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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

May 27, 2020 11:02 AM   By Rapaport News
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Diamond industry reopening and adjusting to new normal as consumers emerge from lockdown. US retail jewelers resuming operations in most states, with emphasis on in-store hygiene, virtual consultations and curbside service. New York trade remains shut. China strengthens security law in Hong Kong, fueling concern about renewed pro-democracy protests and trade war. Polished and rough trading limited to online formats. Alrosa reduces 2020 production plan from 34M to 28M/31M cts. Dominion agrees to sale of assets back to owner Washington Companies for $126M. Martin Rapaport’s annual “State of the Diamond Industry” presentation will take place online on Thursday, June 4, 12 p.m. EDT. Register here. The next Rapaport Price List will be published on Monday, June 1.

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:
More retailers operating again. Tiffany & Co., Kay Jewelers, Jared, and Helzberg Diamonds are among majors that have opened doors in many states. Foot traffic light despite some bargain shopping over Memorial Day weekend. Longer recovery expected for malls. New York Diamond Dealer Club remains shut, and trading on 47th Street is significantly reduced.

Bourses quiet even though businesses and trading floors have resumed operations. Dealers concerned about 3Q prospects amid low demand from US and China. Orders from luxury watch industry also slow. Swiss watch exports down 81% year on year at CHF 329 million ($339 million) in April. Rough market at near standstill.

Israel: Traffic picking up in Israel Diamond Exchange after trading floor opened under new format to meet guidelines for public gatherings. Short week due to Shavuot holiday. Focus on Hong Kong clients, as US dealers remain mostly in lockdown.

India: Industry operating at reduced capacity as government relaxes lockdown restrictions. Offices in Bharat Diamond Bourse allowed to bring in 10% of workforce to fulfill export orders. Surat manufacturers permitted to reopen factories but limited to 50% of personnel on cutting and polishing lines and 33% in offices. Planned voluntary 30-day moratorium on rough imports to begin Monday, June 1.

Hong Kong: Tensions rising as China proposes new laws to strengthen security. Retailers appealing for rent protection after demonstrations and coronavirus forced closures for long periods over the past year. Consumers remain cautious even with most businesses now open again. Some buildup of polished inventory as shipments arrive from India and Europe.
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