Polished White Diamond Prices Down, Fancy Color Prices Hold Steady
New York, NY—Polished white diamond prices softened in July, a victim of both the traditionally slow summer season and midstream inventory levels on the rise. Rapaport’s RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for one-carat diamonds fell 0.7% during July, and down 3.2% since the beginning of the year.
Rapaport’s Monthly Report for August 2017 notes that manufacturing profit margins have come under pressure since rough prices increased an estimated 3% on average in the first half of the year, while polished prices softened. Excess rough inventory has shifted from the mining companies to the manufacturing sector, as rough sales at De Beers and Alrosa exceeded their production by a combined 7.9 million carats in the first half. Manufacturers have absorbed that rough, while jewelry retailers are careful not to buy stock they can’t move. As a result, manufacturers’ polished inventory levels have grown significantly: the number of diamonds listed on RapNet increased 23% from January 1 to August 1.
U.S. jewelry sales growth is being driven by smaller chains and independents, while the major retailers are struggling to adjust to changing consumer trends. Sales in China and Hong Kong have begun rising again after prolonged declines, providing some optimism ahead of the fourth-quarter holiday season.
Meanwhile, fancy color diamond prices remain stable overall year on year, though individual colors show some variance. Analysis of pricing data by the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF) for the second quarter of 2017 shows fancy blue prices continue to appreciate, climbing 5.5% year on year from Q2 2016 to Q2 2017, but fancy yellow prices declined 2.5% in the same period.
Across all color segments, “fancy intense” and “fancy vivid” grades demonstrated price increases, whereas color diamonds in the “fancy” category maintained price softness.
FCRF advisory board chairman Efraim Zion said, “Demand in China and other Asian markets for extremely rare fancy color diamonds is still robust. However, the pipeline is experiencing continued supply shortages, which results in price stability, and in some categories continued appreciation. We will not be seeing changes in the foreseeable future.” He cited strong demand for fancy yellows, but warned that price shifts for more commercial categories of yellow are more likely to track those of white diamonds rather than higher-end yellow.
De Beers Group Announces New Appointments To Executive Committee; Holds More Auctions
London, UK—De Beers Group today announced three new additions to its executive committee. Ann Cormack will succeed Arthur Hewett as executive head of human resources; David Prager joins the executive committee as executive vice president of corporate affairs, and Nancy Liu joins as COO of Forevermark.
Cormack will join De Beers in October from Rolls-Royce, where she is responsible for international business development, country-level strategy implementation, government relations and the international corporate presence.
Prager, currently head of corporate affairs for De Beers Group, will continue to lead the global Corporate Affairs team in safeguarding consumers’ confidence in diamonds, building strong relationships with stakeholders and communities, and shaping the meaning, impact, and potential of the De Beers Group brand around the world.
Prior to joining De Beers in 2006, he headed UK communications for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and worked for Ogilvy PR in New York and London, providing counsel to clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Virgin Atlantic and Coca-Cola. David started his career as a White House Intern during the Clinton Administration.
Liu, currently head of Forevermark, Asia-Pacific, will lead the future development of Forevermark, working with teams in consumer markets around the world to drive the global growth of the brand. Nancy will also retain responsibility for Forevermark in China and Hong Kong, and will continue to work with Stephen Lussier, executive vice president of marketing for De Beers Group, CEO of Forevermark, and chairman of the Diamond Producers Association, as his role expands to include overall responsibility for all of De Beers Group’s downstream business activities. Prior to joining De Beers in 2008, Liu worked for L’Oréal, LVMH, and the Boston Consulting Group.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, said, “As we position De Beers to capture the opportunities presented by a rapidly changing world, our growth is dependent on adding new voices to our senior leadership. I’m delighted to welcome Ann, David and Nancy to the De Beers Group Executive Committee and I look forward to the contributions they will make. They each bring distinct perspectives, insights and experience that will propel De Beers forward in our mission to connect millions of people around the world with their diamond moments.
Separately, De Beers will run another polished diamond auction on August 10 and another third-party exceptional diamond auction on August 24, following the success of the initial events in late June. Neil Ventura, executive vice president, De Beers Auction Sales, said, “We’ve been really encouraged by the early reaction to auctions of our own polished diamonds and to our third-party exceptional auction sales. The uptake of goods in the auction of De Beers’ dual-certified polished diamonds indicates that there is healthy demand for products with this additional layer of assurance, and the demand at the exceptionals auction highlights that our leading platform and rapidly growing global customer network offers an attractive alternative route to market when looking to source or sell some of the finest polished diamonds.”
Polished diamonds being auctioned on August 10 are manufactured directly from De Beers-mined rough diamonds, with all goods having dual certification from the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research and GIA. This event will see a greater volume of De Beers polished diamonds offered for sale than at the first event held in June.
The August 24 third-party exceptional diamond auction will feature higher value polished diamonds that have been responsibly sourced from sellers evidencing the highest standards of integrity. Headlining the event is a 15-carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid Yellow rectangle brilliant, as well as a two-carat Fancy Pinkish Purple cushion.
For information or to become a registered buyer or seller at De Beers Auction Sales, click here.