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Rapaport Weekly Market Comment

Apr 8, 2021 11:30 AM   By Rapaport News
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Polished trading slower after robust 1Q. Concerns about high Covid-19 infections in Europe and India. Bharat Diamond Bourse sharply restricts activity. Surat manufacturing and exports continue. US jewelers optimistic as consumer confidence grows in March. Vaccine rollout and $1,400 stimulus checks fueling retail spending. Rough market cooling. Cutters anticipate rise in polished inventory as GIA releases backlog. De Beers sells $440M of rough in Mar./Apr. vs. zero last year. Lucara extends exclusive large-stone rough supply deal with HB Antwerp for two years. Signet acquires jewelry rental company Rocksbox. Israel 1Q polished exports +12% to $828M.

Fancies: Market for fancies seeing upturn. Some higher prices as consumers seek alternative shapes at more affordable prices than rounds. Dealers witnessing increased sales of fancy-shape engagement rings. Rise in orders for Ovals, Pears, Emeralds and Radiants above 2 ct. Cushion, Princess and Marquise improving. Buyers showing preference for elongated shapes with the right proportions. Excellent cuts in demand and selling at premiums. Steady orders in China helping the market. Off-make, poorly cut fancies illiquid and difficult to sell.

United States: Demand for loose diamonds slowed in recent weeks. Market choppy; dealers filling orders for specific items. Seasonal slowdown expected during second quarter amid May 17 tax-return deadline. Retail jewelers optimistic with good bridal sales ahead of summer wedding months. Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index jumps to 109.7 in March from February’s 90.4 reading.

Belgium: Sentiment slightly weaker than in previous months. Steady demand for 0.30 to 0.50 ct. SIs. Increasing inventory of 0.30 to 0.50 ct., D-H, IF-VS goods among local suppliers. 1 ct., H-J, IF-VVS selling well. Dealers hoping US and Chinese buyers will turn to Antwerp instead of India during Mumbai lockdown. Rough trading relatively quiet after smaller De Beers and Alrosa sales.

Israel: Businesses return after Passover holiday as country lifts most commerce-related Covid-19 restrictions. Dealers optimistic despite seasonal slowdown. Steady demand for 1 to 2 ct., G-H, VVS-VS goods. Emerald-cut, 1.50 to 3.99 ct. diamonds popular even as prices firm. Suppliers starting to travel again to reconnect in person with buyers after successful vaccination drive.

India: Mumbai lockdown and severe bourse restrictions creating concerns as Covid-19 cases rise. Government limiting staff numbers in offices but allowing polishing factories to operate. China and Hong Kong demand still strong; Europe weaker. Some movement in local retail market. Buyers showing appetite for round, 0.30 to 0.40 ct., J-K, SI goods. Manufacturers refocusing on natural diamonds after drop in lab-grown prices.

Hong Kong: Market quiet due to Easter break and slow season. Engagement ring demand supporting the sector; steady movement in 0.80 to 1 ct., D-G, VS-SI, 3X categories. Chinese jewelry factories restocking amid low inventories. Some confidence that border with mainland will reopen, lifting major barrier to trade. Drop in local coronavirus cases driving optimism. Hong Kong sales of jewelry and other valuable items more than doubled in February after heavy slump a year earlier.    
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