During the height of the pandemic, diamond producers faced stockpile build-ups when the world came to a standstill, stoking fears that gems amassed by miners could hurt the sector for years to come. In the ensuing months' excessive demand from manufacturers, traders, and jewelers have all but wiped out the stash. All this as demand for luxury sales, including diamond jewelry, jumped as consumers were unable to travel. Remarkably producers such as De Beers and Alrosa have since raised their prices for rough.
Russian miner Alrosa records a strong performance, with total sales of rough and polished diamonds in March amounting to US$357 million, including proceeds from rough diamond sales of US$345 million and polished diamond sales of US$12 million.
Alrosa, the Russian diamond mining giant reports that despite a strong Q4 2020, with especially strong sales volumes of smaller diamonds, total revenue for the year fell 7% to US$3bn, output fell 22% to 30m cts and net profit dropped 49% to US$440m, a direct impact from lower sales, as the miner upheld maximum flexibility throughout the pandemic, to avoid stockpiling, as well as a weaker rouble.
The title of the 10th Global Diamond Report, a collaboration between leading consultancy agency Bain & Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) leaves little to the imagination on its content. The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, not just in terms of its scale and impact on the entire world, but also in its unpredictability. And that also applies to the diamond industry at large, because while the crisis didn't leave the industry unscathed, very few people would have predicted that it would rebound significantly at the finish line.
In January De Beers’ rough diamond sales reached $650 million, the highest monthly total since 2018. This was in part due to manufacturers replenishing their stock following the holiday season. Despite the company's recent price increase in rough diamonds, revenue is up 18% y-o-y, and 44% above the $452 million it reported in December 2020.
In his latest blog, industry analyst Edahn Golan dissects 2020 and comes to the conclusion
- December 2020 US jewelry sales knocked it out of the park and rose to US$13.74bn,
- total retail sales for 2020 were flat despite several months of complete lockdown at the peak of the pandemic, totaling US$62.68bn
- a rebound owed to strong consumer demand, retailers' (esp. independents) ability to adapt to restrictions and reach out to consumers, improved gross margins and higher average ticket prices (from US$596.25 to US$1,110.66)
Industry analyst Paul Zimnisky’s recent release of a full year of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index (more info on the index here) confirms earlier reports from recent sight and contract sales as well as tenders held in Antwerp in recent weeks such as Petra Diamonds, Mountain Province and Grib Diamonds, th
Grib Diamonds sold 100% of its wholly owned Russian production in Antwerp yesterday, Monday 7th September. 390K carats of Russian goods were on offer which sold for more than $25M. Over 300 companies were invited to participate in the viewing of which 159 were active in the auction. “Bidding was stronger than any Grib sale seen since December 2019 with nearly 5,000 bids made. Prices rose to levels not seen since the beginning of the 2020, with particular strength noted in the cheaper goods and smalls.”, the company said.
For the sixth sight of the year, De Beers will continue to offer their clients the possibility to view goods in Antwerp and also Dubai, starting on Monday. Alrosa announced earlier this week it will drop mandatory buyout minimum requirements for the July sale, also starting on Monday, and as of August, the volumes will be reduced to 50% leaving clients the option to purchase additional goods via auctions and tenders.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre continues its AWDC Webinar Series tomorrow, April 29 from 15:00-16:00 with a presentation on the "Rough Market: a Q&A with Paul Zimnisky."
The writing appears to be on the proverbial wall: the Indian diamond industry is careening toward a temporary ban on rough-diamond imports which, if implemented, will effectively bring rough diamond trading to a halt. How can manufacturers survive without rough, you may ask? If Chaim Even-Zohar’s calculations are correct, it is because they are sitting on $1.5-$2 billion of rough diamond inventory already, with another $5 billion in polished ready for sale. The question then becomes: why buy more?
Mid-tier miner Petra Diamonds has been keeping us up to date with regards to the impact on the company of the global COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately reporting that they experienced depressed and opportunistic bidding for its diamonds at its fifth sales cycle of FY 2020, particularly in the larger size and higher quality, greater value categories. Petra therefore chose to only sell a portion of its South African goods, representing approximately 75% by volume and 50% by value.
