Rapaport: Diamond Trade Upbeat Ahead of Q2 Slowdown

Diamond market sentiment was positive in March as US demand and the gradual return of Chinese traders supported buying activity, Rapaport said in a press release.

Polished price trends were mixed. There was continued upward movement in 1-carat, D to G, IF to VS2 diamonds; the RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat goods increased 1.5% during March. The same quality ranges in 0.30 to 0.50 carat saw some weakness amid a rise in inventory for those categories since January.

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The number of diamonds on RapNet was up 17% since the beginning of the year and totaled 1.3 million as of 1st April. Manufacturers reduced their stockpiles during the pandemic and then raised production levels to fulfill seasonal demand during last year’s fourth quarter and the first three months of 2021. Grading backlogs have resulted at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), raising concerns about excess inventory.

Rapaport noted that rough trading was robust throughout the first quarter, though sales slackened in March. De Beers limited its supply during the month as it prepared assortments for the new contract period beginning on 1st April. Alrosa delayed its April trading session by one week, arguing that the postponement would help the midstream maintain its inventory balance.

Both the rough and polished markets are expected to slow during the traditionally quieter second quarter. The focus returns to retail ahead of Mother’s Day, it said.

Jewellers are optimistic following a rise in consumer sentiment during March, Rapaport added. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 109.7 from February’s 90.4 reading. The improved outlook stemmed largely from the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations and the lifting of restrictions on businesses. The $1,400 stimulus checks that households are receiving are also expected to boost spending, it said.

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