Market Comment

April 20, 2023

News: Tough market as prices continue to decline amid slow demand. US buyers distracted by Passover and Easter holidays and tax deadlines. China slow, but Hong Kong continues to improve: Chow Tai Fook FY4Q retail sales +14%; Luk Fook FY4Q same-store sales +83%. Greater caution in melee than a month ago. Rough prices weak on secondary market as polished production levels remain below capacity. India March polished exports -33% to $1.6B, rough imports -19% to $1.7B. Petra Diamonds FY3Q sales -52% to $68M due to Williamson mine shutdown, despite firm March tender prices. Mountain Province 1Q sales +42% to $95M. Sotheby’s HK sells $50M. Signet Jewelers predicts 4Q engagement boom.

Fancies: Fashion driving demand for elongated Ovals, Emeralds and Radiants. Goods with medium and short ratios are weak and declining in value. Slow market for 0.30 to 1.20 ct. diamonds. 1.25 ct. and larger, F-J, VS-SI categories stable. Supply shortages of well-cut fancies supporting prices. Oval is leading shape, followed by Radiant, Emerald, Pear, Cushion and Marquise. Retailers offering broader product ranges as consumers seek alternative cuts. Excellent shapes commanding premiums. Oversizes trading at higher prices than usual. Off-make, poorly cut fancies illiquid and difficult to sell.

United States: 

Dealer market quiet. Businesses focused on meeting April 18 tax deadline and lacking urgency to purchase. Engagement ring segment slightly down, with slow demand for 1 ct., F-I, VS-SI, 3X goods. Signet Jewelers anticipates bridal reawakening in 2H. Elongated ovals, emeralds and cushions remain the strongest category.   


Activity very slow, with growing concern over prolonged market quiet. Pockets of stability in certain niche categories such as fancy colors and fancy shapes. Dealers cautious about raising inventory of commercial-quality rounds. Some optimism for GemGenève show taking place from May 11 to 14. European luxury driving stable high-end demand.


Gradual return to trading after Passover break. Sentiment weak as some firms have missed their 1Q sales targets. Companies using downtime to assess market conditions and plan for 2H. Select categories of fancies selling well, with shortages also supporting prices. 1Q polished exports -36% to $838M, rough imports -42% to $287M.


Market lull due to decline in US and Chinese sales. Steady demand from local jewelers. Fancy shapes moving better than rounds. Rising appetite for non-certified diamonds in below-1-carat goods as manufacturers seek to save on grading costs. Inventory relatively high for this time of year. Manufacturers hesitant to raise polished production levels.

Hong Kong: 

Trade cautious since March Hong Kong shows. Chinese buyers restrained despite opening of borders. Local retail boosted by return of tourist traffic; mainland China sluggish. Steady demand for 0.30 to 1 ct., D-J, VS-SI diamonds. Gold jewelry outperforming gem-set as gold prices climb.


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