The global diamond industry in the first half of 2019 faced a variety of well-doucmented challenges leading to declining commerce across all segments of the trade.
India's cut and polished diamond exports declined by more than 18% year-on-year in July, representing the lowest level of polished exports since December 2018. India's exports reached only $1.50 billion last month as compared $1.84 billion during the same month a year ago, as manufacturing has slowed significantly and traders try to move goods from stock while facing the headwind of an existing glut on the market.
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.
India's rough diamond trade continued its 2019 downturn in May, as less manufacturing is taking place amid a tightening of available financing and weak demand for small goods, according to data gleaned from the Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of polished diamonds also recorded their fifth consecutive month of decline in 2019, despite a solid increase (11%%) in the average price per carat.
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.
India's rough diamond imports continued its first quarter recession in March, signalling a slowdown in manufacturing amid a tightening of available financing; polished exports also declined for the third consecutive month. Rough diamond imports fell by 16% in value during the month to $1.4 billion on a more than 9% decline in the volume of rough imports, and their value has declined by 24% during Q1.
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.
While still lagging behind the levels of activity recorded in February 2018, India's diamond trade last month rebounded from a remarkably poor showing in January 2019. According to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), exports of cut and polished diamonds from India fell by 3.51% year-on-year during the month of February 2019 to $2.34 billion as compared to the $2.43 billion exported in February 2018. However, February's exports represent a 34% increase over the $1.75 billion shipped out in January, which will come as a welcome sign to the Indian industry.
The value of India's polished-diamond exports grew by approximately 6% to over $24 billion in 2018 despite a 10% downturn in the volume of goods exported, according to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The rise in value is attributable to a 17% higher average price per carat, calculated at $775, for the 31.5 million carats exported, reflecting an industry-wide trend in 2018 of softening trade in smaller, lower-quality goods and more robust demand for larger goods.
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.
"For the first time since 2011, 2018 saw the Israeli diamond trade stabilize," writes The Israeli Diamond Industry, bringing to an end what the President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), Yoram Dvash calls “a few years of crisis." According to the Diamonds, Gemstones and Jewelry Administration in the Ministry of Economy, exports of polished diamonds fell by only 2.5% percent to approximately $4.5 billion, representing an improvement over sharper declines in recent years, while polished imports reached $3.0 billion, an improvement of 4.1% over last year.
The downturn in India's diamond trade continued unimpeded in November, as its two critical indicators - polished-diamond exports and rough-diamond imports - tumbled once again. According to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), polished diamond exports fell to $1.56 billion, a decline of 12% as compared to the $1.78 bn exported in November 2017, and a 32% decline from $2.3 billion exported last month.
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.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 19% on a year-over-year basis during the month of October, reaching $2.31 billion compared to the $1.93 billion exported in October 2017, according to figures from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The strong showing was backed by the increased quantity of goods exported, up 8% to 2.9 million carats from 2.7 million a year ago, as well as an increase in the average price per carat, which climbed 11% to $791. However, polished exports fell slightly from $2.37 billion last month.
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.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 6.6% during the six-month period ended September 30, 2018 (H1 FY 2018-19) despite a dip of 10.8% in exports during the month of September, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of cut and polished diamonds from India during September fell to $2.37 billion from $2.65 bn in September 2017, while polished diamond exports from April-September 2018 increased $2.68 billion from the $11.90 bn exported over the same months last year.
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.
Rough diamond imports to India, home to the largest world's largest diamond cutting and polishing industry, have fallen for five consecutive months, according to figures from industry body the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The GPEPC's most recent figures show that from April through August (FY 2018), the value of rough diamond imports have declined by 7 percent to $7.16 billion from $7.69 billion a year earlier. In volume terms, imports are down 9% to 68.6 million carats from 75.3 million carats compared to the same period last year.
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%.
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.
India’s polished diamond exports rose by 5% during the month of June 2018 as compared to a year earlier, while overall exports from the gem and jewelry sector grew by a marginal 0.9% in the same period, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports of cut and polished diamonds from India during the month rose to $2.08 billion from $1.98 bn in June 2017, an increase of 5.07% y-o-y. Rough imports were down by 14.2% in value terms during the month to $1.53 bn as compared to $1.79 bn imported during the previous June.
Global rough diamond production in 2017 grew to levels not seen since 2008, and achieved its highest overall value since the Kimberley Process started gathering statistics in 2004 - and most likely the highest value ever for a single year of production. The volume of diamond output in 2017 surged by 19% to 150.9 million carats (126.4m cts in 2016), with the average price increasing 8% to $105 per carat.
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.
Exports of polished diamonds from the world's largest manufacturing hub, India, remained steady at $1.99 billion during the month of April as compared to March ($2.03 billion), and jumped by 14% compared to the same month a year ago according to figures Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The increase in value compared to April 2017 stems from a rise in the volume of shipments, from 2.37 to 2.77 million carats (+17%), as the average price per carat fell slightly (-2%) to about $719 per carat.
Hong Kong's imports and exports of rough and polished diamonds saw a solid to significant upswing across all categories during the first quarter of 2018 (Jan-March), according to figures published Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China. Polished diamond imports to the trade hub increased by 10% in value to $5.17 billion from the import of nearly 5.3 million carats worth of the polished gems. Hong Kong's exports and re-exports rose by 4% to $3.53 billion from 3.7 million carats.
