After the July declines, polished diamond prices were flat in August. The Mercury Diamond Global Tracker™ (MDGT™) averaged 113.85 in August 2018, up 0.03% over July. This is not unusual behavior for prices in August, a period of limited activity between polished diamond wholesalers. Polished trade is generally very limited, as traders are on their summer vacations. Historically, prices fluctuate very mildly in August, and at times are unchanged.
The Indian market is in the headlines again. This time, because of news in the Indian press that a consortium of lenders to a large diamond firm decided to file an insolvency case against it. A few days later, more banking and lending-related news came out that cast a heavy shadow over the Indian diamond hub.
August is generally a period of slow activity in the diamond industry. Traders, manufacturers and wholesalers in Belgium, Israel and the US were away on their summer holidays as were many industry members that are based in India. The exception to this is US retailers, as those operating in popular tourist destinations saw a rise in in-store consumer traffic, which then spurred limited trading activity, mostly among American and Indian suppliers.
The summer months are here and with them polished diamond activity has slowed down. Demand from the retail and jewelry manufacturing sectors is down, and wholesale trading has decreased, leading in turn to a decline in wholesale polished diamond prices. The Mercury Diamond Global Tracker™ (MDGT™) averaged 113.81 in July 2018, which is a 0.3% decline compared to June. Year-over-year polished diamond prices continue to fall, down 1.8% compared to July 2017. The Mercury Index has declined every July since 2011. In 2011, as well as in prior years, the index was flat in July as compared to June. There is a clear seasonal trend in these numbers. MDGT™ fluctuated in the first six months of the year. Prices
The June Mercury Diamond polished price report has shown that prices of most round diamond size categories declined compared to May. The two size ranges that did rise were 0.50- and 0.70-carats. All other size ranges declined.
As diamond centers across the globe enter the summer slowdown, the market was characterized by limited activity and steady-to-declining demand. De Beers and ALROSA released their half year figures showing rising rough diamond prices and changes in production.
That prices of materials fluctuate is no surprise to anyone or news, for that matter. Every material, especially a commodity, is affected by market forces of many types and sources, which jointly impact prices. Diamonds are no exception; they are affected by the same and similar forces.
In March this year, we looked at the one item that posted the greatest price appreciation in the first quarter of the year, thirds (0.30-0.39-carats). With the price fluctuations of polished diamonds in recent months, it is worth examining what happened to this item in the second quarter of the year.
Prices of polished diamonds were mixed in June, reflecting a combination of clashing trends. On the one hand, there was good demand for many diamond categories since the JCK Las Vegas trade show, shortages, and rising rough diamond prices. On the other hand, quite a few diamond categories were in lower demand, and traders in the diamond trading centers are already in “summer mode”, seeking to decrease inventories and close as many transactions as possible before the summer vacations.
The market in June was characterized by more changes in demand than usual. There was an increase in the number of categories in rising demand, while the American market saw a sharp drop in demand for smaller goods. The reasons to this market activity include the results of the Las Vegas trade show, the small trade show in Hong Kong, seasonal changes, and even preparations for the upcoming summer vacations in the diamond centers.