De Beers hauls $445m from latest diamond auction

Diamond polishing: beneficiation is an industry with the potential to recreate much-needed jobs. Pic: De Beers

Diamond polishing: beneficiation is an industry with the potential to recreate much-needed jobs. Pic: De Beers

Published Apr 18, 2024


ANGLO American’s diamond producing unit De Beers yesterday said diamond sales for its 2024 third cycle which closed on April 16 grew by 3.2% to $445 million (R8.5 billion), compared to sales volumes for the second cycle.

Diamond prices on world markets have been muted although producers of the gems believe the market is now on a recovery path.

“Anglo American plc announces the value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auctions) for De Beers’ third sales cycle of 2024, amounting to $445m,” it said yesterday.

For the previous cycle, De Beers sold $431m’s worth of diamonds.

Its latest sales performance is, however, below the $542m attained over the same period a year ago.

“The provisional rough diamond sales figure quoted for Cycle 3 represents the expected sales value for the period and remains subject to adjustment based on final completed sales,” the company said.

De Beers recently said that after strong demand in 2021 and 2022, global rough diamond demand fell significantly in 2023.

The company said jewellery retailers were assuming a cautious approach to purchasing new stock, particularly with polished diamond inventories rising and increases in inflation and interest rates.

Moreover, US consumer demand for natural diamonds was being impacted by macro-economic challenges, as well as rising supply of lab-grown diamonds.

Although sales of lab-grown diamonds to consumers increased, wholesale lab-grown prices continued to fall sharply, supporting further differentiation from natural diamonds.

De Beers CEO AI Cook said many diamond companies were currently continuing to tread cautiously.

“Many diamond businesses are continuing to take a cautious approach to purchases amidst the uncertain economic landscape and the slow pace of growth in China,” Cook said.

“However, we saw a further uptick in our rough diamond sales in our third sales cycle, ahead of what is usually a slower period for rough diamond demand in the second quarter of the year.”

Despite a recent surge in growth, recent economic challenges in China had led to low consumer confidence, resulting in marginal consumer demand contraction off the subdued levels seen in 2022.

In contrast, consumer confidence and demand growth in India had been robust throughout 2023.

In the 2023 full year, De Beers total sales volumes on a 100% basis were 27.4 million carats compared to 33.7m carats a year earlier.

“During the fourth quarter, industry conditions began to stabilise,” De Beers said.

This comes as retail demand for diamonds improved over the festive season, especially in the US, helping to ease midstream inventory pressure.

However, with ongoing macro-economic uncertainty, De Beers said it was anticipated that recovery in rough diamond demand will be gradual.

De Beers also has joint arrangement partners in addition to entities outside the group, such as interests in Diamond Trading Company Botswana and Namibia Diamond Trading Company.