The JCK Las Vegas show that ended on Monday met the low expectations of the diamond trade. Polished diamond suppliers were reassured about the strength and stability of the U.S. market, even if sales were mediocre and buyers were pushing for deeper discounts.
For that reason, confidence improved and the show should be deemed a success. Unlike the March Hong Kong show, which signaled continued weakness in the Far East market, diamond dealers and jewelers left Vegas in a relatively positive mood having done some business.
Then again, Vegas is very different to other international shows. For the diamond industry, it is less of a marketplace than Hong Kong, where one tends to have more booth-to-booth haggling. Rather, Vegas presents an opportunity to catch up with existing clients and meet potential new ones – whether that occurs at the booth, the numerous networking events, or at the craps table – and gather intelligence about what’s happening in the market.
Our conversations within the diamond pavilion confirmed the trends we’ve witnessed in the past few months. If you have the right goods, you can move inventory at steady prices. Demand is specific and strong for fine-cut, triple EX diamonds and there are shortages in those categories, while U.S. demand for piqué goods is stable. On the other hand, there is still a lot of inventory of poor makes in the market, despite the fact that manufacturing levels have declined in the past six months.
Suppliers are holding a lot of old inventory and are refraining from introducing fresh goods to the market until demand picks up, which many expect to occur in the fourth quarter. Manufacturers seem to be looking toward September as the next milestone gauge of market strength – both in terms of the September Hong Kong show and their preparations for the U.S. holiday season.
Buyers, too, seem to be biding their time. A number of suppliers told Rapaport News that there was a lot of interest for goods at the show, but little buying. Buyers were gathering information and walking away, seemingly with a client in mind. For that reason, perhaps the most important part of the Vegas experience is the follow-up after the show. One needs to be ever-present in the market to capitalize on the consistent demand for diamonds in the U.S.