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.
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.
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.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) on Tuesday published its second sustainability report (available to download here), looking at the impact the umbrella organization for the Antwerp diamond industry has with regard to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), locally as well as internationally.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is enhancing its ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) program. As of May 1, the GIA will require all new and current laboratory clients to confirm the identity and ownership of their businesses, and to provide identifying information for all authorized representatives conducting business with GIA on their behalf. "These requirements are recognized globally and are not unique to GIA," reads a statement from the GIA.
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.
More than 400 compliance professionals from around the world gathered in London yesterday for the presentation of the international "Women in Compliance" awards, an honor that shines a spotlight on female compliance professionals. Trisevgeni Stavropoulos and Iris Leerdam, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre's (AWDC) two female compliance officers, took home the hardware for “In-house Compliance Team of the Year”.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the umbrella organization of the Antwerp diamond industry, participated from 24 to 28 March in the Belgian State Visit to South Korea, where they co-organized an event to highlight a new partnership between Antwerp and Korea's leading jewelery brand, Golden dew. During the State Visit, and in honor of the jeweler's 30th anniversary, Golden dew launched three special cuts it developed together with three different Antwerp diamond companies.
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.
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.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the umbrella organization for the Antwerp diamond industry, from 16 to 20 February 2019 participated in the Belgian Economic Mission to Mexico. Currently, Mexico mainly imports polished diamonds from the United States. The AWDC therefore viewed this Economic Mission as the ideal opportunity to promote the Antwerp diamond trade in Mexico and to ensure that Mexican diamond traders increase their diamond purchases directly from Antwerp.
Firestone Diamonds has announced the recovery of a 70 carat white, makeable diamond from its Liqhobong Mine in Lesotho.
"If even a fraction of Chinese production is upgraded to jewelry-quality diamonds, it would have a very significant impact on the global supply which is only in the low-millions-of-carats," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Xinhua News journalists Wang Zichen and Shi Linjing.
The Antwerp diamond trade was nothing if not balanced in 2018. The industry traded a total of $46 billion in 2018, representing an increase of less than a percentage point over 2017 ($45.9 billion). The value of value of the goods flowing in and out of Antwerp was once again divided equally between rough and polished goods, with the polished trade good for $22.9 billion and the rough trade representing $23.1 billion.
The Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), a subsidiary of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), recently signed a service agreement to join the MyKYCBank platform of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). DMCC Executive Chairman and DDE Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem GJEPC Chairman Pramod Kumar Agrawal did the honours. The DMCC is the fourth trade body to join the MyKYCBank after the GJEPC, Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). The agreement enables DMCC members trading in diamonds, gold and precious stones to join the MyKYCBank platform.
The rough diamond trade in Antwerp during the month of November was marked by a resurgence of imports and exports of lower-priced rough after three sluggish months concerning the volumes of goods traded, while the polished trade experienced a general slowdown.
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 week, a group of nine government officials from four African diamond-producing countries (Cameroon, Congo Braza, Cote D'Ivoire, Guinea) embarked on a ten-day training course in Antwerp, furthering their knowledge of rough-diamond evaluation and valuation. The course, called the "KP Technical Assistance Valuation Program", originates from the commitment of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), which coordinates requests for Technical Assistance on behalf of the Administrative Support Mechanism (ASM) in the framework of the KP.
The Antwerp diamond trade in October booked value gains across all categories - particularly for polished-diamond exports and imports - with the exception of rough-diamond imports, which followed the recent decline in production and sales from the diamond miners.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Alibaba Group announced today that they have entered an exclusive partnership to offer Antwerp certified diamonds directly to Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s B2C marketplace, Tmall. The cooperation agreement was signed in the framework of the first China International Import Expo (CIEE), which is being held this week in Shanghai.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre today welcomed the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio. The presidential delegation’s visit emphasizes the importance of trade relations between Sierra Leone and the Antwerp diamond industry, and falls within the framework of President Bio's efforts to take his country in a "new direction", which includes a strong focus on revising key legislation pertaining to the mining sector to ensure a win-win situation for the government, mining companies and local communities.
In an open letter to diamond traders, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office addresses the possibility that the UK will temporarily be unable to import and export rough diamonds if the nation leaves the European Union without an exit deal. At the moment, UK traders can trade in rough diamonds within the EU and to countries in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which regulates the international trade in rough diamonds. The EU is a participant of the Kimberley Process (KP) and acts on behalf of the UK.
The EU Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process and the ongoing review of the KP provide a unique opportunity to transform it into a tool not just for conflict prevention, but also for sustainable development, the AWDC told us yesterday afternoon. The gathering momentum for transforming the KP's very narrow definition of conflict diamonds during this year’s Chairmanship will only be brought to fruition through the concerted efforts of all the public and private actors across the diamond value chain.
