Gaborone: De Beers has blamed coronavirus for a significant drop in sales of rough diamonds at its latest sight, held in Botswana last week.
The provisional figure for Cycle 2 is $355m, down from $551m at January’s sight (Cycle 1) and the lowest since Cycle 8 of last year.
The company allowed a number of deferrals from sightholders, especially for smaller stones, under 1-carat, that would normally be destined for China.
De Bers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said, “Following an improvement in demand for rough diamonds during the first sales cycle of 2020, we recognised the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market and put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds.”
Downstream demand remained healthy aside from China and Hong Kong, in spite of coronavirus and the US/China trade war.
De Beers announced earlier this week that it plans to relax its sight terms, in order to offer dealers, manufacturers and integrated retailers more of the stones they want.