|The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe has had a notable impact on the diamond industry, with new developments unfolding every day. Here, we present a one-stop, running news feed on industry events impacted by the virus.
• California-based jeweler Ticori recommences operations, including its stores, artisans and essential services, with new safety measures in place such as physical distancing.
• Pittsburg-based Henne Jewelers reopens on May 15, encouraging appointments for in-store visits and offering curbside drop off and pick up.
• The City of Antwerp EUR 50 million available to provide extra support to Antwerp companies suffering from the crisis, including those in the diamond sector. Funds will be syphoned for innovation solutions and a discount for companies that work with power capacity, lifting power or motors, such as in diamond manufacturing.
• Alrosa in talks to sell rough to Gohkran, Russia’s Russia’s precious metals and gems repository.
• Bluerock restarts Kareevlei mine in South Africa; shifts rough sales to Antwerp.
• Indian authorities allow Mumbai diamond and jewelry companies to repopen, but with 10% ofd workforce.
• Independent Jewelers Organization cancels conference originally scheduled for July 24 to 28 in Baltimore.
Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) updates support measures provided to the industry during COVID-19 crisis, including compensation of EUR 3,000 for financial losses resulting from the crisis, tax benefits and protection against seizure and bankruptcy. (See document here).
Sthe AWDC announces that shipping destinations or countries of provenance are operational from and to Antwerp, with the exception of India, which is currently still under strict lockdown.
Rio Tinto introduces on-site testing for COVID-19 at its Diavik mine
Alrosa shuts its polishing operations until further notice when demand and health conditions improve.
Lightbox delays commissioning of new manufacturing facility in Portland, Oregon by a few months to the first quarter of 2021.
Jared, a subsidiary of Signet Jewelers, is offering free virtual weddings to 1,000 couples who had to cancel or postpone their events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Baselworld cancels show that was rescheduled for January 28 to February 2, 2021.
• Jewelry wholesaler Stuller reopens global headquarters in Lafayette, Louisiana, with a reduced number of associates working on orders on-site. Other employees continue to work from home.
• Signet Jewelers reopens nearly 200 of its US stores, operating at partial capacity and with new innovations to navigate sales by adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
• Certain services resume at Israel Diamond Exchange, including banks, post office, customs, diamond comptroller’s office and the Brinks safety deposit room. Trading floor remains closed.
• Jewelers of America announces its second annual National Convention will take place in a virtual forum on May 26 to 28.
• De Beers suspends application process for new sightholder contracts.
• Alrosa says it will temporarily suspend operations at its Aikhal underground mine and Zarya open pit from May 15 due to the decline in demand and sales; will reconsider its group production plan at its board meeting later in May.
• Antwerp’s four diamond trading halls will reopen on May 11, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) confirms.
• Eight diamond manufacturing units resume scaled down operations in Surat’s Special Economic Zone; ten shipments of diamonds exported to Hong kong.
• Singapore-based SK Jewelry says it will remain closed until the country’s “circuit breaker period” is scheduled to end on June 1.
• De Beers urges trade not to prevent rough purchases; company marketing to emphasize role diamonds play in shaping a better world and forging more meaningful connections.
• Lucapa resumes partial operations at its Lulo mine in Angola after government relaxes lockdown rules for essential sectors.
• Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) contributes INR 12 million ($153,380) to the chief minister routed through Gem and Jewellery National Relief Foundation.
• Jewelers of America makes its certification program available online at reduced price of $25 per exam.
• The Gemological institute of America (GIA) makes its Essentials course free of charge, with start dates until June 29.
• Belgian government gives green light to resumption of business activity on May 4. Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) publishes guidelines for diamond companies planning to restart.
• De Beers allows sightholders to defer their full allocations at sight scheduled to begin May 4. Few expected to attend due to travel restrictions.
• Alrosa offers maximum flexibility in its supply during May, allowing clients to “stay off the trade if they want.” Deferred goods will be offered during future sales periods, the company said.
