An employee sorts rough diamonds at the Namibian diamond processing and valuation center. Bloomberg
JOHANNESBURG - De Beers Group Auction, a subsidiary of diamond firm De Beers, on Tuesday announced the launch of its new auction portal as it aims to improve customers bidding experience amid a difficult market.

De Beers Group Auctions sells about 10 percent of its production through its online auctions. It has buyers from more than 900 registered companies accessing its auctions.

"The portal harnesses cutting-edge technology and incorporates a range of valuable insights garnered from customer feedback, it said in a statement.

James Kirby, the senior vice-president of De Beers Group Auctions, said, “At De Beers Group Auctions, our raison d’etre is to provide our customers a smart and seamless way to source natural diamonds. We plan to do that through continuous improvement of our industry-leading auction platform to allow customers to buy from us online with greater ease and unprecedented levels of product data with greater transparency.”

It said the new platform would provided customers with  features including easy navigation, efficient bidding and price protection.

Registered buyers could get an overview of all auctions that are happening on the portal.

The buyers could refer to each lot, with the description and pictures provided on the digital platform.

"As each lot closes separately, customers can save time, instead of staying in the auction until all lots in the auction event close."

Registered buyers would be privy to the starting price of the lot. "However, to protect their interests, only bidders will be given access to the lot price after they have placed their bids for the lot, thereby preventing non-bidders from accessing price data from the auctions," it said.

While an auction was ongoing, De Beers Group Auction said bidders would be informed if their bids had met the reserve price. 

"With the price protection and transparency on reserve prices in place, the preliminary bidding round has been eliminated, simplifying the process for the bidders and saving time. When the auctions are closed, bidders can refer to their bid history. The bid history reflects the pricing information of the lots they have placed their bids on, regardless of whether customers have won or been outbid," it said.

De Beers Group reported in October that  its  sales slumped 39 percent to to $3.216 billion for 2019 from $4.41 bn in 2018 due to an over-supply of polished diamonds on the global market and an economic slowdown in China.

BUSINESS REPORT