By Michelle Graff
More than $2 billion in rough diamonds have entered the supply pipeline so far this year, which could put a strain on the midstream portion of the market if polished demand doesn’t pick up soon, the Rapaport Group said.
New York--Diamond trading has been “subdued” in the first two months of the new year, and diamond prices have softened slightly as a result, the Rapaport Group said in its monthly report for February.

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat, GIA-graded polished diamonds was down 0.3 percent in February, has fallen 1 percent in the first two months of the year and is down nearly 8 percent from a year ago.

The RAPI for half-carat diamonds also fell (down 1 percent) in February while 3-carat diamond prices were flat and the RAPI rose 0.5 percent for 0.3-carat diamonds.

Jewelers haven’t been restocking their diamonds as much as anticipated, though U.S. retailers are expected to do so this month.

As De Beers noted in its year-end results, the United States was the only growth market for diamond jewelry in 2016.

And in 2017, there already has been a “notable” rise in jewelry-related advertising, Rapaport’s monthly reported stated, with Tiffany & Co. spending for a Super Bowl spot starring Lady Gaga and the Diamond Producers Association airing a commercial during the Oscars. The DPA will unveil its third commercial next month and launch the second phase of the “Real is Rare” campaign, which his intended to stimulate demand for diamond jewelry among millennials, in September.

On the rough side of the business, trading was steady in February though the Rapaport Group noted that more than $2 billion worth of rough diamonds have entered the supply pipeline since the beginning of the year and could strain midstream inventory if the expected increase in polished demand doesn’t materialize.

Sales Down for De Beers
Around the same time the Rapaport Group published its report for February, De Beers released its latest sales figures.

The diamond miner and marketer sold an estimated $545 million in rough diamonds in its second sales cycle of the year. This figure includes sales made to sightholders and through its auction platform.

That is down 13 percent from the $617 million in rough diamond sold during the same period last year.

CEO Bruce Cleaver described demand as “good” and in line with expectations for this time of the year.

The decline follows a period in which the company recorded a sharp year-over-year increase in sales.

Originally, De Beers put the total for its first sales cycle of the year at $720 million but has revised that upward to $729 million, meaning the year-over-year increase was actually 34 percent.

Here’s a chart tracking De Beers’ rough diamond sales since January 2016, when the company began making the information publicly available.
2016 2017
First sales cycle                      $545 million                          $729 million  
Second $617 million $545 million (provisional)  
Third $666 million
Fourth $636 million
Fifth $564 million
Sixth $528 million
Seventh $639 million
Eighth $494 million
Ninth $476 million
Tenth $422 million

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