Aug 05, 2020

Rapaport: Reduced Diamond Supply Lifts Polished Prices

Polished diamond prices firmed in July due to supply shortages for select categories, according to a Rapaport press release. Sentiment remained weak and trading levels low amid new Covid-19 restrictions, it added.

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat polished diamonds rose 1.9% during the month, buoyed by improving investment demand and scarcity of D, IF diamonds. The index has fallen 4.8% since the beginning of 2020.

RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™)
July Year to date
Jan. 1 to Aug. 1
Year on year
Aug. 1, 2019, to Aug. 1 2020
RAPI 0.30 ct. 2.0% -4.8% 3.2%
RAPI 0.50 ct. 4.5% -1.2% 0.8%
RAPI 1 ct. 1.9% -4.8% -6.1%
RAPI 3 ct. -0.8% -5.5% -8.8%

© Copyright 2020, Rapaport USA Inc.

Rough buying declined sharply due to lower polished demand and the forced reduction of manufacturing operations. The decision of De Beers and Alrosa to let clients refuse contracted supply has eased midstream liquidity concerns and helped prevent a build-up of polished inventory.

According to Rapaport, manufacturers’ profit margins are better than before the pandemic. Polished prices have firmed for select goods, and cutters are able to buy rough that aligns with demand. Polished dealer activity is limited to online platforms. Jewellers are ordering specific items rather than bulk inventory.

Trading has become more localised as interruptions at customs have caused shipping delays. This has empowered suppliers in some centres to maintain higher prices due to shortages in their localities. Polished inventory levels have fallen, but mining companies continue holding large volumes of rough they have been unable to sell.

The weak market is forcing companies throughout the supply chain to rethink their long-term strategies. Many businesses are adopting technological tools to improve efficiency. Mining companies recognise that they will need to customise rough supply to match consumer demand. Retailers are increasingly requesting digitised access to suppliers’ inventory so consumers can cherry-pick the diamonds they want.

While market conditions remain difficult, the diamond industry has an opportunity to implement technological innovations that will help inventory flow more efficiently through the supply chain. That should result in a more profitable trade. It should also ease the burden on manufacturers forced to hold large quantities of unwanted diamonds that have put pressure on polished prices over the past decade.

Caption: Sorter inspecting rough diamonds. © De Beers