Antwerp diamond trade registers 16% volume growth in 2017

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After a very difficult 2015, the Antwerp diamond trade stabilised in 2016. This trend continued over past year as the industry traded a total of US$ 46 billion in diamonds. In 2017, a total of 233.6 million carats of diamonds were imported to and exported from Antwerp (2016: 202 million carats up 16 per cent). This again represents an increase in the volume of diamonds traded, with a particularly notable increase in the rough diamonds sector.

While the overall value of diamonds trade declined slightly with regard to 2016 (US$ 48 billion), we note a tremendous increase in the amount of diamonds traded. This is mainly due to a significant increase in the number of rough diamonds traded. However, because demand was mainly for smaller rough diamonds – a consistent trend across the global diamond trade in 2017 – we saw the price achieved per carat decline. Given that the price per carat of polished diamonds rose, the gap between the two (rough and polished) was smaller than in 2016. We are therefore able to cautiously affirm the recovery has taken hold for Antwerp’s diamond traders.

On the year, a total of 10.7 million carats of polished diamonds valued at US$ 22.5 billion were imported to and exported from the Antwerp diamond market. Some 5.6 million carats of polished diamonds were exported and 5.1 million carats were imported, valued at US$ 11.1 billion and US$ 11.4 billion respectively. This represents an overall decline of 7 per cent in volume and 3 per cent in value compared to 2016.

While demand for polished diamonds worldwide was under pressure – among other reasons as the result of competition from other luxury goods such as travel and technology – we note that demand from the most important markets, namely, China and the U.S., gradually recovered. Consequently, the polished diamond market continues to experience difficulties, but the decline is less pronounced than last year.

Last year, some 223.1 million carats worth US$ 23.3 billion were traded on Antwerp’s rough diamond market. The volume of rough diamond imports as well as exports, increased by 6 per cent and 27 per cent respectively with respect to 2016. In value, on the contrary, we saw declines of 11 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

The expectation that Antwerp’s rough diamond trade would perform well in 2017 was thus confirmed. This is largely a result of the fact that majority of the diamond production from three new mines (two in Canada, one in Lesotho) is now traded on the Antwerp diamond market, and more tenders were organised to increase the supply of rough goods to the market. AWDC’s proactive strategy in this regard is bearing fruit.

In 2017, 109 tenders were organised by various Antwerp tender houses. This represents a 27 per cent increase over the 86 tenders held in 2016. Additionally, the mining companies held another 68 tenders in Antwerp.

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