• The Atlanta Jewelry Show has postponed its 2020 fall edition, which will now take place from October 24 to 25.
• De Beers donates $200,000 across the four countries in which it mines – Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa – to assist women’s shelters and support organisations. The donation is a response to an increase in gender-based violence resulting from the COVID-19 situation, the company said.
• Bharat Diamond Bourse to host digital show instead of Bharat Diamond Week that was scheduled to take place in early August. The dates for Bharat Diamond Week – Digital have yet to be announced.
• Belgium’s polished imports slump 71% and exports drop 51% in March, giving a first glimpse at the decline in trading levels during the month when the coronavirus spread globally.
• Crisil projects 32% decline in India’s diamond sales for the fiscal year that will end March 31, 2021.
• Sarine, which makes equipment used in diamond manufacturing, anticipates heavy impact on revenue in second and third quarters due to lockdown of Indian cutting sector; furloughs 20% of staff in Israel and places others on paid leave.
• Istanbul Jewelry Show March edition, which was planned to run from 18-21 June 2020, has been postponed until 25-28 March 2021.
• Jewelers Mutual Group makes its online learning platform, JM University (jmuniversity.com), available to the industry for free.
• Gem Diamonds to resume operations at Letšeng mine on April 27, after receiving clearance from the Lesotho government, even though the lockdown there continues through May 5.
• Cibjo to host webinar on 'Strategies for Exiting the Lockdown' on April 30 (9am EST). Register here.
• Dominion Diamond Mines files for and receives insolvency protection, amid high debt and closures associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
• India’s leading diamond-trade organizations call on members to stop importing rough for at least a month from May 15, to prevent an oversupply and ensure banks maintain their credit to the sector.
• De Beers cuts 2020 production forecast to between 25 million and 27 million carats, compared to the 32 million to 34 million in its original projection, as its mines in southern Africa were placed on care and maintenance during the pandemic.
• The British Allied Trades Federation, an umbrella group of UK industry bodies, furloughs some of its staff members, including Simon Forrester, CEO of the National Association of Jewellers.
• Reed Jewelry Group calls off JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows; to host remote virtual event in the summer.
• De Beers and parent Anglo American contribute $3 million to COVID-19 relief effort in South Africa. De Beers earlier donated $2.5 million to causes across Botswana and Namibia.
• Stuller recommences manufacturing and other services and begins shipping orders again. Company lays off small number of workers on a permanent basis.
• Gubelin Gem Lab allows clients to set their own fee for its services until the end of May. Additional money made through payments above Gubelin’s regular tariff price will be forwarded to Médecins Sans Frontières, an independent medical humanitarian organisation. Gubelin will match that contribution with a donation to the same cause.
• The Fancy Color Research Foundation has insufficient data to publish the Fancy Color Diamond Index for the first quarter due to the COVID-19 lockdown. It marks the first time the index has not been published since its inception in 2015.
• De Beers confirms that its Debswana mining operations in Botswana were placed on care and maintenance on April 2 as the country implemented a 28-day lockdown.
• Lucapa Diamond company says it is working with the authorities in Angola to recommence normal mining activities at the Lulo mine. Its other asset, the Mothae mine in Lesotho, remains on care and maintenance.
• Christie’s expands its online auction calendar across products, including jewelry.
• Jewelers of America announces next set of webinars: https://www.jewelers.org/ja/events-news/webinars
o Thursday, April 23, 2020, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time: “Coronavirus Outbreak: No Social Distancing Required,” with Gloria Maccaroni, director of brand development at the Silver Promotion Service, and Krista Bickley, digital marketing account manager at High Level Thinkers.
• The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) makes its seven “Blue Books” available for free download (here). The books are CIBJO’s definitive sets of grading standards and nomenclature for diamonds, colored gemstones, pearls, coral, precious metals and gemological laboratories, and also responsible sourcing practices. The group also hosts gemology webinar on Friday, April 17 at 10:00 a.m. London and 12:00 p.m. New York.
