De Beers anticipates that 2024 will be “a year of recovery” for natural diamond sales, but any turnaround will not happen right away, CEO Al Cook told Bloomberg TV in a recent interview.
“We don’t expect a short, sharp recovery,” he said. “We expect that upturn in diamond demand to be gradual rather than sudden, more of a U than a V.”
Cook noted that De Beers’ January sight was “as large as the value of the two previous sales—the two last sales of 2023—combined. So we have definitely seen an uptick there.”
He attributed lower diamond demand in 2023 to three factors: general economic sluggishness; a decrease in engagements, as people had fewer opportunities to meet during COVID-19 lockdowns; and lab-grown diamonds’ gain in market share. In the past, De Beers execs have been reluctant to acknowledge that last factor.
Cook said the world economy is “cyclical,” and should improve this year. De Beers expects engagements to rise in both the United States and China, but believes lab-grown prices will continue to fall.
“They have fallen by more than 90% over the last two years,” Cook said. “And customers clearly see now that natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds are two entirely different things.”
He also hailed his company’s recent deal in Angola. “There’s only really been one diamond discovery in the entire of the 21st century,” Cook said. “We are past peak supplies of natural diamonds, and we believe Angola is the best place in the world to go exploring for diamonds.”
As far as the G7’s plans regarding Russian diamonds, De Beers wants to make sure that any sanctions don’t have “unintended negative consequences for ethical African producers,” said Cook.
“Over the years, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, countries like that, have proven that they can certify their own diamonds in a very reliable, very holistic way,” he said.
“We believe that it’s incredibly important that customers around the world know the source of their diamonds, in the way they care about where the food is from, where their coffee is from…. Provenance is the absolute key to great marketing in the 21st century.”
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