The new year started off at a sluggish pace, at least as far as polished diamond prices were concerned.
According to a report released by the Rapaport Group, 1-carat stones fell in value during January by 0.4 percent from December 2018, and by 1.8 percent when compared to equivalent month last year. The price of 3-carat stones was down by 1.8 percent from December and by 5.9 percent from January 2018.
Interestingly, where a glut of smaller goods in the market had suppressed their prices toward the end of 2018, in January smaller diamonds saw more moderate price declines, with value of 0.5-carat diamonds slipping by a less dramatic 0.3 percent when compared to December and 0.1 percent when compared to January last year.
The value of 0.3-carat diamonds were down 0.8 percent when compared to December and 4.1 percent down year-on-year, Rapaport reported.
Explain the softer prices, Rapaport explained that the U.S. market is restocking at a slower rate than expected after the holiday season, and many Far Eastern buyers were on vacation ahead of the Chinese New Year.
FANCY COLOR PRICES MORE BUOYANT
In contrast prices of fancy color diamonds were more buoyant, at least during the final three months of 2018. According to the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), which tracks pricing data for yellow, pink, and blue fancy color diamonds in Hong Kong, New York and Ramat Gan, during the fourth quarter of 2018 fancy color diamond prices showed stability across all sizes and saturation.
The organization’s fancy color diamond index for blue fancy color diamonds increased by 0.8 percent during the period, while fancy intense blues increased by 1.9 percent.
Pink diamond prices remained stable, but the entire 2-carat pink diamonds carat category rose by 1.1 percent, led by fancy vivid pink that rose by 2.1 percent, although decidedly rare 10-carat fancy pink decreased in price by 0.8 percent.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, yellow fancy color diamonds showed a general decrease by 1.5 percent, reported FCRF, although there was an increase of 1.2 percent in the price of fancy vivid yellow 5-carat diamonds.
“In the last three years,” explained Jim Pounds, an FCRF advisory board member, “we witnessed a substantial amount of vivid yellows coming to market, mainly from the Misery Pipe at the Ekati mine in Canada. However, as the mine transitions from open pit mining to underground, a substantially reduced amount of stones will be available during 2019. Therefore, we anticipate a slight increase in vivid yellow prices.”
Looking at the figures on an annual basis, in 2018 FCRF’s fancy color diamond index increased by 0.2 percent, with blue prices up by 4.1 percent. Yellow prices were down by 2.1 percent and pink prices remained stable.
According to FCRF, in 2018 all fancy intense and fancy vivid diamonds increased by 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent in price, respectively, while the ‘fancy’ category decreased by 1.4 percent in price.
SYNTHETIC DIAMOND SECTOR SAYS DEMAND IS CLIMBING
The one sector that is exuding confidence these days is the one dealing in man-made diamonds. According to a report commissioned by the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA), demand for synthetic goods is up strongly, and this could portend a rise in prices.
At present, lab-grown stones are discounted at between 20 percent and 40 percent of the equivalent prices of natural gems. But, said the organization, demand is growing for higher-quality, larger lab-grown diamonds, and particularly those suitable for bridal jewelry. In these sectors of the market, demand exceeds supply.
But according to the Diamond Producers Association, which is a body established by major mining companies to defend the natural diamond sector, the increasing demand for bridal jewelry set with synthetics may be short-lived.
According to the organization, in a letter sent to the Rapaport Group, 44 percent of people question in a recent survey indicated that they were unaware of the differences in value, rarity, physical growth structure and origin between natural and lab-grown diamonds. But once being made aware of them, consumers were at least 71 percent more likely to purchase a natural diamond.