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Healthy Demand at First Liqhobong Sale

Feb 13, 2017 10:55 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Firestone Diamonds reported strong demand for higher-quality diamonds at its debut sale of rough from the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho. However, weaker market conditions dented prices for smaller stones.

The sale held in Antwerp from February 6 to 10 fetched $8.1 million from 75,936 carats, or $107 per carat, the miner said.

“Prices were strong in better-quality diamonds, with prices for the smaller stones being reflective of the current weaker market conditions, but we sold all of the stones offered for sale,” said Stuart Brown, Firestone’s chief executive officer.

Demand for smaller diamonds has suffered since the Indian government’s decision to invalidate INR 500 and INR 1,000 currency notes in November, sapping liquidity mainly from smaller and medium-sized companies which carried out much of their business in cash. There are, however, indications the impact of the cash crunch has alleviated in the first quarter, with Russian miner ALROSA reporting resurgent Indian demand in January. Traders at last week's Signature India International Jewellery Show in Mumbai said business was gradually returning to normal.

Production at the Liqhobong mine began in October. Last week’s inaugural sale was led by a 37-carat, type-IIa, internally flawless white diamond that was bought for more than $1 million, the company said. The stone was the largest discovered at the mine to date. Demand was also especially strong for yellow and fancy-yellow diamonds, the company pointed out.

Firestone, which owns 75 percent of the mine, plans to hold one more sale of rough diamonds by the end of March and then continue with a pattern of two sales every quarter.
Tags: Alrosa, Antwerp, Firestone Diamonds, Lesotho, Liqhobong, Rapaport News, stuart brown
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