Coronavirus Updates: Impact on the Diamond Trade
July 13, 2020
RAPAPORT... 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.
• Hong Kong tightens social-distancing rules from July 15 following increase in local transmission of coronavirus. Limits most public gatherings to four people.
• Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) says face masks now compulsory in city’s Diamond Office. Organization also strongly recommends wearing them in Antwerp Diamond Bourse, Antwerpsche Diamantkring and Diamond Club of Antwerp, as well as on AWDC premises.
• Five workers at Gem Diamonds test positive for coronavirus, all with mild or no symptoms. All staff members to undergo remote testing three days before arriving at Letšeng mine.
• Indian government grants companies three extra months to ship polished back to the country duty-free after grading. Pandemic had delayed return of goods, causing reimporters to miss the original three-month deadline for avoiding the customs tax.
• Alrosa delays upcoming contract sale to July 12 to 17, having previously scheduled it for July 27 to 31. August sale will also take place later in the month than planned.
• Diamonds Do Good announces it will support the Brave of Heart Fund, a provider of financial help to relatives of healthcare workers and volunteers who died because of Covid-19.
• Rio Tinto partners with Yellowknife Women’s Society, Canada, to support its Covid-19 isolation shelter, contributing CAD 150,000 ($110,400).
• Christie’s holds first live Magnificent Jewels auction since start of pandemic, selling 92% by value and 82% by lot in Hong Kong (salesroom pictured, courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2020).
• Informa Markets postpones September Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong show to November 9 to 13, 2020, due to coronavirus and related travel restrictions. Jewellery & Gem Asia Hong Kong, which was scheduled for June but cancelled, will next take place in June 2021.
• Israel’s diamond industry is “on the verge of collapse” due to the coronavirus impact, Israel Diamond Exchange president Yoram Dvash tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dvash petitions government to step up support efforts.
• Alrosa restarts operations at Severalmaz processing plant after idling the site since mid-May to minimize inventory buildup. Workers to rotate in three shifts of 30 days each to minimize spread of coronavirus; will undergo Covid-19 testing before arrival. Operations to pause again from October 8, 2020, to April 1, 2021.
• Indian retailer Titan Company says jewelry revenue fell more than 80% year on year in May and dropped around 30% in June. However, recovery was better than expected, partly because of strong wedding-jewelry sales. While 83% of stores are now open, some are operating with limited hours.
• Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) says Covid-19 support package for members will run until end of August, not September, as it had previously stated.
• Surat Municipal Corporation orders city’s diamond-manufacturing factories to remain closed until July 14 following continued rise in coronavirus cases. Trading markets can reopen July 10.
• More than 62% of US jewelry consumers still prefer to shop in-store despite the pandemic, De Beers survey finds. However, customers want to see safety measures in place.
• US watch retailer Movado Group announces restructuring plan to reduce expenses in light of Covid-19 impact. Employee severance and related costs to total between $8.5 million and $11 million; company doesn’t say how many workers it will lay off.
• Rio Tinto has carried out nearly 2,600 Covid-19 tests at its Diavik diamond mine in Canada since introducing the measure seven weeks ago. All came back negative.
• Tiffany & Co. launches Tiffany Infinite Strength campaign to mark continued reopening of its stores. Retailer will donate all profits from sales of new Tiffany Infinity collection between July 1 and August 31 to CARE, an organization that fights poverty around the world. Funds will mainly support financial resilience for vulnerable communities affected by Covid-19.
• Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) extends Covid-19 support package for members until end of September.
• Indian trade groups call for partial extension of rough-import freeze, recommending shipment window between July 1 and 9 and full moratorium from July 10 to 31.
• Christie’s sells emerald-cut, 28.86-carat, D-color, VVS1-clarity diamond for record $2.1 million at Jewels Online auction. Company sees 100% of items sold by value and 93% by lot, noting “greater client confidence in Christie’s digital ability and online sale platform.”
• Hong Kong government notes challenging outlook for local retail amid travel restrictions and weak job market during Covid-19. Sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts slide 70% year on year to HKD 2.02 billion ($261 million) in May, but decline eases compared with April as virus situation stabilizes and authorities relax social-distancing measures.
• Alrosa resumes operations at International underground mine with reduced headcount after most of the site’s workers and contractors test negative for Covid-19. Laboratory confirms 12 cases of coronavirus among employees.
• Alrosa says its financial contributions to the fight against Covid-19 have reached almost $8 million. The money has gone to public health services in the Yakutia region, where most of its mines are located.
• Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) postpones India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) Premiere event to January 2021. Fair previously scheduled for August 6 to 10 in Mumbai.
• Surat Municipal Corporation orders seven-day shutdown of city’s polishing factories following spike in coronavirus cases.
• International Gemological Institute (IGI) restarting New York office with limited staff numbers and staggered shifts.
• Luk Fook says same-store sales dropped 80% year on year in Hong Kong and Macau in April and May, with slowdown narrowing to 60% in first three weeks of June. In mainland China, same-store sales down 40% in March, 20% in April and May, and less than 20% in June.
