Diamond Trade Cautious Ahead of Holiday Season
Diamond market sentiment was weak in September after the Hong Kong show demonstrated a slowdown in Chinese demand.
Buyers from mainland China are cautious. The US-China trade war, depreciation of the yuan, and higher gold prices have diminished their spending power. US jewelers are limiting their inventory purchases as the shift to interactive digital shopping and omni-channel reduces their in-store stock requirements.
Inventory shortages at the dealer level for popular items are supporting polished prices for select categories. Manufacturers have drastically reduced their production of polished diamonds after starting the year with an oversupply. The number of diamonds on RapNet declined 3.3% in September to 1.45 million. A large volume of lower-quality goods remains available on RapNet, but there is a shortage of G-I, SI-I1, RapSpec A3+, nonfluorescent diamonds.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI ™) for 1-carat diamonds fell 0.3% in September. The index has declined 4.6% since the start of the year and dropped 6% in the past 12 months.
|RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™)|
|September||Year to date
Jan. 1 to Oct. 1
|Year on year
Oct. 1, 2018, to Oct. 1, 2019
|RAPI 0.30 ct.||0.2%||-14.9%||-19.7%|
|RAPI 0.50 ct.||-0.5%||-8.0%||-9.9%|
|RAPI 1 ct.||-0.3%||-4.6%||-6.0%|
|RAPI 3 ct.||-0.8%||-16.0%||-19.1%|
Rough purchases have slumped, with De Beers maintaining steady prices but introducing a flexible buyback policy in August-September. De Beers sales fell 48% year on year to $537 million in the third quarter. Indian manufacturers are keeping their operations at low capacity through the three-week Diwali festival break, which begins October 27, with some small-scale operations closing early due to the weak market conditions.
Dealers are focused on filling holiday demand, although jewelers prefer taking goods on memo to making inventory purchases. Consumers are shifting to less expensive jewelry amid trade war uncertainty and stock market volatility. Fashion jewelry is stronger than bridal, highlighting the need for a strong investment in marketing engagement rings this holiday season.
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