We have begun the New Year 2021. The past year, 2020, with all of its hardships and challenges, is firmly behind us. This is an opportunity to look at where we stand and try to imagine how we will fare in the New Year.
It has been barely a year since the first coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China and we are still deep inside the pandemic. Over 2 million deaths worldwide since the start of the pandemic were reported this week. While Asia has largely bounced back from its deathly effects, the rest of the world progresses from lockdown to lockdown. Although several vaccines have been rolled out, vaccination campaigns have not been able to keep up with the rising infection rates.
Economies have been hard hit by the pandemic, with GDP’s plunging and government debt and unemployment at record highs. The global economy is in one of its worst recessions ever, and experts predict that recovery will be long and uneven.
So, in that respect, 2021 seems like a continuation of 2020.
But that is not the full picture. Fortunately, the diamond and jewelry industries are seeing bright spots on an otherwise dark horizon. Here are some positive developments:
Throughout 2020, supply constraints instituted by De Beers and Alrosa have kept polished diamond prices high. In the final quarter of 2020 demand for polished diamonds was positive and continues to be so, despite a 3 – 7 % rise in rough prices at the January sites. We are hopeful that the first quarter of 2021 will bring continued polished demand.
The jewelry market in China is rebounding. Chow Tai Fook reported a 26% rise in mainland retail sales during the last quarter of 2020. We also expect lively diamond and jewelry sales during the Chinese New Year in February.
In the United States diamond and jewelry sales rose significantly during the 2020 holiday period. Diamond jewelry was very much in demand; with the pandemic eliminating spending on entertainment and travel, consumers are pampering themselves with high end jewelry. The pandemic also brought more bridal diamond sales, as couples reexamine their life choices and choose to get engaged.
These bright spots are reasons for hope and optimism in the coming year. They reinforce my inherent belief in the strength and resilience of our industry. They also make clear to me what I have always believed: that diamonds, as symbols of everlasting love, have an important role to play, now and for generations to come.
My best wishes for a healthy and successful 2021.
Stay healthy and safe,