Some question if the rough market is cooling off even as diamond jewelry sales to end consumers remain strong.
The industry’s two largest diamond miners both recorded year-over-year declines in sales recently, an indication, some say, that the recently red-hot rough market might be slowing down.
In the ninth sales cycle of the year (Nov. 8-23), De Beers Group moved $430 million in rough diamonds, down 7 percent year-over-year—its first year-over-year decline of 2021—and down 13 percent from $492 million in the previous sales cycle.
De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver attributed the slowdown to cutting factory closures in India on and around the Diwali holiday (observed Nov. 2-6). De Beers also noted that factories in India chose to have shorter Diwali breaks in 2020 to take advantage of the market recovery.
He projected the slowdown would continue into sales cycle 10, the final sales cycle of the year, as factories in South Africa shutter for Christmas.
However, in a post on LinkedIn, industry analyst Edahn Golan questioned if De Beers’ cycle 10 slowdown is a signal the rough market is cooling off, not a Diwali-related drop-off.
Cleaver said De Beers expects to see “positive conditions” for the industry in the new year following what’s expected to be a strong holiday season for diamond jewelry sales.
Year-to-date, De Beers’ rough diamond sales total stands at $4.48 billion, up 89 percent from $2.36 billion in the same period last year, though it is worth noting De Beers had one less sales cycle in 2020 because of the pandemic.