CSO Cuts Sights; Reports Lower Sales for 1997 De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation reports 1997 sales of rough diamonds totaled $4.64 billion, down 4% from 1996. First-half sales actually rose 5% to a record $2.88 billion, based on trade expectations of good retail sales worldwide. But second-half figures fell 16% in light of continued recession in Japan and emerging economic and currency problems in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and other South East Asian countries. The trend continued in 1998, as the January sight proved to be the smallest in seven years. Estimates put it at $270 million, roughly 40% of the January 1997 total. CSO director Gary Ralfe notes that South East Asia represents 17% of world sales and that retail diamond sales in Japan – the world’s second largest diamond market – fell by 20% last year. Diamond imports to that country declined by 30%. A CSO stateme

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