New York – Polished diamond prices continued their slide in September, with U.S. demand for diamonds described as steady but growth in other key markets restrained.
According to the Rapaport Monthly Report for October, the RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat, Gemological Institute of America-graded diamonds was down 3 percent in September and has dropped 7 percent year-to-date. Compared to Oct. 1, 2014, 1-carat polished prices are down 14 percent.
The RAPI for September showed that prices for 0.3, 0.5 and 3-carat diamonds were down as well.
Globally, it is consistent U.S. consumer demand that is buoying the trade, providing stability and compensating for weakness in other markets, Hong Kong and China particularly. In fact, the U.S. market actually is experiencing a shortage of SI-clarity diamonds, which are in high demand.
Because of weak demand globally, wholesale and retail buyers aren’t taking on any excess inventory and are buying to fill existing orders, the Rapaport report stated. There are few very new diamonds coming into the market, though manufacturers hope for strong sales this holiday season so retailers start buying again in the first quarter 2016.
U.S. jewelry sales showed signs of life in July, increasing 4 percent year-over-year with diamond and platinum jewelry particularly strong.
So far, analysts’ predictions for the months of November and December are generally optimistic. It will not be a great holiday season but sales will continue to grow, albeit slowly.
One industry analyst said he is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming holiday season because consumers seem ready to spend and a number of economic indicators are positive.
The National Retail Federation also seems to be erring on the side of optimism, predicting a 4 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales for the months of November and December.