• Gibb River Diamonds, which has mining operations in Australia, cuts salaries by half; says it is well positioned to weather COVID-19 crisis since it is debt-free.
• Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) reschedules Oroarezzo 2020 jewelry show to July 18 to 21.
• Stornoway Diamonds extends care-and-maintenance period at Renard mine due to weak diamond market and prices, despite Quebec government lifting its lockdown order on mining operations.
• Alrosa raises budget for COVID-19 relief to $4.2 million, providing sanitizers, medical equipment, medicines and personal protective gear in Yakutia, Arkhangelsk region and Moscow.
• Letšeng Diamond Mine donates mobile office for COVID19 testing to Lesotho’s Department of Health.
• Plumb Club introduces new podcast series (https://plumbclub.com/resources/). In the first, Severine Ferrari, editor in chief and founder of Engagement 101, discusses “The New Bridal Consumer — How You Can Best Help!”. Kevin Reilly, vice president of Platinum Guild International, USA, hosts “Cracking the Code on Customer Experience with Platinum”.
• South Africa extends lockdown to end of April.
• The Graff Foundation donates $1 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization.
• Petra Diamonds like-for-like price drop 27% in March versus February; Williamson mine to remain on care and maintenance indefinitely, until diamond prices recover.
• Firestone Diamonds extends Liqhobong mine shutdown, with uncertainty over when diamond markets will be strong enough again to support the operation.
• Organizers reschedule Hong Kong International Jewellery Show for August 3 to 6. Initially scheduled to take place in march, the show was postponed to May be, 2020 at AWE
• Diamond manufacturer Dimexon is using its facility in Coimbatore, India to provide meals to the local community and the under-privileged during the lockdown. The company’s engineers are also helping design and manufacture low-cost medical ventilators and other support devices to be distributed to local hospitals and health institutions.
• Alrosa donates RUB 166 million ($2.3 million) to help provide medical supplies and equipment in the Yakutia region in which it operates.
• Kareevlei mine in South Africa to remain on care and maintenance until the market recovers sufficiently for the operation to be cash flow positive on a monthly basis, owner Blue Rock Diamonds says.
• De Beers contributes $2.5 million to aid the COVID-19 response in Botswana and Namibia; converts 3D printers that usually develop parts for synthetic-diamond detection machines at its UK technology center to make headbands for face shields worn by health-care staff.
• UK jewelry trade organizations establish the Jeweller Support Network, designed to assist independent and family-owned retailers, designer-makers and trade professionals struggling with the ramifications of COVID-19. (Details at www.naj.co.uk/jewellersupportnetwork)
• The Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) to issue two parallel credit ratings for companies to reflect the impact of the shutdown on cash flow: one rating will use JBT’s its usual methods, demonstrating the realities of COVID-19, while the second will show the situation before the downturn.
• Jewelry retailer James Avery to furlough many of their manufacturing and retail associates, along with select corporate staff, and reduced pay for all executive and management teams.
• Rio Tinto says operations continue at Argyle mine in Australia and Diavik in Canada. Argyle on course to permanently shut down planned toward end of 2020.
• The Tiffany & Co. Foundation allocates $750,000 to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund of the World Health Organization, and $250,000 to The New York Community Trust’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund.
• Belgium government offers discounted tax rate to companies making advance payments in the third and fourth quarter, with due date on 10 October 2020 and 20 December 2020; offers compensation of EUR 3,000 for every self-employed person that can prove they’ve lost at least 60% year on year in turnover during the period March 14 to April 30.
• World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) adopts Get Diamonds as its official trading platform.
• Phillips postpones Hong Kong Jewels and Jadeite auction from a May 31 start to the week of July 5.
• Vicenzaoro plans to go ahead with its show from September 5 to 9. The theme, “human touch,” will emphasize creativity, craftsmanship, and the industry’s ethical and sustainable credentials, among other trends. The fair is an opportunity for the trade to restart following the crisis, organizers said.
