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A 2015 Year in Review

Dec 24, 2015 9:27 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Rapaport’s widely read Rapaport Weekly Market Comment is a carefully considered statement reflecting the Rapaport Group’s view on the market and important trends influencing the diamond trade during the previous week. The following is an executive summary of the key developments that impacted the diamond market during each month of 2015, as reported in the Rapaport Weekly Market Comment:


• U.S. retailers report higher than anticipated inventory as Christmas sales disappoint.
• Electronics better than diamonds as mining companies failed to invest profits in generic advertising.
• U.S. consumer confidence improves with overall holiday retail sales +5.5%, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.
• Far East markets cautious ahead of Lunar New Year as China’s 2014 GDP growth slows to 7.4%.
• Markets look to the U.S. for support.
• Polished market improves with steady U.S. demand for I1-I2 clarity diamonds but buyers push for lower prices.
• Liquidity and rough price concerns continue into 2015.
• Better to trade polished than manufacture rough.
• Indian diamond manufacturing below capacity while polished inventory levels remain high.
• Rough prices under pressure.
• De Beers relaxes deferment policy and reduces prices estimated 4%.
• Sightholders defer 20% to 25% of rough at $486M sight.
• RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1ct. diamonds -0.4% in January.


• Diamond markets cautious as trading stalls amid concern that market has not bottomed out.
• Russians, Arabs and Chinese not buying as ruble and oil prices collapse and Chinese anti-corruption activity takes hold.
• Significant reduction in transaction volume due to very low levels of consumer demand.
• Dealers can’t buy if they can’t sell.
• Chinese New Year looking sheepish as luxury demand slows.
• Liquidity is tight but prices holding steady as sellers await outcome of Hong Kong show and possibility that shortages will stabilize the market.
• Oversupply of diamonds throughout the distribution chain as India cuts production by about 30%.
• Botswana factories cutting back due to unprofitable rough.
• GIA backlog eases as diamond cutters reduce rough purchases and production.
• Rough trading improves at Antwerp rough fair as De Beers reduces prices estimated 2% at $586M sight.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds +1% in February.


• Polished trading stalls as Hong Kong show sales disappoint.
• Chinese middle class growing with continued demand for under-the-carat lab-graded stones, but excess inventory is limiting sales.
• Govt. anti-corruption campaign against conspicuous consumption sharply reducing demand for large expensive stones.
• Basel shows slow.
• Weak demand severely restricting trading volume at current price levels.
• Buyers have become more selective as the market slows creating opportunities for suppliers with the best goods.
• Sharp decline in manufacturing expected to create shortages which will help future demand.
• Antwerp concerned as bank financing dries up.
• De Beers $536M March sight destabilizing the market as it severely reduces liquidity and increases supply, while polished demand slumps due to weak currencies, Chinese crackdown and lower oil prices.
• Sightholders refused about 30% of rough diamonds offered for sale.
• Too many diamonds chasing too few buyers.
• Trade is advised to buy polished instead of rough and stop adding fuel to the fire.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -2.5% in March.


• Rough buyer price resistance is rational and healthy for the market as it protects cutter liquidity and profitability while reducing oversupply of diamonds during period of relatively weak polished demand.
• Miners keeping rough prices high but selling less goods.
• Mining companies are encouraged to lower rough prices to levels that ensure reasonable manufacturer profitability and a sustainable diamond trade.
• ALROSA rough prices rise 2% to 3% at April sale, but reportedly allows deferrals up to 40%.
• Miners increasing rough production despite weak 1Q sales.
• Diamond market sentiment improving slightly as prices stabilize, but cutters still losing money on overpriced rough.
• Shortages developing with very low trading volume and reduced manufacturing activity as Indian market heads for vacation.
• Good U.S. demand for commercial-quality diamonds.
• Lower gold prices raise expectations for good jewelry sales during China’s May Day holiday.
• Rough markets quiet as sightholders expect reduced prices at next De Beers sight.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds +0.4% in April.


