(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK - Diamond market sentiment improved in January, with firm prices after retailers reported a better-than-expected holiday season. Suppliers are gaining confidence about first-quarter orders as jewelers start to replenish stock after holiday sales. 

The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat diamonds rose 2.2 percent during January. RAPI for 0.30-carat diamonds increased 2.3 percent, while 0.50-carat stones gained 2.4 percent. RAPI for 3-carat diamonds edged up 0.5 percent. 

Despite the upswing, RAPI for 1-carat diamonds was down 2.3 percent from a year ago. 

Established higher-end jewelers such as Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels had a strong holiday season, as did independent retailers with prominent displays of recognized diamond jewelry brands. Overall, jewelers had more effective omni-channel execution than in previous years. 

Diamond trading was steady throughout the month, with suppliers filling specific requests as they waited for post-holiday inventory orders from retailers. Chinese dealer demand slowed as store owners completed their buying and focused on selling stock to consumers for the Chinese New Year, which begins on Feb. 16. 

Indian manufacturers are raising their polished production after operating at reduced levels since the November Diwali break. Dealer inventory is relatively low, with the number of unique diamonds listed on RapNet having risen by just 1 percent during the month to 1.19 million as of Feb. 1, 6 percent below the number of listings a year earlier. 

Rough trading remains robust as manufacturers ramp up production. De Beers sold $665 million worth of goods in January, with boxes going for an estimated 6 percent average premium on the secondary market. 

Profit margins are expanding. However, rough prices are expected to rise in the coming months as miners seek to resume growth in an improving polished market, particularly after last year’s sales declines. Positive consumer spending in the U.S. and China is likely to support polished prices, and continues to fuel optimism for 2018. 

Copyright 2018, Rapaport USA Inc.

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