As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
The Supervisory Board of Alrosa has approved the miner's three-year strategy for developing and streamlining its diamond cutting and polishing units for 2020-2022, as well as the plan to integrate the recently-acquired manufacturer Kristall into the Alrosa Group. The plan includes a set of measures focused on improving product mix efficiency, production cycle optimization and the creation of a consolidated sales system for polished diamonds, a strategy they believe will improve the operational efficiency of Alrosa’s consolidated diamond cutting activities.
Former CEO and now chairman emeritus of Rosy Blue Alliance, Dilip Mehta, has announced a new venture into synthetic diamonds, partnering with his sons to launch a business in Surat. Mehta is just the latest of many diamond veterans to test the synthetic-diamond waters. Speaking to the Times of India, Mehta made clear that the venture was fully independent of Rosy Blue. "This one is our own venture and nothing to do with Rosy Blue," he is quoted as saying.
Teaming up with Sarine Diamond Technologies, Alrosa has launched a pilot program to provide digital mapping of its rough diamonds on tender so buyers can better assess the polished output and lower their purchasing risk. In a press release, the Russian miner said it provided the Digital Tenders information for the first time during the October 2019 trading period, offering its clients a full digital scan of each rough diamond for detailed analysis.
In a preliminary update for Q3 2019, Singapore-listed diamond equipment and services provider Sarine noted that "the significant drop (40% less y-o-y) in the quantities of rough stones entering the production pipeline" has temporarily eased the excess inventories in the midstream, "somewhat alleviating" the issue of working capital in the short term.
Lucapa Diamond Co. has exported a 46 carat Lulo pink diamond to Antwerp and it is currently undergoing studies for polishing (initial possible polished solutions pictured above). A decision on the optimal polished solutions will be taken by the Sociedade Mineira do Lulo (SML) and the Lulo partners once the studies are concluded. While Antwerp is not the manufacturing center it once was, many of the world's most valuable and complex rough diamonds still find their way to Antwerp for analysis and polishing.
As has been anticipated for some time now, the Supervisory Board of Russian diamond miner Alrosa has green-lighted the acquisiion of a 100% stake of Production Corporation 'Kristall' from the Russian Federation. The move brings the leading polished-diamond manufacturer in Russia and Europe under the Alrosa Group umbrella. The value of the 100% equity interest in Kristall was determined on the basis of an independent appraiser's report at RUB 1,886 million, approximately US$29 million.
The Government of India has succumbed to internal and external pressure and lowered the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate for wide variety of products and services - including 'job work' in the diamond industry - in an attempt to revive the economy. The announcements come as welcome news and should provide a much-needed boost to the gems and jewelry industry in India, hopefully stemming the tide of job losses in the sector.
The ongoing slump in the global diamond industry is having a negative impact on jobs in the expansive diamond manufacturing industry of India. The world's largest cutting and polishing centre appears to be heading toward an employment crisis, at least in the short-term. Estimates from industry insiders are that the diamond industry in Gujarat have seen job losses of up to 10%-15% already, with more on the way if consumer demand does not pick up in the near future.
Sarine Technologies is expecting its second straight quarterly loss as the "prevailing negatives in the diamond industry midstream" are hurting their financial results. Demand for their diamond-manufacturing equipment relies on the manufacturing sector and thus indirectly on the rough trade that supplies it - two segments in the midst of a slump.
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.