Since the real (forgive the pun) possibility of cultured diamonds being produced economically in volume started to become apparent, the industry has reacted with a completely closed mind ... The good news is that the woeful performance of polished diamonds is at least forcing some people to think, but thinking in the same old box is not going to do much good. Nothing is being aggressively promoted by the industry about the enormous benefits [created by] the vast majority of natural diamond mining, the jobs and wealth it creates in often very impoverished areas of the world.
Polished Prices' Charles Wyndham has launched a scathing attack on the recently announced US government initiative to finance diamond cutting and polishing in Botswana via the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – a pledge made in 2008 but shelved due to the financial crisis that struck later that year which led to a severe downturn in diamond sales. It involves the sum of $250 million with the American government taking 75% of the risk on loans for diamond purchases for local cutting.
"The unsurprising news being shouted from the rooftops is that De Beers has signed a 10 year marketing agreement with the Government of Namibia," writes Charles Wyndham in his latest candid commentary on polishedprices. "Of much greater interest to me was the price that the 815 [813, ed.] carat stone from Lucara fetched, namely some $77,000 per carat or total price of $63 million. This I did find surprising, surprisingly good ...
"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.
Bart De Hantsetters, Chairman of the Syndicate of the Belgian Diamond Industry, discusses the need to embrace the new forces ‘disrupting’ a traditional business like the diamond trade. The ship of innovation is setting sail with or without you, so it is better to get on board – as Antwerp has – and build the new on the foundations of the old.
The unexpectedly sharp rise in rough prices and demand for goods in January, with De Beers and ALROSA together selling around $1 billion of goods and seeing demand for much more, got Charles Wyndham around to thinking about the sight system and how the industry's sales methods could be changed.
With the odd notable exception there are not many to whom I have spoken recently in the industry that have much confidence in the near future, and I would not want to be asked to define what I mean by ‘near future’. Yet for once I am probably not the gloomiest person around. Despite every attempt by the industry to scupper its own prosperity, people are still buying diamonds. In some markets many less are being purchased, but in those markets all luxury products are having a torrid time.
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.
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
That's the question that Charles Wyndham asks as he looks at the actions of the producers and other elements of the diamond pipeline. However, his conclusion is not very optimistic: "So to answer the question of where are we going ... not very far just yet."
JCK's Rob Bates weighs in on the growing consternation over rumors of De Beers' supposed dual pricing system, which Charles Wyndham discussed at length last week.
Charles Wyndham, founder of PolishedPrices.com, addresses De Beers' "dual and covert pricing mechanism", which can only lead to a further lack of confidence in the sight system and an imbalanced playing field among their clients - though it is likely to drive prices down. Wyndham writes the last sight was initially thought to be around $150 million, but quickly increased to more than $300 million. "It would appear that at least 50% of the goods sold at the Sight ... were to a very limited number of companies" that bought diamonds at steep discounts.
"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."
"De Beers has started to reduce prices, but these slithers of reductions are not and will not address the issue, certainly not quickly. Given the absurd over confidence displayed by De Beers, this action must be difficult to swallow, if not for them at least for Anglo American, but any sightholder who continues to purchase over priced rough should remember what happened to those customers of De Beers who did the same in the early 80’s, they went bust."
Charles Wyndham, PolishedPrices Market Comment
"The disturbing issue appeared to be, that for the largest lender to the diamond industry to be pulling out of what is the most important market for the diamond business could hardly be deemed positive news or a vote of confidence."