In a press release issue on February 1, the Rapaport Group reported that its RapNet Diamond Index for 1-carat polished diamonds had risen 6.9 percent during January 2022, and it was up 26.3 percent year on year as of February 1. It was not the only sign of a robust market.
Several days earlier, the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF) reported that prices of fancy-color diamonds grew in 2021, albeit it as considerably more modest rate. The average price of all fancy-color diamonds ended the year 1.7 percent higher than 12 months earlier, with the index recording price increases in 89 percent of all categories. Prices for blues were up 2.2 percent for the year, while pinks climbed 2 percent and yellow prices were up 0.9%
According to Rapaport, the three main factors driving the high polished valuations in the regular color ranges are supply shortages, strong demand in the United States, and steep rough prices. Manufacturers are holding their prices firm as their rough costs rise, the group stated.
“For now, it’s easier to sell than to buy,” Rapaport noted it its press release. “That may change in the coming months as more goods become available and as dealers grow cautious about their ability to make a profit at these price levels.”
The average price of all fancy-color diamonds ended the year 1.7 percent higher than 12 months earlier.
DE BEERS RAISES PRICES AT JANUARY SIGHT
On the rough side of the equation, De Beers’ majority shareholder Anglo American said that demand for rough diamonds remained robust.
Rough diamond sales value for the provisional first sales cycle remained was $660 million, compared to $663 million during the same cycle in 2021. But the sales during the first cycle were almost twice that of the $336 million reported for the tenth and final cycle of 2021.
“As anticipated, there was strong growth in consumer demand for diamond jewelry over the end of year holiday season,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver. “As a result, we saw the continuation of robust rough diamond demand in the first sales cycle of the year as buyers focus on restocking depleted inventories”
De Beers took the stronger demand and rising price levels in the polished diamond market into consideration, according to Rapaport raised rough prices at its January sight by an estimated 15 percent for smaller goods and 5 percent to 12 percent for 3-grainer and larger diamonds.
For its part, Alrosa increased rough prices by about 10 percent during its trading session in January, Rapaport noted. Price rose of smaller and lower-value rough diamonds rose most sharply, by 12 percent to 18 percent while for higher-value items prices rose 5 percent to 7 percent.
SHRINKING OF U.S. JEWELRY SECTOR SLOWS
The improving fortunes in the United States was indicated by Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) report, which noted that number of jewelers leaving the trade in 2021 was down by 11 percent, slowing an ongoing trend.
According to JBT, 536 firms discontinued operations during the year, compared to 605 in 2020. Of those, four closed their door because of bankruptcy.
On the plus side, 385 new companies opened during 2021, up 153 percent from the figure reported a year earlier.
Some 23,979 businesses were operating in the U.S. jewelry sector at the end of 2021, 1.8 percent fewer than at the end of 202, JBT reported. The retail sector was down 1.7percent to 18,201 companies, the wholesale sector declining 2.2 percent to 3,442, while the number of jewelry manufacturers fell 2.6 percent to 2,336.
Alrosa increased rough prices by about 10 percent during its trading session in January, reported Rapaport. De Beers raised them by 15 percent.