More than 500 members of the international diamond sector participated in a highly charged forum, called the Antwerp Diamond Symposium, which discussed the impact of the global financial meltdown upon the diamond business. The dominant message was that the current downturn was related to the wider financial crisis and not related to the fundamentals of the diamond market, which are sound.
The major producers announced that they will reducing rough supplies over the short term, and declared their support for an all-industry body to generically produce diamonds to producers.
Freddy J. Hanard, CEO of the AWDC, noted, “This by no means is the first crisis in the diamond industry, and yet we have always endured and succeeded. This knowledge should at least provide us all here with a great degree of confidence.”
Seminar moderator Chaim Even-Zohar estimated that retail demand for diamonds at retail will fall about 10% over the coming year.
“Let us keep things in perspective” Even-Zohar said, “under current circumstances a 10% fall in demand at retail is not the end of the world.”
Gareth Penny, Managing Director of the De Beers Group, noted that while polished diamond prices are correcting, they have not collapsed. “The attractiveness of the product we deal in has never been higher,” Penny said. “Diamond reserves are at an all time low, and there has not been the discovery of a major diamond mine for years. We should not forget that we are not in the commodity business. We deal in an irreplaceable treasure that is getting rarer all the time.”
Sergey Vybornov, Alrosa president, which is Russia’s leading diamond producer, said that his company, too, is cutting production in response to recent marketing conditions.
He said news can be expected in December about the establishment of the “Diamond Guild,” which will manage the industry marketing effort to promote diamonds.