Diamond traders expres optimism for the American diamond trade after polished imports rose to the highest level since 2014 last year.
Shipments to the country increased by 8% to $ 23.3 billion in 2018, according to the US Census Bureau, despite modest growth in consumer sales. That indicates that the industry may send large quantities of goods to the US in anticipation of future demand, traders noted.
“The US is still the most important marketplace for luxury products, and especially for diamonds,” said Bruno Scarselli, a partner at Scarselli Diamonds, a New York-based supplier of high-quality colored diamonds. “There are fewer restrictions on doing business in the US than anywhere else in the world.”
Markets such as Hong Kong and India can cause problems when it comes to bureaucracy and payment speed, so traders prefer to sell to the US, where they can receive money faster, he added.
Retail potential for the diamond trade
The growth of polished imports into the US in 2018 also reflects the power of the jewelry retailer, which still shows a “lively potential,” Scarselli emphasized.
The US diamond trading retail market grew in 2018, with sales of diamond jewelry in North America rising 4% for the full year, according to research by diamond producer Alrosa. However, demand fell in the second half due to political uncertainty and stock market volatility, De Beers noted in February.
“Based on the business performance of the past few months, we expect further growth in 2019,” said Stanley Zale, vice president of diamond and gem purchasing at Stuller, a diamond and jewelery wholesaler based in Louisiana. “I would be cautiously optimistic. There are so many unanswered questions in the American political environment, and that could have an impact on business.”
Best possible market
Dealers nevertheless noticed a shift in the diamond trade to the US because they continue to express uncertainty about the Far East.
The US is picking up a large amount of diamonds that flowed to China earlier when demand in that country was stronger, noted Hertz Hasenfeld, president of the crafty New York based manufacturer Hasenfeld-Stein. Indian companies are increasingly focusing on America with sales initiatives and many are opening offices that they could very well supply with goods, he added.
India was the largest source of polished goods in America last year; its exports to the US increased by 11% to $ 9.09 billion, according to the Census Bureau. Supply from Israel grew by 6% to $ 7.56 billion, while Belgian shipments shrank by 3% to $ 2.93 billion.
“There is no doubt that the market is currently the US,” Hasenfeld emphasized.
“The world is preparing to tackle the best possible retail marketplace,” Scarselli adds.