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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

Feb 20, 2020 10:58 AM   By Rapaport News
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China slowdown affecting global sentiment. Diamond markets quiet as coronavirus reduces value across the supply chain. Chinese and Hong Kong jewelers remain closed and lack of Chinese tourism likely to impact European and US luxury brands. US retailers consider short-term alternatives to Chinese suppliers. Diamantaires concerned about delayed payments from Hong Kong buyers. Reduced demand leading to polished inventory buildup, since manufacturers bought large volume of rough in Dec./Jan. Miners with inflated inventory cautious about 2020 production. Small De Beers sight expected next week. De Beers 2019 revenue -24% to $4.6B, earnings -87% to $45M, average price -20% to $137/ct.

Fancies: Ovals are strongest shape, driven by US fashion jewelry demand. Emeralds above 2.50 ct., D-G, VVS2-VS2 also selling well. Pears slightly slower due to sluggish Hong Kong market. Princess and Marquise continue to struggle. Well-shaped and fine-cut fancies have become a profitable niche with good demand and strong prices, especially Ovals, Emeralds and Pears. Fancies with classic and long ratios trending in fashion segment. Shortage of top-make fancies 1.50 ct. and larger in all categories except D color. US sustaining market for commercial-quality, medium-priced fancies. Off-make, poorly cut fancies illiquid and difficult to sell.

United States: Steady US polished demand supporting global trade as China weakens. New York dealers buying to fill orders rather than for inventory. Strong emphasis on memo. Shortages reinforcing prices of better-quality goods (RapSpec A3+), while suppliers are still holding large volume of unwanted diamonds. Following Valentine’s Day, jewelry retail expected to be seasonally slow until start of summer wedding period.

Belgium: Dealers cautious amid slowdown in China and Hong Kong. Buyers pushing for higher discounts, but suppliers to US are holding prices steady. Rough trading quiet and premiums softening on the secondary market ahead of next week’s De Beers sight. Peter Meeus submits new bid for HRD Antwerp, while AWDC approves CEO’s turnaround plan.

Israel: Activity stable as dealers avoid travel and focus on local trading. Difference in sentiment between suppliers to US and those with Far East focus. Solid interest in round, 1 to 7 ct., D-M, SI3-I1 diamonds. Slowdown in 0.30 to 1.49 ct., D-H, IF-VS goods. Concern that Indian suppliers will lower prices and flood market with polished amid slump in Chinese-Hong Kong orders.

India: Sentiment low owing to tight liquidity and slow polished demand. Buyers seeking discounts and looking for desperate sellers. Dealers maintaining weak 1H outlook, with concerns Chinese jewelers will return large volume of unsold goods. US supporting the market and showing steady interest in 1 ct., G-J, VS2-I1 diamonds. IIJS Signature fair signals shift to lighter-weight wedding jewelry due to high gold prices and weak economy.

Hong Kong: Polished trading drastically reduced. Many companies working with minimal staff amid coronavirus epidemic. Businesses seeking ways to save money; many mulling layoffs. International diamantaires reconsidering their presence in the city. Some Chinese jewelry manufacturers have returned to work but haven’t yet resumed production, since orders are on hold. Retail market sluggish and reeling from double blow of the virus and political protests that hurt sales last year. 
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