The Antwerp Diamond Bourse trading floor. (Antwerp World Diamond Centre)
RAPAPORT... Belgium’s polished shipments slumped last month as the cancellation of the September Hong Kong show and continued uncertainty around Covid-19 stalled the sector’s recovery.
“Rough is performing really well; polished is still somewhat subdued,” a spokesperson for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) told Rapaport News on Monday. “It’s not like polished is flying out the doors anywhere else in the world. [The cause of the decline] is probably the pandemic plus the Hong Kong September [fair] being canceled.”
Exports of polished diamonds fell 40% year on year to $524 million for the month, according to data the AWDC released in recent days. Export volume slipped 8% to 314,262 carats, with the average price down 35% to $1,668 per carat. Polished imports dropped 35% to $557 million.
The downturn follows a promising August, when a release of pent-up demand led to Belgium’s first increase in polished exports for 16 months. The September reversal reflects weaker trading with Hong Kong, as exhibitors at Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong (formerly the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair) usually ship goods to and from the event during the month.
Polished exports to the municipality slid 76% to $102.4 million in September, with imports plummeting 79% to $78.5 million. By contrast, polished orders from the US rose 4% to $174.9 million, partly offsetting the slump.
Rough trading performed better as De Beers and Alrosa resumed sales in larger quantities following a collapse in demand that lasted for several months. Belgium’s rough imports rose 38% to $837.6 million, the highest since November 2018, while rough exports jumped 44% to $1.08 billion.
The country’s net diamond account — representing total rough and polished exports minus total imports — increased 35% to $211.4 million, according to Rapaport calculations.
For the first nine months of the year, polished exports plunged 51% to $3.94 billion. Rough imports declined 26% to $4.39 billion.
Source: Rapaport 12-10-2020