The value of diamonds traded in Antwerp during the first quarter of 2018 (January - March) increased across the board compared to the same period a year ago, particularly in the rough diamond trade, aided by a surge in the volume and value of exported rough goods in March.
The strong growth of watch industry exports reported in January was confirmed - and even bettered in February, reports the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, as exports to Hong Kong and the US saw their strongest monthly advance for six years. The total value of Swiss exports reached $1.78 billion (CHF 1.69 billion), an increase of 12.9% on the February 2017 figure. A total of 1.9 miilion units (+3.8%) were shipped, good for $1.67 billion (CHF 1.59 billion), with an additional $100.7 million (CHF 95.9) earned from other products.
Exports of cut and polished diamonds from India during the month of February 2018 remained virtually flat at $ 2.427 billion, 0.50% over the same month last year, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The average price rose 6% to $791 per carat. However, while exports of cut and polished diamonds remained flat, rough imports rose by 11.35% in value terms during the month to $1.68 billion as compared to US$ 1.51 bn imported during the previous February.
After shooting out of the starting blocks in January with significant increases across the board, imports to and exports from the diamond capital came back down to earth in February, following De Beers' pattern from its second sight of the year where rough sales fell 17% from January. According to figures published by the AWDC, February rough diamond exports fell 21% in volume and 6% in value to $1.02 billion from $1.09 billion in February last year.
India's polished diamond exports during the month of January 2018 rose to US$2.08 billion from US$1.62 bn in January 2017, a jump of 28.8% according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). Meanwhile, rough imports were up by 13.68% in value terms during the month to US$1.44 billion as compared to US$1.27 bn imported during the previous January. In volume terms, however, rough imports declined from 15.3 million carats during January 2017 to 13.3 million carats during January this year.
Israel's diamond trade decined in terms of the volume and value traded for the third straight year, according to Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry as reported by Rapaport News. The industry's polished exports fell 4% on the year to just under $4.5 billion, while volume of polished exports fell 6% to 1.7 million carats. Rapaport further notes that exports to the US, the largest market for the Israeli diamonds, declined 7% to $1.69 billion, while shipments to Belgium bounced back, surging 20% to $420 million.
The Antwerp diamond trade booked stable results overall in 2017, according to a press release from industry representative body the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). They note that after a very difficult 2015, the Antwerp diamond trade stabilized in 2016, and this trend continued over past year as the industry traded a total of $US46 billion in diamonds ($US48 billion in 2016). In 2017, a total of 233.6 million carats of diamonds were imported to and exported from Antwerp.
According to statistics from the Bank of Botswana, Botswana’s rough diamond exports fell by 13 percent in 2017 to $3.48 billion compared to $4.02 billion a year ago due to weak prices comparative to 2016, and weaker demand particularly in the second half of the year. While Botswana’s Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) - which sells 15% of Debswana's production - posted a 4 percent jump in sales to $567 million in 2017, De Beers’ rough diamond sales fell 5% to an estimated $5.31 billion last year.
India's polished diamond trade ended the calendar year 2017 (the fiscal year runs April-March) with a slight increase over the same period a year ago, as polished exports 2.1% to $23.09 billion, while rough imports were worth $18.47 billion, representing an 11% increase over 2016. This according to statistics published by industry organization GJEPC. In carat weight, polished diamond exports increased 6.7% to 34.9 million carats, at an average price of $667 per carat, according to our calculations.
According to figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the Antwerp diamond trade experienced an increase in activity nearly across the board in November comparatively, likely tied to events in India and U.A.E. The volume of rough diamond exports surged by 107% compared to October and 142% year-on-year, reaching 14.6 million carats during the month. The value of those rough exports also spiked by 55% compared to last month and 22% year-on-year, achieving $1.28 billion.
According to Rapaport News, based on figures from the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Israel's diamond trade as a whole has slowed in 2017, as exports of polished diamonds to the US, Israel’s largest market, declined 15% to $1.26 billion during the nine-month period. Exports to Hong Kong are also down, but only by 3% to $1.01 billion. Rapaport writes: "The country’s exports of polished diamonds fell 12% year on year to $3.38 billion during the first nine months of 2017, while the volume of goods sent out dropped 11% to 1.297 million carats.
India's exports of cut and polished diamonds gained nearly 6% in value year-over-year in September, reports the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The Indian trade exported $2.65 billion worth of polished diamonds in September 2017 compared to $1.82 billion in the same month a year earlier, according to provisional data. For the first half of the financial year to date (April-September), India's polished exports are up by 1.7% in value terms, currently sitting at $11.9 billion, compared to $11.7 billion a year earlier.
The trend of high volumes of lower-priced rough diamond exports from Antwerp that started in full force during May continued to define the rough trade through the third quarter (July-Sept.), while the diamond capital’s polished trade recorded somewhat soft results. According to figures published by the AWDC, on a year-over-year basis, the volume of rough diamond exports during the quarter increased nearly 12%, totaling over 27 million carats, while their value actually declined by 13% to $2.7 billion. The volume of rough imports also increased 1.5% while their value also tumbled by 13%.
The value of polished diamond exports from Antwerp jumped by 7% y-o-y as their volume surged by 30% in the month of August. The sharpest value increase was in exports to Switzerland (+84%), while those to the US remained flat and those to Hong Kong fell by 10%. Polished imports fell by 14% in volume but only 3% in value. Meanwhile, the volume of rough diamond exports from Antwerp remained comparatively high in the holiday month of August as the industry took a three-week break.