Polished diamond prices stabilised for much of January but declined in the final week as the industry assessed its prospects after the holiday season, Rapaport said in a release. Trading was slow amid lingering economic uncertainty, which was evident in weaker consumer sentiment and US jewellers’ mixed results for November-December, it explained.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds fell 0.9% in January and 17.3% year on year as of 1st February. The 0.30-carat category bucked the trend as inventory levels dropped in that segment. Small stones were stable throughout the month, it noted.
|RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™)|
|January||Year on year
Feb. 1, 2022, to Feb. 1, 2023
|RAPI 0.30 ct.||3.1%||-5.7%|
|RAPI 0.50 ct.||-0.2%||-13.8%|
|RAPI 1 ct.||-0.9%||-17.3%|
|RAPI 3 ct.||-0.3%||-9.5%|
© 2023, Rapaport USA Inc.
Retail jewellers gave varying reports about the holiday season. US independents were down about 9% in the fourth quarter, according to the Edge Retail Academy. Mastercard SpendingPulse reported a 5.4% decline in November-December sales.
Luxury jewellers did well. Richemont’s jewellery maisons — Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Buccellati — saw Q4 revenue rise 11%. Sales at LVMH’s jewellery and watch division, which includes Bulgari and Tiffany & Co., grew 7%.
The luxury houses expressed optimism about China after the country lifted its Covid-19 restrictions and sales reportedly improved during the Lunar New Year. The preceding lockdowns contributed to the drop in diamond trading last year.
Rapaport said retailers held back from replenishing the holiday inventory which they had sold. Large quantities of goods are still available; the number of diamonds on RapNet as of 1st February was 20% higher than a year earlier. The volume of 0.30-carat stones fell 35%.
Manufacturers are keeping production low. Sightholders are waiting to make more significant rough purchases later in the year, De Beers reported. The miner reduced prices for larger rough and raised those of smaller goods at its January sight, which yielded just $450 million, Rapaport informed.
The industry is biding its time; jewellers are not yet ready to build up inventory after the holidays. Trading is expected to remain cautious in the first half. While a recovery in China may boost demand for select polished categories, much will depend on US economic sentiment as the year progresses, it stated.