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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

Jun 6, 2019 10:58 AM   By Rapaport News
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Slow trading at JCK show highlights middle-market liquidity and profitability challenges. Prices softening with 1 ct. RAPI -0.7% in May. Suppliers using technology and sourcing programs to demonstrate added value as jewelers reduce inventory purchases. US jewelry market steady with top independents gaining market share over majors by providing personalized service to millennials. Luxury jewelers exposed to trade war as Chinese tourists cut overseas spending. Tiffany 1Q sales -3% to $1B, profit -12% to $125M. Signet 1Q sales -3% to $1.4B, loss of $10M vs. loss of $497M the previous year. Swarovski plans move into natural diamonds. RapNet members vote no to lab-grown listings and price list.

Fancies: Fancy shapes soft, reflecting slowdown in high-end demand. Inventory limited. Well-known brands and buyers with specific requests are paying the strongest prices. Dealers being squeezed by lack of goods and low profit margins. Ovals for fashion jewelry moving well, especially VS2-SI2. Pears with VS clarity also steady. Demand for Radiants and Emeralds declined. Marquises and Princesses weak despite reduced manufacturing. US sustaining market for commercial-quality, medium-priced fancies under 1 ct. Chinese consumers seeking fancy shapes at better prices. Off-make, poorly cut fancies illiquid and hard to sell, even at very deep discounts.

United States: Positive sentiment among jewelers at Las Vegas shows, but slow fair for suppliers. Retailers planning fall and holiday collections, limiting loose-diamond buying to specific items. Steady demand for 0.60 to 1.99 ct., G-J, VS2-I1 goods. VVS weak. Bridal sales stable, but market shifting to lower-price categories.

Belgium: Fewer dealers attended Las Vegas fairs. Buyers are price-sensitive and avoiding inventory buildup. Polished and rough trade well below last year’s levels with exports to all major markets and trading centers down. Good demand for 1 ct. G-J, VS-SI, RapSpec A3+ diamonds. Rough market cautious ahead of next week’s Alrosa sale (June 13 to 19).

Israel: Sentiment mixed following the JCK show. Weak demand for stones below 0.50 ct. and above 3 ct. Commercial-quality 1 ct., G-J, VS-SI stable and supporting the market. Some dealers traveling to Hong Kong June show to assess impact of trade war on Far East demand. Rough trading slow as manufacturers prefer to buy polished than rough.

India: Trading in Mumbai relatively slow as May summer break ends and dealers return from Las Vegas. Inventory levels declined slightly in past month after manufacturers reduced polished production. Rough market cautious amid tight profitability. Good demand for lower-color (J-K) diamonds. Local jewelry market stable.

Hong Kong: Diamond trading quiet, with dealers waiting for market indicators from Las Vegas shows. Suppliers preparing for Hong Kong fair (June 20 to 23), hoping to unlock pent-up Far East demand. Consumer sentiment sluggish amid heightened US-China trade tensions. Strong dollar and China-first policy pushing Chinese tourists to spend more at home. Gold sales stable as consumers seek investment value in jewelry.
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