Diamond prices dropped slightly in August due to slow trading during the summer vacation. The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds fell 0.5% during the month — typically a quieter period, as bourses in Belgium and Israel close for business.
After a strong first half, the 1-carat RAPI index was 2.5% higher than in the beginning of 2018 and increased 1% in the 12 months that ended September 1.Dealers were conservative during August while preparing for the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, which begins September 12.
Expectations for the show are mixed, with suppliers hoping to assess prospects for the Far East market amid US-China trade tensions and the weaker yuan. Hong Kong-based jewelers, having reported strong growth in the first six months, are more cautious about the second half of the year, and that may impact spending at the show.Indian dealers and cutters are concerned about reduced bank credit since the alleged $2 billion Nirav Modi bank fraud, as well as the devaluation of the rupee, which hit a record low of INR 70.80/$1 on September 3.Demand has slowed for smaller and lower-value diamonds due to caution in India and China. Cutters have shifted away from melee, focusing on under-the-carat GIA dossiers. There is good demand for nice SIs, which are difficult to find.
The US market is stable, with retailers optimistic for the holiday season. Sentiment improved after Signet Jewelers and Tiffany & Co. reported positive earnings in the second quarter and department stores Macy’s and J.C. Penney noted good jewelry sales.
While both the US and China have stimulated growth so far in 2018, we expect US demand will support the diamond trade in the remaining months; Chinese tourist spending is likely to slow during the October 1 Golden Week retail season, given the currency depreciation.