De Beers' second auction of rough diamonds for the year produced revenues of $355 million, nearly 36% lower than the first auction, as the Coronavirus negatively impacted consumer confidence in key markets.
In a release this morning, the diamond giant noted that the values at the second auction were more than 28% down on the revenues received from the second auction of last year.
De Beers holds 10 auctions of rough diamonds in Gaborone every year, selling rough stones to its exclusive list of buyers known as ‘sightholders’. The diamonds sold primarily come from Botswana but are also mixed with production from De Beers’ mines in South Africa, Namibia and Canada.
De Beers attributed the lower sales to the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak, which is wreaking havoc on global consumer confidence and demand.
“Following an improvement in demand for rough diamonds during the first sales cycle of 2020, we recognised the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market and put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds,” De Beers’ group’s CEO, Bruce Cleaver said.
China, the second largest market for diamonds, is the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, which has thus far killed more than 3,100 people and infected 92,000 others.
The disease’s outbreak comes as the rough diamond industry was recovering from a slump seen in 2019, caused by oversupply of the midstream where cutting and polishing firms were sitting on inventory.