Rough Diamonds Getting Stronger: Shortage of Supply: Polished Exports Upbeat: DTC Prices Harden: Polished Imports Gather Momentum

Rough diamonds are quite strong at present and might get even stronger in the coming months looking to the current tight supply position and continuing good demand even at higher prices.
Main Trends
Main Trends

DTC Prices Up :

According to Indian trade sources, the April Sight was of the order of about US$ 475 million, without any additional or special goods. Besides, the prices were raised on an average of 5-7 per cent, but in some cases the increases were even more. Despite this hike in prices, premiums continued to prevail over box-prices in the open market, indicating the underlying strength of the market for rough gemstones. Soon after the Sight, the rates of premium in certain cases were as high as 12-15 per cent. After some demand was met at such high rates, the premium softened to 5-7 per cent. And there were buyers at such elevated rates!

Shortage of Rough :

The reasons for the persistent strength of the market for rough are not far to seek. Last year, in view of recession, major producers of rough gemstones, barring Alrosa, had drastically curtailed production even by closing down some of their mines. Alrosa, while maintaining its production, continued to divert the supply for several months to the state owned stockpile instead of the market. Overall production of rough gemstones is likely to remain significantly below the pre-crisis levels.

Improved Polished Diamonds Shipments:%5 Though now recession is technically over, global economic recovery remains slow. As a result the consumer demand for polished diamonds is yet to come up to the earlier levels. There is, however, perceptible improvement in the stockists’ demand for goods. This can be seen from the fact that declining trend in shipments of polished gemstones that was seen particularly in the last quarter of 2009, was reversed from January 2010, resulting in overall improvement in shipments of polished diamonds in the first quarter (January-March) of 2010.

Re-stocking Commences:

Some observers are of the view that this improvement might be due not so much to any significant improvement in consumer demand in major markets, but the stockists might have started replenishment to some extent to their inventories.

Manufacturing Activity Up:

Likewise, manufacturing units are seen trying to step up their production to meet the current improved demand and to be ready to meet the possible increase in seasonal demand. In view of better demand, prices of polished stones continue to move up albeit at slower pace than the rough. According to some trade estimates, prices of certain categories of polished stones might have improved by 10-12 per cent in the first four months of 2010. The increase in rough prices was much more.

Improved Demand from US, Far & Middle East :

The demand from the US market was better than in the past. More enquiries were coming from markets in the Far East and Middle East. Trade circles are of the view that the US market, which is the largest consumer of jewellery in the world might improve further in the coming months as the pre-Christmas buying season draws nearer.

Summer Exodus of Workers :

Currently the manufacturing activity might be around 65-70 per cent, as many workers prefer to go to their villages with their children whose schools are for summer vacation. Once they start returning, the manufacturing activity is expected to improve. It might be interesting to note that the index of consumer confidence in the US improved to 57.9 in April 2010 from 52.3 in the earlier year. However, considerable uncertainties prevail in the European markets at present in the wake of the Greek crisis. Though, the European Union and International Monetary Fund have announced nearly US $1 trillion deal to pull Greece out of its present debacle, it is difficult to predict how long it will take for the situation to settle down in Greece in particular and in Europe in general. The Euro has been depreciating due to this crisis.

Sightholders’ Contracts Extended:

Meanwhile, the Diamond Trading Company has extended by one year the present three-year contracts for the supply of rough diamonds to their Sightholders. Fresh contracts will now come into operation only next year, after a fresh selection of Sightholders is made.

Diamond Exports Going Up :

Shipments of cut and polished diamonds from the country, according preliminary statistics, rose 115.62 per cent in dollar terms to US$ 1,941.88 million in April 2010, from US$ 900.59 million in April 2009 when they were heavily depressed in the wake of the global recession. The average unit value realization improved during the period by 25.27 per cent to US$ 360.67 per carat from US$ 287.21 per carat.
In terms of volume, despatches in April 2010 were up 72.12 per cent at 53.84 lakh carats against 31.28 lakh carats in the same month of the preceding year.

Rough Imports Upbeat :

Imports of rough diamonds too rose in April 2010 by 101.83 per cent to US$ 967.10 million, from US$ 479.17 million in the same month a year ago. The average import price per carat was US$ 70.24 in April 2010, against US$ 57.80 per carat for the same month of the preceding year.

Polished Imports Jump :

Imports of polished diamonds in April 2010 jumped 124.60 per cent to US$ 1,250.07 million, from US$ 556.58 million in the same month a year ago.

Gold Jewellery Gains :

Shipments of gold jewellery in April 2010 showed a comparatively modest improvement of 20.46 per cent to US$ 401.70 million, from US$ 333.46 million in the same month a year ago; largely due to higher prices of the yellow metal.

Bullion Quite Buoyant :

Bullion turned quite buoyant in the wake of the Greek Crisis which cast a shadow on the fortunes of Euro. Investors turned to the yellow metal in large numbers in search of a safe heaven for their wealth. Consequently, the yellow metal soared to a near all time high of about US$ 1,248.85 per ounce on May 14, lifting up silver as well to about US$ 19.69 per ounce. On the same day, Standard gold was traded in the domestic market at Rs. 18,325 per 10 grammes and silver at Rs. 30,120 per kg.
Holdings of the World’s largest gold-backed exchange traded fund SPDR Gold Trust, rose to a lifetime high of 1214.06 tonnes on strong investor buying.

Platinum was placed around US$ 1,715.50 and palladium around US$ 551 per ounce.

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