Retailers and importers across the US - including those in the diamond and jewelry trade - breathed a collective sigh of relief this past weekend following the announcement of a temporary trade truce between the US and China, and an agreement to reopen negotiations. This past weekend at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, U.S. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to a ceasefire that will forestall another punishing round of of $300 billion in tariffs Mr.
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’
The global personal luxury goods market grew by 6% in 2018, reaching €260 billion (more than $290 billion) in 2018, with similar growth forecasted for 2019, reports leading consultancy Bain & Co. in its “Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, Spring 2019”. The strong growth, equivalent to that in 2017, was driven primarily by the acceleration in domestic spending of mainland Chinese consumers and an increase in European tourism. Bain & Co.
Hong Kong based jewelry retail and bellwether for the Chinese market Chow Tai Fook Group (CTF) has announced that its sales grew 13% to $8.5 billion (HK$66,661 million) for the year ending March 31 (FY2019), citing increased purchases of gold jewelry and an expansion of the company’s retail network in China. Retail sales in Mainland China rose by 8% to $3.88 billion, while revenue from Hong Kong and Macau increased 12% to $2.94 billion.
Global demand for gold jewelry rose 1% in Q1 2019 to 530.3 tonnes, driven by the Indian market, writes World Gold Council (WGC). A lower local rupee gold price in late February and early March coincided with the wedding season, which is the traditional time for significant gold purchases, lifting jewelry demand in India 5% higher than the same period last year. The 125.4 tonnes purchased makes last Q1 2019 the highest Q1 since 2015.
The Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) last week signed strategic cooperation agreements with China’s major laboratory-grown diamond suppliers, designer associations and other partners to jointly develop and promote LGDs, with a particular focus on design and fashion. The GZDE held a forum entitled “Discover the Magic of Lab-Grown Diamonds” during the 2019 China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shenzhen (Shenzhen Jewellery Fair), with a view to finding greater commercial application.
Searching for a means to safeguard smooth transactions in the event it ends up having US sanctions imposed on it, Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, has found a partner in its efforts to conduct trade in a currency other than the US dollar. Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa’s director of sales, told the South China Morning Post that it has enlisted one of its many Chinese customers - Chow Sang Sang Jewellery - on a long-term contract this year.
Hong Kong’s retail sales of jewelry, watches and other valuables in January 2019 were up 4.7% year-on-year after falling by 5% in December, according to statistics released by the HK government, as increased tourism from the Mainland and early Lunar New Year shopping lifted overall retail sales. The Hong Kong Tourism Board reported that January tourist arrivals rose to 6.78 million, up 27% from January last year, with the number of visitors from the Mainland - good for more than 80% of the total visitors - increasing by 35%.
"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.
One of the bellwether jewelry brands and the largest jeweler in China, Chow Tai Fook, has reported that same-store-sales of gem-set jewelry in Q4 2018 declined by 5% in mainland China and 8% in Hong Kong and Macau “amid an uncertain macroeconomic environment.” This marks the first quarterly decline in two years for the company despite China’s lowering of its jewelry import tax by an average of 20.7 percent last summer, which was expected to bolster sales.
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.
Tiffany & Co's worldwide net sales increased 4% to $1.0 billion in the third quarter, with higher spending by local customers noted across the board, but a decline in purchases by Chinese tourists in the United States and Hong Kong put a dent in the jeweler’s Q3 results. The stock market took notice, as shares of Tiffany & Co. plunged 12 percent following their publication of the results, as industry analysts had been anticipating better results.
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.
Chow Tai Fook has announced its partnership with native New York designer Vera Wang on a fine jewelry collection launching October 19, 2018 in Mainland China. "Bringing together the foremost Chinese-American designer in the fashion industry and the renowned fine jewelry company in Greater China," the announcement reads, the new collection will "cater to the modern Chinese bride, who has begun to incorporate diamond jewelry into traditional engagements," moving beyond the traditional gold and jade usually worn by brides in China.
ALROSA, the world's largest diamond mining company, has sold 'special size' rough diamonds (larger than 10.8 carats) at auction in Vladivostok, with overall revenue amounting to $12.6 million. At its latest sale of large stones, the company sold 108 gem-quality lots with total weight of 2,003 carats. 76 companies from Russia, mainland China, Hong Kong, the US, Israel, Belgium, India and UAE took part in the auction.
