The market in June was characterized by more changes in demand than usual. There was an increase in the number of categories in rising demand, while the American market saw a sharp drop in demand for smaller goods. The reasons to this market activity include the results of the Las Vegas trade show, the small trade show in Hong Kong, seasonal changes, and even preparations for the upcoming summer vacations in the diamond centers.
American diamond traders say the jewelry trade shows in Las Vegas were successful despite the smaller number of participants – exhibitors and buyers alike. Many American diamond dealers are saying that demand for 1-carat and bigger rounds in commercial qualities was very good but demand for marquees shape and princess cuts was very weak.
Jewelry retailers say that they are not very confident about what this year will bring, but are still expressing cautious optimism. This manifests itself in trying to keep inventories as low as possible, often attempting to have many items on memo, in particular large ovals – 5-7-carats. Store owners say that their interest in fancy-shaped diamonds is mainly in 3-5-carst ovals in high colors, and clarities of VS or better.
At the same time, there is a wide range decline for smaller goods below 0.30-carats, in lower colors. Some of the declines are limited to a narrow color range, and extend to 1/4 and ¾-carat rounds.
A pessimistic mood spread in the Indian diamond market this past month. Polished diamond manufacturers and wholesalers overall had a lukewarm impression of the Las Vegas show at the start of the month. On the positive side, many traders reported decent sells. At the same time, Indian exhibitors that counted on busy traffic to boost sales were disappointed by fewer buyers and exhibitors. Another issue they encountered was buyers’ resistance to the relatively higher prices Indian exhibitors were trying to achieve.
One reason Indian traders are attempting to push up polished diamond prices is their rising cost of rough diamonds. These costs are rising as a result of another round of chasing rough diamonds, which is encouraging rough diamond suppliers to push up their prices.
Because of this reason, the price sensitivity of the US consumer market, and the traditional slowdown in the summer months, demand for polished diamonds is starting to flatten out. The current outlook for the Indian diamond market is that demand for polished diamonds will gradually slow down during July. There is an expectation in the Indian diamond market that a small price correction may take place in the coming months if rough supply increases. We think prices will decline, but mainly due to consumer pressure.
Because of the size and nature of the diamond center in India, little attention was paid to the June show in Hong Kong because of its size. Therefore the expectation among traders was that it won’t be “great”.
For the Israeli diamond center, the trade shows in Las Vegas and Hong Kong were the center of attention – and activity. Much of the demand at the trade shows was for large and pricy goods – higher color and clarity 3 carat and above goods. Towards the end of the month, market activity started to slow down, as it usually does in this period. This slowdown means lower demand and less availability as well.
The lesser availability had an impact on goods that are in demand, mainly certified items, with buyers being forced to pay more if they wanted to purchase them for their clients. In order to address the shortages in certified goods, traders are sometimes forced to seek goods in other centers to fulfill an order. Since this means paying more for the sourced goods, profitability is low, encouraging traders to seek speculative purchases of lower cost goods in the hope of making greater margins when an order comes in.
After the rise in demand for 0.30-0.39-carat rounds earlier this year, demand for this size range is softening, especially among the better color VS-SI clarity goods. This, in turn, puts pressure on the price and leads to price declines. Until prices reach a level that fits the American market, jewelers are looking for alternatives, mainly quarter-carat sizes (0.23-0.29-carat) in the higher color, VS-SI clarities.
Because of the seasonal slowdown, much of the demand is very specific. Continued strong demand is reported for pointers (0.01-carats), which are in short supply and continued strong demand, and ongoing strong demand is noted for the 0.05-0.08-carat size rang. A decline in demand was seen for 10 pointers (0.08-0.14-carats).
Cape color goods maintain firm demand, especially 1, 3, 4, and 5-carats. No pick up in demand for fancy-color yellows.
The Hong Kong diamond market is stable. From the perspective of local traders, the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair was quite good, providing a needed push of activity.
As in many other centers, demand for larger goods was good in June. Hong Kong traders reported that 5-carat and larger goods in the lower JKL colors, in VS clarities and even nice SI are selling well, mainly to Indian buyers.
A rise in demand was also reported for round, 0.30-0.50-carat goods in D-G colors, VS-SI clarities. One-carat rounds D-H in VS-SI clarities also did well. Traders say prices were firm. Some demand was seen for pear-shapes and ovals weighing 5-carats and above, in E-G colors and VS-SI clarities.
In China, a growing number of consumers is focusing on items in the lower price range. This has to do with the weakening renminbi against the US dollar.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. No one should act upon any opinion or information in this website without consulting a professional qualified adviser.
Diamond industrialist Ehud Arye Laniado is a man passionate about diamonds. From his early 20s in Africa and later in Belgium honing his expertise in forecasting the value of polished diamonds by examining rough diamonds by hand, till today four decades later, as chairman of his international diamond businesses spanning mining, exploration, rough and polished diamond valuation, trading, manufacturing, retail and consultancy services, Laniado has mastered both the miniscule details of evaluating and pricing individual rough diamonds and the entire structure of the diamond industry. Today, his global operations are at the forefront of the industry, recognised in diamond capitals from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and Hong Kong to New York.