European Union finance ministers have agreed to add 10 countries to a blacklist of alleged tax havens, including the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, the agreement means the list will now have 15 jurisdictions, triple the number of what it had before the review. It comes just over a year after the EU agreed to “name and shame” a small number of nations as part of its efforts to fight opaque practices that facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals and individuals.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) took part in the first Belgian State Visit to Canada (BELCAN 2018) in over 40 years, joining the King and Queen of the Belgians, Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem, along with 100 major Belgian companies. Diamonds are the most important product in the trade relations between Belgium and Canada, representing 21% of all Canadian imports to Belgium. Canada is the third largest diamond producing country (in value) worldwide, and Belgium is the world's leading importer of Canadian diamonds.
Sales of jewelry in the U.S. during the holiday season jumped 5.9%, largely driven by last-minute sales, with December 23 approaching Black Friday in terms of single-day spending, reports Mastercard SpendingPulse. They report that holiday sales increased 4.9 percent this year, setting a new record for dollars spent. This is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011 and a further indication of consumer confidence. Online shopping also saw large gains of 18.1 percent compared to 2016, boosted by a late season rally.
According to industry insight data published today by De Beers Group, the shifting dynamic of women’s expanding roles in society and changing perceptions of femininity are creating new motivations of diamond jewelry acquisition. Social and economic changes have expanded the symbolism of diamond jewelry, women are now more empowered which has led to record levels of self-purchase, as well as the establishment of a new consumer type.
Standard and Poor's has reiterated its negative outlook rating for Botswana as a result of, "The country's narrow economic base, which relies heavily on the diamond sector and is vulnerable to external shocks, despite efforts to diversify." Diamonds account for approximately 80% of Botswana’s total exports and about one-third of its gross domestic product, and "remains its main economic locomotive".
Fun fact: Retail trade lost more jobs in the past 2 months than coal mining lost in the past 20 years.
Economist Paul Krugman responding to Bloomberg article, "America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever"
De Beers Diamond Jewelers on Old Bond Street is considering leaving its flagship London store after almost 15 years, citing an increase in rent and business rates as motivating its decision to relocate, writes The Telegraph. A spokesperson for the company told The Telegraph increased costs related to its lease had led it to “explore alternative options on Bond Street” for its move.
The Belgian Parliament has officially adopted the 'Diamond Regime', commonly known as the 'Carat Tax', as the new fiscal system for the Antwerp diamond industry. The new system stipulates that companies will no longer be taxed on the basis of their profit but on a fixed percentage of their turnover - thereby eliminating complicated discussions with tax authorities about the value of inventory, which is difficult to assess.
From 11 through 14 December, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre and HRD Antwerp are participating in the City of Antwerp's economic mission to Seoul, South Korea, after which it heads to Shanghai. Highlights of the trip to Seoul include HRD Antwerp's announcement it will be offering bilingual diamond grading reports as of February 1, 2017, with the first reports available in English/Korean and English/Chinese. HRD Antwerp will gradually offer bilingual grading reports in other foreign languages over the course of the next year.
Small and medium diamond traders in Surat, the world's largest diamond cutting and polishing center, are facing difficult days due to the cash crisis and the government's demonetization decision.
London's Hatton Garden jewelers are planning a potential move away from the famous quarter to establish a new centre in suburban London, writes the Evening Standard. "Industry leaders are discussing the creation of a 'new Hatton Garden' as jewelers face being forced out of their historic Farringdon home by rising rents." ES's Tom Powell says that Victoria McKay, COO of the London Diamond Bourse, told ES the district’s businesses agreed they must begin looking at potential new homes in cheaper locations. Ms.
"Uncertainity looms large over the world's largest diamond cutting and polishing industry in Surat following the scrapping of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency note by the government," writes the Times of India (TOI) on the sudden currency ban.
The diamond and jewelry trade will benefit as the new policies create a more prosperous middle class and greater numbers of wealthy consumers. Global uncertainty will also increase demand for investment diamonds as a store of wealth.
- Martin Rapaport, Chairman of the Rapaport Group, on his positive view of Trump presidency for diamonds & jewelry.
According to a new study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Chinese Consumer in 2030” (paywall) released this week, 35 percent of China’s population is predicted to be “upper-middle class” or above by 2030, reports Jing Daily. EIU's summary introducing the report states, "The traditional drivers of China’s economy, investment and exports, are struggling, but the country’s consumers keep spending.
Last week, De Beers published its second "Diamond Insight Report", analysing the current state and future outlook for the global diamond industry - 'from mine to finger' as they say.