According to new research from Euromonitor International, India is set to overtake US as the world's second largest fine jewelry market by the end of 2018, reports Business Matters. The study shows that China remains the biggest market for fine jewelry with sales reaching US$86.3 billion by the end of 2017, which are expected to reach US$92 billion by the end of this year. The Chinese market as a whole has grown by over 21% in the last five years.
“[The $180 million in diamond sales to China last year] is still less than 5 percent of Alrosa’s global sales, but it’s just the beginning. Strengthening and developing our relationship with Chinese consumers, especially with local jewelry retailers, are among our main goals today. We will invest more in marketing and brand building.”
- ALROSA CEO Sergey Ivanov
Bellweather jewelry group Chow Tai Fook built on its 2017 sales gains by recording a solid first fiscal quarter of 2018 (three months ended 30 June 2018), citing "impressive growth" in the Hong Kong and Macau market. Benefitting from "improving local consumer spending and an increase in visitors from Mainland China", retail sales surged by 21% in Hong Kong and Macau, while same-store sales (SSS) increased by 26%. Sales on the Mainland also fared well, increasing by 11%, with same-store sales up 4%.
Calling financial year 2018 a "year of recovery", leading jewelry retail group Chow Tai Fook, a bellweather for China's jewelry landscape, reaped the benefits of the retail market in Greater China regaining its upward momentum, leading to a vibrant performance for the group. Chow Tai Fook’s sales and profit rose during the fiscal year in the rising Chinese market, with the retail sector also noting increased tourism to Hong Kong as having a positive impact on sales.
China will cut import tariffs on nearly 1,500 consumer products as from July 1, including gold jewelry set with diamonds, as well as precious stones, in a bid to boost imports as part of efforts to open up its economy. A total of 18 tax items involving jewelry categories are included in the tariff reduction, with an average tariff rate drop of 68%.
The Zimbabwean government has yielded to Chinese pressure and will restore Anjin Investment’s operating licence after finalisation of the new diamond policy, nearly three years after the entity was stopped from mining in Chiadzwa, writes the Zimbabwe Independent.
Forevermark, the diamond brand from De Beers Group, has announced the launch of Libert’aime by Forevermark, a new flagship store at HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai, the Group writes in a press release. The opening marks the 1,000th Forevermark store in China, and comes as the brand celebrates its 10-year anniversary in the country.
Global consumer demand for diamond jewelry hit a new all-time high in 2017, climbing to US$82 billion, a two percent increase on the previous year, according to industry insight data published today by De Beers Group. The US was the main driver of growth for the fourth consecutive year, De Beers writes, where positive macroeconomics and strong consumer confidence - which recently hit an 18-year high - saw demand for diamond jewelry increase four percent to $43 billion, representing more than half of total global demand.
The Guangzhou Diamond Exchange held its first ever Rough Diamond Tender from 19-25 April, selling all the parcels available for nearly $6 million. The tender included more than 230,000 cts of of industrial and gem-quality diamonds rough diamond from Africa and drew nearly 50 companies from China, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, India and Israel. The supplier of the stones, Société Anhui-Congo d’Investissement Minier, is a joint venture of Chinese enterprise and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the diamond marketing organization Diamond Producers Association (DPA), spoke with Melissa Smet of De Belgische Diamantnijverheid, the quarterly magazine of the Syndicate of the Belgian Diamond Industry (SBD), about the mission, current progress and future plans of the DPA, as well as some key industry issues. The DPA set up shop and was launched in 2016, but their first real year of investment was 2017, and they invested about $57 million on generic marketing.
