The trade targets Rapaport – again

Rob Bates

At the latest President’s Meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, the trade once again cast a weary eye toward Martin Rapaport’s price list and the outsize influence it commands.

There are people who, before Friday [when the list comes out], are too scared to sell because they don’t know what will happen with prices,” says Ernest Blom, president of World Federation of Diamond Bourses. “We want more communication with him and more transparency.”

What makes this latest round of Rap-bashing potentially significant is that groups are now developing alternative products — including a new price list out of Israel and RapNet competitor out of India.

First, the list. Since the Rap sheet is not just used as a price indicator but as a price benchmark and communication method (“below Rap”), some Israeli manufacturers want to create their own yardstick that will appear only once or twice a year.

The intention is to create something stable,” says Shmuel Schnitzer, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange. “Then let the market work out the discounts and the premiums. So instead of everyone laboring under a constant question mark, you would have a standard list, and then let the market decide.

Ideally, he’d like Martin Rapaport to produce it, though he doubts Rapaport would ever agree.

Sure enough, Rapaport wasn’t interested. “Would I be serving my customers by publishing once a year?” Rapaport asked me. “What if the discount hit 80, 90 percent? You can’t just have a price list for sellers. I owe it to the buyers. Most sellers do not want their customers to know when diamond prices go down so they can continue to protect themselves.

“Markets move around,” he continues. “If we see changes in the market that are significant, we are going to reflect them. We don’t change the benchmark just on a whim every week. We look at the market in tremendous detail. We are careful about how we change the prices… Right now we think diamond prices are on the way down, but we will probably drop [the list] in the right way.

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Source JCK Online