Rapaport: Diamond Prices Soften As Supply Rises

The diamond trade began the year with optimism following a relatively successful holiday season, Rapaport stated. Polished diamond suppliers anticipated steady inventory replacement in the first quarter. December and January therefore saw strong rough buying. The subsequent increase in polished inventory levels led prices to soften in key categories.

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat polished diamonds fell 0.6% during January. The index is up 5% from a year ago.

RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™)
1st Feb., 2020, to 1st Feb., 2021
RAPI 0.30 ct.0.5%-1.9%
RAPI 0.50 ct.-1.1%9.4%
RAPI 1 ct.-0.6%5.0%
RAPI 3 ct.1.7%6.3%

© Copyright 2021, Rapaport USA Inc.

Diamond manufacturers raised production levels as shortages emerged in the fourth quarter of 2020. Polished inventory had declined due to a combination of increased holiday orders and a drop in manufacturing last year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Demand for rough diamonds spiked in December. De Beers and Alrosa sold a combined $910 million during the month — 17% more than a year earlier. The momentum continued in January, spurring the two miners to raise prices by 4% to 7%. Rough prices at tenders by Mountain Province and Petra Diamonds rose 8% and are now back to pre-pandemic levels.

Polished inventory increased in January as freshly manufactured goods entered the market. The number of diamonds on RapNet climbed 11% during the month to approximately 1.3 million as of 1st February.

Trading slowed toward the end of the month as suppliers completed orders for the Chinese New Year, which falls on 12th February. Expectations are high for the lunar festival; the major jewellers in the region report a strong recovery in mainland China. Jewellers are emphasising digital sales since Chinese consumers increasingly shop on popular apps such as WeChat and T-Mall.

The polished market is expected to cool in the coming months once the China and US holiday seasons are over and large volumes of new goods become available. This may put pressure on manufacturers that have aggressively bought rough at higher prices in the past month.

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