Nir Matalon, Managing Director of Malca-Amit Antwerp, an international logistics, security, customs and special operations firm for the luxury goods industry and international banks, and Director of Gem Lab Services Antwerp, which specializes in diamond and precious gem transport, is moving on after 21 years with the company. Matalon has been an integral part of the many transitions and expansion of the group's activities, as he explained in an exit interview.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of De Beers Group, has announced it will launch two of its diamond education courses in Simplified Chinese, helping students in one of the largest and fastest growing markets for diamond jewellery to enhance their knowledge of the industry, De Beers announced in a press release. The online Diamond Foundation Course, which was launched last year and is the industry’s first to cover the full diamond pipeline, will be available in Simplified Chinese from 1 March, with the Polished Diamond Grading Course to be translate
Swiss watch exports saw their strongest growth in more than five years during 2017, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. with Hong Kong and mainland China representing the top two markets for Swiss watches. This trend continued to start off 2018, as January sales in Hong Kong rose 21.3 percent to grab a 15 percent of the market, while sales in mainland China surged by 44.3 percent to reach 10.9 percent of the market, overtaking the US.
With marriage rates falling and divorce rates climbing, the diamond industry is facing a challenge to win over Chinese millennial consumers, Ruonan Zheng writes for Jing Daily.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA teamed up with GfK (Growth from Knowledge), consumer research company, to examine the purchasing trends among diamond consumers. The US is the world’s largest consumer market of diamond jewelry, and China is the most rapidly growing market, and the study shows why. The research was conducted in the autumn of 2017, surveying more than four thousand people from the US and China who had bought or received diamond jewelry as a gift within the last 12 months, and targeting men and women aged 25 to 55 years with average or above average income.
Leading Chinese jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook reported a 5% year-on-year increase in same store sales (SSS) for the three-month period ended December 31, 2017 (Q3 FY2018) in its key markets of Mainland China and Hong Kong & Macau, reflecting solidification of the recovery in demand and increasing points of sale. Overall retail sales value in Hong Kong and Macau was flat year-on-year for the third quarter, but recorded 12% growth in Mainland China.
Last week, the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange and Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange, subsidiaries of Guangdong Assets & Equity Exchange Group, held a series of annual meetings around the theme of “Belt & Road, Hand in Hand — International Jewelry & Diamond Conference 2017". China's Belt and Road Initiative, roughly defined, is a development campaign through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the globe.
Since 2012, CVD synthetic diamonds have been tested and identified by National Gemstone Testing Center (NGTC) in Beijing, typically in sizes above 0.20 ct. Since 2015, a large number of melee-size colorless and near-colorless synthetic diamonds have been detected in daily screenings at NGTC labs.
According to a new report from consultancy Bain & Co., after stalling in 2016, revenues from personal luxury goods are set to rise 6 percent in 2017 to 262 billion euros ($308 billion), thanks to thriving demand from Chinese and Millennial shoppers, writes Reuters. Earlier projections were for a growth rate of 2 to 4 percent, but as Bain opens its summary statement, "Luxury is back in fashion.
Two leading Hong Kong-based jewelry retailers, Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, delivered strong results in the second quarter of their respective financial years ending September 30 2017, signalling the sustained recovery of the Greater China market after a prolonged slump. Chow Tai Fook reported a 15% increase in retail sales in Mainland China and a 12% rise in Hong Kong and Macau compared to the same period a year ago. Luk Fook, reporting only same-store sales (SSS), reported 17% growth year on year, including a 16% increase in gem-set jewelry.
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.
Alrosa’s President, Sergey Ivanov, has joined the board of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the Russian miner announced on Monday. Ivanov will replace the position vacated by the former Alrosa VP, Andrey Polyakov, before he left the company.
KRC Research conducted an online survey on behalf of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) regarding US millennial women’s views on luxury goods. The results highlighted three major trends: Long term value both financially and emotionally, Pride in legitimacy of the goods purchased and the expression of self-confidence.
Hong-Kong based Chow Tai Fook jewelry Group, China's largest jeweler by market value, reports a 3.9% growth in net profit for the financial year which ended March 31, 2017, indicating a return to profit following a sales decline in Hong Kong and Macau, dating back to Q4 2014. The company told the media that although they had seen a stronger second half, a full-fledged recovery was still some time away.
On April 21, Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) held his first rough diamond sales, the GZDE communicates in a press release. "This is the first rough diamond exhibition and open sales in mainland China." They were able to hold the sale as a result of permission granted by AQSIQ, the ministry in charge of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in China, as well as customs and other relative authorities, they said. GZDE implemented three selling modes for the rough diamonds: allocation, negotiation and online auction. The sales period lasted two and a half days.