De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, said on Wednesday it had sold about $515 million worth of rough diamonds during its latest event, making it the biggest sale since February and the largest total for this time of year since 2016.
The Anglo American (LON: AAL) unit, which sells diamonds to a handpicked group of about 80 buyers 10 times a year at events called “sights”, said it had extended the duration of its sales beyond its normal week-long duration due to the covid-related restrictions.
De Beers noted the provisional figure represents the expected sales value for the Aug. 23 to Sept. 7 period and remains subject to adjustment based on final completed sales.
Chief executive Bruce Cleaver attributed the positive results to a sustained increase in demand for polished diamonds in the company’s key markets of the US and China.
“The midstream’s optimism for the remainder of the year was also evident at the recent JCK Las Vegas trade show, which was a success, despite being held under challenging circumstances,” he noted.
Diamonds have been a big winner from lockdowns around the globe as access to rival luxury offerings was limited. That first showed with stronger-than-expected holiday sales, from Thanksgiving through to Chinese New Year, and has since continued.
“The rough market is hot. There’s enthusiastic buying across all rough categories,” said Anish Aggarwal, a partner at specialist diamond advisory firm Gemdax told Bloomberg in June. “There are supply shortages at the moment. That’s creating a sense of scarcity at every stage of the pipeline.”
De Beers, which mostly held prices steady last year, has increased them in recent months. Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s top diamond producer by output, has followed suit, triggering complains from some industry actors. They claim the price hike has gone too far, especially as polished prices need to climb higher to justify the rates that rough stones are fetching.