De Beers’ rough-diamond sales declined 28% year on year to $355 million in February as the coronavirus hit demand.
Many sightholders took up the miner’s offer to delay buying goods destined for China, sources in the rough market told Rapaport News. The company let clients reject certain 1- to 2-carat rough diamonds and reschedule those purchases for later in the year.
The coronavirus has shut down retail in China, leaving manufacturers reluctant to buy goods they can’t sell. That has partly reversed an improvement in the market at the start of the year due to post-holiday restocking and positive data from domestic Chinese consumer sales. Cutters’ profit margins had also been rising slightly following De Beers’ rough-price reduction in November, sightholders explained.
“Sentiment was very confused [at the February sight],” a sightholder said. “De Beers corrected prices over the past three or four months, but because of the issue with the coronavirus, people are not sure what to do.”
Proceeds from the second sales cycle of the year were 36% lower than January’s $551 million, which was the highest tally since April 2019. The total includes last week’s sight in Botswana, as well as the company’s auction sales.
“Following an improvement in demand for rough diamonds during the first sales cycle of 2020, we recognized the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market, and put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver.
De Beers’ sales have slid 9% year on year to $906 million for the two first two cycles combined. The next sight runs from March 30 to April 3.
If you’ve ever gone through the process of shopping for an engagement ring, you’ll know there can be an overwhelming number of things to consider.
Aside from the look and style of your ring, you quickly start to learn an awful lot about diamonds, from the cut, to the colour and clarity.What you may not know is most diamonds in Australia over the last 10 years have been laser inscribed with a serial number likened to a ‘fingerprint’ — which makes it easier to trace should the unfortunate event that your engagement ring is lost or stolen ever take place.This code in turn makes your ring a ‘low risk’ theft item because it’s easy for police to trace it. But don’t go pulling your ring off your finger to check for that little serial number just yet.The code is inscribed directly onto the girdle of the diamond which is quite difficult to get to when it’s in a setting and it can’t be seen with the naked eye either, having to be checked under a microscope instead.
Speaking to 10 daily, Roy Cohen, a diamond expert from Certified Diamond Insurance, said this spot was specifically chosen instead of on the engagement ring band as this could be lost if it was melted down. Yet removing the code from the diamond itself is near impossible.”It cannot be removed unless the diamond goes back to a diamond polishing factory where it is put back on the wheel and polished off. I mean, there are very few diamond polishing factories in Australia so the chances of that happening are very remote,” Cohen said.”It’s even harder than for example, the engine number of a motor car. They could just machine it off. I mean, anyone could do that. But with a diamond? No. Only diamond cuts diamond.”
This process of inscription is completed by Certified Diamond Insurance (CDI) who are in partnership with a Australia’s leading diamond certifier, Diamond Certification Laboratory of Australia (DCLA), as well as the Woodina Underwiting Agency.Together they’re working towards driving the costs associated with insuring diamonds down for Australians, with new research finding almost half of Australia diamond engagement rings aren’t insured. If they are, 70 percent of these have inadequate insurance as they’re usually lumped with other items as part of home contents insurance.”If you go and get household insurance, you’ll be paying a standard kind of rate and because they cover everything, you’ll be paying slightly higher premiums,” Cohen said.”What we’ve done is we’ve pulled out all certified diamonds that are laser inscribed and we only ensure those diamonds. These are the lowest risk diamonds.”
According to Cohen, these diamonds are a ‘thief’s worst nightmare’ because they often aren’t able to tell if it has been laser inscribed or not.”Thieves can get caught so much easier with this type of diamond. If they go and sell that to a hock shop and it has the laser inscription on it, it is very easy to identify that that diamond has been stolen,” he told 10 daily.So how can you check if your diamond has the laser inscription on it or not? According to Cohen, it’s as easy as checking your diamond certification certificate.”Most diamonds that are of value are sold with diamond grading certificates in Australia and most of those are laser inscribed,” he said.The certificate will make note that the diamond has been laser inscribed and it will have the number that’s on the actual diamond.Yet while most diamonds now have the laser inscribed code on them, if your engagement ring happens to be an heirloom or has been passed down through the family, it likely doesn’t. The upside is CDI are offering complementary diamond grading and laser inscription for diamonds owners in this situation.”So if anybody wants take advantage of the lower premiums that CDI is offering and the diamond is not certified and not laser inscribed, we will actually do that for them,” he said.”The diamond gets removed from the setting, the diamond is graded, laser inscribed and then set back in the setting. Then it is eligible for CDI insurance.”
CDI are further working on establishing a nation wide data base where individuals can register their ring along with it’s details and pictures. Should the ring ever be lost or stolen, it can then be flagged in this system, making it easier to locate.”Then wherever it ends up or if it’s ever checked against that data base or it ends up at a diamond grading laboratory, it will be identified,” Cohen said.”So the benefit is, let’s say it was a heritage diamond from your grandma or something like that, you actually have a chance of getting the diamond back.”
Authorities in Angola have seized 6,579 carats of rough diamonds in a crackdown on illegal mining and immigration.
Nineteen cars and $275,000 in cash were also confiscated, according to the government-run Angop news agency.
Operation Transparency was aimed at more than 700 small diamond prospectors in the country. Two thirds were found not to meet the interior ministry’s requirements and only 260 have been allowed to carry on prospecting.
The government also deported many migrant working in diamond mines from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, a move that attracted sharp criticism from the independent Human Rights Watch.
The operation was launched in the north-eastern Lunda Norte Province December 2018.
Botswana’s Debswana Diamond Mining, a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana, have awarded Thiess’ subsidiary CIMIC a $1.2-billion contract to extend the lifespan of their Jwaneng mine.
