De Beers Announces Price Hike

De Beers announced a 3 percent price increase at its January sight, and sightholders said it will mostly affect bigger and better-quality stones.

Prices could jump as much as 5 percent on the highest-quality and most sought-after rough, they said. Smaller goods appear to have received a lesser increase.

De Beers spokeswoman Lynette Hori said the increase reflects supply and demand: “The first half of 2004 had shown good growth in retail sales of diamond jewelry across the consumer markets, with initial estimates of a 7 percent [gain]. In the third quarter, the overall world trend was up 3 to 4 percent in local currency value [5 percent in dollars].” She added that preliminary forecasts say diamond jewelry “outperformed the overall retail trend during Christmas.”

But some sightholders disagreed, complaining privately—which is the only way sightholders will complain these days—that the increase was not related to market fundamentals, coming as it did after a mixed and sometimes disappointing holiday season.

Most pinned it on continuing speculation on sightboxes, with one sightholder noting, “If I were in their shoes, I’d do the same thing.”

All hoped they could pass the increase down the line. “I’m certainly going to try,” one said. “I’m not making tons of money these days.”