Christmas is almost upon us. For those in the diamond and diamond jewellery industry, this is usually the busiest time of the year. Yet figures from key markets this week tell a different story.

Prices for top quality diamonds remain robust, but other prices are softening. In the USA, the market for rough diamonds is performing fairly well, which is helping to maintain prices and will hopefully produce growth, but elsewhere there are signs of weakness. In Israel, Hong Kong and India the wholesale market for diamonds is slow. In Belgium, diamond exports are down compared to 2013. 

At the same time, mining companies which have been selling rough diamonds to manufacturers recently have been securing strong prices. Rough diamonds traded at slightly higher prices than last month. Those measuring larger than 10.8 carats and between 5 and 10 carats are moving well. Demand for 2.5 to 4 carats and 4 to 8 carats is weaker, melees (diamonds measuring in the region of 0.001 carats) are moving well and smalls are a bit weaker.

What I’ve found somewhat surprising recently is that even though banks are now providing less financing to diamond firms than they did a couple of years ago, and even though the Antwerp Diamond Bank is closing, when you look at the levels of credit in the diamond industry there is hardly any change at all. 

De Beers Sightholders have been financing their purchases of diamonds relatively easily and cash purchases in the outside market and in tenders have continued. Antwerp and Mumbai’s line of credit stayed as it was last month and in Israel it decreased between June and October 2014.  

But despite this, sales are slowing because of a lack of liquidity. With less cash available, buyers are buying only to satisfy orders rather than to build their inventories.

Fancy shapes and coloured diamonds are proving popular now, partly because they are always more keenly priced than round diamonds. Semi rounds and princess cut diamonds are moving well in all sizes, although other square shapes of polished diamonds are showing strength in sizes under 1 carat. 

Fancy shapes are moving in the Far East too, although buyers are highly selective and there are huge price differences between better and medium qualities while poor qualities are very hard to sell. 

On a positive note, the good news as we approach Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, is that online sales are expected to rise. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. No one should act upon any opinion or information on this website without consulting a professional qualified advisor.