Factors Impacting Natural Diamond Supply In 2024

Paul Zimnisky, a leading diamond industry analyst and consultant based in the U.S., examines the factors impacting natural diamond supply in 2024 and beyond. He provides insights into the current state of the market, the outlook for production and sales, and the potential challenges and opportunities for the industry.

Following curtailed rough selling in late-2023 alongside an Indian buying hiatus, major miners De Beers and ALROSA stockpiled inventory.

For context, in Q4 De Beers’ sales fell some 70% year-over-year in value terms – equating to an estimated $1 billion build in stock. ALROSA suspended all sales outright in October and November, inevitably resulting in the accumulation of stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Independent miners with less financial flexibility did manage to sell most excess inventory before the year-end. For example, in December, Petra Diamonds sold ~$70 million worth of rough –notably at a double-digit percentage price improvement relative to two months prior. Burgundy Diamond Mines sold $170 million in the final months of the year with management confirming that “all available” inventory (excluding “specials”) was sold prior to year-end.

With this in mind, in H1 2024 it is likely that at least some excess stock held by the aforementioned majors will be released into the market with any sign of a demand recovery – the potential effect being a more modest spillover of the supply overhang from 2023 continuing into 2024 (at the mid-market at least).

However, by the second half of the year, the market’s medium-and longer-term supply dynamic could become noticeable. Following the suspension of operations at the Renard mine in Canada and a recent production guidance cut by De Beers, global natural diamond production is now forecast at 117.5 million carats (Mcts) in 2024, which would be down some 3.5Mcts year-over-year and down 18.5Mcts relative to 2019, the pre-pandemic benchmark.

An added wildcard will be the impact of wider Western sanctions on Russian diamonds which come into full force in 2024. While the immediate impact of the embargo may not be as acute as some are projecting, the complexities on the supply-chain will be felt, and the risk of elevated supply disruptions remain a realistic possibility.

As of March, all 1-carat-plus polished Russian goods (including those manufactured outside of Russia) will be targeted by the G7 countries and the larger EU. As of September, the threshold will be expanded to include all goods 0.5-carat (polished) and larger. That said, the 0.5-carat (polished) cutoff still excludes the majority of Russian supply by volume and an estimated 30-40% by value – as Russian production is disproportionately skewed towards smaller goods.

Paul Zimnisky
Paul Zimnisky

On a more micro supply note, commercial production at the newly inaugurated Luele mine (formerly referred to as Luaxe) in Angola will ramp up in 2024. A “phase-1” processing plant in the final stages of completion will allow the mine to produce an estimated of up to 4-5 million carats annually – making it an important source of new supply amidst a global stream of legacy mine depletion.

During a press conference held by the Angolan government in November 2023, it was opined that Luele production could be “gradually” expanded as additional plant phases are added – which could eventually lead output to triple. For context, Luele’s resource is estimated at over 600 million carats which could support a 60+ year mine life.

Paul Zimnisky, CFA is an independent diamond industry analyst and consultant based in the New York metro area. For regular in-depth analysis and forecasts of the diamond industry please consider subscribing to his State of the Diamond Market, a leading monthly industry report; an index of previous editions can be found here. Also, listen to the Paul Zimnisky Diamond Analytics Podcast on iTunes or Spotify for exclusive full-length conversations with special guests from the gem and jewelry industry. Paul is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business with a B.S. in finance and he is a CFA charterholder. He can be reached at paul@paulzimnisky.com and followed on X @paulzimnisky.

Disclosure: At the time of writing Paul Zimnisky held a long equity position in Lucara Diamond Corp, Brilliant Earth Group, Star Diamond Corp, Signet Jewelers Ltd and Newmont Corp. Paul is an independent board member of Lipari Diamond Mines, a privately-held Canadian company with an operating kimberlite mine in Brazil and a development-stage asset in Angola. Please read full disclosure at www.paulzimnisky.com.

Paul Zimnisky

Paul Zimnisky, CFA, is a leading global diamond industry analyst based in the New York City metro area specializing in global diamond supply/demand fundamentals and the companies operating within the industry.

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