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The Top 10 Stories of 2020

Dec 30, 2020 3:24 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT... A few hot topics usually dominate our annual list of the most-read items on Synthetics, grading and crime tend to be among them.

This year, however, one theme — the coronavirus — stood out, responsible for the vast majority of the top 10. These stories ranged from the closure of trading halls to De Beers’ and Alrosa’s pricing strategies during the pandemic.

Here are the headlines that attracted the most clicks in 2020:

1. Coronavirus Updates: Impact on the Diamond Trade
Rolling story

This piece tracked the ever-changing situation in the industry throughout the year, covering event cancellations, closures of stores and trading floors, and data indicating how the sector was faring.

Fact: The word “lockdown” appeared 23 times, and “social distancing” eight times.

2. Protests Lead to Looting of US Jewelry Stores
June 4

Social unrest in the US after the death of George Floyd prevented some retailers from reopening following Covid-19 lockdowns. In certain cases, it also led to property damage. Jewelers told Rapaport news reporter Leah Meirovich their experiences of theft and destruction.

Quote: “It was like a war zone.” — Mark Clodius, owner of Clodius & Co. Jewelers in Rockford, Illinois.

3. Israel Diamond Industry ‘on Verge of Collapse’
July 9

The pandemic almost froze the diamond industry, putting countless businesses at risk. Yoram Dvash, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), outlined these dangers in an alarming letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Quote: “There’s a real danger to the future of one of Israel’s oldest and most central export industries.” — Yoram Dvash.

4. Belgium, Israel Shut Diamond Trading Halls
March 15

At this point, it became clear the sector was in for a serious crisis. With lockdowns going into effect across the world, all four Antwerp bourses closed their trading floors, as did the IDE.

Israel’s polished-diamond exports slumped 73% in February as Chinese demand weakened.

5. Buyers Snub De Beers and Alrosa over High Prices
June 29

Miners’ strategies split into two types as the outbreak raged. De Beers and Alrosa reduced supply to avoid cutting prices, while smaller producers in need of revenue offered discounts of up to 25%. The two giants of the industry took a hit, recording dismal rough sales throughout the second quarter.

Quote: “Factories have no reason to open, so why would we buy rough?” — anonymous sightholder.

6. Podcast: How the Pandemic Is Changing De Beers
April 27

This episode of the Rapaport Diamond Podcast looked at how De Beers was dealing with the downturn, through the eyes of executives Stephen Lussier and David Prager. The pandemic has forced the industry to rethink how it markets diamonds, they explained.

Quote: “At this particular moment, you ought to talk about the social good you’re doing as it relates directly to Covid — or, probably, you shouldn’t talk much at all.” — Stephen Lussier.

7. De Beers Cuts Prices at August Sight
August 20

After refusing to budge on prices, De Beers finally made adjustments in August. The price drop was an attempt to spur demand amid a gradual recovery in the industry and shortages in certain polished categories.

Fact: The reductions of 6% to 8% applied to rough larger than 1 carat, sightholders said.

8. Don’t Ban Rough Buying, De Beers Urges
May 3

Indian trade groups, including the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), recommended companies avoid shipping rough diamonds into the country for a one-month period. De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver took issue with this, arguing that no one should be telling anyone else to stop buying.

Quote: “We will only sell [rough] when the demand is such that it can create sustainable value for all of us.” — Bruce Cleaver.

9. De Beers Launches Online Rough-Sales Platform
May 10

De Beers’ new Buy platform allows clients to purchase the rough they need at any time of the day. The launch of this e-commerce offering came amid the near-shutdown of physical trading, as well as growing demand for remote sales methods.

Fact: The site was an initiative of De Beers’ auctions business, which sells about 10% of the miner’s production.

10. HB Antwerp Aims to Shake Up Large-Stone Market
September 17

This interview with Oded Mansori, CEO and managing partner of HB Antwerp, revealed how, in barely a year, the new company had grown to become possibly Belgium’s largest diamond manufacturer. The executive also explained why he believed the big-stone market needed a major revamp.

Quote: “The old way of buying quantity, processing it and then looking for a client forces you to sit on stock and forces you to freeze money. That forces you to reduce prices in order to get rid of items that you don’t know how to sell. That forces your competitors to sell their goods at a lower price.” — Oded Mansori.

Image: Rough diamonds on display at De Beers’ offices in Calgary, Canada. (Ben Perry/Armoury Films/De Beers)
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Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19, diamonds, Jewelry, Joshua Freedman
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