Belgium’s Rough Trade Buoyant in New Year

Antwerp: Belgium’s rough diamond trade surged again in the month of January, as the dollar value of rough exports from the diamond capital rose 30% while imports kept pace with a 31% increase compared to the same period in a year ago, according to figures from Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

Volumes were up as well, with Antwerp exporting nearly 18% more carats than in January 2016, while rough imports increased by 36%. The January figures continue the trend established in Antwerp’s 2016 rough trade, and also indicate Antwerp is riding the wave in the rough trade as represented by the results of De Beers first sight of the year ($720 million) and ALROSA’s January sales ($358 million).

Specifically for the month, Antwerp exported 10.3 million rough carats (+27% vs. December) worth $1.03 billion (-9% vs. Dec.), while importing 7.7 million carats (+45% vs. Dec) worth $955 million (+24% vs. Dec). Rough diamond demand as well as prices have remained firm, while word from De Beers and ALROSA is that the sharp decline in low-quality, low-value stones destined for India has abated as the country’s cash situation stabilizes post-demonitization.

Meanwhile, Antwerp’s polished trade for the most part remains in a holding pattern of lower volumes and values, which we have seen throughout the year 2016, although January saw a notable upturn in polished diamond imports as compared to the previous two months. If we compare polished results on a year-to-year basis, compared to January 2016 Antwerp’s polished exports fell 27% in volume to 291 thousand carats and 18% in value to $632 million.

Polished imports fell 7% in volume to 505 thousand carats and 10.5% in value to $882 million. Exports of polished goods in January compared to December 2016 followed the yearly trends, but imports of polished goods increased 40% in volume and 30% in value when compared to December and November 2016 (increases over Nov. specifically 38% and 27%).