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From Carats To Peanuts: How Pandemic Upended The Global Diamond Industry

Roughdiamondprices down between 15 per centand 27 per cent

Because the coronavirus pandemic upended the worldwide diamond business, shuttering mines from Lesotho to Canada and disrupting provide chains, Rajen Patel swapped diamond sharpening for peanut farming. Patel, who labored for a decade in Surat the place about 80 per cent of the world’s diamonds are polished, joined the exodus of gem staff leaving town as circumstances of the virus shot up. After taking over farming in his house village, he has no plans to return within the coming months. “I will not earn as a lot I used to be incomes in Surat, however I will not starve and there’s no concern of getting contaminated with coronavirus,” he stated. Demand for diamonds has plummeted through the pandemic, freezing gross sales and squeezing costs. With short-term mine closures susceptible to turning into everlasting, diamond miners are searching for methods to extract extra worth from their stones.

The lone brilliant spot has been regular demand for big, high-quality diamonds from prosperous buyers, in keeping with financiers and gross sales knowledge.

“There are much more enquiries from individuals searching for to purchase these luxurious stones as a hedge,” stated Chris Del Gatto, CEO of the DelGatto Diamond Finance Fund, the biggest non-bank lender to the diamond, jewelry and watch industries.

Costs for prime quality one-carat diamonds are rising steadily and are at the moment round 12 per cent larger than initially of the 12 months, in distinction to still-depressed costs for lower-quality stones of the identical measurement, knowledge from buying and selling platform RapNet reveals.

“If you’re in that high finish, the demand remains to be there as a result of the individuals who go for these sort of products really feel the strain of the market downturn much less,” stated Gus Simbanegavi, CEO of Bluerock Diamonds.

However just a few miners are fortunate sufficient to have deposits of enormous, high-quality diamonds, leaving some producers in danger.

GRIM YEAR

COVID-19 has pressured miners to cancel or delay gross sales, with main diamond reveals scrapped because of well being and journey restrictions. The few gross sales which have taken place confirmed tough diamond costs down between 15 per cent and 27 per cent. “What has occurred within the second quarter, I’ve by no means seen in my life,” De Beers Chief Government Bruce Cleaver advised Reuters. “There was no actually correctly functioning tough market.” Indian imports of tough diamonds plunged from $1.5 billion in February to only $1 million in April, knowledge from the Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council reveals.

Antwerp, one other diamond hub, noticed tough imports drop 20 per cent year-on-year within the first half, in keeping with knowledge from Antwerp World Diamond Centre. The town’s exports of polished diamonds fell 46 per cent.

REAL OPPORTUNITY

In a bid to outlive, some miners try to vary the standard pricing sport by securing a lower of onward polished diamond gross sales, and miners might ultimately have direct tie-ups with luxurious jewelry manufacturers, RCC Diamond Consultants managing director Richard Chetwode predicts.

Australia’s Lucapa Diamond Co inked a take care of an unnamed “high-end diamantaire” to promote a few of its high-value diamonds from the Mothae mine in Lesotho for $505 per carat plus a 50 per cent share of the margin on the long run polished diamond sale.

Lucara Diamond Corp, which mines in Botswana, struck a deal in July with Antwerp producer HB Group beneath which the miner’s diamonds bigger than 10.eight carats are offered for a portion of the estimated polished worth. “There may be actual alternative inside the diamond enterprise as an entire to modernise the gross sales system,” stated Lucara CEO Eira Thomas. Lucara has additionally arrange an internet diamond gross sales platform.

Within the meantime, miners are hoping manufacturing cuts will assist costs get well. With Rio Tinto’s huge Argyle diamond mine in Australia amongst these coming offstream quickly, international diamond manufacturing will doubtless be reined in till 2025, impartial analyst Paul Zimnisky forecasts.

A number of diamond mines shuttered as a result of pandemic have additionally but to reopen, together with Stornoway Diamonds’ Renard mine in Canada, Petra Diamonds’ Williamson mine in Tanzania, and Firestone Diamonds’ Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, which the corporate stated would doubtless keep closed till April to protect money. In the meantime, Africa-focused Petra Diamonds is in restructuring talks with collectors, whereas in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine accomplice has sought creditor safety, saying it can not afford the miner’s money calls.

Even De Beers is feeling the ache, saying job cuts are doubtless, because it stays unclear whether or not provide will shrink sufficient to fulfill plunging demand within the international diamond jewelry market, which Bain estimated was value $80 billion in 2019.

Business hopes that the pandemic would increase gross sales of engagement rings as individuals reassessed life priorities and extra made plans to get married haven’t borne out.

In retailer Tiffany & Co’s February-April quarter, engagement jewelry was the worst-performing class, with gross sales virtually halving.

General, effective jewelry gross sales are anticipated to drop 19 per cent this 12 months, in comparison with a three per cent rise final 12 months, in keeping with Euromonitor.

(This story has not been edited by The Press Reporter workers and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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