Rapaport calls for a reduction in rough diamond prices

Diamond macle. Photo by James St. John, Flickr.

Rapaport published a report this week stating that the diamond-market sentiment was weak in July due to high rough diamond supply at inflated prices. 

The firm’s RapNet Diamond Index -known as RAPI- for 1-carat polished fell 0.9% during the month and it was already down 4% since the beginning of the year. 

The same index fell 6.1% over the past 12 months.  

Rapaport believes that greater profitability will improve midstream liquidity, and the focus will shift toward boosting consumer spending rather than credit

RAPI is the average asking price in hundred $/carat of the 10% best-priced diamonds, for each of the top 25 quality round diamonds offered for sale on the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network.

According to the firm, the negative numbers reflect an abundance in the supply of rough stones at high prices during 2017 and 2018, even as polished prices were softening.        

“Miners are maintaining high rough prices, while jewelers are holding fewer goods in inventory and taking more on consignment,” the report states. “Over the last decade, manufacturers focused on raising credit rather than profit as miners pushed rough supply, but now the lack of profit has led banks to cut lending.”

The document suggests that rough sales plummeted as sightholders rejected goods at prevailing prices. 

“De Beers’ $250 million July sight was its smallest in over three years. Polished inventory remains inflated, even as manufacturers reduced production an estimated 30%.”

Rapaport also says that polished trading has been quiet, which has led US jewelers to reassess their holiday-season requirements. Far East demand is cautious due to US-China trade tensions and currency devaluation. Meanwhile, political protests have also negatively impacted Hong Kong wholesale and retail sales.

“Dealer trading has also declined, with manufacturers going directly to retailers in a bid for better profits,” the report reads. “The industry needs a vibrant middle market, but dealers are hesitant to buy while prices are falling and polished is in oversupply.”

In Rapaport’s view, to restore profit, the trade needs to reduce the price of rough gems, as well as raise diamond-jewelry demand through marketing. 

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