A deal that was announced between LVMH and Tiffany & C° earlier this year, in which the France-based luxury conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault would acquire the iconic jeweler for $135 per share, is potentially falling through, as LVMH is reconsidering its engagement amid the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest in the USA. According to Retail Dive, LVMH’s press release suggests that it is looking to lower the offer, and some sources say that move is based
News outlet Caixin reports that China will continue its severely restricted international flights policy through to at least October. Since the end of March, China has cut international flights by 90%, and has implemented the so-called "Five-One" policy, in which for each domestic airline, only one flight per week to a foreign destination is allowed to operate. Foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week and all flights are limited to 75% capacity, according to restrictions implemented by China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC).
Alrosa announced that it is currently offering its long-term customers over 800 rough diamonds in the 5 to 10ct range, the largest volume the company has ever put on its digital platform. Since the implementation of the system, Alrosa has made several improvements to the platform, and now allows its customers to bid on a stone by stone basis in a semi-automated bidding process.
According to a Business Wire news release, Canadian miner Dominion has signed a letter of intent with an affiliate of the Washington Companies to sell all of Dominion's assets for approx. US$126 million, and has made an agreement for up to US$60 million in short-term financing from Washington. In April, Dominion filed for and obtained insolvency protection under the CCAA. The agreements will allow Dominion to resume operations at the Ekati mine and meet obligations owed to employees.
While India has allowed some activity to resume in Surat, the country's polishing hub, the industry has announced that the voluntary moratorium on rough imports is delayed to June 1st, with the call to its members to not import rough diamonds for the entire month of June, possibly longer.
In a joint letter, 73 organisations are calling on governments and mining industry actors to increase efforts towards the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations across the globe. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter says, the already vulnerable artisanal miners, often women, and the communities they support, are becoming even more vulnerable. The report refers to "high value commodities such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, cobalt, mica and particularly gold."
As many countries are easing out of strict quarantaine, GIA has announced it has reopened its labs in Antwerp, Carlsbad, Gaborone, Johannesburg and Tokyo, each with modified schedules. In Antwerp and Johannesburg, visitors are welcome by appointment, in Tokyo, Carlsbad and Gaborone, the labs will only accept submissions via shipment.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a paradigm shift, not only in how we live our lives, stay in touch with friends and family or do our shopping, but also in the way we do business. In an industry that has long relied on face-to-face interactions, particularly in the rough trading business, the crisis is accelerating business processes at a rapid pace. The Diamond Loupe spoke with Johan Erikson, CEO of First Element, a tender house operating in Antwerp, on how their processes have changed in the past few months to adapt to “the new normal”.
Rapaport reports that the Russian precious metals and gemstones repository, the Gokhran, may buy up part of the Russian miner's diamond stockpile, for an amount that ranges anywhere between $500 million and $1.7 billion. Rough sales have dropped dramatically as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the miner offered its clients maximum flexibility in purchasing obligations. During past crises, notably in 2009, the state repository alleviated the company in a similar way, at that time buying $1 billion worth of diamonds.
Consumers across Asia are rushing to luxury stores to buy luxury items before an expected price hike. After Louis Vuitton raised prices last week - the third price hike in 2020, many consumers expect other brands like Chanel, Dior and Gucci will follow suit. Higher prices are one strategy to make up for losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jing Daily reports.
Across Asia, thanks to pent-up demand and the inability for shoppers to travel and buy luxury goods abroad, the luxury market has seen growing in-store traffic and sales.
Times of India reports that India's Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as the Gems and Jewellery industry at Seepz MIDC can resume operations, albeit with a strongly reduced workforce (10%). India's diamond and jewellery industry has been suffering as the country continues to be under strict lockdown, and export shipments are blocked. Both area's are located in so-called "red zones", which is why only limited workforce can be allowed, state officials said.
Canadian mining company Lucara Diamonds reports a net loss of $3.2 million in Q1, a result of the continued strain on the diamond mining industry and decreased revenues from sales, despite the fact that operations at Karowé have continued throughout the crisis and production was in line with guidance. In the same period last year, the company achieved a net income of $7.4 million, while cash flow dropped to $2.4 million, compared to $10.6 million in Q1 2019.
The Antwerp diamond trade came to a nearly complete standstill as a result of the measures announced by the Belgian Government to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to reopen next Monday, May 4, and industry organizations the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses (FBDB) are taking measures to ensure it can do so safely.
