De Beers First-Half Rough Sales Fall 7%

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond group, on Friday posted a 7 percent decline in rough diamond sales for the first-half of 2007 to $3.4 billion, largely due to a $265 million reduction from the Diamond Trading Company. Underlying earnings grew 5 percent to $324 million, because of reduced finance charges and a tax credit.

Diamond production increased by 2 percent to 25.3 million carats, the company said.

De Beers managing director Gareth Penny said during a conference call that downstream diamond jewelry sales remained strong, but sales fell due to lack of supplies as De Beers winds down distributing gems from Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s second biggest producer, Reuters reports.

In its report, the company said that it expects retail diamond jewelry sales to rise 4 to 5 percent for the full year, with the high-end market in the United States to remain strong and the China and India markets to be “robust.” De Beers also said it has seen improvements in the rough diamond market in the second quarter of 2007 and expects continued improvement in the second half of the year.