• Diamond market sentiment improving slightly with prices stabilizing as steady U.S. demand raises expectations for Las Vegas shows.
• U.S. demand good but not great as jewelers experience mixed 1Q
• Far East demand soft despite improved China jewelry sales during May Day holiday.
• Polished prices stabilizing with shortages of good quality 3X diamonds.
• Shortages developing but rough prices have not come down sufficiently to enable profits.
• Cutters still losing money on overpriced rough.
• Stable prices for select categories with shortages supporting the market.
• Poor makes are still in over-supply.
• Rough demand stable after $506M De Beers sight even though cutting center profit remains problematic.
• GIA recalls 424 grading reports for diamonds treated to temporarily improve their color by up to three grades.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds +0.3% in May.


• JCK Vegas show meets low expectations and creates healthy positive mood even though sales were slow for many suppliers.
• U.S. market is stable and consistent but post Vegas show demand not as strong as previous years as vacation period approaches.
• Diamond trading activity slow with polished prices coming under pressure due to continued sluggish demand.
• Some improvement in caraters with good U.S. demand.
• Better-quality 30s-40s weak as Chinese demand remains soft amid concerns that some Chinese firms are not making payments.
• Big stone supply and prices tight, demand spotty, sales weak.
• Slow polished sales resulting in significant excess inventory positions.
• Bargain hunters making low offers for popular VS-SI larger goods but suppliers holding back due to shortages and high replacement costs.
• Selective buyers filling orders forced to pay good prices, flexible inventory buyers getting very good deals.
• Indian liquidity tight and getting tighter with reports of approximately $100M Godhani Gems insolvency and additional smaller financial failures.
• De Beers, ALROSA expected to maintain low volume, steady prices.
• De Beers raises some prices and improves assortments at $586M sight.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -0.9% in June.


• Polished prices low, inventory high with steady demand for U.S. goods that will be in tight supply as new production plummets.
• Hong Kong June show very slow reflecting poor Far East luxury demand.
• Far East luxury market declining as Chinese stocks drop 6% and trim wealth.
• Chinese buyers are delaying payments to polished suppliers.
• Sizes below 1ct. under severe pressure.
• Shortages holding up prices for large stones but some very good deals available.
• Liquidity is tight and manufacturers continue to lose money and reduce activity.
• More Indian companies file for bankruptcy with estimated $200M outstanding debt.
• Indian cutters reject rough import ban.
• De Beers July sight much lower than expected at $200M with some 65% of goods rejected.
• De Beers allows sightholders to defer 75% of their August purchases.
• Rough prices unsustainable and likely to fall significantly.
• Sightholders buying polished at reduced prices rather than expensive rough.
• Low expectations for upcoming India and Hong Kong shows as Chinese stock market bubble bursts.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -2.5% in July.


• U.S. stable, rest of world very, very slow (VVS).
• Large attendance at Mumbai IIJS show good for gold, not good for diamonds.
• India has potential to become the new China with over 420M people under the age of 18.
• Indian diamond cutters should reduce reliance on overseas buyers and develop Indian consumer market for sustainable diamond sales, prices and profits.
• Indian domestic market cautious as the rupee falls below 65/$1.
• Chinese consumer diamond demand plunges as Shanghai stock market drops 8%.
• NY market waking up as cash buyers seek good deals and picky buyers forced to pay full market prices.
• Polished trading cautious as financial markets tumble and dealers in Belgium and Israel go on vacation.
• Rough markets under extreme pressure as De Beers, ALROSA allow clients to reduce and refuse purchases.
• De Beers restarts generic marketing spend to restore U.S., China holiday sales growth, drops prices 8-10% at $250M sight.
• Cutters hope cheaper rough will enable profitable 4Q season but trading is still restrained.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -0.9% in August.


