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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

Mar 19, 2020 10:58 AM   By Rapaport News
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Diamond markets under pressure as coronavirus pandemic spreads economic crisis and reduces demand. Declining stock and commodity markets rattle consumer confidence. US retail shutting down as Tiffany & Co., Macy’s, Saks, J.C. Penney close stores, signaling dramatic shift to digital stay-at-home economy. Polished trading stalled due to travel restrictions and fear of falling prices. JCK Las Vegas shows postponed. Rough prices fall estimated 10% to 25% at March auctions. Diamond industry must adapt to new reality and find ways to keep B2B market alive in these difficult times. We must embrace our digital future and recognize that diamonds are a unique store of value.

Fancies: Fancy shapes sluggish as coronavirus hits US, the strongest market for commercial-quality, medium-priced fancies. 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 levels 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: COVID-19 shuts down New York market. Diamond Dealers Club closed. Many dealers operating with limited teams and reduced hours. Cancellation of trade shows signals weak outlook for the coming months. Dealers hoping for steady orders when crisis ends. Retail slow as major jewelers temporarily shut stores.

Belgium: Trading halls closed to avoid spread of coronavirus. Government recommends working from home, but scheduled tenders still taking place. European retail at a standstill as countries tighten restrictions on movement. Business moving online. AWDC co-hosting virtual trade fair with Israel Diamond Institute (March 30 to April 3).

Israel: Exchange trading floor closed. Limited attendance at bourse complex after government tells non-essential workers to stay home. Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) discounting membership fees for two months as business grinds to a halt. Dealers not making sales; crisis now affecting suppliers to the US and Europe along with those operating in the Far East.

India: Demand low and polished suppliers under pressure as overseas retailers and trading centers cease operations. Government taking precautions against COVID-19 as cases rise. Some companies working reduced hours or with fewer staff members. Surat industry decides against shutdown in effort to avoid further damage to the sector. Liquidity tight as businesses prepare accounts ahead of March 31 financial year-end.

Hong Kong: Sentiment weak due to global slowdown and second wave of local virus cases. Domestic demand sluggish after pandemic and year of protests leave economy crippled. Retailers focused on clearing inventory rather than buying. Tourist spending down, with arrivals from mainland China -54% to 2.5 million in January.
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