Sunday, July 7, 2024

De Beers’ Rough Diamond Sales Plunge 31%

Gaborone, Botswana—De Beers Group reported a significant downturn in rough diamond sales for the fifth sales cycle of the year, with a marked decrease of 31% compared to the same period last year. The company’s CEO, Al Cook, has indicated that a recovery in demand is likely to be gradual.

In its latest report, De Beers disclosed that rough diamond sales for the fifth sales cycle of 2024 reached $315 million. This figure represents a steep decline from the $456 million recorded in cycle 5 of 2023 and an 18% drop from the previous cycle’s $383 million. Year-to-date sales have also slumped, with the company selling $1.95 billion worth of rough diamonds so far in 2024, compared to $2.43 billion by the same time last year.

Seasonal Slowdown and Economic Factors

Al Cook noted that a seasonal slowdown in diamond sales typically occurs during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. However, he also highlighted that the current slump is exacerbated by broader economic factors, particularly the reduced demand in China.

The recent annual JCK jewelry show in Las Vegas showed a renewed interest among U.S. retailers in natural diamonds,” Cook said. “However, ongoing economic challenges in China suggest we should anticipate a protracted U-shaped recovery in demand.”

Market Dynamics: Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

The decrease in demand for natural diamonds is compounded by the rising popularity of lab-grown diamonds, which have begun to capture a significant market share. Industry analyst Edahn Golan noted that in April, 45% of diamond engagement rings sold by specialty jewelers featured lab-grown diamonds.

Despite this trend, Golan questioned the sustainability of the shift towards lab-grown diamonds, particularly as their prices continue to fall. “Once most lab-grown diamonds are D color and FL clarity with excellent cuts, size will be the only distinguishing factor commanding a higher price,” he wrote. Practically, there’s a limit to this, as few would opt for a daily-wear 15-carat solitaire ring.

Strategic Shift and Future Outlook

In response to the current market conditions, De Beers has announced several strategic changes. Starting in the second half of the year, the company will transition from monthly to quarterly reporting of rough diamond sales. This change is part of De Beers’ new “Origins” strategy, which aims to cut costs, streamline operations, and refocus on natural diamonds to attract potential investors or new owners.

Mining conglomerate Anglo American, which holds an 85% stake in De Beers, has publicly stated its intention to either divest or demerge its interest in the diamond company. The government of Botswana owns the remaining 15%. Cook revealed in an interview with National Jeweler that the divestment or demerger process is expected to take approximately 18 months.


The current downturn in rough diamond sales highlights the challenges De Beers faces amid shifting market dynamics and economic uncertainties. While the company is taking strategic steps to adapt, the path to recovery remains uncertain, particularly given the mixed signals from different regions and the competitive pressure from lab-grown diamonds.

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