De Beers latest diamond sale the worst in almost two years

Company offered less precious stones to match supply to demand, which has been sluggish.

De Beers, the world’s largest rough diamond producer by value, sold the fewest number of precious rocks since at least early 2016 during its eight offering of the year compared with the same period last year after cutting supply.

Company said sales drop reflected seasonal closures in India and Israel, two major diamond consumers.

The Anglo American’s unit, which holds ten sales of rough diamonds a year, fetched $370 million compared to the $494 million it collected at the same sale in 2016.

“De Beers offered fewer rough diamonds for sale in Cycle 8, reflecting the concurrent timing this year of the sight sale with the closure of polishing factories in India and Israel for the observance of religious holidays,” chief executive Bruce Cleave said in a statement. “Sales were in line with expectations, at what is a seasonally slower time for rough diamond demand,” he noted.

The latest sale brings revenue so far this year to almost $4.4 billion, compared with $4.7bn for the first eight sales in 2016, and $5.587bn for the whole of last year.

De Beers has traditionally tried to match its sales to demand, favouring a supply cut rather than lowering prices.