Following downward-trending second quarter reports from major U.S. jewelers such as Signet, Zales (part of Signet) and Tiffany & Co, sales at specialty jewelry stores also fell in July, reports Rapaport News. "Sales fell 2.2 percent to $2.1 billion across outlets selling only jewelry and watch products during the month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In an exhaustive article on the operations of Namdeb, the De Beers’ 50:50 operation with the Namibian government, The Daily Telegraph reports that an estimated 95 percent of Namibia's diamonds will in the future come from the seabed off the country's coast and that marine gems are already the fetching the highest prices from all of its seven mines. Five specially-adapted ships fitted with giant tractors and drills between them mine more than one million carats a year from rich alluvial deposits scattered out to sea by the mighty Orange River at the time that dinosaurs roamed the earth.
"We have come a long way from Henry Ford famously paying his workers a living wage so they could afford to buy his cars. Today, there is a huge disconnect between those at the top and the people they employ. Then those same executives go on earnings calls and scratch their heads about where all the shoppers went." So concludes JCK's Rob Bates his pointed analysis of the sluggish state of jewelry retail and the failure of high-level executives to understand why the middle-class are not spending; or perhaps more accurately, that the middle class is disappearing.
According to a De Beers' press release, Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond mine under construction, "Will provide a $5.2 billion (C$6.7 billion) boost to the Canadian economy" according to the 'De Beers in Canada Socio-Economic Impact Report'. The report details the important economic contribution De Beers activities have made over the last half century and continue to make today. "The new mine, located in the Northwest Territories (NWT), is a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%).
South Africa posted a sharply lower trade surplus in July, hit by falling exports of precious metals and stones, including gold and diamonds. The surplus decreased to 5.2 billion rand ($356 million) from 12.5 billion rand ($860 million) in June, Bloomberg, reported, adding nine economist estimates expected a surplus of around 8 billion rand. The rand’s 27 percent drop against the dollar in 2016 has boosted exports, even as demand in South Africa’s largest trading partners was subdued.
The expansion of the global synthetic diamond market poses a threat to the economy of Botswana which depends on the mining and sale of natural diamonds, according to Botswana's former Minerals, Water and Energy Minister David Magang. He claimed that De Beers was preparing to join the synthetic diamond market which meant there would be reduced options for Botswana's diamonds. He said in a speech that there were "indications that De Beers is about to enter the synthetics market".
The share of the domestic Russian market in the revenue of Alrosa from the sale of rough diamonds rose to 11.3% in Q2 2016 from 7.5% in Q1 and 9.4% in Q2 of last year. Alrosa said in a report based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that in absolute terms the volume of rough diamond supplies to the domestic market amounted to 8.8 billion rubles – up 20.7% from Q1 2016 and 80% on Q2 2015 it rose 80%, Interfax reported.
ALROSA will participate in the Second Eastern Economic Forum on September 2-3 as its official partner. The Eastern Economic Forum is held annually in Vladivostok in accordance with the Decree of President Vladimir Putin. The aim of the Forum is to promote the accelerated development of the economy of Eastern Russia and expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Despite the fears that the UK economy would tank following the vote in June to leave the European Union, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that jewelry and watch retailers saw a 17% jump in sales in July. Retail sales generally surged by almost 6% on July last year, and are up 1.4% since June, Professional Jeweller reported. However, the jump in sales is likely due to good weather coupled and tourists taking advantage of the weak pound to visit and shop in Britain.
Almost two months after the British electorate's decision to leave the EU and with the financial effect still unclear, Retail Jeweller magazine is surveying its readers to uncover how UK jewelers are being impacted by the Brexit vote. The survey aims to also find out what the jewelry industry believes being outside the EU might hold for them. Results of the survey will be published in the November issue of Retail Jeweller together with comment and analysis.
Record high prices for gold (the price of gold rose 25% in the first half of 2016, its strongest performance in 35 years) has led to a record surge in H1 investment demand of 1,063.9t, which was 16% higher than the previous H1 high from 2009, as continued growth in Q2 2016 (+15%) brought total H1 gold demand to 2,335t - the second highest first half on record, according to the World Gold Council.
Paul Zimnisky, author of the Zimnisksy Global Rough Diamond Price Index, writes that the 2016 first half diamond production trends of De Beers and Alrosa - good for 40.7% and 34.7% of global market share value respectively - show diamond production declining as sales climbed significantly compared to H1 2015. These results are consistent with the strategies announced at the start of the year, and were certainly buoyed by a more favorable than expected global economy, the U.S.
Lisa Du for Bloomberg: With the summer wedding season in full swing, the most important prop - a diamond ring - is the leading issue for couples planning to tie the knot. A one-carat diamond costs the equivalent of eight weeks' salary, or about $7,300, for the average American worker as of last month.
