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Coronavirus Updates: Impact on the Diamond Trade

Timeline of COVID-19-related news affecting the industry

Mar 26, 2020 12:51 PM   By Rapaport News
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The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe has had a notable impact on the diamond industry, with new developments unfolding every day. Here, we present a one-stop, running news feed on industry events impacted by the virus.

March 26

• India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) contributes INR 500 million ($6.7 million) to help industry workers affected by COVID-19.

• Jewelers of America (JA), the Jewelers Vigilence Committee (JVC) and the Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) join 90 other retail groups in appeal to White House to help small retailers obtain financial aid during the pandemic

• GIA closes labs in Carlsbad, New York, Antwerp, Johannesburg, Mumbai and Surat, and suspends operations at various gemological schools.

• De Beers allows sightholders to defer taking all rough supply at sight scheduled for March 30 to April 3.

• Gem Diamonds places Letšeng mine on temporary care and maintenance.

March 25

• Petra Diamonds suspends its South Africa operations, including the Finsch, Cullinan and Koffiefontein mines, as South Africa enforces a 21-day lockdown from March 26.

• Firestone Diamonds and Lucapa Diamond Company place Lesotho operations on hold as they rely on supplies from South Africa.

• India’s government raises minimum value of a default that could trigger bankruptcy proceedings for small- and medium-sizes businesses to INR 10 million ($131,160) from INR 100,000 ($1,310). Implements other concessions.

• Christie’s reschedules April New York Magnificent Jewels auction on June 11, and Geneva sale, slated for May, for July 1.

March 24

• India announces 21-day lockdown.

• The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) launches dedicated website to provide the jewelry community access to helpful legal resources and breaking news to ensure the survival of their businesses and stay healthy and safe during the pandemic. (see http://jvclegal.org/covid19).

• The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) introduces e-learning platform through which retailers can educate staff while stores are closed and employees are at home. (Gain access here).

• The Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN) launches online digital platform where its WJN Essentials members can connect, communicate, engage and network. (See www.womensjewellerynetwork.com).

• Stuller closes its Louisiana headquarters and suspended all on-site operations.

• Birks Group shuts all stores in Canada until at least April 1.

• Watches of Switzerland closes all locations for its brands in both the US and the UK.

• Michael Hill announces it will shut its stores in Australia and New Zealand for an indefinite period; defers dividend payment.

• The Surat diamond manufacturing industry shuts down until March 31 in line with lockdown enforced by Gujarat state government. The Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai also closes following similar measures in Maharashtra state.

• Signet Jewelers says it will not issue a forecast for the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year in its earnings release scheduled for March 26, as it weighs the effects of the pandemic on its retail operations.

• Macy’s withdraws its guidance for 2020, without providing an updated outlook; suspends its quarterly dividend payout beginning in the second quarter.

March 23

• Michael Hill will temporarily close all its Canadian stores, while locations in Australia and New Zealand currently remain open. The jewelry retailer said it will not provide revenue guidance for the fiscal year ending June 30, as it has not fully assessed the impact of the virus on its sales.

• Organizer of Hong Kong show, scheduled for May, suspends preparations as visitors to the city must go into quarantine for 14 days.

• The London Diamond Bourse (LDB) will close from March 25 as the coronavirus spreads in the UK.


March 22

• Signet Jewelers announces all its stores will remain closed across its North America banners, including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, James Allen, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda. 

• Luxury group Kering sees demand starting to recover in China; expects revenue to decline 13% to 14% in the first quarter.

• Dominion Diamond Mines suspends operations at Ekati mine.

• Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) announces it will close its lab and offices effective March 23; all non-gemological work to continue.

March 20

• Rapaport Group reduces prices on Rapaport Price List; issues statement to the market (read here).

March 19

• New York Diamond Dealers Club (DDC) closes due to virus spread in the US.

• Luk Fook issues profit warning after stores shut in Hong Kong and China in January and February.

• Most stores in mainland China reopened in March, but customer traffic sparse.

• Gem Diamonds reports prices for commercial-quality rough down 18% at its March tender due to impact of coronavirus.

• Alrosa, Petra Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corp., De Beers continue mining operations, with special procedures in place in event of virus outbreak.

• Indian banks give diamond exporters extra month to repay loans taken to fund overseas shipments.

• Bharat Diamond Bourse asks members to reduce staff by 50%.

• Surat Diamond Association decides to keep polishing industry open while implementing health precautions.

