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US Diamond Trade Slumps in First Half

Aug 28, 2019 4:39 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Net imports of diamonds to the US dropped to their lowest value on record during the first half of 2019, as inbound shipments fell at a faster rate than exports.

The country’s net diamond account — a measure of total imports of rough and polished minus total exports — declined 52% to $802 million, a level unmatched in 30 years of data archived by Rapaport News. Polished imports fell 8% to $10.94 billion, even though the volume of carats shipped into the country grew 1%. The average price slid 9% to $2,186 per carat.

In June, polished imports fell 24% to $1.25 billion due to lower volume and average price, according to data published by the Commerce Department.

The following tables are a summary of the trade data for June and the first half:


June 2019 Year-on-year change
     
Polished imports $1,251 -24%
Polished exports $1,866 -20%
Net polished imports -$615 Deficit decreased 12%
Rough imports 43 -31%
Rough exports $33 -23%
Net rough imports $10 -50%
Net diamond account -$605 Deficit decreased 10%
     
Polished imports: volume 631,480 carats -10%
Average price of polished imports $1,981/carat -16%
     

1H 2019 Year-on-year change
     
Polished imports $10,943 -8%
Polished exports $10,156 -1%
Net polished imports $788 -51%
Rough imports $207 -42%
Rough exports $193 -35%
Net rough imports $14 -76%
Net diamond account $802 -52%
     
Polished imports: volume 5 million carats 1%
Average price of polished imports $2,186/carat -9%

All numbers in millions unless stated otherwise.



Source: US Commerce Department data; Rapaport archives

About the data: The US, the world’s largest diamond retail market, is a net importer of polished. As such, net polished imports — representing polished imports minus polished exports — will usually be a positive number. Net rough imports — calculated as rough imports minus rough exports — will also generally be in surplus. The nation has no operational diamond mines but has a manufacturing sector, so normally ships more rough in than out. The net diamond account is total rough and polished imports minus total exports. It is the US’s diamond trade balance, and shows the added value the nation creates by importing — and ultimately consuming — diamonds. 

Image: The diamond district in New York. (Shutterstock)
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