De Beers, the world’s biggest producer, told customers that it is cutting prices for larger stones by almost 10% at its sale starting this week, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.
The Anglo American Plc unit, along with Russian rival Alrosa PJSC, had previously tried to defend the value of the gems as the pandemic hammered the sector. With jewellery stores closed, cutters and polishers stuck at home and global travel at a standstill, the entire diamond industry ground to a halt.
De Beers lowered the price of rough diamonds bigger than 1 ct, a size that would normally yield a polished gem of about 0.3 ct in size, the people said. The company held the price of smaller stones as there is very little demand for them and lowering prices by a similar amount would be unlikely to spur demand, they said.
Before the price cut, De Beers had made major concessions to their normal sales rules — allowing customers to renege on contracts and view diamonds in alternative locations. Still, smaller rivals were selling at a 25% discount, eating into the company’s market share.