These messages can be sobering for the industry, but they serve as something of an impromptu focus group of how young people view our business and provide some insight on its current challenges. We are caught in a demographic vice: Boomers are retiring/dying, Gen X-ers have money but no numbers, while millennials have numbers but no money (and are fickle, regardless). When you add in e-commerce, heavy debt, income inequality, the aftereffects of the fiscal crisis, and an unstable world, it’s not surprising this industry—and the rest of retail—is feeling challenged.
In a recent article entitled "In the rough: A diamond is for ever. But its allure comes and goes", The Economist seized the occasion of the non-sale of the "Lesedi La Rona" diamond to expound on the difficult times facing the diamond industry. "It was the latest disappointment to befall an industry that has had little to celebrate.
Hong Kong/Chinese jewelry chain Luk Fook Holdings is the latest to suffer from what Bloomberg is calling the "Chinese malaise" among Hong Kong retailers, as sales and profit tumbled for the year ended 31 March 2016. The company is among several major jewelers hit by the Chinese economic downturn and fewer tourists travelling to Hong Kong.
Botswana’s Diamond Hub says De Beers supplied around half the amount of rough stones to local cutting and polishing companies last year compared to 2014. Kgotso Matlolela, a principal minerals officer with the hub, whose aim is to promote diamond beneficiation in the country, told a mining conference in Gaborone that De Beers supplied rough worth about $502 million in 2015 compared with a figure of $936 million in 2014, Rough & Polished reported. Botswana has 20 diamond cutting and polishing factories.
Luk Fook warns that its profit for the past fiscal year which ended on March 31 is likely to drop by 35 to 45 percent as a result of reduced spending by tourists from mainland China. The strength of the Hong Kong dollar against China's renminbi is also putting Chinese visitors off buying, along with an economic slowdown in the mainland and a rise in the popularity of other tourist destinations.
China said its economy grew by 6.7% in the first three months of 2016, while India reported a remarkable 7.9% expansion for the same period. But how accurate are the figures, CNN asks. Both countries have been subject to persistent doubts over the quality of their data, leading scores of reputable economists to cast aside official measures and turn to alternative gauges instead. The issue is critical because the two countries account for 16% of world GDP, or about $13 trillion. And they are the two most critical diamond markets after the United States.
I don't simply throw diamonds at buyers and pressurize them into buying with all kinds of sales tricks. Buyers have faith in me; everything is on the table and very clear. Integrity is very important to me. Rough needs to be seen and inspected before it can be sold. This is a business that needs a personal touch. You have to create a pleasant atmosphere and give clients the feeling that they will not lose out and that they can make a profit on the goods. [The same need for transparency is true of the industry in general].
Diamond industry analyst Ehud Laniado takes an in-depth look at why diamonds are not fulfilling their economic 'promise' as a luxury investment that will appreciate in value. Comparing the performance of diamonds to other luxury items bought out of 'passion', he determines that the lack of marketing is hurting diamonds' potential to be perceived as an asset rather than just an expense. But he has a plan.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the largest jewelry retailer in China, posted heavy falls in mainland sales in the first quarter of 2016 from a year ago. Same-store sales of jewelry plunged 24% while those of gold products slumped 29%. The company said a growing number of mainlanders are traveling overseas to shop for luxury items and other products, while the country’s slowing economy has battered consumption. The important Hong Kong and Macau markets posted a 26% decline in the value of combined sales and a 27% drop in same-store sales.
With economic growth slowing and demand dropping, China recorded a 14% decline on the year in polished diamond imports to $6.69 billion last year. The country’s imports of polished goods decreased in the first nine months of 2015 from the year before, but showed a slight in the final quarter, according to data released by the China Customs Information Center, Rapaport reported. In volume terms, polished imports fell 17% to 7.6 million carats, leading to a 3.7% rise in the average price per carat to $883.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Brussels on March 30 to attend the first India-European Union summit in four years. Hopes are high that the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Brussels in six years will reinvigorate EU-India ties and inject new momentum into the relationship, possibly resuming dialogue for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which hasn't materialized despite eight years of negotiations.
The Russian government is discussing the sale of 10.9% of shares in diamond miner Alrosa in the course of its privatization program in 2016, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed to reporters. Deputy Russian Economic Development Minister Nikolai Podguzov also told reporters that a new round of privatization of Alrosa is possible in 2017-2018 following the sale of 10.9% of the diamond miner's shares this year. Russia, through the Federal Property Agency, owns 43.9% of Alrosa, and Yakutia owns 25% plus one share and does not intend to privatize its stake.