First quarter data from the diamond industry does not yet show any marked impact from the current geopolitical situation, although the long-term results may still be difficult to gauge. Many of the results also cover the period prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the imposition of sanctions on rough diamond imports from Alrosa by the United States and Great Britain.
The De Beers Group reported its results for the second sales cycle of the year, saying that there was a continuation of strong rough diamond demand, supported by positive consumer sentiment.
The cycle reported upon ran from February 21, the days before the Russian attack on its neighbor, and ended start March 8. De Beers reported $650 million in rough diamond sales during the period, which was 18 percent more than the amount reported for its second sales cycle of 2022, totaled $550 million.
In statement put out by De Beers to announce the result, its CEO Bruce Cleaver to care to note the company has been “shocked and saddened by the war in Ukraine, and our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people,” adding that the group planned to donate $1 million to aid organizations working in the area.
De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver tempered the company’s upbeat sales reports by stating that the group is “shocked and saddened by the war in Ukraine
ISRAEL POSTS A STRONG FIRST QUARTER
Reporting on the Israel diamond industry’s first quarter, the Israel Diamond Institute said that the local sector had continued its impressive grown According to figures released by the Economy and Trade Ministry’s Diamond Controller, there were increases in all four major trade categories.
Total net imports of rough diamonds – in other words, after returned goods are accounted for –amounted to about $494 million, an increase of 4 percent when compared to the same period in 2021, while in March alone there was an increase of 3 percent over the same month in 2021.
Net rough diamond exports during the first quarter amounted to $526 million, an increase of 35 percent over the first quarter of 2021. In March there was an increase of 11 percent compared to March last year.
Total net polished diamond imports into Israel during the first quarter of the year stood at $942 million, an increase of 45 percent compared to the corresponding quarter in 2021, while in March alone there was an increase of 13 percent compared to March 2022.
Total net polished diamond exports, worth $1.3 billion, increased by 58 percent over the first quarter of 2022. In March 2022 there was an increase of 105 percent compared to March last year.
“The positive growth trend of the diamond industry, which continued into the first quarter of 2022, proves the resilience of the world diamond industry, and the Israeli diamond undustry in particular,” said IDI Managing Director Aviel Elia. “The large-scale fighting in Ukraine has made the global situation today uncertain and volatile, and we cannot predict how this will affect the diamond industry in the coming months. We hope for a rapid end to the loss of lives and destruction and a return to stability going forward.”
CONFIDENCE DIPS AFTER UKRAINE INVASION
Other reports were more cautious. According to the Rapaport news service, diamond market sentiment weakened in March as concerns rose about the impact of Russian sanctions, U.S. inflation and China’s Covid-19 restrictions, with prices softening, particularly for goods below 0.30 carats.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat diamonds had risen 0.5 percent in March, after showing a far more robust increase of 13.5 percent through the first quarter. The index for 0.30-carat goods fell 3.9 percent during the month.
All RAPI size categories declined from the second week of March onward, Rapaport stated. This, it added, ended a three-month period of consistent, sharp increases that ultimately proved unsustainable in the volatile geopolitical and economic environment.
Israel reported that total net polished diamond exports, worth $1.3 billion, increased by 58 percent over the first quarter of 2022.
“The March decreases fueled uncertainty,” Rapaport stated in an announcement to the market. “Buyers were waiting for further price drops; suppliers were willing to negotiate in order to raise liquidity and offload less-desirable goods.”
But, said Rapaport, polished inventory levels held steady overall, however they rose in weaker categories as sales of those items slackened.
“The decline in polished demand left rough dealers and manufacturers cautious. Factories continued producing polished from the large volume of rough they’d bought in January and February,” the news service stated.