Bruce Cleaver. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Bruce Cleaver. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

London — Top diamond miner De Beers increased prices for a second consecutive sale, according to people familiar with the matter, even as an alleged $2bn fraud continues to send shock waves though the industry.

De Beers lifted prices between 1% and 2%, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. The company raised prices a similar amount in its previous sale at the end of February. While the sale is ongoing, the total amount sold is likely to be about $525m, the people said.

A De Beers spokesperson declined to comment.

The diamond industry has been shaken this year by a banking crisis in India, where about 90% of diamonds are cut and polished, after jeweller Nirav Modi was accused of fraud that hit lenders to the industry and reduced access to finance for buyers.

However, the international market benefited from a stronger-than-expected finish at the end of 2017, and De Beers said earlier this year that the global economy, weaker dollar and US tax cuts could be positive for demand.

Alrosa, the second-biggest supplier, sold $560m of diamonds in its March sale and said there was higher demand for medium and large rough stones in the first quarter of the year.

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver hinted in February that there could be scope for price rises this year.

The company sells diamonds at invitation-only sights held 10 times a year at its offices in Botswana. De Beers sets the prices and its hand-picked customers, known as sightholders, are not able to negotiate.