The diamond market continued to improve in October as holiday orders picked up, Rapaport reported. Supply shortages helped buoy prices of 1-carat and larger stones. However, the positive sentiment of the previous month weakened due to a rise in global Covid-19 cases and uncertainty surrounding the US election.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat polished diamonds rose 1% in October and was up 2.9% from the beginning of the year.
The RAPI index stabilized toward the end of the month as more goods became available and because prices had increased substantially since the start of the pandemic. Buyers shifted to lower-color diamonds (I to L), which had seen less of a price hike than D to H. This was particularly true for 0.30 to 0.50 carats.
Manufacturers raised polished production after the Indian government eased its Covid-19 restrictions. Larger factories are operating at an estimated 70% to 90% of capacity. Cutters are planning a shorter vacation than usual over Diwali — which begins November 14 — as they work to meet holiday demand and make up for time lost during the lockdown.
Rough buying increased in the third quarter and continued climbing at a slower pace during October. De Beers sales for the quarter rose an estimated 10% year on year to $917 million, with the September sight up 57%.
The mining companies are still expressing caution and will likely adopt a more measured approach once holiday orders have been filled and the polished supply balance has been restored.
Expectations are mixed for the holiday season. Spending projections are lower than last year. Retailers began their promotions early to avoid overcrowding among last-minute shoppers. Jewelers with a strong digital presence are doing well as e-commerce continues to support the retail market and drive growth.