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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

May 21, 2020 11:02 AM   By Rapaport News
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Diamond trading remains at historic lows due to reduced demand and continued lockdown in important US market. Service providers resume operations. GIA opens five global labs. Israel Diamond Exchange to unlock trading floor on May 24. Focus shifting to marketing strategies to stimulate recovery, with emphasis on digital channels. Diamonds as symbol of values and emotional connection to be central theme as consumers emerge from period of isolation. Diamond Producers Association to drop ‘‘Real is Rare’’ campaign in complete brand overhaul on June 1. Baselworld to change name and venue in 2021. De Beers urges manufacturers to keep supply chains open, even at drastically reduced levels, as India postpones rough-import moratorium to June 1.

Fancies: Fancy shapes sluggish amid lockdown of US retail. Weakness across all categories, including top makes and large sizes, as luxury brands temporarily shut stores. Downtrend due to external forces beyond industry’s control and affecting all products. Inventory still low in some categories of Pears and Ovals, but very little demand. High availability of other categories, with Cushions showing similar price declines to rounds. Off-make, poorly cut fancies illiquid and difficult to sell.

United States: Retail cautiously reopening in some states. Sector suffers sharpest monthly decline on record in April, with sales down 16% from previous month, according to National Retail Federation. New York still on lockdown but curbside pickup now allowed. Diamond district remains closed. US March polished imports -66% to $750M, polished exports -44% to $936M.

Belgium: Short week due to Ascension Day public holiday on May 21. Trading floors have reopened following lockdown, but bourses quiet and staff working reduced hours. Most demand is from Hong Kong, with shipments possible following gradual return of customs offices and cargo travel. City of Antwerp announces extra financial help for struggling companies. Richemont — owner of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels — predicts potential three-year recovery, reports FY jewelry sales +2% to $7.8B, operating profit -7% to $2.3B.

Israel: Trading floor to reopen May 24 with altered format to enable social distancing. Businesses operating but trading slow as partners in US and India remain in lockdown. Government agrees to Israel Diamond Exchange plea for financial support for diamond companies. Bourse president Yoram Dvash sets up campaign committee to lobby authorities on trade’s behalf.

India: Diamond sector slowly returning despite extension of nationwide lockdown until May 31. Bharat Diamond Bourse reopens for export activities and Surat manufacturing restarts with limited capacity. Trade groups delay recommended 30-day rough-import freeze until June 1 to help companies complete outstanding shipments. March polished exports -48% to $961M, rough imports -65% to $293 million.

Hong Kong: Most of the city now open for business. Diamond wholesalers receiving goods as shipments from trading centers resume. Hong Kong emerges as most important center post-lockdown with US remaining shut. Retail foot traffic slow, with consumers cautious to gather in public spaces. Tourist shopping drastically reduced as two-week quarantine still required for new arrivals. Emphasis remains on online shopping.
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