By Michelle Graff
In the second sales cycle, De Beers’ rough diamond sales fell 28 percent year-over-year and 36 percent compared with the first sales cycle. The company pointed to a drop in demand in the Chinese market due to coronavirus.
Gaborone, Botswana—After a promising start to the year, De Beers Group’s rough diamond sales faltered in February as business ground to a halt in China with the spread of coronavirus.

The company reported Wednesday that in the second sales cycle of the year, it sold $355 million in rough diamonds to sightholders and via its auction platform compared with $496 million in the same period last year, a 28 percent drop.

Sales are down 36 percent from the first sales cycle of the year, when a relatively strong holiday season had suppliers restocking and the COVID-19 coronavirus wasn’t on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, as of Tuesday, there were confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 73 countries including China, where the disease originated in December, with 90,870 people infected worldwide and 3,112 deaths.   

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said the company let sightholders push purchases of certain goods to later in the year due to the impact of the virus.

Cleaver said: “Following an improvement in demand for rough diamonds during the first sales cycle of 2020, we recognized the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market and put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds.”  

Here’s a look at De Beers’ rough diamond sales so far this year.

2019 2020
First sales cycle  $500 million $551 million
Second $496 million $355 million*
Third $581 million 
Fourth $416 million
Fifth $391 million  
Sixth $250 million
Seventh $287 million  
Eighth $297 million  
Ninth  $400 million 
Tenth $426 million

*Provisional figure

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