• The publicly owned Flemish Investment Fund will guarantee loans used to pay debts caused by the coronavirus crisis. Companies unable to obtain financing because of a lack of guarantees can have 75% of their contracts covered by the Flemish government, in exchange for a one-off premium of 0.25% instead of the normal 0.5%.
• India’s Gem & Jewellery Export promotion Council (GJEPC) contributed INR 210 million ($2.8 million) to Prime Minister Nahendra Modi’s PM-CARES fund earmarked for relief efforts in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
• Alrosa CEO Sergey Ivanov sold half his shares in the company valued at RUB 18.5 million ($241,670), which he will donate to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in the Mirny district of Yakutia.
• The American Gem Society (AGS) announces its first-ever virtual conference, which will take place April 27 to 28 and is free to all AGS members.
• Hong Kong-based jeweler Tse Sui Luen (TSL) warned it will report a loss of at least HKD 80 million ($10.3 million) for the year ending March 31. The slowdown results from a number of factors including the US-China trade war, prolonged social unrest in Hong Kong, and the outbreak of COVID-19.
• Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) launches series of free webinars focused on helping businesses navigate the current disruptions and future impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis. (https://mjsa.org/eventsprograms/mjsa_webinars)
• Botswana begins 28-day lockdown.
• Alrosa allows clients to defer 100% of goods at contract sale scheduled for April 6 to 10.
• Lucapa Diamond Company has whittled down activities at its Lulo mine in Angola to essential operations amid a government lockdown on the country.
• Signet Jewelers temporarily lays off workers to cut costs during the crisis.
• Lucara Diamond Corp. says unsure about abiloity to hold rough tenders as Botswana announced 28-day lockdown. Situation having heavy negative effect on rough prices, it adds.
• Emerald Expositions cancels Couture and Antique Jewelry & Watch shows scheduled for May / June in Las Vegas.
• De Beers opens its Diamond Foundation Course for free to the trade. Applications for the course, which usually costs $250, sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Plumb Club launches Spreading kindness campaign to share feel-good stories from jewelers
• LVMH warns revenue in first quarter could fall 10% to 20%.
• Sales of jewelry and other luxury items slumps 79% in February.
• Gemfields, a miner of emeralds and rubies, closes the majority of its business; says its unsure when it will hold its next tender.
• Diamcor Mining puts the Krone-Endora at Venetia deposit on care and maintenance until April 16 following South Africa lockdown. Has limited or canceled all rough-diamond tenders.
• S&P lowers rating on Botswana due to weakness of diamond trade during coronavirus crisis.
• A number of US trade organizations created the Jeweler Support network to help small jewelry businesses. Resources on www.jewelersupportnetwork.com.
• De Beers cancels sight scheduled in Botswana for March 30 to April 3.
• The Belgium government and banks in the country introduce concessions for businesses, including more time to repay loans and tax obligations.
• ABN Amro offers deferral of loan repayments until September for commercial clients with credit facility of up to EUR 2.5 million ($2.8 million).
• The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) provides support package for members, including discounts and waivers.
• Chow Tai Fook, Richemont Group, Kering, among jewelers producing face masks at their jewelry manufacturing facilities.
• UK deputy chief medical officer warns country’s lockdown could go on for six months.
• Petra Diamonds reports 24% decline in prices on like-for-like basis between February and March tender of South Africa rough.
• Chow Sang Sang reports same-store sales in mainland China fell 45% in the first two months of the year, while those in Hong Kong and Macau slid 44%.
• De Beers reduces workforce at Venetia mine by 75% during South Africa lockdown.
• India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) contributes INR 500 million ($6.7 million) to help industry workers affected by COVID-19.