The polished-diamond trade in Antwerp during September again witnessed a surging average price per carat, particularly for imports (+22%), however, the trading center remained quiet after the traditionally slow summer holiday, as a result of which the volume of goods traded declined notably. Some have attributed the September slowdown to the Jewish holiday period, while others tell us that Indian companies are still hesitant to acquire smaller goods, with many having already purchased what they need for the upcoming Diwali holidays.
Ari Epstein, CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), along with several representatives from the Antwerp diamond industry today met King Letsie III of Lesotho in Brussels. Lesotho, a mountainous country fully surrounded by South Africa and numbering only two million inhabitants, is the world’s seventh most important diamond-producing country in terms of value. Lesotho’s entire diamond production, worth $342 million in 2017, is traded on the Antwerp market.
The polished-diamond trade in Antwerp rode a higher average price per carat, particularly for exports (+6%), to solid value gains during the traditionally slow month of August, when the industry takes a three-week hiatus. The volume of rough goods traded during the month declined notably without having much impact on the overall value of those goods, as the average price per carat for rough goods is also outpacing that of the year prior by approximately 6%.
Representatives from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) this morning joined Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Didier Reynders in Angola, where he hosted a Diamond Breakfast Symposium in cooperation with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Angola, HE Frank Felix. The mission to Angola is intended to reinforce the momentum established between the two countries during the visit of the President of Angola, João Lourenço, to Antwerp last June, where they discussed increased cooperation concerning diamond trading.
Last week, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the University of Antwerp hosted an “Innovation and Diamonds” conference at the Antwerpsche Diamantkring - the only rough diamond bourse in the world - featuring internationally-recognized experts from across the spectrum of the diamond trade, including alternative financing, the impact of digital on the luxury segment, the feasibility of small-scale ethical mining, as well as the earthquake and aftershocks of De Beers’ foray into lab-grown diamonds: LightBox.
Rising prices of rough and polished diamonds led to substantial value gains for Antwerp’s diamond trade in July, which surged during the weeks preceding its traditional August recess, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). Rough diamond imports surged by 23% and exports by 18% compared to the same month a year ago, while polished imports gained 28% in value and exports gained more than 8% compared to the month of July 2017.
Industry consultant Ben Janowski takes an in-depth look at the developments that led De Beers to enter into the laboratory-grown diamond jewelry sector, and what Lightbox may mean long-term for the mining giant. Published in full courtesy of Ben Janowski, who will be lecturing at the Antwerp Summer University program, "From Mine to Finger 2018: A deep dive into the world of diamonds."*
A full house at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, including stakeholders from across the spectrum of the diamond industry, greeted De Beers Group representatives Paul Rowley and Nimesh Patel as they explained the company's foray into the synthetic diamond jewelry market and reinforced its commitment to the natural diamond industry.
Antwerp's polished diamond trade in June rode rising prices to another month of gains, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), as the Belgian polished trade reasserted its modest upward trend in 2018. The value of polished exports increased 4% year-over-year to $1.04 billion despite 6 percent decline in the volume of goods traded, backed by a 10% climb in average price per carat, to $2,395 from $2,183. The average price did fall short of a May high of $2,688 per carat, likely skewed by the value of goods flowing to Las Vegas for the JCK trade show.
The new revolutionary machine will pose a big challenge to the artisanal skills of the diamond polishers in Surat. At present, from near gem quality to solitaires, the diamond polishers of Surat and Gujarat are the leaders. But, the machine developed by AWDC will change the scenario in the longer run.
- Diamond industry analyst Aniruddha Lidbide responds to Fenix automated polisher in TOI article, "Machine made in Antwerp may pose threat to Surti diamond polishers"
From June 19 to 22, Antwerp was the host city for the Kimberley Process (KP) Intersessional meeting. This year, the European Union occupied the KP Chair, under the lead of Hilde Hardeman (pictured). The global diamond community - consisting of diamond-producing and trading countries, the diamond industry and civil society - gathered together to assess the current state of affairs and look forward to the future of the KP.
On the sidelines of the Kimberley Process Intersessional taking place this week in Antwerp, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate their common objectives of improving the image, professionalization and marketing of African diamonds.
This morning, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), together with its research center the Scientific and Technological Research Center for Diamonds (WTOCD), unveiled a revolutionary technology that fully automates and accelerates the diamond polishing process: Fenix. This technology fundamentally transforms that process that has not changed since Lodewijck Van Bercken, a 15th-century jeweler and diamond cutter in Antwerp, in 1456 discovered that diamond could be polished with diamond. Watch the preview video here.
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.
Antwerp's polished diamond exports in May surged by 62% compared to April and increased 5% year-over-year, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), as the Belgian polished trade continues its modest 2018 climb. Polished exports rose to $1.18 billion from April, which achieved only $728.2 million, and outstripped May 2017 exports by $56.5 million. The rise was backed by a 13% increase over April in the number of carats exported, and a 4% increase compared to the same month a year ago.