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Photo courtesy of DTC Botswana



While end-of-the-year jewelry sales appear to be strong in the major consumer centers, De Beers has reported that global sightholder sales and auction for the tenth and final sales cycle of 2021 totaled $332 million, 27 percent down on the $452 million reported for the final sales cycle of 2020.

Despite the reduction, sales for the entire year were strongly up when compared to 2020. For all of 2021, total sales equaled $4.82 billion, 72.7 percent more than the $2.79 billion reported for COVID-stricken 2020 and 19.3 percent more than the $4.04 billion that was registered in 2019.

Sales during the tenth cycle were also 24 percent lower than the $438 million De Beers reported during this year’s ninth cycle, which itself was almost 13 percent down from the $492 million registered during the eighth sales cycle. De Beers sold $522 million during the seventh sales cycles, meaning that there has been downward tendency for an extended period of time already.

But in his statement to the media, De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver was upbeat. “Rough diamond demand and midstream sentiment continued to be positive in the final sales cycle of 2021, although as anticipated we saw some impact on sales ahead of the seasonal closure of polishing factories in southern Africa over the Christmas period,”

“Nonetheless, despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, our rough diamond sales for the year are higher than what we saw in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic, and much higher than our sales in 2020,” Cleaver continued. “Consumer demand for diamond jewellery is continuing to perform very well over the key holiday period, so we head towards the new year with positive trading conditions and industry sentiment.”

Photo courtesy of DTC Botswana


The ongoing pandemic did leave its mark on the final De Beers sight week, with most of the buyers who may have made the trip to Gaborone in Botswana, being prevented from doing so because of restrictions imposed as a result of the Omicron variant.

The De Beers Group has been implementing a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales for almost two years, and the tenth sales cycle was no exception, with the sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration. As a result, the provisional rough diamond sales figure quoted for Cycle 10 was for a two-week week period, running from December 6 to December 21.

Speaking to the media, De Beers’ Executive Vice President Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley, said that the company will do what it can to ensure than COVID restriction do not impact the logistics of rough diamond supply. Should it prove impossible for its buyers to travel to Botswana, the company will offer alternative viewings in other locations.

“As has been the case throughout the year, we will offer viewings in other locations, as well as hosting the sight in Botswana for clients who are based locally or those who elect to travel to Botswana and are able to do so in light of the prevailing travel restrictions,” he said, according to BusinessWeek.


In the meantime, the De Beers Group has reported that it has extended by half-a-year through the end of June a 10-year agreement it has with the government of Botswana, for the sale of rough diamonds from Debswana, their jointly owned venture. The move was taken to allow both parties more time to negotiate a new contract.

The original agreement dates back to 2021. It was scheduled to expire in 2020, but it was extended at the end of last year, because of the COVID pandemic.

Both De Beers and the Botswana government have kept the specific terms being negotiated under wraps, but analysts quoted by the Reuters news agency  suggested that the government wants to increase its share of diamonds produced by Debswana from the 15 percent agreed in 2011, or alternatively to increase its share of bigger stones from the 25 percent it currently holds.

It should be noted that Botswana itself is a minority shareholder in the De Beers Group, holding 15 percent of the shares, with the majority shareholder, Anglo America, holding 85 percent.  Botswana, therefore, has a direct interest in the 75 percent of Debswana output being sold through De Beers. It sells its own share of production through the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), an independent channel that it created to sell rough diamonds.

Photo courtesy of DTC Botswana