The diamond industry has hit its halfway mark of 2019 and the song remains the same as Rapaport releases their H1 figures detailing across-the-board declines in polished diamond prices amid, as we noted last week, a period of weak sentiment and even weaker demand, all of which is taking its toll on manufacturers and those that supply them.
The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair last week (20-23 June) provided a snapshot of a cautious diamond industry in the midst of a period of weak sentiment and even weaker demand, according to several traders we spoke with this week. And they do not see any quick fixes on the horizon. While it may not be the largest diamond show of the year, Hong-Kong June is the most important mid-year jewelry sourcing event in Asia, and as such provides us the opportunity to take the pulse of the polished diamond trade. The consensus? Sentiment is poor.
‘Wait and see’
A combination of factors has led to a nearly 50% decline in production by small diamond manfacturing units in India, not the least of which is a significant decline in the price of small diamonds (0.30 carats), writes the Times of India (TOI). According to the most recent RapNet Diamond Index, the price index for diamonds weighing 0.30 carats has fallen by 16% over the past year, and about 25% since January. The vast majority of these stones are manufactured in Surat and has caused already-low margins for manufacturers to plummet.
Sarine Technologies earlier this year rolled out its Sarine Diamond Journey provenance tracking program - following each stage of a diamond's travels from rough stone to polished diamond - and has now announced a Partners program comprising select diamond manufacturers. The initial manufacturers selected for the program will be able to supply goods meeting the retailers' criteria for transparent sourcing.
Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky is one of the greatest diamond cutters of all time. His many accomplishments include the fashioning of the priceless, 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond, cut from a 599.19-carat rough stone, which is still the largest D Flawless diamond in history, and the Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world at 546 carats. Sir Tolkowsky - known as Gabi - is also renowned for creating the “Flower Cuts” for De Beers, which accentuate the brilliance of typically lower-quality and lower-color stones with their unconventional angles and facets.
Tiffany & Co has been expanding its workforce in sub-Saharan Africa as part of its drive to increase its transparency and raise ethical jewelry standards across the industry.
Media reports out of Africa are claiming an agreement (MoU) has been reached between the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) in Gaborone, whereby the latter would commence processing of Zimbabwe's diamonds. The diamond deal is said to be one of the agreements sealed during the high-level Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) summit held in Harare last week.
Sarine Technologies recorded a fourth-quarter net profit of $93,000, down 85% from $613,000 the year before, citing challenging industry conditions, weak sentiment in the midstream and a downturn in consumer spending in China due to uncertainties stemming from the impact of trade tariffs. The company notes that credit for India’s manufacturing sector tightening, Indian Rupee exchange rate volatility and the 'legitimization' of laboratory-grown diamonds all conspired to generate weak results.
A hub dedicated to the diamond industry in Angola will be inaugurated in 2019 in Saurimo, Lunda Sul province, the minister of Mineral Resources and Oil announced at the end of December. Diamantino Azevedo said that setting up the hub, a project developed jointly by state diamond mining and processing company Endiama and state diamond sales company Sodiam, is in its final phase. The minister also said that the hub project includes a diamond cutting and polishing factory, a professional technical school and other institutions and industries linked to the diamond business.
A diamond jewelry manufacturer from Antwerp, Giovanni Daems, is the first to develop a new, patented technology for a fully-automated diamond setting machine, which it unveiled this week at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
The GIA has announced that Chinese retailer LAELIM Jewelry and Belgian diamond manufacturer IGC Group will pilot GIA’s M2M (Mine to Market) program, which allows for complete transparency and traceability of diamonds along the value chain, writes GIA in a press release. This is one of the first instances where a manufacturer and retailer implemented the M2M program in partnership, and LAELIM is the first retailer in China to participate.
The majority of small and medium diamond manufacturing units in India are planning to close shop and take an early Diwali vacation as sentiment in the diamond cutting and manufacturing centre is faltering, writes the Times of India. Depreciation of the Indian rupee has put heavy pressure on the trading of polished diamonds amid dwindling demand, falling polished prices, firm rough diamond prices and the banks squeezing loans to the industry.
Botswana Finance LLC, a subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) has signed a $125 million loan guaranty with Stanbic Bank Botswana, a member of Standard Bank Group and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. The loan guaranty will encourage and support lending to diamond manufacturers and polishing companies while allowing the organizations to share credit risk.