Jwaneng, which began operations in 1982, is currently 650 metres deep, but its owners want to deepen the pit to 830 meters (2,700 feet), which will allow continuing operations for another 11 years, to 2035, and extracting a further 53 million carats.
Debswana will invest approximately $2 billion over the life of the project, dubbed Cut 9, which involves removing waste from the bottom of the mine to both widen and deepen the pit. “Jwaneng, which began operations in 1982, will continue in operations unit 2035.”
At its peak, Cut-9 is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, the majority of which will be held by locals.
“With global consumer demand for diamonds reaching record levels in 2018, the extension will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our consumers all over the world,” Debswana’s chairman Bruce Cleaver said in the statement.
This is not the first time Debswana decides to invest in expanding Jwaneng, the world’s No.1 diamond producing mine by value, which contributes almost 70% of the partnership’s total revenue.
The company completed in November a $3-billion, 10-year-long expansion plan, Cut 8, which extended the lifespan of the mine to 2024.
Debswana was formed in 1969 as a 50/50 partnership between the Botswana’s government and De Beers Group. The unit is a significant contributor to the country’s economy with more than 80% of its profits going back to Botswana’s citizens.
Diamonds from Debswana bring in about 50% of public revenue, representing 33% of GDP and over 80% of foreign earnings to Botswana.
De Beers plans to abandon its practice of using sightholders’ purchase history as the main factor in determining how it allocates rough supply, sources have told Rapaport News.
The move, which would go into effect from 2021, would see the miner shift to more subjective criteria for deciding the value of goods each client receives.
The current system, known as “demonstrated demand,” requires sightholders to buy the rough that De Beers has allotted them or risk losing access to De Beers’ diamonds in future. The method has faced criticism for encouraging dealers and manufacturers to take on unprofitable inventory.
But with the current sightholder agreement expiring at the end of this year, De Beers has told clients demonstrated demand will not be the main driver of allocations in the new contract period, the sources said. Discussions about the matter continued at this week’s January sight in Botswana.
The proposals include studying data about clients’ business activities, as well as qualitative factors, to help determine whether companies should be on the client list, a sightholder explained on condition of anonymity. De Beers is also considering reducing the number of sightholders, according to a Bloomberg report last week that Rapaport News could not corroborate.
“We will be communicating directly with customers in the coming months about the new sightholder contract period, which will focus on maximizing the considerable opportunities ahead in the diamond sector,” a De Beers spokesperson said. The company would not elaborate on the details.
The midstream’s accumulation of excess inventory contributed to a severe slowdown in the diamond market in 2019, with De Beers’ full-year sales falling 25% to $4.04 billion. Last July, Dutch bank ABN Amro wrote to its clients urging them to buy rough only when it’s profitable, and attacked the practice of making purchases purely to maintain supply allocations.
Sightholders are expecting this week’s De Beers sale — the first of the year — to be relatively large as the trade replenishes its stocks following a solid holiday season. De Beers raised prices in certain categories, sources said.
A storied diamond connected to the Oppenheimer family will be among the top lots at next month’s Geneva auction at Christie’s, with a presale estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
The rectangular cut, 25.27 carat, D color Jonker V ring will go under the hammer at the Magnificent Jewels sale on May 15, the auction house said last week.
The stone was cut from a 726 carat rough South African farmer Johannes Jacobus Jonker discovered in 1934. At the time, the Jonker was the fourth largest gem quality diamond ever unearthed.
A subsidiary belonging to Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the founder of Anglo American and a former De Beers chairman, bought the polished stone. In 1935, Harry Winston purchased the diamond and set it in a ring. Later that year, it was displayed during the Silver Jubilee celebrations for King George V and Queen Mary.
Christie’s will also offer a heart shaped, fancy deep blue diamond ring, featuring two stones weighing 2.22 carats and 2 carats, valued at $3.5 million to $4.5 million. Separately, an old cushion-cut, 118.05 carat, fancy yellow diamond carries an estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
Other notable lots are a necklace comprising 110 natural pearls with a presale estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million, and a pear shaped, 75.61 carat emerald pendant necklace expected to fetch $2 million to $3 million.
In addition, the Geneva sale will feature an early 19th century emerald and diamond fringe necklace Henri d’Orléans, duke of Aumale, gave to his goddaughter, Princess Hélène of France, for her 1895 wedding to Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Italy.
Because your diamond when worn naturally attracts grease or oil, they will need periodic cleaning.
Even when touching a diamond with your fingers natural oils from your skin will change the brilliance of your diamond, making your diamond lose its lustre or brilliance.
A simple way to keep your diamond jewellery looking beautiful is a weekly bath in a household cleaning solution. A simple window cleaner will work. But make sure you give it a thorough rinsing followed by a very light brushing using an old tooth brush to remove the oils and cleaning liquid.
Pay special attention to the underside of the ring and bottom of the stone, as this is where most of the oils or hand creams accumulate.
Make sure when using a brush not to apply to much pressure especially if the jewellery is old or fragile. This is a good time to check the diamonds are tightly set and none are missing.
Never use Chlorine, bleaches or abrasives when cleaning diamonds set in jewellery. This will remove the rhodium plating on white gold and could leave scratches which will attract even more dirt.
If the ring has fine claws or filigree work an ultrasonic cleaner is necessary to remove deep encrusted dirt behind the diamonds. High frequency sound waves and jewellery detergent fluid will remove hard to get to dirt and grime. Make sure this is done by a professional to avoid damage or loss of stones.
In natural diamond the colour is related to a lattice imperfection. This can be mimicked in synthetic or treated diamond by a variety of treatments including annealing, heating or irradiating. The heat and pressure or irradiation can result in the lattice deviation resulting in the brown or pink colour.