• Alrosa suspends operations at its International underground mine for up to two weeks after “several” employees test positive for coronavirus.
• GIA announces it will reopen its New York grading laboratory on June 29, meaning all 11 of its laboratories will have returned to action.
• Hong Kong-based jeweler Tse Sui Luen (TSL) says retail recovery in the municipality is unpredictable due to combination of pandemic and social unrest. Company has considered store closures in the city and will manage costs to help it through the challenges.
• Indian diamond manufacturer Shree Ramkrishna Exports (SRK) has been providing large quantities of food to underprivileged communities in Surat during the Covid-19 crisis. The company has served more 300,000 rotis, and distributed more than 55,000 kilograms of grain and over 120 grocery kits, it said.
• Gem Diamonds and Grib Diamonds report solid rough demand at Antwerp tenders in June.
• Hong Kong Trade Development Council cancels Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and Hong Kong International Jewellery Show until 2021 due to quarantine rules. Fairs were scheduled to take place this August.
• India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council postpones IIJS Premiere trade show — scheduled for August 6 to 10 in Mumbai — until later in the year. No new date confirmed.
• De Beers sight opens with viewings in Antwerp due to Botswana travel ban.
• JCK’s Las Vegas shows will take place online as JCK Virtual from August 10 to 14, 2020.
• Dubai Diamond Exchange reopens (pictured, courtesy Dubai Multi Commodities Centre).
• Indian manufacturer Dharmanandan Diamonds will host a virtual trade show, Diamond Prevé, on June 22, 2020. The exhibition, a private event for customers, will enable remote product inspection and one-on-one interaction, as well as featuring seminar sessions.
• UK auction house Fellows announces it will reopen its salesroom in Birmingham to the public, with health provisions in place. Customers will be able to enter the premises for general enquiries, valuations, viewings, and other requests.
• Around eight diamond-cutting companies in Surat close parts of their factories due to coronavirus cases. Several staff members enter quarantine.
• Chow Tai Fook notes signs of recovery in mainland China following reopening of stores, but says Hong Kong and Macau likely to remain challenging. April-May retail sales down 3% in mainland China and down 71% in Hong Kong, Macau and other markets.
• Israel Diamond Exchange closes trading floor temporarily after member who had been in the hall tests positive for coronavirus; disinfects the room in preparation for reopening on Sunday (pictured, courtesy Israel Diamond Exchange).
• Tiffany & Co. reports “robust recovery” in mainland China, with retail sales up 30% year on year in April and 90% in May. Around 85% of its retail stores in the Asia-Pacific region were fully or partially open by April 30.
• Signet Jewelers says it has reopened 1,100 stores but will permanently close at least 150 in North America and 80 in the UK.
• Diamond Dealers Club in New York reopens, with half the tables removed and members required to wear masks.
• Indian jewelry retailer Titan Company says more than 1,400 of its 1,800 stores have reopened.
• Reed Exhibitions cancels International Jewellery London show scheduled for September 13 to 15, 2020.
• World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) postpones annual congress to 2021. Event was scheduled to take place in Dubai from October 5 to 7, 2020.
• New York enters phase one of reopening plan. Range of wholesale and manufacturing businesses may reopen, and jewelers can resume deliveries, as well as curbside and in-store pickup.
• Industry consultancy Gemdax estimates excess inventories at the largest diamond producers have reached $3.5 billion, or 30 million to 40 million carats. Figure set to rise to $4.5 billion — or between 40 million and 50 million carats — by end of 2020.
• Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) opens New York location for first time since March 20.
• Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) temporarily suspends in-person teaching at its London headquarters. It will host all educational courses in an online-only format until February 2021.
• Indian diamond manufacturer Asian Star resumes operations at its factory in Hosur in the state of Tamil Nadu with 50% of workforce.
• HRD Antwerp launches program of live online training on diamond grading and retail sales.
• Alrosa says it expects diamond demand to rise by July or August, noting that diamond-jewelry sales were already “bouncing back” in China and other Asian markets.
• Moody’s Investors Service projects decline in rough-diamond sales of 30% to 40% this year — for a total of $7 billion to $8 billion — due to Covid-19 restrictions on the supply chain and weaker retail demand. Market will pick up in the second half as social distancing eases, with revenues rising 20% to 25% in 2021, barring another virus wave.
• The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) has cancelled its live 2020 Awards for Excellence gala, which had been scheduled for July 27. Instead, the WJA will hold on online event and keynote presentation on the same day.
• De Beers Jewellers has reopened its stores in Houston, Texas, and in Bal Harbour, Florida. Its stores in London, Paris, New York, Russia and Kazakhstan remain closed.
• The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) stops accepting applications for free Essentials courses after more than 10,000 people sign up. The program was full by May 20, prompting the organization to close the offer.
• De Beers to make sight goods available for viewing in locations outside Botswana, starting with upcoming sale scheduled for June 15 to 19.
