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Polished Diamond Prices Stabilized In December, Says Rapaport

 

Polished diamond prices stabilized in December following a better-than-expected holiday season, according to the Rapaport group.

 

Consumer sentiment in the United States received a boosted from economic growth, stock markets that have hit record highs, while a tax bill that was passed last month is expected to raise disposable income and discretionary spending, Rapaport said in a media statement.

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat diamonds edged up 0.3% in December. RAPI for 0.30-carat diamonds rose 1.2%, while RAPI for 0.50-carat stones increased 0.6%. However, the RAPI for 3-carat diamonds declined by 1.7%.

In the fourth quarter, the 1-carat RAPI decreased by 0.8% and fell 5.3% for all of 2017, which was the sixth consecutive year of declines.

Market sentiment improved in December due to steady US holiday jewelry sales and solid Chinese demand ahead of the Chinese New Year on February 16.

The US retail sector is seeing widespread change, due to strong online sales creating greater competition and price uncertainty due to internet discounting, the statement said. However, jewelers and diamantaires who provided added-value services and implemented strategies to engage with customers online and in-store had a successful holiday sales season.

Meanwhile, in mainland China, more consistent local sales are replacing volatile Chinese tourist shopping elsewhere, with diamond engagement rings gaining popularity among Chinese millennials.

Diamond trading slowed in December, with US and Belgian dealers on vacation during the Christmas-to-New Year break. Dealers were encouraged by reports of positive retail sales, but are waiting for returns of consignments from abroad before assessing the holiday season

Manufacturers are maintaining steady polished production in anticipation of a rise in first-quarter demand; a period when jewelers typically replenish stock sold during the holiday season.

Rapaport said that dealers will start this year with a better outlook than in previous years, as booming stock markets, higher wages and lower taxes result in a sustainable rise in wealth. This will lead to more diamond demand, even as growth in online sales, rising synthetics supply and changing consumer habits contribute to uncertainty, it concluded


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