De Beers’ Rough Diamond Sales Sink 31%

SourcingJun 27, 2024

De Beers’ Rough Diamond Sales Sink 31%

The company sold $315 million in rough in the fifth sales cycle of the year, down from $456 million in the same period last year.

Stock image of rough diamonds from De Beers Gahcho Kue diamond mine
Rough diamonds from De Beers’ Gahcho Kue diamond mine in Canada. The company’s most recent round of rough diamond sales brought in $315 million, down by double-digits both year-over-year and cycle-to-cycle. (©De Beers Group/Photo credit: Ben Perry @ Armoury Films)
Gaborone, Botswana—Rough diamond sales remained slow in the fifth sales cycle of the year for De Beers Group, with the company’s CEO saying he expects the recovery in demand to take time.

The diamond miner and marketer reported Wednesday that rough diamond sales in its fifth sales cycle of 2024 totaled $315 million, down 31 percent from $456 million in cycle 5 2023, and down 18 percent from the previous sales cycle ($383 million).

De Beers’ 2024 rough diamond sales are now about 20 percent behind where they were at this time last year.

Year-to-date, the company has sold $1.95 billion in rough, compared with $2.43 billion following the fifth sales cycle of 2023.

In the company’s statement on its latest rough diamond sales, CEO Al Cook noted that sales generally slow down when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Cook also acknowledged, however, that diamond demand is in a slump and will take some time to recover, due in part to the slowdown in sales in China.

He said, “The recent annual JCK jewelry show in Las Vegas confirmed a resurgence in retailers’ interest in natural diamonds in the United States but ongoing economic growth challenges in China mean we continue to expect a protracted U-shaped recovery in demand.”

A U-shaped recovery typically refers to a type of economic slowdown in which the return to previous levels of activity takes longer, as opposed to a V-shaped recovery in which the economy rebounds more quickly.

While the slowdown in demand in China has taken its toll, natural diamonds also have lost market share to lab-grown diamonds.

In his most recent market update, published in late May, industry analyst Edahn Golan said in the month of April, 45 percent of diamond engagement rings sold by specialty jewelers were set with lab-grown diamonds.

He did, however, question whether this trend will continue as lab-grown diamond prices fall. 

Golan wrote, “Once most lab-grown diamonds are D [color]/FL [clarity] with excellent makes, the only characteristic that will command a higher price will be their size. From a practical standpoint, that has a limit too.

“I can’t imagine many women choosing to wear a 15-carat solitaire ring daily, no matter how much it cost them. So, at some point, lab-grown diamonds just won’t cost enough for an engagement ring, and Americans will most likely gravitate away from them.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

De Beers currently reports rough diamond sales results on a monthly basis but announced in Las Vegas that it will be downshifting to quarterly reporting starting in the second half of the year.

The change is one of a number of updates the company announced in Las Vegas as part of “Origins,” its new strategy aimed at cutting costs, streamlining the business, and focusing on natural diamonds, all in an effort to make it more attractive to potential investors or new owners.

Mining giant Anglo American currently holds an 85 percent stake in De Beers, while the government of Botswana owns the remaining 15 percent.

In May, Anglo American confirmed publicly that it is looking to either divest or demerge De Beers, a move expected to have big implications for the diamond industry as a whole.

Cook said in an interview with National Jeweler in Las Vegas that the Anglo American divestment/demerger is expected to take about 18 months.

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