Rough diamond sales are steadily picking up but still lower than last year records, igniting concerns that the strong demand that stretched from 2021 is waning.
Global diamond mining giant, De Beers Group, this week reported that they sold $495 million of rough diamonds in the second sales cycle of the year, with the value higher than the $454 million in the first sight in January. The two Sights have generated lower income than in the same period in 2022. This year’s first sales cycle value fell by 31 percent from 2022’s first Sight value of $660 million, and the latest second sales value is 24 percent lower than $652 million of rough diamonds sold in the second Sight of 2022.
“In this, my first Sight update to the market, I am pleased to see continued steady demand for rough diamonds in line with our expectations for sales as the year progresses. For example, we know that Sightholders planned more of their purchases for later in 2023, given the economic uncertainty at the time they were taking their planning decisions at the end of 2022. It is also encouraging to see some positive trends in end client demand for diamond jewellery at the start of the year,” said Al Cook, De Beers’ new chief executive officer who took over from Bruce Cleaver in February.
According to diamond industry’s leading news authority, Rapaport, De Beers has increased prices of small rough diamonds in all of the two Sights of the year, with demand for lower carats coming from manufacturers who use them for watches and other intricate jewelry designs. Russia’s Alrosa is the biggest supplier of small sized diamonds, and with some soft sanctions placed on Russian diamonds, the shortage has caused demand to rise.
While uncertainty is building up in the diamond trade, De Beers last year broke its six year old record after rough diamond sales soared. Through its subsidiary, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (DGSS), the mining company hosts rough diamond sales 10 times a year that are also known as ‘Sights’. DGSS sells around 90 per cent of De Beers Group’s rough diamonds, by value, via term contracts to customers. The other 10 percent is sold via De Beers Group Auctions.
Last year, De Beers earned $5.67 billion from the ten rough diamonds Sights, surpassing the 2016 record of $5.6 billion. The higher sales record follows what has been a strong recovery in the diamond industry, improving on 2021’s $4.82 billion, that eclipsed the $2.79 billion earned in 2020 after COVID-19 roiled the diamond industry, reducing the gains made in 2019 after the diamond miner sold $4 billion worth of rough diamonds. In 2018, De beers ten sales cycle earned $5.39 billion and $5.31 billion in 2017.
De Beers’ rough diamond production in 2022 increased to 34.6 million carats, up from 2021’s 32.3 million carats, reflecting strong operational performance and higher planned levels of production to meet continued strong demand for rough diamonds, particularly in the first half of the year.
De Beers gets its load from Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. In Botswana, which supplies the mining giant with 70 percent of rough diamonds, production increased by 8 percent to 24.1 million carats, up from the prior year’s 22.3 million carats.
Namibia production increased by 46 percent to 2.1 million carats. South Africa production grew by 4 percent to 5.5 million carats. Production in Canada decreased by 11 percent to 2.8 million carats.
With increased production output and sales, De Beers’ revenue climbed to $6.6 billion, up from 2021’s $5.6 billion. In the end, De Beers reported a profit of $1.4 billion, an increase of 29 percent from 2021’s profit of $1.1 billion. The 2022 earnings are the highest since 2014, when De Beers’ revenue hit $7.1 billion and delivered almost $1.4 billion in profit.