Rapaport Magazine


By Ronen Shnidman
JCK Vegas Sales So-So

Israeli diamantaires reported modest sales and decent foot traffic at the JCK Las Vegas show, but left with low expectations for growth in the U.S. market in the second half of 2015.
   Close to 100 Israeli companies exhibited at JCK this year, with 46 of those companies participating in the Israel Diamond Pavilion organized by the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI). The show, which took place between May 29 and June 1, is traditionally considered to be a strong indicator of overall demand in the U.S. market, Israel’s largest diamond export market. Many Israeli dealers and manufacturers said that they were satisfied by the level of traffic and sales at the show due to their low initial expectations. However, they indicated that this year’s results did not compare well with JCK shows in previous years.

Low Expectations Realized
   “The show was rather mediocre,” said Itzik Iskovich, sales manager for Avi Paz Diamonds. “There was decent traffic, but usually you come to JCK expecting to meet new people.” He said that most of the visitors to his booth this year were existing clients who would have placed orders with his U.S. salespeople anyway. Iskovich said that the overall market for fancy shape diamonds smaller than 1 carat, a specialty niche for Avi Paz Diamonds, has been weak in the U.S. this year.
   Gil Atzmon, a senior employee at S.Juwal & Co., agreed that demand from new buyers was not strong, but added that no one expected a booming show this year. “Whoever came to the show with realistic expectations was not disappointed,” he said.
   To boost sales and traffic at Israeli companies’ booths at the show, the IDI promoted its “Find Your Diamond” software that enabled prospective buyers to search for diamonds held in inventory by any of the Israeli companies exhibiting at JCK. The service, which became operational several weeks before the show, allowed buyers to pre-request diamonds and ensured that the Israeli exhibitors brought the desired diamonds to Las Vegas.
   “We are doing all we can to streamline the trade show experience for buyers and sellers and improve accessibility,” said IDI Chairman Moti Ganz. “Israeli companies supply almost half of all diamonds sold in the U.S. and we are working hard to keep it that way.”
   Exhibitors noted that a sizable number of visitors attended the show on Friday, but the number of visitors dropped off midday Sunday and did not pick up afterward. Iskovich said that most of the booths in the Israel Diamond Pavilion packed up after opening for just a few hours on Monday. He added that the Israel Pavilion was quiet on Saturday as many of the companies closed their booths for the Jewish Sabbath.

Large Stones Weak
   Several Israeli manufacturers noted that demand shifted this year toward smaller, less expensive stones compared with their sales at JCK in 2014.
   “Our sales total this year was lower than 2014 because we did not sell our larger stones,” said Aviad Kashi, co-owner of Kashi Diamonds. “However, we did sell a lot more 2-carat and 3-carat diamonds”
   Similarly, Fabian Holzman, owner of polished diamond dealer Holzman Fabian Diamonds, said that he sold diamonds weighing up to 3 carats, but market demand was weak for stones above that size. He added that buyers were looking for American goods, diamonds that range from G to I, SI to I, at the right price point, but not VVS or triple Ex diamonds.
   Many Israelis acknowledged that U.S. demand has supported the global diamond market in 2015, amid a slowdown in the Asian Pacific and weakness in India. Demand for diamonds larger than 3 carats has been particularly hard hit due to an anticorruption campaign in China, as well as the collapse in oil prices in 2014 and U.S. sanctions on Russia. Exhibitors noted a lack of Asian Pacific buyers in Israel in recent months and at the JCK show, as well.

Quiet Times
   Most of the companies that exhibited in Las Vegas said that they expect sales this year to be lackluster despite registering decent sales at the show. “The U.S. market is stable but relatively quiet,” Iskovich said. “I don’t think anything will change before the end of the year.”
   Moti Goren, chief executive officer (CEO) and owner of Gal Diamonds, Ltd. said the demand from U.S. buyers at the show was very specific and not geared toward restocking inventory. “I am trying to be optimistic about the U.S. market until the end of the year, but it’s been fairly slow,” Goren said. “It’s not dead, but it’s not strong overall.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2015. To subscribe click here.

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