Polished diamond market sentiment improved in December as shortages supported prices and dealers filled last-minute holiday orders.
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat, GIA-graded diamonds rose 1.5% in December while RAPI for 0.30ct diamonds advanced 4.7% and RAPI for 0.50ct diamonds grew 3%. RAPI for 3-carat diamonds fell 0.1%.
For the full year 2015, RAPI for 1ct diamonds declined 5.8% and RAPI for 0.30ct diamonds dropped 13.%, while RAPI for 0.50ct diamonds slumped 14.5%. RAPI for 3ct diamonds fell 14.5ct% in 2015.
The Rapaport Monthly Report notes that there is a shortage of select diamonds as suppliers gradually sold off better-quality inventory and manufacturers limited polished production due to high rough prices.
The manufacturers in India kept their factories operating at about 30% below capacity after they returned from the November Diwali break. De Beers and ALROSA kept rough prices stable throughout the fourth quarter but both companies reported that rough prices dropped 15% during the full year. Rapaport estimates that De Beers rough sales fell 45% to approximately $3.6 billion in 2015, with a 70% decline in the second half.
Rough demand is anticipated to increase as manufacturers raise polished production to fill the shortages in the market. However, rough buying is expected to remain below levels seen in previous years.
Dealers are uncertain whether the polished market will continue to be supported by supply shortages or if trading will become demand-driven as retailers refill inventory sold during the holiday season.