The cautious optimism that had returned to the Antwerp diamond industry following the first month of 2020 was short-lived, as the explosive spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in February effectively closed eastern markets and caused great uncertainty across the global diamond trade. Antwerp's rough-diamond trade still enjoyed the boost from the miners' strong January sales, but the warning signs appeared there as well - particularly toward the end of the month.
Lucara Diamond Co. pulled off a strong performance in 2019 despite a tough market and achieving a lower average price per carat than in the previous five years, largely due to a solid performance in the final quarter and record production through the plant in 2019. The miner, which owns and operates the Karowe mine in Botswana, earned total revenues of $192.5 million (2018: $176.2 million) from the sale of 411,732 carats, or $468 per carat (2018: $502 per carat) during fiscal year 2019, beating their guidance of $170 million to $180 million.
De Beers Group reported its preliminary 2019 financial results today (Feb.20), confirming the already well-documented declines experienced across the global rough diamond trade in 2019. The average price earned per carat and a decline in sales volumes were the obvious and main culprits, but these were just the visible results of a whole raft of challenges the world's most famous miner faced last year - along with the rest of the industry - starting with the oversupply of polished in the manufacturing and midstream segments.
Gem Diamonds, the London-based miner that operates the famous Letšeng mine high in the mountains of Lesotho, reported a major uptick in its fortunes in the fourth quarter of 2019 as revenue for the period (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31) increased 41% over the previous quarter on a near-equal rise in the volume of carats sold and the average price per carat. The improved performance was sorely needed, as even with the Q4 increases the miner's 2019 fell by a third in a difficult market.
Lucapa Diamond Co. and its partners today announced its first run of mine diamond sales from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola and the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho generated combined gross proceeds of US$5.5 million (A$8.2 million).
The anticipated increase in rough-diamond trading activity as the calendar flipped to 2020 lived up to expectations in Antwerp, as the volume of rough imports to Antwerp during the month of January surged 43% compared to the first month of 2019. The 8.1 million carats imported was the most since December 2018 and outpaced January 2019 imports by over 2.4 million carats.
Mountain Province Diamonds turned in a very strong production performance at the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada, particularly in the fourth quarter, but a 15% decline in the average price achieved for their rough diamonds over the course of 2019 dragged their proceeds down. A slightly lower recovery grade also curtailed their carat recovery, which ended just below 2018 levels.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa, the largest rough producer in the world, raised its output 5% to 38.5 million carats from 36.7 million carats in 2018 despite lower market demand which pushed their total diamond sales down 12% to 33.4 million carats. The combination of more production and softer sales increased their rough inventories by 5.6 million carats (+33%) to 22.6 million carats. The Russian giant's 2019 rough sales fell 26% to $3.27 billion as the average realised prices for gem-quality rough fell 19% to $133 per carat from $164 per caat last year.
2019 was a challenging year for the global diamond trade. The entire industry, from miners to manufacturers and from diamond traders to jewelry retailers saw their trade figures and profits decline during the past year. Antwerp, as the leading diamond trading hub, was caught in the middle of the industry-wide storm. “Geopolitical instability led to economic turmoil, which negatively impacted consumer confidence,” says Ari Epstein, CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
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.
Lucara Diamond Corp. has reported that its final diamond tender of 2019, held on December 12, generated sales proceeds of US$52.9 million. Sales of goods from the Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana were 16% higher than expected, and achieved an average price of US$548 per carat. They noted improvments to market pricing in all size classes. The December tender bring Lucara's 2019 revenue at $192.5 million, exceeding the 2019 revenue guidance of $170 - $180 million and outpacing their 2018 sales of $176.2 million.
Lucapa Diamond Company earned US$6.4 million (A$9.3 million) at the latest sale of diamonds from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola and the Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho. This sales brings Lucapa's total 2019 sales of Lulo and Mothae diamonds to US$55.0 million (A$79.0 million), more than doubling their entire earnings of US$26.4 million a year ago.
Antwerp’s rough-diamond trade put a weak October performance in the rear-view mirror in November, as the volume of rough exports in particular rose sharply despite another decline in the average price per carat, according to figures from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). The polished-diamond sector remained more sluggish than usual in what has been a modest month for trade over the past several years.
