Gem Diamonds’ revenue faltered during the first quarter, as it recovered fewer large diamonds from its Letšeng mine.
Sales plunged 51% to $51.9 million for the three months ending March 31, as the average price dropped 42% to $1,900 per carat. During the same period last year, the miner sold the 910-carat Lesotho Legend for $40 million, raising the average price for the period to $3,276 per carat. Not including that recovery, sales for the first quarter of 2019 fell 22%, according to Rapaport calculations. Sales volume fell 16% to 27,335 carats.
During the period, Gem Diamonds recovered two rough stones weighing more than 100 carats each, compared with seven of that magnitude the year before. The miner unearthed a total of 29,458 carats in the first quarter.
The company sold eight diamonds for more than $1 million each, compared to 16 in the same quarter of 2018. Sales in 2019 included a 70.69-carat rough, which fetched $48,225 per carat — the highest average price for a white Letšeng diamond during the quarter. A 13.33-carat pink diamond achieved $656,933 per carat — the highest average price for any Letšeng diamond.
“Sales of Letšeng’s rough production continued to realize good prices,” Gem Diamonds’ CEO Clifford Elphick noted last week.
The company’s new plant, which will improve early detection of rough stones and reduce breakages during extraction, is on track for commissioning at the end of the second quarter, the company added.
Image: Rough diamonds from the Letšeng mine. (Gem Diamonds)