Rounds: Polished trading slows as Chinese buyers
vacation over Lunar New Year. Consumer demand slow but steady with concerns
that sluggish global economy and weak stock markets will lead to negative
wealth effect. Shortages supporting prices for specific goods which are in
demand. Large volume of new polished expected in 2Q after Jan. rough buying
spree. Botswana’s 2015 rough exports -39%
to $2.4B. Rio Tinto’s 2015 diamond sales -23%
to $698M, earnings +32% to $104M. Asian Star 3Q revenue -3% to $102M, profit
-25% to $2M. Blue Nile 4Q sales -5% to
$150M, profit +4% to $5M. U.S. 2015
polished imports -4% to $23.1B, exports -12% to $18.3B. De Beers to
launch grading at UK lab on March 1.
Fancies: Pears and Ovals in
short supply due to limited production. Emeralds improving. Fairly good market
for large top-quality fine-cut fancy shapes but buyers are extremely picky and
supply is very tight. Cushions steady, Princess and Hearts slow. Overall fancy
shape prices relatively soft. U.S. demand supporting market for
commercial-quality fancies, especially for sizes under 1ct. Far East fancy
demand weak. Buyers are very selective and insisting on excellent-shape
proportions. Significant price differentials between excellent- and average-cut
fancies. Off-make, poorly-cut fancies illiquid and very hard to sell, even at
very deep discounts.
United States: Polished trading is steady and dealers maintain
a positive outlook. New York prices are firm with limited supply in select
categories of RapSpec A2 (3X, none) that are in demand. Suppliers uncertain how
long shortages will support current price levels. Good demand for 0.30-1ct.,
G-I, VS2-I1, RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds. Jewelry retail sales stable with
focus on bridal and engagement rings ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Belgium: Antwerp cautious as dealers are uncertain in
which direction the market is heading. Demand is okay but market prices are relatively
high due to shortages, particularly for smaller goods. Concern that new
polished supply will exceed demand in 2Q. Good demand for 1-2ct. G-J, VS-SI,
RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds. Rough trading slowed after strong buying in
January sparks concern of rough bubble.
Israel: Trading slowed slightly with Chinese buyers on
vacation for the Lunar New Year. U.S. demand is steady. Some foreign buyers in
Ramat Gan looking for goods in anticipation of next week’s International
Diamond Week. Steady demand for 0.30-0.99ct., G-J, VS-SI diamonds with shortage
of RapSpec A2 (3X, none) goods. Stable demand for 1ct., D-H, VS-SI diamonds. Recent
ALROSA rough auction brings good prices with demand for large, top-quality
rough. Buyers are willing to pay higher prices for the right goods.
India: Polished trading slowed slightly as Hong
Kong and China went on vacation. U.S. demand consistent and supporting the
market. Domestic demand cautious with weak rupee (-2.6% to 67.9/$1 in 2016)
affecting confidence and adding to local expenses. IIJS Signature show quiet.
Steady demand and shortages of better-quality RapSpec A2 (3X, none) diamonds.
Shortages supporting prices as new polished production coming to market at a
slow pace. Manufacturers increasing production after large volume of rough
purchased in January. Significant increase in polished availability expected in
about three months. Rough trading slowed compared to last week and premiums
have come down a bit.
Hong Kong: Diamond markets closed for the Chinese
New Year vacation. Hong Kong dealers expected to start returning next week,
while Chinese market is shut down through most of February. Political unrest
dampens holiday celebrations in busy Mongkok, Kowloon district. Hang Seng index
slumps 3.9 percent on Wednesday in woeful opening day to Lunar New Year.
See www.diamonds.net/Prices/RapaportSpecs.aspx for full explanation of Rapaport Diamond Specifications.