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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

Aug 22, 2019 10:58 AM   By Rapaport News
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Polished inventory levels starting to decline as manufacturers cut production and rough buying. Small Aug. sight as De Beers lets sightholders reject 50% of goods. Alrosa slashes 2019 sales forecast from 38M cts. to 33M cts. after 2Q revenue -21% to $859M, profit -47% to $200M. Weak China demand and tight profit margins still a concern. Buyers very selective during downturn. Strong jewelry sales at Macy’s and J.C. Penney highlight discounting and promotional retail environment. Belgian, Indian and Israeli trade bodies call to postpone Hong Kong show. Ian Rowe replaces Dorothée Gizenga as executive director of Diamond Development Initiative. Sean Kell appointed Blue Nile CEO.

Fancies: Fancy shapes soft, reflecting slowdown in overall demand. 3 to 8 ct., I-K, VS-SI1 moving better than rounds as dealers and consumers shift to lower price points. Well-known brands are paying highest prices, as are buyers with specific requests. Ovals for fashion jewelry moving well, especially 1.50 and 2 ct., G-H, VS and H-K, SI2. 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: Weak polished market putting stress on suppliers. Steady demand for 1 to 2.75 ct., G-H, SI-I1 goods. Large stones above 3 ct. slow. Dealers looking for unique items, such as unusual fancy shapes, mirroring consumer requests for personalized pieces. Jewelers assessing requirements for the holiday season.

Belgium: Dealers gradually returning from vacation. Trading expected to remain subdued until the beginning of September. Fewer fresh goods available, as manufacturing has declined. Rough market slow during De Beers sight week.

Israel: Trading quiet with the Israel Diamond Exchange closed until August 25. Dealers concerned about upcoming Hong Kong show.

India: Slight improvement, with more US and Israeli buyers looking for bargains in Mumbai. Demand has narrowed to specific categories. Overseas jewelers not yet placing large inventory orders. Stable demand for 1 ct., G-J, SI-I1 goods for US engagement ring market. Weakening rupee and stricter customs controls weighing on sentiment. Polished production reduced, with shift to lower-cost items.

Hong Kong: Wholesale and retail sectors slow, although political unrest has calmed slightly. Luxury sales down 4% to 11% due to demonstrations but could slide 10% to 60% if disruptions continue to year-end, according to analysts at Cowen. Low expectations for September show. Melee and parcel goods selling better than single stones. Jewelers in mainland China pushing summer promotions to boost turnover.
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