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Graph Diamonds: The Year in 5 Telling Charts

These data visualizations tell the story of 2018 for the industry.
Jan 3, 2019 5:37 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... Data can be exhilarating. Earlier this week, Avi Krawitz, Rapaport’s News Editor and Senior Analyst, called this reporter over to look at his screen, as there was something exciting on it. The attraction was a line chart of the RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds throughout 2018, showing that the peak price on July 6 coincided exactly with the day the US implemented its first China-specific tariffs. The index dropped through the end of the year.

He later beckoned a few more colleagues over, and there was soon a modest clamor of interest around his workstation. By the end of the day, even the office administrator was asking, “Did you see that graph?”

Charts can, it appears, tell a story in ways that would require many words. So we’ve decided to relive 2018 through five pieces of visual data about the diamond and jewelry trade.

1. Small-stone prices slumped in the second half.

The RAPI for 0.30-carat polished fell from an early-July high point due to an oversupply, as well as macroeconomic factors such as the US-China trade war, with the category usually popular in China. While there was a similar trend in Avi’s 1-carat graph, the 0.30-carat category shows it more clearly. This index jumped 9.9% between January 1 and July 6, but ended the year down 1.1%.

Source: Rapaport

2. Traders embraced larger diamonds.

The industry focused on higher-value polished in response to the weakness in the smaller categories. That was visible in India’s export data, which showed growth in the average price of the nation’s outbound polished shipments up to November.

Source: Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council; Rapaport archives

3. Rough demand followed suit.

Alrosa’s average rough-diamond selling price increased 19% to $123 per carat in the nine months to September amid a shift in demand away from smaller goods toward larger stones. It also noted a 5.2% increase in like-for-like prices during that period.

Source: Alrosa

4. An oversupply was driving the changes.

The midstream has struggled with a surplus of lower-value goods since the Gahcho Kué, Renard and Liqhobong mines came on stream in late 2016 and early 2017. Global rough production increased 19% to 150.9 million carats in 2017, according to Kimberley Process data. The number of unique stones listed on RapNet jumped 24% during 2018.

Source: Rapaport

5. Memo deals became more common.

Retailers increasingly prefer taking goods on consignment (or memo), as it reduces their risk. However, this means suppliers don’t get paid until their client makes a sale. Though this chart for Signet Jewelers only goes up to 2017, it shows memo is becoming more central to the company’s sourcing.

Source: Signet Jewelers annual reports

Main image: A graph on a screen. (Pxhere)
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Tags: data, graphs, Joshua Freedman, Rapaport News, RAPI, RapNet
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