Wednesday, Feb 26th

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Welcome to the last WINC of this year. Let me begin by wishing you all happy holidays! Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, a festival that honors the heritage of the African-American community in the United States, all overlap this year, so there will be lot

Welcome to the last WINC of this year. Let me begin by wishing you all happy holidays! Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, a festival that honors the heritage of the African-American community in the United States, all overlap this year, so there will be lots of celebrations! Enjoy the precious time off with your families and loved ones!

For us, members of the diamond, gem and jewelry industry, the year-end also means that we are about to conclude this year’s run of the holiday sales season. The jury is still out on how well retail jewelers, here in the States, and elsewhere, have done, but while the results may be better than expected, we all conclude this calendar year with mixed feelings.

After all, it cannot be denied that our industry is unsettled. The content of this WINC reflects that at this time, too.

In 2019, diamond price developments have been volatile. The larger producers, such as De Beers and Alrosa, but others, too, have been very responsive to their clients’ perils and - wisely – taken steps not to force rough into the market at times that it could not reasonably absorb it. The significantly lower sales numbers of rough recognize this. Smaller producers, however, found themselves in dire straits as their diamond, especially melee and smalls, did not generate profitable market prices, and we’ve seen share prices of junior diamond miners slip.

In the mid-stream, manufacturers and traders have been further squeezed. During the past year, in India, we’ve seen prices drop in polished melee and small goods. In many cases current prices are significantly well below where they stood years ago. In Surat, factories closed or greatly reduced production. Add to that, the scandals that hit the Indian industry, and the reduced financing by banks, and you have a rather negative atmosphere. In the other centers, Antwerp and Ramat Gan, business volumes have dropped by double-digit percentages.

Of course, in the upstream market, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the availability - albeit still in limited quantities – of lab-grown diamonds. Even the naysayers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of marketing diamonds!

Looking forward – and we always should be looking forward – 2020 may very well prove a better year for our industry. The rough diamond market will refine its balance, and prices, both of rough and of polished, will slowly but surely recover throughout the supply pipeline. This, however, will only happen if the industry at large pulls together.

We need to get a firm grip on our reputational issues, and on diamond promotion and marketing. After all, we have a great story to tell, of a product that is finite, rare, and precious – precious to those who mine it, manufacture it, trade it, market it, and ultimately buy it. The story of love, commitment, combined with the good diamonds do, is a story that will continue to appeal to consumers of all ages, worldwide.

And on this optimistic note, I once again wish all of you happy holidays, a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2020!

Meanwhile, be safe and stay tuned