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DE BEERS, the world's biggest diamond producer by value, yesterday blamed the "typically quieter season" for the sluggish rough diamond sales to its major clients in the fourth cycle, which generated $520million (R6.7bn). De Beers said its fourth cycle sales had declined 18percent from the $636m it reported in the same period last year and 11percent down from the $586m in the third cycle of the year. However, it did not disclose sales volumes. De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said: “We are continuing to see steady demand for rough diamonds, despite the industry entering a typically quieter season. Sentiment remains positive as we head towards the important Las Vegas trade show in early June.” The $520m fourth cycle provisional sales value represented sales as at May 15, De Beers said. Barclays Research said: “While the results continue to point to a positive trend, we remain relatively cautious on the outlook for diamond prices with cutting and polishing margins still under pressure” - Dineo Faku