Rapaport: Diamond Trade Cautious Despite Positive Retail

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Diamond prices declined in November. Demand weakened due to the slowdown in China and US economic caution, resulting in a buildup of midstream inventory. However, US retail sentiment was upbeat as the holiday season began.

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat polished fell 3.1% during the month.

Some categories are stabilizing, spurring interest from buyers who believe prices may have bottomed out. The number of 0.30-carat diamonds on RapNet has decreased by approximately 40% since April 1, supporting price levels.

Overall polished inventory is at record highs. As of December 1, the total volume of diamonds on RapNet stood at 1.85 million stones — an 8% rise year on year.

Rough trading has slowed as manufacturers reduce polished production. De Beers goods are selling at discounts on the secondary market, and auction prices are declining. India’s rough imports by volume fell 8% year on year in the third quarter and 55% in October, according to data from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

The rough-market caution reflects weakness in polished demand. Jewelry sales in China declined in October-November amid renewed Covid-19 restrictions. While Hong Kong is seeing some improvement, its lack of tourist traffic limits its recovery.

US retailers are optimistic for the season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported record foot traffic and digital sales over Thanksgiving weekend. US e-commerce sales grew 6% on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe estimates.

Jewellers are nonetheless holding back from buying inventory, reflecting concern about economic developments. Strong memo demand is stimulating the dealer market as retailers seek ways to manage inventory efficiently.

Savvy store owners are enhancing the holiday shopping experience by improving their multi-channel sales platforms. Consumers have less money for discretionary spending than last year and are seeking bargains. But they’re also ready to go out and shop again and want interactive buying experiences.

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