The De Beers Group is gearing up for its third and largest diamond sales at the end of this month since its historic move to Botswana last year. The relocation of the Diamond Trading Centre (DTC), now De Beers Global Sightholder Sales, from London to Gaborone was completed at the end of last year and has been celebrated as one of the most significant deals ever in the diamond industry.
According to De Beers’ Midstream Communications Manager David Johnson, “the January 2014 sight is particularly significant as this will be the first time that De Beers begins a year selling to international sightholders in Southern Africa. In addition, the January sight will be the first to take place after the Christmas period in which a lot of the diamond industry’s consumer sales take place. It will therefore, represent an important opportunity for restocking after this period of heightened demand,” he told Gazette Business via email.
Johnson said the diamond industry was excited about the sales potential around Chinese New Year (January 31st), a period which Chinese people usually splurge on buying luxury goods as part of the celebrations.
While the Chinese, coupled with the Indian market, have become increasingly important to the group and the industry as a whole, the United States remains the most critical market for diamond sales.
Chief Executive Officer of De Beers, Philippe Mellier was quoted in US business publication, Bloomberg, in 2013 expressing optimistic about U.S diamonds market which he said they expected to grow by more than 2 per cent in 2013.
Johnson said while they remained positive, they were not in a position to predict the movement of the US sales at this point. “The health of the US economy is very important to the diamond industry as it remains the world’s largest market for sales of diamond jewellery. While it is still too early to have a full picture of the US consumer market’s performance over the end of year selling season, the initial reports have been positive and most feedback indicates good sales growth. We also saw positive performance in the US consumer market in the run up to Christmas and the pull of demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level has a positive impact on demand for rough diamonds.”
After the first two sights that were held in November and December respectively, Johnson said sentiments towards Botswana and its facilities were positive according to the feedback they have received from their international sightholders. “Sightholders have stated that they find Botswana a good place to do business and many have said that they have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience in Botswana, from transit through the airport to the quality of the local amenities to the new De Beers sales offices.”
Johnson declined to comment on the expected volumes at the January sight, stating that it was market sensitive information. He however, stated that on average De Beers Sightholder Sales sells US$5 billion – US$6 billion (P40 billion-P48 billion) each year so, with ten Sights each year, the average Sight is between US$500 million (P4 billion) and US$600 (P4.8 billion) million.