While welcoming the Indian government's recent Increase of the import duty on jewelry from 15% to 20% as a way to strengthen the jewelry manufacturing sector, Chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Pramod Kumar Agrawal said the hike on cut and polished diamonds and processed colored gemstones would negatively impact exports and trade of cut and polished diamonds.
Element Six, a synthetic diamond manufacturer and member of the De Beers group of companies, planted their shovels in tthe Oregon soil to mark the symbolic commencement of construction on their $94 million manufacturing facility for laboratory-grown gems, produced exclusively for De Beers’ new fashion-jewelry brand, Lightbox Jewelry. The new brand will offer consumers laboratory-grown diamonds in high quality designs for casual, everyday occasions at lower prices than existing synthetic offerings.
In a move that should come as a surprise to precisely no one, Russian diamond giant ALROSA has confirmed plans to acquire the country's largest diamond-polishing company, Kristall Production Corporation. Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev told PRIME News Agency that a deal has been reached with the Federal Property Management Agency (FPMA), which will be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2018. The market price is still to be determined.
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"
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.
Sarine Technologies, which provides high-tech equipment and services to the diamond industry, announced yesterday that it is opening its second Sarine Technology Laboratory in Mumbai, India, as scheduled, which will offer services to the key Indian polishing centre, commencing immediately. The Laboratory, one of the leaders in the development, manufacture and sale of precision technology products for the evaluation, planning, processing, finishing, grading and trading of diamonds and gems, offers reports on a broad range of a polished diamond's parameters.
The world's leader in rough diamond output, Russia's ALROSA, plans to boost revenue from selling rare, colored stones where demand is stable, according to the head of ALROSA's sales division Evgeny Agureev. The global market for polished colored diamonds is now dominated by Rio Tinto and De Beers, but it apparently ALROSA aims to makes some changes to its sorting and processing in order to compete. “We hope that ...
The world's leading diamond producer, Russian diamond miner ALROSA, has let it be known that it is considering the purchase of Russia's largest diamond manufacturer, Kristall Smolensk, to "support the country’s gem-cutting industry and help create a stronger competitor to global group De Beers", Reuters reports. The supervisory board of Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA approved acquisition of 100% of Kristall, the company said in a statement on Friday.
Sky Investments, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based KGK group, has officially opened a new cutting and polishing factory in Windhoek, Namibia.
"Two diamond powerhouses are joining forces", writes Rob Bates of JCK concerning polished diamond manufacturer Rosy Blue taking a minority share in Leo Schachter, another of the world's leading polished diamond suppliers.
Last week, the Antwerp diamond industry learned that Tiffany & Co. was planning to restructure its manufacturing activities at its Antwerp subsidiary, Laurelton Diamonds, a move likely to cost 27 of the 30 polishers their jobs, while another six polishers from Antwerp manufacturer GemTech were also shown the door. It was unwelcome news for Antwerp's manufacturers, whose numbers have dwindled as a result of diamond polishing in low-wage countries.
Tiffany & Co. has announced the impending discontinuation of its manufacturing activities at its Antwerp subsidiary, Laurelton Diamonds, with the internal company reorganization coming as a result of changing market conditions. The manufacturing unit will be dismissing 24 of its 27 employees, confirming the speculations that have been circling through Antwerp's diamond district for more than a week.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has disputed reports from a month ago that it is exporting diamonds to Botswana, now saying rather it is merely learning lessons from the neighbouring country's mining and processing sectors. ZCDC CEO Morris Mpofu said the government had facilitated engagement with entities in Botswana involved in the diamond industry, but the aim is to draw from Botswana's experience rather than having them process Zimbabwe's diamonds.
Galatea Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sarine Technologies Ltd, is taking legal action against a manufacturer in Surat, India, for their allegedly fraudulent use of Sarine's Galaxy® inclusion mapping technology and systems, the company said in a statement. Galatea claims the company has been practising deliberate under-reporting of rough stone weights and underpayment of amounts owed to Galatea for the scanning of the rough stones.
Bain & Company, together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has published their seventh annual report on the global diamond industry, "The enduring story in a changing world", covering industry developments in 2016 and the first half of 2017 as well as the challenges the industry faces and how it is turning them into opportunities. Their report looks at key issues along the value chain, from rough-diamond production and sales, to midstream performance and global diamond jewelry demand in major markets.
