Latest Diamond Price Charts And Trends
Are natural mined diamonds going up in value? After all, the prices of most other commodities, food, energy, travel and products and services in general seem to be rising relentlessly.
And of course, the recent embargo on Russian-sourced natural diamonds should if anything dent supply, thereby putting upward pressure on market values of diamonds to some degree.
However, prices have not been rising. In fact, since November 2022, the average price of diamonds has fallen by around 15%. Why?
Graph courtesy of Diamondse.info
The truth is that no one knows why precisely, but there are several factors likely to have been weighing on prices, to one extent or another.
And while it is always unwise to deduce too much from averages, it is clear from the more detailed graphs below that the fall has also been largely consistent across the various carat weights, from 0.25 to over 5.00.
Graphs courtesy of Pricescope.com
So here are a few of the variables to consider with regards to the movement in prices;
- The boycotting of Russian-sourced diamonds is essentially of little significance. For one thing, this was only introduced in the past few weeks. And because the majority of rough, uncut diamonds find their way to the Indian continent for precision cutting before being sold on through diamond dealer networks in other parts of the world, the sometimes opaque traceability means this is likely to have only a moderate impact overall upon average global prices in the months ahead either.
- The rampant cost-of-living inflation has not been confined to the UK, even though it is a fact that post-Brexit, the rate and strength of price increases has been materially higher here than in any EU country or the USA. With cost of living inflation (rather than asset price inflation) ranging between 5% (USA), 7% (EU) and 11% (UK) and overtaking wage growth, it is easy to understand that purchases of luxury, non-essential items such as diamonds are bound to have dipped.
- Interest rate increases have inevitably played their part too; not by reducing reckless discretionary spending (there wasn't much of that in the first place) but because they have most probably actually contributed to inflation and, importantly, to a decline in consumer and business confidence. When people are feeling the squeeze on their financial resources and only see things getting tighter still, they are inevitably averse to making relatively big ticket, luxury purchases or will have a reduced budget at their disposal to do so.
- Historically, during periods of uncertainty and as protection from rising inflation, there has been a propensity to buy precious gems and gold. Those higher interest rates now available on cash deposits represent an attractive alternative.
- After a mark down in prices by Rapaport in March/April 2020 at the start of COVID, compounded by a fall in demand related to the pandemic, the subsequent lifting of lockdown restrictions by late 2021 saw diamond prices recover sharply, likely due to pent up demand and increased personal savings. Ergo, this more recent retracement in prices was inevitable.
- Lab grown diamonds, the scourge of the traditional mined diamond industry (including Rapaport, the long standing diamond-trade dealing platform and influencer of pricing) have gained significantly in popularity. And their affordability appeals beyond "Generation Z". In fact, although the data needs to be qualified and contextualised, sales by volume of jewellery-standard lab grown diamonds have practically doubled year on year since 2020. Whether you are a fan or not, the irrefutable rise in demand for lab grown stones will clearly have detracted from sales of natural mined diamonds.
- The relatively much lower retail price of lab grown diamonds (which have also fallen in recent months) is not the only factor driving their popularity. Younger couples (and older ones increasingly) are just as motivated by their ethical credentials, which is another detractor away from mined diamonds.
Specialised diamond growing laboratory
While these variables are not exhaustive, it is clear that the world in general is more confusing and challenging for the vast majority of people than it has been in many years. This does not create the most conducive environment for consumer spending, at least in the short term.
It also means that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint any specific causal factor - let alone identify how and when things are likely to improve.
What we did note with some interest was the recently aired Netflix documentary "Nothing Lasts Forever" regarding the true value of natural diamonds, and concerns over the future of the mined diamond industry in the face of, what the production referred to as, (sic) a synthetic diamond proliferation.
(A synthetic diamond is a term more accurately used to describe a moissanite or cubic zirconia. A lab grown diamond is in fact a diamond, evolved under laboratory conditions. It is neither a synthetic nor a fake diamond).
By way of some editorial balance, enthusiastic advocates of lab diamonds were juxtaposed against their critics.
Most vociferous of these critics was one of the key contributors, Rapaport himself. His eponymous diamond trading and pricing organisation has been extremely reluctant to embrace the growth in lab diamond popularity in any way whatsoever
This will not come as a shock to anyone. To illustrate the point, if the buying public were, for some reason, to fall out of love with natural mined diamonds or - at the very least - deem prices too high relative to the lab grown variety, it would spell the end to an enviably profitable, long standing business empire.
But the extent of the vitriol expressed by Rapaport was rather revealing.
Or to put it another way, the man doth protest too much.
Of course the price of diamonds, as with the price of any "commodity", has always fluctuated over time. You only need to look at the graphs above.
And over the longer term, market prices have generally held on to an uptrend, albeit with plenty of volatility along the way.
It is also true that the relative scarcity of investment grade diamonds and inherent costs involved in finding and mining the rough stones makes them intrinsically more expensive to produce.
Nevertheless it is pertinent to note that the acute recovery in diamond prices, after the sharp downturn of the 2008/2009 financial crisis, played out in a world practically oblivious to lab created diamonds.
This is no longer the case.
So may be this time it will be different. Only time will tell.
The good news is that if you are planning on buying a natural mined diamond in the near future, it will cost you a little less than it would have done just a few months ago.
And if you are in the market for a lab grown diamond, the choice of grade, shape and carat weight is greater than ever.
Published June 2023 by Pobjoy Diamonds
Lab grown diamond trends courtesy of Edahn Golan, Diamond Research & Data