• Jewelers of America (JA), the Jewelers Vigilence Committee (JVC) and the Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) join 90 other retail groups in appeal to White House to help small retailers obtain financial aid during the pandemic
• GIA closes labs in Carlsbad, New York, Antwerp, Johannesburg, Mumbai and Surat, and suspends operations at various gemological schools.
• De Beers allows sightholders to defer taking all rough supply at sight scheduled for March 30 to April 3.
• Gem Diamonds places Letšeng mine on temporary care and maintenance.
• Petra Diamonds suspends its South Africa operations, including the Finsch, Cullinan and Koffiefontein mines, as South Africa enforces a 21-day lockdown from March 26.
• Firestone Diamonds and Lucapa Diamond Company place Lesotho operations on hold as they rely on supplies from South Africa.
• India’s government raises minimum value of a default that could trigger bankruptcy proceedings for small- and medium-sizes businesses to INR 10 million ($131,160) from INR 100,000 ($1,310). Implements other concessions.
• Christie’s reschedules April New York Magnificent Jewels auction on June 11, and Geneva sale, slated for May, for July 1.
• India announces 21-day lockdown.
• The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) launches dedicated website to provide the jewelry community access to helpful legal resources and breaking news to ensure the survival of their businesses and stay healthy and safe during the pandemic. (see http://jvclegal.org/covid19).
• The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) introduces e-learning platform through which retailers can educate staff while stores are closed and employees are at home. (Gain access here).
• The Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN) launches online digital platform where its WJN Essentials members can connect, communicate, engage and network. (See www.womensjewellerynetwork.com).
• Stuller closes its Louisiana headquarters and suspended all on-site operations.
• Birks Group shuts all stores in Canada until at least April 1.
• Watches of Switzerland closes all locations for its brands in both the US and the UK.
• Michael Hill announces it will shut its stores in Australia and New Zealand for an indefinite period; defers dividend payment.
• The Surat diamond manufacturing industry shuts down until March 31 in line with lockdown enforced by Gujarat state government. The Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai also closes following similar measures in Maharashtra state.
• Signet Jewelers says it will not issue a forecast for the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year in its earnings release scheduled for March 26, as it weighs the effects of the pandemic on its retail operations.
• Macy’s withdraws its guidance for 2020, without providing an updated outlook; suspends its quarterly dividend payout beginning in the second quarter.
• Michael Hill will temporarily close all its Canadian stores, while locations in Australia and New Zealand currently remain open. The jewelry retailer said it will not provide revenue guidance for the fiscal year ending June 30, as it has not fully assessed the impact of the virus on its sales.
• Organizer of Hong Kong show, scheduled for May, suspends preparations as visitors to the city must go into quarantine for 14 days.
• The London Diamond Bourse (LDB) will close from March 25 as the coronavirus spreads in the UK.
• Signet Jewelers announces all its stores will remain closed across its North America banners, including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, James Allen, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda.
• Luxury group Kering sees demand starting to recover in China; expects revenue to decline 13% to 14% in the first quarter.
• Dominion Diamond Mines suspends operations at Ekati mine.
• Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) announces it will close its lab and offices effective March 23; all non-gemological work to continue.
• Rapaport Group reduces prices on Rapaport Price List; issues statement to the market (read here).
• New York Diamond Dealers Club (DDC) closes due to virus spread in the US.
• Luk Fook issues profit warning after stores shut in Hong Kong and China in January and February.
• Most stores in mainland China reopened in March, but customer traffic sparse.
• Gem Diamonds reports prices for commercial-quality rough down 18% at its March tender due to impact of coronavirus.
• Alrosa, Petra Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corp., De Beers continue mining operations, with special procedures in place in event of virus outbreak.
• Indian banks give diamond exporters extra month to repay loans taken to fund overseas shipments.
• Bharat Diamond Bourse asks members to reduce staff by 50%.
• Surat Diamond Association decides to keep polishing industry open while implementing health precautions.
• Jewelers of America (JA) initiates webinar series on business challenges related to COVID-19 (https://www.jewelers.org/ja/events-news/webinars).
