This is a new era for diamonds, we are told. Yet, what’s striking is how responsible De Beers, Argyle and dealers are acting. Together, they’ve maintained prices in the face of what some call a worldwide recession — particularly in the major markets of the U.S. and Japan.
De Beers and Argyle are limiting supplies; the recent sights have been small. Rough is still in demand — perhaps more so than polished. There are still some diamonds that are hard to get — particularly the middle sizes (around 1.7, 1.8 carats, D-H). For the most part, dealers are not panicking, although we are starting to hear about a few who are in financial hot water.
The good news is that, unlike OPEC, or the stock market, which are easily swayed by the mood of the general public, the diamond trade has shown resilience in the face of a very downbeat situation. If De Beers signs a new contract with Russia, as expected (see article on page six), that should go even further in stabilizing the trade.
Even so, no one doubts the trade has troubles. According to Antwerp’s HRD, the diamond sector is still recovering from the aftershocks of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Diamond exports from Antwerp have fallen 18 percent. The American market has been hardest hit, with imports dropping 38 percent.
If there was a downward trend, it was due to certain cutters and importers who are selling at softer prices because they are strapped for cash. But most of the trade, while hardly in a buying mood, is still reluctant to take losses.
As for jewelers, they are still unwilling to buy for stock, despite the upcoming holiday, because they feel they can get last-minute supplies delivered to them overnight. Hopefully, that time will come.