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November 2006

Diamond prices right now are falling … at least for the most part.

Generally speaking, stones under a half carat are down a couple of percentage points. So are stones of one carat and below. Between one and two carats, prices are not that soft but there is, let’s just say, an ample supply. Big stones prices are still strong and in many places rising rapidly.

Yet all in all, the prices on our diamond quotes have gone down about four percent, although it varies a lot by quality. Certainly, cut grade is becoming a major factor in diamond prices.

Why is this happening? We can’t blame the economy. Gas prices are down. It’s just unfortunate that for now the middle class seems more likely to spend their money on electronics, whose prices are falling, than diamonds. (Although, we should note, that electronics can break. Diamonds are forever.)

In the United States, there is a trend of consumers drifting towards lesser clarity grades, while still insisting on good color and good cut. The other day someone asked us for an SI3 with an Ideal Cut. What an Ideal Cut would do for an SI3 stone, we are not sure. If we can make a crude analogy, it’s like putting a nice dress on an ugly girl.

What Will De Beers Do?

With all this price softness, it should come as no surprise that there are rumors that that De Beers will stockpile goods in the second half of the year.

However, De Beers managing director said recently that it is not the company’s policy to stock diamonds.

Penny said they “are not holding back diamonds in the fourth quarter, and will sell all diamonds our clients wish to purchase. However, we are experiencing difficult trading conditions as reported at our half-year results.”

Apparently, to be holding back inventory would be too similar to what De Beers did in its cartel days. Still, if a sightholder doesn’t want to buy something, they now have the right to refuse their DTC sights. Penny did say that the company does not expect its second half results to equal those from last year.

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