The effects of the diamond market depression continued to unfold last Thursday when stated-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) only managed to sell US$44.4m (P532.8m) worth of stones at the January 28 auction. Approximately 216,000 carats of run-of-mine Debswana production was sold in on January 28 auction for US$ 44.4m, including a single 184 carat stone which sold for US$4.8m. In 2015, sales by ODC fell 45 percent to US$303 million due to challenging market conditions. But ODC remains positive. Stakeholder Relations Executive at ODC Kutlo Thathana said, "We saw a noticeable improvement in market sentiment and healthy customer participation at our January sale, which resulted in firming of prices across the board".
ODC is entitled to purchase 15% of Debswana’s run-of-mine production in 2016. The company was established following the renewal of the Debswana Sales Agreement between the government and De Beers. Meanwhile, a week earlier De Beers was reported to have slashed prices to increase sales at their first January sight for 2016. The company reported improving sentiments amongst buyers in January following an intensive campaign over the festive season to increase consumption in the US and China. De Beers cut gem prices by as much as 7% at the January 18 sale. The company, the largest supplier of rough diamonds by value, has poured millions of dollars into advertising in the US and China, to boost jewellery sales as part of a strategy to unclog the manufacturing pipeline and lift demand and prices for rough diamonds. In December, De Beers said it had pushed down rough prices by 15% during 2015 and cut output by about 12% to try to support prices.