• China reports zero new infections for the first time. (The New York Times)
• American Gem Society (AGS) cancels conclave scheduled for April 27 to 29 in Denver, Colorado. Exploring options for virtual mini-conference later in the year.
• Tiffany & Co., Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney close US stores.
• Pandora shuts stores in North America and Europe; urges franchisees and partners to do the same.
• De Beers says sight due to begin on March 31 will take place, despite travel ban to Botswana.
• AWDC and Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) co-host online diamond fair.
• JCK postpones Las Vegas shows; no new date set.
• Kimberley Process (KP) says June Intersessional Meeting, scheduled for June 8 to 12 in Moscow, will now take place online.
• Pandora rescinds previous guidance; says same-store sales in China down 70% to 80% since late January.
• Israel Diamond Exchange announces 50% discount on membership fees and 33% cut in maintenance fees for March and April.
• Sotheby’s postpones Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Sale from April 5 to July 5; New York Magnificent Jewels auction now scheduled on June 9.
• Mountain Province delays reporting annual results as auditors unable to complete work on time due to coronavirus.
• National Retail Federation (NRF) cautions that supply chains are being disrupted, and imports may be delayed in March and April.
• Oscar Heyman closes New York offices and workshop.
• Alrosa allows clients to defer up to 60% of their rough allocations at its March contract sales.
• Antwerp closes all four diamond-trading floors.
• Israel Diamond Exchange closes its trading floors.
• Israel’s diamond regulator grants temporary concession, allowing 90 days for inspecting goods from certain countries affected by the coronavirus.
• Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) postpones its expo that was due to take place in New York from March 15 to 17.
• JA New York show set for the same dates also canceled but expects to hold its summer show in August.
• Chow Tai Fook reports sales dropped 60% in Hong Kong and Macau and 42% in mainland China in January-February. Says 70% of its stores in China and 64% in Hong Kong and Macau have reopened.
• World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 a pandemic.
• Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cancels its March career fair in New York; plans to find new date for the event.
• De Beers reports sales fell 28% year on year to $355 million in February after allowing sightholders to delay buying goods destined for China.
• Polished prices slide amid coronavirus fears, with RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI™) for 1-carat diamonds down 1.6% in February; 0.30-carat RAPI declines 2.1%.
• Baselworld cancels fair scheduled for April 30 to May 5, reschedules for January 28 to February 2.
• US records first coronavirus death and announces highest travel warning for areas in Italy, South Korea and Iran. (The New York Times)
• Watches & Wonders Geneva show, which was due to take place from April 25 to 29, is canceled.
• De Beers announces provisions to let sightholders defer Chinese goods at upcoming February sight as coronavirus raises concerns about rise in polished inventory in the midstream.
• Italy sees surge in coronavirus cases. (The New York Times)
• NRF warns the coronavirus could reach the US and affect growth in February.
• India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) asks banks and government to allow diamond and jewelry suppliers to China and Hong Kong more time to pay back loans connected with overseas shipments.
• Chow Tai Fook says it suspended operations at more than 40 locations in Hong Kong and Macau due to the rise of the coronavirus epidemic.
• WHO proposes official name for disease the coronavirus causes: COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). (The New York Times)
• Hong Kong shows, scheduled to begin on March 2, postponed and rescheduled for May 18 to 21.
• First coronavirus death reported outside China. (The New York Times)
• Trump administration restricts travel from China. (The New York Times)
• WHO declares global health emergency. (The New York Times)
• Wuhan is cut off by Chinese authorities. (The New York Times)
• First confirmed cases outside of China, reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. US citizen returns to Washington state from Wuhan with symptoms. (The New York Times)
• China reports first death from an illness caused by the virus. (The New York Times)
• Authorities in China confirm they’re treating dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, mainly in city of Wuhan. Days later, researchers identify new virus and officials were monitoring its spread. (The New York Times)