• Jewelers of America (JA) initiates webinar series on business challenges related to COVID-19 (https://www.jewelers.org/ja/events-news/webinars).

• China reports zero new infections for the first time. (The New York Times)

March 18

• American Gem Society (AGS) cancels conclave scheduled for April 27 to 29 in Denver, Colorado. Exploring options for virtual mini-conference later in the year.

• Tiffany & Co., Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney close US stores.

• Pandora shuts stores in North America and Europe; urges franchisees and partners to do the same.

• De Beers says sight due to begin on March 31 will take place, despite travel ban to Botswana.

• Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) co-host online diamond fair.

• JCK postpones Las Vegas shows; no new date set.

March 17

• Kimberley Process (KP) says June Intersessional Meeting, scheduled for June 8 to 12 in Moscow, will now take place online.

• Pandora rescinds previous guidance; says same-store sales in China down 70% to 80% since late January.

• Israel Diamond Exchange announces 50% discount on membership fees and 33% cut in maintenance fees for March and April.

• Sotheby’s postpones Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Sale from April 5 to July 5; New York Magnificent Jewels auction now scheduled on June 9.

March 16

• Mountain Province delays reporting annual results as auditors unable to complete work on time due to coronavirus.

• National Retail Federation (NRF) cautions that supply chains are being disrupted, and imports may be delayed in March and April.

• Oscar Heyman closes New York offices and workshop.

March 15

• Alrosa allows clients to defer up to 60% of their rough allocations at its March contract sales.

• Antwerp closes all four diamond-trading floors.

• Israel Diamond Exchange closes its trading floors.

March 12

• Israel’s diamond regulator grants temporary concession, allowing 90 days for inspecting goods from certain countries affected by the coronavirus.

March 11

• Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) postpones its expo that was due to take place in New York from March 15 to 17.

• JA New York show set for the same dates also canceled but expects to hold its summer show in August.

• Chow Tai Fook reports sales dropped 60% in Hong Kong and Macau and 42% in mainland China in January-February. Says 70% of its stores in China and 64% in Hong Kong and Macau have reopened.

• World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 a pandemic.

March 5

• Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cancels its March career fair in New York; plans to find new date for the event.

March 4

• De Beers reports sales fell 28% year on year to $355 million in February after allowing sightholders to delay buying goods destined for China.

March 1

• Polished prices slide amid coronavirus fears, with RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds down 1.6% in February; 0.30-carat RAPI declines 2.1%.

• Baselworld cancels fair scheduled for April 30 to May 5, reschedules for January 28 to February 2.

February 29

• US records first coronavirus death and announces highest travel warning for areas in Italy, South Korea and Iran. (The New York Times)

February 27

• Watches & Wonders Geneva show, which was due to take place from April 25 to 29, is canceled.

February 26

• De Beers announces provisions to let sightholders defer Chinese goods at upcoming February sight as coronavirus raises concerns about rise in polished inventory in the midstream.

February 23

• Italy sees surge in coronavirus cases. (The New York Times)

February 17

• NRF warns the coronavirus could reach the US and affect growth in February.

February 12

• India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) asks banks and government to allow diamond and jewelry suppliers to China and Hong Kong more time to pay back loans connected with overseas shipments.

• Chow Tai Fook says it suspended operations at more than 40 locations in Hong Kong and Macau due to the rise of the coronavirus epidemic.

February 11

• WHO proposes official name for disease the coronavirus causes: COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). (The New York Times)

February 4

• Hong Kong shows, scheduled to begin on March 2, postponed and rescheduled for May 18 to 21.

February 2

• First coronavirus death reported outside China. (The New York Times)

January 31

• Trump administration restricts travel from China. (The New York Times)

January 30

• WHO declares global health emergency. (The New York Times)

January 23

• Wuhan is cut off by Chinese authorities. (The New York Times)

January 20

• First confirmed cases outside of China, reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. US citizen returns to Washington state from Wuhan with symptoms. (The New York Times)

January 11

• China reports first death from an illness caused by the virus. (The New York Times)

December 31

• Authorities in China confirm they’re treating dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, mainly in city of Wuhan. Days later, researchers identify new virus and officials were monitoring its spread. (The New York Times)
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Tags: Alrosa, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De Beers, diamonds, Jewelry, Rapaport, Rapaport News, Signet Jewelers, Tiffany & CO.
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