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De Beers’ diamond sales slide as India’s Covid-19 woes dent demand

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De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by volume, posted a 15.5 percent fall in the value of rough diamond sales during its fourth sales cycle as India’s deadly second wave of Covid-19 weighed heavily on demand.

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by volume, posted a 15.5 percent fall in the value of rough diamond sales during its fourth sales cycle as India’s deadly second wave of Covid-19 weighed heavily on demand. Photo: File

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by volume, posted a 15.5 percent fall in the value of rough diamond sales during its fourth sales cycle as India’s deadly second wave of Covid-19 weighed heavily on demand.

JOHANNESBURG – DE BEERS, the world’s biggest diamond producer by volume, posted a 15.5 percent fall in the value of rough diamond sales during its fourth sales cycle as India’s deadly second wave of Covid-19 weighed heavily on demand.

De Beers, an Anglo American plc subsidiary, said yesterday that the provisional value of global sight holder sales and auctions fell to $380 million (R5.3 billion) during the fourth sales cycle from $450m a cycle earlier.

However the figure was significantly higher than $56m recorded during the fourth and fifth sales cycles of last year. De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said the group continued to see robust diamond jewellery demand in key American and China consumer markets.

“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” Cleaver said.

India, the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre, has to date recorded 25 million Covid-19 cases, with deaths soaring to 283 000.

India’s Covid-19 cases started rising in mid-March, stretching hospitals to capacity with shortages of beds, oxygen supplies and doctors.

“Our thoughts are with all those in India as the country navigates the current challenges presented by the pandemic reminding us that the road ahead remains uncertain and that we must continue to adopt a watchful approach,” Cleaver said.

India is regarded as a global hub for the global jewellery market and exports more than 75 percent of the world’s gems, jewellery and diamonds.

However the pandemic has wiped the shine off the global and Indian jewellery sector.

De Beers said owing to the restrictions on the movement of people and products in various jurisdictions around the globe, it had continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

De Beers said the provisional rough diamond sales figure quoted for cycle 4 represented the expected sales value for the period May 3 to May 18 and remained subject to adjustment based on final completed sales.

Anglo American plc’s shares fell 5.73 percent to close at R620.87 yesterday.

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