Diamond market comments this week

SHARE   |   Sunday, 06 July 2014   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang

Rounds: Diamond markets seasonally slow with limited demand for top quality carat and larger stones. Polished prices soften with RAPI for 1ct -0.5% in June, -1.4% in 2Q as weak trading pressures prices. The GIA backlog has reduced supply which is preventing lower prices. Belgium’s May polished exports -1% to $1.3B, rough imports +12% to $1.2B. ALROSA launches Udachny underground mine with eventual 5M ct. annual capacity. Zale CEO Theo Killion and other top executives resign in Signet management shakeup. Responsible Jewellery Council appoints Ashish Deo as CEO. AWDC reelects Stéphane Fischler as president.

Fancies: Fancy shape market steady with fair demand for excellent shaped and larger polished sizes. Cutters are moving to fancy shapes because of significantly high rough prices for identical quality round diamonds. Curves (Pears, Ovals) are doing better than Squares (Emerald, Princess) in larger sizes with squares doing better in under the carat sizes. Increasing demand for 30-point Princess cut. Far East markets becoming more aware of fancy shapes. Buyers very selective regarding shape- and cut-quality with extreme price differentials between excellent- and average-cut fancies. Off-make, poorly-cut fancies illiquid and hard to sell even at very deep discounts.

Global Comments
United States: Diamond trading and wholesale jewelry markets have been very quiet with many businesses closed for the annual summer vacation. The Diamond Dealers Club of New York has been closed and will resume operations on Monday, July 7, but trading is expected to continue to slow in the coming weeks. There is steady demand for commercial-quality VS-SI diamonds and strong U.S. demand for affordable piqué diamonds. Demand for melee goods is stable. Consumer confidence improved slightly in June, according to a University of Michigan survey, despite the bleak first quarter economic growth report recently published. Retail jewelers note steady bridal and engagement ring sales.

Belgium: The market is stable but quiet as dealers expect trading to significantly improve again only in September. Typically, buyers are looking for goods that they required to fill existing orders. Sentiment has weakened due to the slowdown in trading. There is steady demand for fine-quality triple EX diamonds, particularly for 1-carat to 1.75-carat, F-H, VS-SI goods. Rough trading is stable with dealers looking toward next week’s ALROSA contract sale.

Hong Kong: Polished trading is quiet but prices are relatively stable as dealers expect the market to slow during July and August. There is continued good demand for dossier grading reports from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Buyers from Mainland China are showing restraint and are not currently looking to buy additional inventory. While retail jewelers in the region recently reported exceptional growth for fiscal year 2013-14, they are more cautious about their prospects for this year.

India: Sentiment is weak as trading has slowed and liquidity is tight. Cash buyers are able to close deals at higher discounts. There is stable demand for commercial-quality diamonds in G and lower colors and for VS-SI clarity goods, while demand for VVS goods remains sluggish. Dealers have low expectations for loose diamond sales at the coming India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) taking place July 17 to 21. Wholesale jewelers are more upbeat as retailers expect improved activity during Diwali this year. Rough trading is stable but similarly quiet during the ongoing summer period. Manufacturing levels are steady but cutters’ profit margins are being squeezed as rough prices have held stable while polished prices have softened slightly in the past month.

Israel: The market is quiet with some dealers traveling abroad to look for buying opportunities while the market is weak, particularly from Indian suppliers who they believe are under pressure to sell. Trading with the U.S., Israel’s largest market, is quiet due to the July vacation period there. Demand is selective and limited to specific short-term orders. Rough trading is stable.