De Beers diamond sales have defied a weak global economy and competition from lab-grown gemstones to deliver a stronger than anticipated performance so far in 2018. Analysts say this is driven by healthy demand from China’s retail jewellery market. The world’s largest diamond producer reported its latest rough diamond sales on Tuesday, the fifth sales cycle for the year, at a provisional $575m. This is a 6% increase from the $541m realised in the same cycle in 2017. Diamond consultant John Bristow said that while commodities had generally taken a big knock, the diamond business has escaped these blows and “is ticking along quite solidly and with a good outlook”. Liberum Capital analyst Ben Davis said diamond sales differed from that of other commodities and never performed as expected. “Most people thought this would be a tough year for the industry … but somehow the midstream still managed to buy,” Davis said, referring to the part of the industry that buys rough diamonds from mine...

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