The first ever direct tender in Antwerp of 350,000 carats of rough diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) delivered on all expectations.Out of 115 companies, both Antwerp-based companies and foreign buyers from Israel, India, Dubai and other countries, attending the viewings, 79 companies placed 426 bids on 36 lots.
The price cut De Beers introduced for the November sight (Cycle 9) appears to have generated some movement in the rough diamond market, as the miner sold (provisionally) $390 million at its latest sale. This marks the third straight sight with increasing sales and a 31% jump over the $297 million in sales at the previous sight, though it is still 12% lower than in Cycle 9 a year ago.
Imports and exports of rough and polished diamonds to Antwerp slowed in October on a year-over-year basis as the market recession continued to impact the flow of goods and their prices. High inventories of polished goods continue to soften demand for rough goods to polish, pushing rough as well as polished prices down.
The difficulties facing diamond miners delivering products at the lower end of the market hit Mountain Province Diamonds (MPD) particularly hard in Q3 (the three months ending Sept. 30), though the miner has been struggling with low prices for some time now. Q3 revenue from sales declined by 26% as the average price per carat fell by 28%. The company attributes a downturn in carats recovered, as well as the low prices achieved, to mining activity in a lower grade and quality areas that delivered "the expected poorer product mix", as well as "challenging" market conditions.
The Angolan National Diamond Trading Company (Sodiam) has reported an increase in revenues from the sale of rough diamonds during Q3 2019, driven by a significant increase in the volume of carats sold as the average price per carat fell.
Leading producer of high-value stones Gem Diamonds recorded modest declines in Q3 compared to Q2, reporting fewer carats sold, lower revenue and average prices achieved for its goods from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho. A year-over-year comparision, however, paints a picture of a more substantial decline and reflects the realities miners are facing in this slumping market.
According to Bloomberg News' Thomas Biesheuvel, De Beers at its November sight took the nearly unprecendented step of lowering the price of rough diamonds by 5%, according to sources that spoke anonymously as the matter is private. Our sources in Antwerp were able to confirm a softening of prices in most categories but did not place a percentage figure on it.
Firestone Diamonds last week reported a decline in revenue during for the quarter ended 30 September 2019 (Q1 of their 2020 FY) due mainly to lower sales prices for diamonds from its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho. The miner has had to deal with a power supply cut to the mine since 1 October, which forced Firesetone to temporarily shut down the mine's treatment plant until power is restored.
Mid-tier diamond miner Petra Diamonds Ltd said its first-quarter revenue sank sharply as sales and prices fell, despite production increasing slightly compared to the same period the prior year. For Q1 FY 2020, covering production and sales from 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2019, diamond production rose 1% to 1.08 million carats from 1.07 million carats a year prior.
A 27% decline in the average price per carat led to an equivalent decline in total Q3 proceeds for Canadian miner Mountain Province Diamonds, as the company sold about the same number of carats as in Q3 last year.
Lucapa's latest sales of rough diamonds from its Lulo (Angola) and Mothae (Lesotho) mines totalled $US10.4 million ($A15.5m), taking combined sales to date for 2019 to $US45.9m ($A65.7m).
The Antwerp diamond industry’s import and export figures for the month of September were mainly in line with what we could call ‘2019 normal’ – prices down, polished trade slow – but the volume of rough goods traded in Antwerp’s hit its highest levels of the year, with the quantity of rough exports more than doubling those in August, according to figures from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre's Diamond Office.
According to the latest reporting by Thomas Biesheuvel at Bloomberg, at Sight 8 (23 Sept. - 27 Sept.) De Beers has once again offered several options to increase the flexibility of buyers struggling with an industry-wide slump caused mainly by an oversupply polished stones in the diamond 'pipeline'.
Diamcor Mining, a publicly-traded junior diamond mining company with a strategic alliance and first right of refusal with Tiffany & Co. Canada, reported a 22% decline in rough diamond sales in the second fiscal quarter due to the sale of a higher percentage of smaller, lower-quality rough diamonds than in the same period last year.
H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), today paid a visit to the Antwerp diamond industry in the context of a broader mission to improve the relationship between Belgium and the DRC, which has been on the rocks in recent years. As President of the fourth largest diamond-producing country by volume, President Tshisekedi was welcomed by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), representative of the world’s largest diamond trade center.