Rounds: Diamond manufacturers increasing production as profitability returns due to lower rough prices and firm polished prices due to shortages. De Beers 2016 first sight period rough sales +118% to $540 from $248M at Dec. sight period. Reduction in De Beers rough prices estimated at 7-10%. Polished demand cautious as China prepares for Lunar New Year (Feb. 8). Good demand for 1ct. RapSpec A2 (3X, none) with large 6-8% premiums for 3X over 3VG. De Beers 2015 production -12% to 28.7M cts., sales volume -40% to 20.6M cts. ALROSA 2015 production +6% to 38.3M cts., sales -30% to $3.4B and sales volume -25% to 30M cts. Petra 1H production +2% to 1.6M cts., sales -28% to $154M. Swiss watch 2015 exports -3% to $21.2B as Apple boasts record watch sales in holiday quarter.
Fancies: Pears and Ovals in short supply due to limited production. Emeralds improving. Fairly good market for large top-quality fine-cut fancy shapes but buyers are extremely picky and supply is very tight. Cushions steady, Princess and Hearts slow. Overall fancy shape prices relatively soft. U.S. demand supporting market for commercial-quality fancies, especially for sizes under 1ct. Far East fancy demand weak. Buyers are very selective and insisting on excellent-shape proportions. Significant price differentials between excellent- and average-cut fancies. Off-make, poorly-cut fancies illiquid and very hard to sell, even at very deep discounts.
United States: Wholesale trading improving with firm prices due to shortages. Jewelers are buying to replenish stock sold during the holiday season with some buying for inventory. Sellers’ market as buyers expect continued shortages and higher prices for select goods. Good demand for 0.30-1ct., G-I, VS2-I1, RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds. Jewelry retail sales stable with focus on bridal and engagement rings ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Belgium: Sentiment improving as more orders are coming in. U.S. demand sustaining the market. Steady sales to smaller markets such as Turkey and Scandinavia. Buyers face competition for select supply as availability is scarce. Good demand for 1ct., F-H, VS2-SI1 RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds. Large stones above 3ct. slightly weak and VVS soft due to slowdown in China. Rough trading steady with rough from De Beers boxes selling at around 5 percent premiums on the secondary market.
Israel: Rising optimism as trading continues to improve. Steady U.S. orders compensating for weak Chinese demand. Wholesalers slowly increasing inventory levels as they expect prices to firm in the coming weeks due to continued shortages. Steady demand for 0.30-1ct., D-J, VS-SI RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds. Rough trading much stronger than one month ago following De Beers price reductions.
India: Mixed sentiment in Mumbai as rupee depreciation (-3% in Jan. to 68/$1) weighs on domestic demand. Dealers more active than before and suppliers getting better prices due to shortages. Good demand for 1ct., G-J, VS-SI diamonds. Melee in better qualities slightly weak with suppliers still holding a lot of inventory. Manufacturers slowly raising polished production to fill gap in supply. Rough demand improves at De Beers and ALROSA sales with steady demand on the secondary market as small manufacturers increase production.
Hong Kong: Wholesale trading slow as orders have been filled for the Chinese New Year Spring Festival (Feb. 8). Diamond dealers and jewelry wholesalers starting to shut down for the festival with the focus shifting to jewelry retail during the busy selling period. Jewelers increasing promotional activity ahead of the season. Expectations are low due to economic slowdown in China and fewer tourist arrivals in Hong Kong.
See www.diamonds.net/Prices/RapaportSpecs.aspx for full explanation of Rapaport Diamond Specifications.