Timeline of Covid-19-related news affecting the industry
The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe has had a notable impact on the diamond industry, with new developments unfolding every day. Here, we present a one-stop, running news feed on industry events impacted by the virus.
• Signet Jewelers announces all its stores will remain closed across its North America banners, including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, James Allen, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda.
• Luxury group Kering sees demand starting to recover in China; expects revenue to decline 13% to 14% in the first quarter.
• Dominion Diamond Mines suspends operations at Ekati mine.
• Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) announces it will close its lab and offices effective March 23; all non-gemological work to continue.
• Rapaport Group reduces prices on Rapaport Price List; issues statement to the market (read here).
• New York Diamond Dealers Club (DDC) closes due to virus spread in the US.
• Luk Fook issues profit warning after stores shut in Hong Kong and China in January and February.
• Most stores in mainland China reopened in March, but customer traffic sparse.
• Gem Diamonds reports prices for commercial-quality rough down 18% at its March tender due to impact of coronavirus.
• Alrosa, Petra Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corp., De Beers continue mining operations, with special procedures in place in event of virus outbreak.
• Indian banks give diamond exporters extra month to repay loans taken to fund overseas shipments.
• Bharat Diamond Bourse asks members to reduce staff by 50%.
• Surat Diamond Association decides to keep polishing industry open while implementing health precautions.
• Jewelers of America (JA) initiates webinar series on business challenges related to COVID-19 (https://www.jewelers.org/ja/events-news/webinars).
• China reports zero new infections for the first time. (The New York Times)
• American Gem Society (AGS) cancels conclave scheduled for April 27 to 29 in Denver, Colorado. Exploring options for virtual mini-conference later in the year.
• Tiffany & Co., Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney close US stores.
• Pandora shuts stores in North America and Europe; urges franchisees and partners to do the same.
• De Beers says sight due to begin on March 31 will take place, despite travel ban to Botswana.
• Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) co-host online diamond fair.
• JCK postpones Las Vegas shows; no new date set.
• Kimberley Process (KP) says June Intersessional Meeting, scheduled for June 8 to 12 in Moscow, will now take place online.
• Pandora rescinds previous guidance; says same-store sales in China down 70% to 80% since late January.
• Israel Diamond Exchange announces 50% discount on membership fees and 33% cut in maintenance fees for March and April.
• Sotheby’s postpones Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Sale from April 5 to July 5; New York Magnificent Jewels auction now scheduled on June 9.
• Mountain Province delays reporting annual results as auditors unable to complete work on time due to coronavirus.
• National Retail Federation (NRF) cautions that supply chains are being disrupted, and imports may be delayed in March and April.
• Oscar Heyman closes New York offices and workshop.
• Alrosa allows clients to defer up to 60% of their rough allocations at its March contract sales.
• Antwerp closes all four diamond-trading floors.
• Israel Diamond Exchange closes its trading floors.
• Israel’s diamond regulator grants temporary concession, allowing 90 days for inspecting goods from certain countries affected by the coronavirus.
• Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) postpones its expo that was due to take place in New York from March 15 to 17.
• JA New York show set for the same dates also canceled but expects to hold its summer show in August.
• Chow Tai Fook reports sales dropped 60% in Hong Kong and Macau and 42% in mainland China in January-February. Says 70% of its stores in China and 64% in Hong Kong and Macau have reopened.
• World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 a pandemic.
• Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cancels its March career fair in New York; plans to find new date for the event.
• De Beers reports sales fell 28% year on year to $355 million in February after allowing sightholders to delay buying goods destined for China.
• Polished prices slide amid coronavirus fears, with RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds down 1.6% in February; 0.30-carat RAPI declines 2.1%.
• Baselworld cancels fair scheduled for April 30 to May 5, reschedules for January 28 to February 2.
• US records first coronavirus death and announces highest travel warning for areas in Italy, South Korea and Iran. (The New York Times)
• Geneva Watch Fair, which was due to take place from April 25 to 29, is canceled.
• De Beers announces provisions to let sightholders defer Chinese goods at upcoming February sight as coronavirus raises concerns about rise in polished inventory in the midstream.
• Italy sees surge in coronavirus cases. (The New York Times)
• NRF warns the coronavirus could reach the US and affect growth in February.
• India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) asks banks and government to allow diamond and jewelry suppliers to China and Hong Kong more time to pay back loans connected with overseas shipments.
• Chow Tai Fook says it suspended operations at more than 40 locations in Hong Kong and Macau due to the rise of the coronavirus epidemic.
• WHO proposes official name for disease the coronavirus causes: COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). (The New York Times)
• Hong Kong shows, scheduled to begin on March 2, postponed and rescheduled for May 18 to 21.
• First coronavirus death reported outside China. (The New York Times)
• Trump administration restricts travel from China. (New York Times)
• WHO declares global health emergency. (The New York Times)
• Wuhan is cut off by Chinese authorities. (The New York Times)
• First confirmed cases outside of China, reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. US citizen returns to Washington state from Wuhan with symptoms. (New York Times)
• China reports first death from an illness caused by the virus. (The New York Times)
• Authorities in China confirm they’re treating dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, mainly in city of Wuhan. Days later, researchers identify new virus and officials were monitoring its spread. (The New York Times)