Times of India reports that a 700 million US$ shipment of loose diamonds, destined for Hong Kong, is stuck at the Bharat Diamond Bourse, despite efforts to persuade government to allow the Bourse to resume activities with minimal workforce. According to a spokesperson for the Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council (GJEPC), the diamond industry in India, already heavily impacted by lockdown measures, could suffer even more because of exports being blocked; "if business would shift to China and Thailand ... it would be a permanent loss".
Alrosa announced today it will temporarily put its Aikhal underground mine and Zarya open pit operation in care and maintenance starting May 15 in response to the decreased demand and sales of diamonds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aikhal underground mine is scheduled to reopen at the end of September, while the Zarya mine will remain closed to the end of the year, with regular reassessment of market conditions. Combined, the two operations produced 2.6m carats last year.
By Isi Morsel, C.E.O. Dali Diamond Co.
The diamond industry, from mine to retail, is facing new challenges that are rocking it to its core. Retail stores around the world are closed and that reverberated up the diamond pipeline, bringing wholesaling activity, jewelry manufacturing, diamond polishing, and diamond mining to a complete standstill.
"Can't an overflowing river upstream, cause a lot of damage, from the midstream all the way up to the delta? As the crops along the overflown river's path would be washed out, wouldn't this cause a lot of famine, for an unwanted period of time? Shouldn't the flow be controlled before such a scenario happens? Sometimes, man-made dams are necessary, with some pains in the near future, but fertile and fruitful in the long run..."
Daniel Langer, consultant for some of the world's leading luxury brands, in an article in Jing Daily says that despite our intuition - people spend and will spend less on luxury in and after a crisis - the luxury segment is more resilient than others.
Auction house Sotheby's says that despite the corona virus pandemic, their online auctions have been a tremendous success with over 90% of the lots on offer sold and over 60% of them selling at prices that exceeded estimate prices, totaling US$6.1 milion. Catharine Becket, "magnificent jewels" expert at the auction house commented to Bloomberg that wealthy people are "leading dreary lives" quarantined at home, and buying an exclusive, bespoke or prestigious piece offers them joy and hope for when things return to the new normal.
All this upheaval does make it a good time to rethink the storytelling behind diamonds, though. Coordinated marketing, once the industry’s go-to solution, will need to make a comeback as consumers emerge from the wreckage of coronavirus. ... While the likes of De Beers and Alrosa PJSC may be reluctant to sponsor cash-strapped smaller rivals, it would be money well spent. Nearly seven decades after Marilyn Monroe’s immortal song, it's time for a new myth.
Clara Ferreira Marques - Bloomberg
In a press statement, Dominion Diamonds, operating the Ekati Diamond in the Northwest Territories has announced it has filed for insolvency protection under the Canadian Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") granting the company protection from creditors. Dominion is said to have received and is considering a proposal from an affiliate of its current equity owner, The Washington Companies, to provide financing to pilot the company through the CCAA process.
Reed Exhibitions has announced that it will not be organizing its JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows this year altogether. The organizer is planning to set up "a virtual event" this summer and will partner with the Jewelers International Show, Oct. 13–16 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
For a few days now, rumor in the industry has it that the Indian diamond industry - or at least some members - want to impose a voluntary ban on rough imports into the country. The rumours aren’t confirmed by any official body, but some sources claim the voluntary ban would start one week after India lifts the strict lockdown measures - preliminary scheduled for May 3 - and would be instated for one month, others claim the ban would last as long as three months.
The Hermès flagship store in Guangzhou reportedly made $2.7 million on its reopening day, boosting hopes on increased consumers' luxury shopping once quarantine measures are lifted. Many hope that the so-called "revenge spending", with people purchasing luxury goods to treat themselves after being in isolation for weeks, signals the recovery of luxury spending, although some fear it could be no more but a "one-off" shopping spree.
Industry analyst Edahn Golan takes an in-depth look at the industry performance of the first quarter of 2020 which, needless to say, is dominated by the impact of the Corona virus pandemic. In his extensive analysis Golan discusses polished diamond price evolution, the state of the midstream in all major trading hubs, banking and evolutions upstream and regarding LGD (Lab Grown Diamonds).
Golan identifies a number of key take-aways for Q1:
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, several industry initiatives are taken to provide relief across the world to all those affected by the crisis.
“We assumed that it would take two to three months to recover, I think in three or four months, we will be back to normal. The present data is better than we expected.”
Kent Wong - managing director of Chow Tai Fook elaborates in an interview with JCK News Director Rob Bates on how China's largest jeweler re-emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, providing valuable lessons for the rest of the world on consumer trends and how companies can manage during and after the pandemic subsides.