By Michelle Graff
Rough diamond sales were up 69 percent for De Beers and 63 percent for Alrosa at year’s end despite the negative effect India’s demonetization program has had on demand for lower-end rough diamonds.

London--De Beers’ rough diamond sales totaled $418 million in the 10th sales cycle of 2016, a marked improvement over the same period in 2015.  

The diamond miner and marketer’s sales for the 10th sales cycle of 2015--a year in which demand was slow, the pipeline was overstocked and diamond miners’ sales were down dramatically--totaled $248 million, meaning sales rose 69 percent year-over-year.   

De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said the company is seeing “good demand” for rough diamonds that was in line with seasonal expectations, though he added that the demonetization program in India--the widely criticized banning of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in an effort to combat corruption and terrorism--has hurt the trade for lower-value rough goods.

Another mining company, colored gemstone miner Gemfields, also said that India’s demonetization program is impacting business, forcing it to postpone one of its emerald auctions.

Here are De Beers’ actual rough diamond sales figures in the first nine sales cycles of the year, as well as the provisional figure for the 10th. The figures include diamonds sold at the company’s sights as well as through its auction platform.

First sales cycle: $545 million
Second: $617 million
Third: $666 million
Fourth: $636 million
Fifth: $564 million
Sixth: $528 million
Seventh: $639 million
Eighth: $494 million
Ninth: $476 million
10th: $418 million (provisional)

Competitor Alrosa reported a similar sales increase in the month of November and also noted the negative impact of the demonetization program in India.

The Russian diamond mining company said total diamond sales were $255.2 million, up 63 percent when compared with the same period last year. Of that, rough diamond sales totaled $245.6 million while the remaining $9.6 million was in polished.

“The market activity at year-end was affected by India’s currency reform in November,” Alrosa Vice President Yury Okoemov said. “One of its effects was a temporary decline in the activity of India’s small and mid-sized diamond cutting companies, which also affected the low-end, small-size rough diamond segment.”

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