By Michelle Graff
Yoram Dvash, acting president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, penned a letter to the diamond industry declaring “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” after months of declines in diamond trading and sales due to COVID-19.
Antwerp—The diamond market is seeing signs of improvement, giving stakeholders multiple reasons to be optimistic about the holiday season ahead, Yoram Dvash, acting president of the WFDB, wrote in a letter distributed Thursday.

First diagnosed in Wuhan, China in late December, COVID-19 spread worldwide in the first few months of 2020, forcing the closure of businesses and the cancellation of all the major jewelry trade shows as governments everywhere ordered people to stay home.

The first half of the year, Dvash said, was “almost a complete washout,” with diamond imports and exports declining 70-80 percent in some of the world’s major trading hubs.

The industry’s two largest miners, De Beers Group and Alrosa, recorded significant declines in both production and sales in the first half of the year.
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But as of early August, the diamond market is “seeing some signs of recovery,” Dvash said, noting the “responsible policy” of De Beers and Alrosa to limit production and allow customers to defer all purchases to later in the year helped, as did the slowdown of manufacturing in Surat.

Diamond prices are stable, mainly due to shortages in various categories.

Import and export levels remain down year-over-year—they were off about 50 percent in Q3—but it’s an upgrade when compared to the first two quarters of the year.

Dvash said he expects import/export figures to keep improving and diamonds to “deliver a strong holiday season.”

In addition, manufacturers’ profit margins have improved and are actually better than they were pre-pandemic, he said, as they are able to buy only the rough needed to meet demand.

On the retail side, diamond jewelry sales in China are “soaring” post-lockdown.

In the United States, Dvash said independent jewelers are reporting steady demand from customers looking to purchase jewelry for major life events, a claim supported by the latest data.

In a column published earlier this week, Sherry Smith shared data from The Edge Retail Academy that showed independents’ sales grew 2.3 percent over June 2019 and as of July 24, were up 10 percent over last July.

Diamond jewelry, she wrote, was the top performer for independents.

“Our industry has proven its resilience by moving to online trading,” Dvash said. “Consumers are also buying more diamonds through e-commerce, with some of the largest luxury brands selling more diamond jewelry online.”

He said the improvement in retail sales, import/export figures and margins are reasons to be optimistic about the holiday season ahead, which “promises to be a busy one.”

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