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De Beers sale shows stronger US and Chinese demand

Prices for small rough diamonds, the type that would end up clustered around the solitaire stone in a ring, are climbing. (Image courtesy of Anglo American | Flickr.)

De Beers, the world’s top diamond producer by value, saw improved sales in its latest auction, despite moving into the summer, which is generally considered a weaker period for roughs demand.

The Anglo American unit sold $650 million of diamonds in its fifth sale of 2022, slightly up from $604 million at the previous event this year, but higher than the $477 million it sold this time last year.

De Beers sells its gems through 10 sales each year in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, and the handpicked buyers — known as sightholders — generally must accept the price and the quantities offered.

Around 60 handpicked customers are given a black and yellow box each time. These contain plastic bags filled with stones, with the number of boxes and quality of diamonds depending on what the buyer and De Beers had agreed to in an annual allocation.

Prices for small diamonds, those that usually end up clustered around a solitaire stone in a ring, have soared since early April, when Russia’s Alrosa (MCX: ALRS) was targeted by US sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver noted that diamond jewellery sales have been moving in the opposite direction to most other commodities on strong US demand and the reopening of retail outlets in China following covid-triggered lockdowns.