• Hong Kong show OK but Chinese demand slow before October 1 Golden Week.
• Chinese wedding demand stable but luxury purchases have been put on hold due to weak economy and stock markets.
• Indian dealer market illiquid with no one buying for inventory.
• Great opportunity for buyers as manufacturers and dealers looking for liquidity.
• Polished buyers selective and making low offers.
• Some action in Israel during Diamond Week but ~$15M insolvencies creating concern.
• Dubai reports ~$136M retailer insolvency with similar failure expected in China.
• Fair to good NY demand for large stones but stock market plunge reducing U.S. consumer confidence.
• Dealer and retailer demand is price sensitive with strong focus on SI-I1 goods for the U.S. market and top grade 3X cut quality.
• Certs slow with better demand for lower quality parcels.
• Manufacturers maintaining reduced (-30%-50%) polished production through Nov. Diwali season.
• ALROSA cuts rough prices 8%-10%, allows 50% deferrals.
• Botswana budget pressured by falling rough sales.
• Rough prices still too high with no profits for cutters.
• Rapaport estimates reasonable profitability would require an additional 20% rough price drop.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -3% in September.


• Hong Kong’s Golden Week weak as mainland Chinese tourists stay home.
• China cautious despite better-than-expected 6.9% 3Q GDP growth.
• Rising expectations for U.S. holiday sales amid launch of Signet-De Beers “Ever Us” two-stone marketing campaign.
• Trading activity improving as aggressive dealers try to buy select goods at deep discounts.
• NY-Israel DDC show successful with motivated sellers giving good prices to buyers filling specific orders.
• U.S. and Israeli dealers “cherry-picking” Indian goods before Mumbai shuts for Diwali.
• Commercial goods better than high end with 0.50-0.75-ct., H-I moving better than 1ct., D-F, VVS goods.
• Reduced Indian production before Diwali holiday creating some shortages.
• Slight price reductions at De Beers $200M sight offset by changes in size assortments as cutters reject about 50% of allocations.
• Current rough prices unsustainable and unacceptable.
• Rough under continued pressure with reports of De Beers discounting.
• Sight system falling apart as 100% deferrals allowed for Nov.
• GIA invalidates 1,042 grading reports after computer hackers penetrate system and alter data, RapNet suspends 10 members that GIA says were involved.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds -1.3% in October.


• Diamond trading improving but very cautious as India closes for Diwali.
• Shortages developing before important U.S. holiday season which is reducing sales. High price to pay for high [rough] prices.
• Shortages of the finest select goods helping to stabilize the market with improvement in U.S. memo demand as holiday season approaches.
• Some signs of [polished price] stabilization as manufacturing activity plummets and factories close for Diwali.
• Rough trading freezes as sightholders defer most goods at unprecedented $70M De Beers sight with factories closing for extended Diwali break.
• Rapaport calls for resignation of De Beers CEO and 30-50% rough price cut to inject liquidity and profits into diamond trade.
• De Beers stops buying and paying Botswana for rough, 2H15 De Beers rough sales expected to plummet at least 60%, possibly 70% Y/Y.
• Retailers discounting with Amazon offering 70% on fashion jewelry and Macy’s 30% on engagement rings for Black Friday.
• Chinese single’s day (11/11) online sales lift Far East sentiment (1derful).
• U.S. retail okay as holiday season starts.
• Dealers hope for last-minute orders but concerned as jewelers inventories are high.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds +0.7% in November.


• Black Friday sales (-10%) signal shifting consumer behavior.
• Millennials buying more on mobile as comScore reports online Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday sales +24% to $5.3B.
• Polished trading improving with holiday demand as shortages support prices for RapSpec A2+ (3X, none) diamonds.
• 0.30-0.40ct. improving with significant reductions in supply.
• Shortages supporting polished prices but reducing sales during important holiday season as dealers fill last-minute orders.
• Chinese New Year demand improving but very cautious.
• Rough prices remain high at De Beers estimated $180M sight and small ALROSA sale.
• Rough demand strong at tenders but very weak for De Beers overpriced rough.
• De Beers, ALROSA say rough prices down 15% in 2015.
• Rough prices higher than resultant polished, significantly restricting rough trading and diamond production.
• Sightholders expect rough price cuts in 2016.
• RAPI for 1ct. diamonds +1.4% (December 1-24).
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Tags: Alrosa, Cartier, De Beers, diamond, diamonds, jewellery, Jewelry, Rapaport News, Signet, Tiffany
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