Reports are double tested, as they include an additional independent GIA diamond grading report."
After sharply criticizing De Beers' policy just a couple of months ago, Martin Rapaport writes that De Beers is now "moving forward in the right direction by reducing rough prices sufficiently to enable increased sales of rough diamonds and a resumption of diamond manufacturing activity." As evidence, he points to the rise in De Beers rough diamond sales to $540 million in the first sight of this year from $248 million in the final sight of 2015.
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.
"Sightholders are looking for revenge for all the pain De Beers caused them over the years," writes diamond heavyweight Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co., adding that, "The revolt of many of these Sightolders is imminent. They are fed up, and many of them want to see blood.
Suffice it to say that we disagree with the content of the Rapaport article. From a De Beers perspective, alongside the price adjustments we’ve made this year, we’ve taken a range of decisive action to help address the inventory indigestion issue in the midstream (which has been at the heart of the recent challenges) and to support demand pull-through. These actions include substantial additional supply flexibility for our customers, as well as a major additional Q4 marketing investment in the US and China, the world’s two leading diamond Jewellery markets.
Martin Rapaport says that according to their RAPI system, the price of polished diamonds rose in November. “This is the first time in six months that there has been an increase in the benchmark 1-carat RAPI index and 17 months since the last increase in 30 pointers. The worst may be over for declining polished prices," says Rapaport. The announcement states, "The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat, GIA-graded diamonds rose 0.7% in November, its first increase in six months. RAPI for 0.30-carat diamonds advanced 3.3% and RAPI for 0.50-carat diamonds grew 1.1%.
Diamantaire Melvin Moss tells the industry: "Stop promoting 50 percent discounts. Stop cutting your customers throats and start working with your customers for the long term health of diamonds. Retailers, it’s enough with the 70-80 percent off...you’re lying! You’re cheating your customers and doing permanent damage to everyone selling diamonds. Miners look to your bottom line 5 years from now and protect the future value of your diamonds. Cutters support your distributers and stop diminishing their profit with your downstream efforts.
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.
Monsieur Mellier did make the rather unfortunate error of saying that 2015 was going to be a bumper year, which only shows how deliciously misinformed he must have been from his cohorts of minions. Rapaport on the other hand has been in the diamond industry longer than most, he has certainly made more money from it than most. If ever there was someone who should be shouldering much of the blame for the appalling situation in which the diamond industry finds itself it is that selfsame charlatan, Rapaport. Whatever Mellier has or has not done, it ranks as a mere misdemeanor compared to the cy
Rough diamond prices are undoubtedly much too high and manufacturers are struggling to sell polished as buyers are unwilling to pay, writes Vinod Kuriyan. This is mainly due to diamond miners being concerned only with their bottom lines and has weakened and destabilized the diamond production pipeline. But calls for an immediate reduction of 30 and 50 percent in rough prices is "a hasty, unthought-out and counterproductive step. It will immediately result in huge losses for the diamond processing industry running into the billions of dollars.
"It is difficult to see anything of substance happening till the middle of next year at the earliest, and indeed the balance of probabilities - especially when an industry has put itself at the mercy of buffoons like Rapaport, and given the stunning incompetence of its major producer to read its market, coupled to its mishandling of the current situation - is that there is more, if not much more, grief to come. Change it will and when it changes we will all be surprised, but it certainly is not going to change tomorrow…. to say the least."
Price lists have become an increasingly important part of the diamond market over the past 25 years – and the Rapaport list has achieved overwhelming importance. But do, and can, such lists, provide an accurate indication of diamond prices? Are changes to the list carried out too often and are those changes too severe particularly at a time when trading conditions are difficult? Is there a realistic alternative to the Rap list, or will the industry have to live with it?
It has been stated repeatedly that the high cost of rough has led to a lack of profitability in the diamond industry. Neil Reiff, President at N.D. Reiff Co., believes that retail pricing is simply too low. He cites a situation where a retailer's client said he could buy the same diamond on offer at 1.7% above wholesale via the Internet. Reiff thinks this is insane: "There is no point and no purpose in selling anything at a profit margin of 1.7% over cost. No matter how efficiently one may run a business. No matter how much one may grow revenues."
In a "Statement Regarding Diamond Specifications and the Rapaport Price List" Rapaport responds to recent criticism from the industry. The statement says "The Rapaport Price List provides benchmark prices based on the opinion of the Rapaport price analysis team, headed by Martin Rapaport.
Following the repeated criticism on Martin Rapaport's price list, Rob Bates analyzes the critic's arguments to set up alternatives, which they claim will be more stable and leave room for the market to work out discounts and premiums; an Israeli initiative involving a bi-annual price list, and an Indian alternative, which sources claim will list goods without prices. Martin Rapaport however is determined his list provides an adequate image of diamond prices for both sellers and buyers.
Rapaport's market update indicates diamond markets were stable in May as reduced supply supported polished prices in 1.0ct. and 3.0ct. categories. The JCK Las Vegas show met expectations and raised sentiment, with suppliers holding their prices firm despite slightly disappointing sales.
Martin Rapaport (Rapaport Group) released a comprehensive editorial entitled “Market Correction” that calls on the diamond trade to end unsustainable business practices, pointing at internal rather than external challenges as the main cause for the current state of affairs in the diamond industry. Citing the imbalance between high rough and low polished diamond prices, Rapaport calls on the banks, explicitly referring to the Indian government and banking sector, to stop financing unprofitable diamond manufacturing until polished prices rebound and profitability returns.
In the aftermath of a slow Basel World, Leibish Polnauer, President of fancy colored diamond retailer Leibish, blogs about retailers facing tough times. White goods are flooding the market, large online retailers are forcing prices down and Rapaport’s pricing is pushing them even lower. This has led to a vicious circle of prices falling further while suppliers become skittish and sell inventory below or near cost. Leibish wonders which came first, the chicken (Rapaport decreasing prices) or the egg (a weak market).
A group of leading Israeli diamond traders and manufacturers have decided to post their diamond stocks at full prices on the RapNet Diamond Trading Network (RapNet). The decision follows the publication of the latest Rapaport price list which showed that Rapaport had reduced the prices of a wide range of diamond categories without any commercial justification.
“Buying diamonds is a volatile trade. Diamonds are a good investment when you have quality assurance, price transparency and sufficient liquidity.”
Martin Rapaport On Investment Diamonds : a Volatile Trade