By Michelle Graff
In the first six months of 2016, rough diamond sales increased 11 percent year-over-year to $3.1 billion for De Beers, while total sales were up 32 percent to $2.2 billion for rival Alrosa.
In the first six months of 2016, rough diamond sales increased 11 percent year-over-year to $3.1 billion for De Beers, while total sales were up 32 percent to $2.2 billion for rival Alrosa.

New York--De Beers and Alrosa, the world’s two biggest diamond miners, saw increased sales and profits in the first half of the year though production levels remain down as both companies look to control costs.

De Beers’ parent company Anglo American reported its first half results Thursday.

Total revenue for De Beers rose 8 percent year-over-year to $3.27 billion, driven mainly by an 11 percent increase in rough diamond sales.

De Beers had more diamonds to sell in the first half of 2016 but the average realized price per carat was lower, $177/carat versus $206/carat last year.

Underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was up 2 percent to $585 million due to stronger rough diamond demand, favorable exchange rates and cost controls that allowed De Beers to cut consolidated unit costs from $82 to $65 per carat.

On a market-by-market basis, De Beers said the United States showed positive overall growth, and that a strong holiday season in the U.S. is what necessitated the inventory restocking that fueled rough demand in the first half of the year.

The company also noted that Forevermark is now available in 1,874 outlets worldwide, a 7 percent increase since the end of 2015. New markets for the diamond brand were Hungary, Thailand and South Korea.

As announced in Las Vegas, Forevermark will feature the two-stone ring in its fourth quarter television advertising campaign. The brand also has started selling fancy shapes.

For Alrosa, first half revenue was up 32 percent year-over-year, from $1.67 billion to $2.20 billion.

Net income (profit) more than doubled, reaching $1.24 billion.

While conditions improve in the first half of 2016, Alrosa is cutting back on diamond production in response to market conditions. As reported last week, the company now projects it will mine 37 million carats of diamonds in 2016, down from the 39 million previously forecast.

The same is true for rival De Beers, which reduced rough diamond production by 19 percent in the second quarter and a total of 15 percent in the first half of the year.

Commenting on the year ahead in its first half financial results, De Beers said that “macro-economic conditions underpinning consumer demand for diamonds remain broadly stable in aggregate, but with persistent downside risks looking into H2 2016 (including recent social and political instability).”

The company said it expects caution in diamond buying among manufacturers and suppliers in the second half of the year, as the rough they bought in the first half is “gradually” converted into polished goods.

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