With the year-end holiday season drawing closer, the pace of growth of polished exports from Israel slowed down somewhat in October, according to monthly figures from the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. However, compared to the same month of the previous year, polished diamond exports—after returned goods had been accounted for—still rose by more than 24%, to 442,415 carats worth $522 million.
During the first 10 months of the year, diamond exports rose 17.6% in value, to $4.49 billion after returns.
“While in the U.S. the big rush of holiday diamond inventory sales is practically behind us, we’re now working overtime to deal with last-minute orders,” says Simeon Lee Loon, a senior sales director at the Waldman Diamond Company (WDC) Group, in Ramat Gan. “By their very nature, such requests are often labor intensive as clients seek to buy very specific, hard to find niche goods, which they did purchase when they placed their larger, pre-Christmas orders. That’s normal for this time of the year, but what we did not foresee is that some large retail clients, who had been sitting on the fence until mid November, suddenly came through with large orders. That’s exciting news as it expresses their confidence in their projected sales.”
Still, the general quality of the goods included in the last-minute orders this year has generally been lower than those of the goods supplied in September and October. Loon says that retailers are complementing their inventories with cheaper goods, to be able to respond to a consumer market that may want to spend less and is willing to compromise on quality goods—for example diamonds of lower clarities and lower colors—rather than size or quantity.
“We see healthy demand for goods up to one carat in price ranges from $850 and down. Also the demand for goods in G and H colors, VS clarities, and in sizes larger than one carat remains quite strong, Loon says.
In Asia, the market continues to be quiet, as lower volumes of goods are traded. But prices continue to hold firm. “Since China will soon be the world’s second most important diamond market, suppliers must take the long term view. Being there ultimately will mean success,” Loon says.