De Beers raised diamond prices for the first time in more than a year in a sign the industry may be recovering from the biggest slump since the 2008 financial crisis.
The biggest producer, a unit of Anglo American Plc, raised prices as much as 2 percent in a sale this week, according to three people familiar with the process. The ongoing sale may be comparable in size to De Beers’ prior $610 million offering of rough diamonds, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public.
Slowing demand from China and an industry-wide credit crunch led De Beers to lower prices about 15 percent last year. While the company, along with rival Alrosa PJSC, responded by cutting off supply to try to support the market, prices fell a further 7 percent in January. A spokesman for De Beers declined to comment on the latest sale.
Banks such as Liberum Capital Ltd. remain skeptical that a price rebound can be sustained and demand gains are anything more than cutters, polishers and traders replenishing supply. Liberum said last month that it might take at least another year to recover, while miner Gem Diamonds Ltd. said it’s still to early to tell whether a recovery will stick.
De Beers, which doesn’t reveal details of its sales, last raised prices in the second of half of 2014, according to one of the people. The company, which offers diamonds at 10 sales a year known as sights, offloaded $540 million of gems in January and $610 million in February. Alrosa sold about $780 million in its first two offerings of the year.