De Beers Diamond Sale Smallest This Year, Exceeds Expectations

  • Company says smaller sales was still better than expected
  • Industry has so far managed to avoid a second-half slowdown

De Beers had its smallest diamond sale so far this year as the industry entered a seasonally slower period. Still, the world’s biggest producer of the stones said the auction was better than it had expected.

De Beers sold $485 million of diamonds in its September cycle compared with $639 million at its previous offering, the Anglo American Plc unit said in a statement Tuesday. The sale results are “slightly ahead of expectation,” Chief Executive Officer Bruce Cleaver said.

The diamond industry is seasonal, with the holiday period from Thanksgiving in November through the Lunar New Year in Asia in January or early February the busiest period for jewelry sales. De Beers’ customers buy more rough stones earlier in the year to prepare for this period.

So far, the diamond industry has defied expectations of a second-half slowdown. While rough-diamond prices have gained 7.4 percent this year, Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani and other executives have cautioned that the final six months of 2016 could be more difficult for the industry.

“De Beers’ results are lower month-on-month due to seasonal factors, but the number is still materially higher than in August/October 2015,” Oleg Petropavlovskiy, an analyst at BCS Financial Group in Moscow, said in a note Tuesday. “We maintain our positive view on the diamond market.”

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