High jewelry houses are increasingly going straight to the source to acquire rough diamonds that they will turn into their beautiful creations, writes Ming Liu in a feature for CNN. Typically, the larger category of rough diamonds are obtained by specialist diamond cutters and polishers who analyze each stone to determine the ideal cut in which to shape them, and only after this process are the polished gems usually presented to high jewelry houses.
Jean-Arthur Régibeau, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Russian Federation, visited the United Sales Organization (USO) ALROSA, and one of Russia's leading diamond cutting facilities - DIAMONDS ALROSA. He met with the heads of subdivisions and got acquainted with the process flow and work principles - and also was shown the amazing Dynasty Collection. “It was a familiarization visit.
The Times of India this past weekend was the bearer of somber news from the Surat diamond industry, writing that, "Most of the small and medium diamond manufacturers have literally stopped the manufacturing of diamonds ahead [of Diwali] and are waiting to down their factory shutters early." With Diwali coming on October 19 (compared to October 30 last year), De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver was optimistic as rough diamond sales in Cycle 6 (ended 31 July) surged to $572 million.
The Russian government wants Alrosa to offer more favorable terms to local cutters so they are able to compete in a market that’s dominated by Indian manufacturers.
Alrosa has chosen to focus on mining, where it can get bigger margins, leaving Kristall Production Corp. and other cutters to buy stones at similar terms as overseas competitors. They are struggling to compete with centers like India, the largest polishing center, due to manufacturing being cheaper - it manufactures 90% of the world’s diamonds - and a workforce of 1 million.
According to an article in The Kommersant Daily, Russia's Ministry of Finance has prepared a 'roadmap' for the development of Russia’s diamond manufacturing industry, which could become one of the biggest reforms in its history. "In particular", the news agency writes, "it is said to be aimed at serious mitigation of state regulation and reducing the tax burden on Russian diamond manufacturers, as well as at expanding their access to raw materials. This threatens to revise the marketing and investment policy of ALROSA and add to its financial burden.
CEO of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Dr. Moris Mpofu, last week described plans for reversing the resource curse in the country's tumultuous diamond industry with the creation of a multinational diamond park in Mutare - Zimbabwe's fourth-largest city situated on its eastern border.
India's recently-adopted goods & services tax (GST) of 3% on polished diamonds, 5% service tax and 0.25% on imported rough diamonds is making life challenging for the country's 50,000 small and medium diamond manufacturing units in Gujarat, employing up to 200,000 workers. The Economic Times, citing Praveen Shankar Pandya, chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), reports that due to increased compliance requirements and uncertainty over when they will get input credit refund, the viability of many of these small units is uncertain.
Russia's ALROSA has appointed Pavel Vinikhin as director of DIAMONDS ALROSA – ALROSA’s cutting and polishing division, one of the largest diamond manufacturers in Russia, the company announced in a press release. In April 2016, he was appointed as deputy director for marketing of DIAMONDS ALROSA, and headed ALROSA Diamonds Ltd, a cutting and polishing factory in Barnaul. He has been managing DIAMONDS ALROSA since October 2016, when he was serving as acting director.
Diamond trader and brick & mortar crusader Melvin Moss is back at his provocative best in his most recent diatribe, "The #Diamond Family is Dysfunctional". He argues that major diamond miners producing too much rough at prices unsustainable for the rest of the industry (which deals with underpriced polished) and are extending their reach across the pipeline at the expense of everyone else - particularly retailers. "The diamond pipeline is dysfunctional", he writes. "Miners have a primary obligation to their shareholders.
The market for recycled diamonds has grown substantially in the last decade following the financial crash of 2008, and though it is hard to guage the market as a whole due the less-than-transparent avenues through which they are bought and sold, estimates are that the trade in recycled diamonds is now worth between five and ten percent of the global market - or approximately $1 billion - and is expanding. Abraham Dayan, writing for Rough-Polished, looks at some of the players in this growing market, the advantages it provides for manufacturers in need of affordable supply and retai
Innovation is the key to sustained success, even for a traditional industry such as the diamond trade. Successful innovation, however, starts with questioning what we do and why we are doing it.