Bruce Cleaver. Picture: SUPPLIED
Bruce Cleaver. Picture: SUPPLIED

Rough diamond giant De Beers is closely tracking its previous year’s sales despite falling well behind in the ninth sales event of 2018, as demand for small diamonds remains subdued.

De Beers, an 85%-held Anglo American subsidiary and the world’s largest rough diamond producer by value, noted its ninth sales generated provisional income of $440m was well behind the previous year’s $466m and 2016’s $276m.

Despite the lowest November sales in three years, the total revenue of $4.852bn so far in 2018 is close to the previous year’s $4.856bn in the same time frame. Both years, however, are far off the $5.165bn achieved by the end of the ninth sale in 2016.

De Beers has 10 sales a year and this was the second-last event of the year.

“As the industry’s focus turns towards the key end-of-year retail selling season, rough diamond sales continued to be in line with expectation during the ninth cycle of the year,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver.

“While demand for smaller, lower quality rough diamonds continues to see some challenges, the latest cycle saw some signs of improvement in this area as factories in India begin to reopen after Diwali,” he said, expanding on the theme he raised after the October sales.

India is home to cutters and polishers of small diamonds and is an important market for De Beers, which has mines in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and SA.

De Beers has forecast production of between 32-million carats and 34-million carats for 2018.