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Cheaper Diamonds Fire Life Into the Hidden World of Gem Trading

  • De Beers, Alrosa price cuts trigger $500 million buying spree
  • Factories restarting to cut and polish the rough stones
An employee examines rough diamonds in the diamond district of Antwerp, Belgium.
An employee examines rough diamonds in the diamond district of Antwerp, Belgium.Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

For the past six months, the global diamond hubs in Antwerp, Belgium, and Mumbai have been at a standstill, with cutting and polishing factories closed and trading floors shuttered. Now, a capitulation on prices by the biggest miners is sparking the industry back to life.

After refusing to budge on diamond prices during much of the pandemic, De Beers and Russian rival Alrosa PJSC decided last week they saw enough signs of recovering demand and seized the opportunity, cutting some prices by almost 10%. The impact was instant, as rough diamond buyers snapped up about half a billion dollars in uncut gems, according to people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the information is private.