Diamond market sentiment was upbeat in July despite a seasonal slowdown and high rough prices, Rapaport said in a release. Robust retail sales and supply shortages supported prices for polished, it noted.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds rose 3.1% during the month.
Manufacturing profit margins came under pressure as De Beers and Alrosa raised prices by an estimated average of 5% to 7% at their respective July sales, Rapaport stated. Rough valuations have increased by an estimated 20% in 2021; 1-carat polished has gone up only 11.2%.
Rapaport said that demand for rough remained strong. Clients requested more goods from Alrosa, prompting the miner to buy from Russia’s Gokhran state depository to fill inventory gaps. Shortages were evident as miners depleted inventories and as Covid-19 outbreaks disrupted operations. Global production volume fell 23% to 107.1 million carats in 2020, according to Kimberley Process data. Rapaport expects output to decline a further 4% in 2021.
While rough production is at historic lows, retail sales and polished orders have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Dealers are seeking opportunities and gaining the confidence to buy at higher prices.
The retail recovery in the US and China is driving demand. Signet Jewelers, Chow Tai Fook, and the brands owned by Richemont Group and LVMH recorded strong growth in the first half of the year compared to both 2020 and 2019.