Better-than-expected holiday performance boosts December diamond sales
The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) shows stabilized polished diamond prices in December thanks to steady sales in the US and China. Increased consumer engagement proves to be the decisive factor for successful retailers.
In a statement released this Tuesday, the Rapaport Group revealed that RAPI for 1-carat diamonds had increased by 0.3% in December 2017, while that of 0.50-carat and 0.30-carat stones rose by 0.6% and 1.2%, respectively. RAPI for 3-carat diamonds, however, decreased by 1.7% over the same period.
Taking these latest figures into account, the 1-carat RAPI fell by 0.8% in the fourth quarter and by 5.3% over the full year 2017.
This improved market sentiment in the diamond industry in December can be attributed in large part to better-than-expected holiday sales in the US and strong demand in China in the run up to Chinese New Year on February 16.
In the US, jewellers and diamantaires, faced with a rapidly changing market, were most successful over the holiday season when they made efforts to engage consumers both online and in store, while also offering added-value services.
A judiciously timed example of this shift towards experiential retail in the jewelry sector is Tiffany & Co.'s Blue Box Cafe. Opened last November in the brand's New York flagship, the space toys with the idea of Breakfast at Tiffany's and aims to increase footfall in store through the creation of an immersive luxury experience.
In mainland China, the rising popularity of diamond engagement rings among millennials has helped consolidate ever more consistent domestic sales, which are overtaking more erratic Chinese tourist shopping in other countries.
Price uncertainty, online retailers, increasing synthetics supply and changing consumer habits number among the challenges currently faced by the diamond industry. However, thanks to booming stock markets and a predicted increase in disposable income in the US due to higher wages and lower taxes, dealers appear to be starting 2018 with a brighter outlook than in previous years.
Following reports of strong holiday sales, manufacturers are maintaining consistent production of polished diamonds in anticipation of increased demand in 2018’s first quarter, a period when retailers are generally looking to replenish stock after the holidays.
Diamond dealers are also cautiously optimistic but will wait for memo returns before venturing a definitive assessment of the holiday season.
Established in 1976, the Rapaport Group is an international network of companies that aims to support the development of ethical and transparent diamond and jewelry markets. It currently works with more than 20,000 clients in over 94 countries, providing information services, benchmark price lists, research and analysis.
The Group also runs RapNet, the world's largest diamond-trading network, which features daily listings of over 1.18 million carats valued at over $7.1 billion.
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