• Dubai Diamond Exchange preparing to be fully operational from June 14 in line with guidance from authorities.
• Alrosa allows customers to defer all rough purchases at June sale, maintaining flexible policy for third month in a row. Clients can still buy remotely if they wish.
• Petra Diamonds reports rough prices down 27% in March and April compared with February; cancels May tender due to weak demand.
• Christie’s to hold rescheduled Magnificent Jewels sales in Hong Kong on July 9, Geneva on July 22 and New York on July 29.
• Texas-based retailer James Avery Artisan Jewelry reopens 90 of its 92 stores, with sanitization and social distancing in place, and associates undergoing daily health screenings and wearing face masks. Company also resumes manufacturing at facilities in Kerrville, Comfort and Hondo.
• The International Gemological Institute (IGI) reopens several of its offices around the world. Its centers in Antwerp, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Dubai and Japan are now operational. It is carrying out certain remote services at its New York office, while operations at its locations in India vary according to needs and government instructions.
• A’Star Jewellery, the jewelry division of diamond manufacturer Asian Star, reopens its factory in the SEEPZ special economic zone in Mumbai with a reduced workforce and health provisions in place.
• Forevermark reports good recovery among retail partners in China, with stable average selling prices and a doubling of conversion rates; plans to expand bridal collection and broaden e-commerce product offering.
• A Massachusetts jeweler is leading a petition calling on state authorities to allow jewelry retailers to reopen sooner than currently planned. Matt Khatib, president of M.K. Benatti Jewelers in Newburyport, is urging Governor Charlie Baker to include jewelry retailers in phase one of the state’s reopening plan, which at present only allows curbside pickup or remote fulfilment of orders. Physical stores cannot open until phase two, which is slated to begin on June 8 at the earliest.
• Indian jeweler Titan Company reopens stores outside containment zones, with the retailer enabling cashless payment in all stores, sanitizing products, and encouraging customers to make appointments. All mall locations remain closed. Company expects impact on profits, as sales in reopened stores are at 50% of normal levels.
• The July edition of the Oroarezzo jewelry show in Vicenza, Italy, has been scrapped for this year, with the next edition now scheduled to take place in 2021. Organizers have created “Oroarezzo on Stage,” a virtual window into client companies’ creations, which will allow exhibitors to reinforce their online presences and provide visibility on global markets.
• London Diamond Bourse reopens with reduced access to enable it to follow UK guidelines on social distancing (pictured, courtesy London Diamond Bourse).
• Indian diamond manufacturer Asian Star resumes operations at its factory in Surat. It will begin with a limited workforce, before increasing the numbers gradually when rules ease.
• Alrosa cuts 2020 production plan, with new forecast of between 28 million and 31 million carats versus previous guidance of around 34 million carats.
• Israel Diamond Exchange reopens trading floor under new format that meets government health guidelines (pictured during preparations, courtesy Israel Diamond Exchange).
• Surat manufacturing sector cleared to resume operations, with 50% of workers in factories and 33% of staff allowed in offices.
• India trade postpones moratorium on rough imports to June 1. The voluntary one-month ban was initially scheduled to begin on May 15, but was pushed off to allow companies to complete outstanding shipments.
• Alrosa selling largest ever volume of rough on its digital tender platform due to pandemic-related restrictions. The miner is offering more than 800 rough diamonds from its 5- to 10-carat batches at the sale, which takes place from May 15 to 29.
• The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) announces it has reopened its laboratories in Antwerp, Carlsbad, Gaborone, Johannesburg and Tokyo, with modified schedules and limited capacity. See GIA.edu/coronavirus-update for scheduling details at each location.
• Israel Diamond Exchange announces plans to reopen trading floor on May 24 under new format to ensure it is safe and compliant with government rules.
• Organizers cancel JA New York show summer show scheduled for August 9 to 12; currently planning to hold JA New York Fall from October 25 to 27 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
• New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, scheduled for July 24 to 26, is now canceled. Organizers say they “recognize that late July is simply too soon to collectively gather in large groups.”
• Diamond manufacturer Asian Star says it received special permission to resume partial operations at its facility in the SEEPZ special economic zone in Mumbai. It will observe government guidelines on social distancing, sanitation, hygiene, and transportation arrangements.
• California-based jeweler Tacori recommences operations, including its stores, artisans and essential services, with new safety measures such as physical distancing.
• Pittsburg-based Henne Jewelers reopens on May 15, encouraging appointments for in-store visits and offering curbside drop-off and pickup.
• The City of Antwerp makes EUR 50 million available to provide extra support to Antwerp companies suffering from the crisis, including those in the diamond sector.
• Alrosa in talks to sell rough to Gokhran, 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 reopen so they can handle exports, but with 10% of 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.)
• Rio Tinto introduces on-site Covid-19 testing at its Diavik mine.
• Alrosa shuts its polishing operations until 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 had been 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 from 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 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 Jewellery 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 Covid-19 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 email@example.com
• 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)
Article originally published on Diamonds.net here