Coronavirus and jewelry
Illustration by Stephane Boghossian

INTRO

The coronavirus has brought about an unexpected turn of events, one the jewelry industry has never had to face previously. The virus is a global pandemic affecting everyone, everywhere. It’s frightening and bewildering at the same time– which means our natural reaction is to freeze. Isolation is the only cure so every country’s government chooses a lock-down solution, a fundamental change to societies and relationships. Disrupting at a personal and multidimensional level, an epidemic like this one saw an early adoption to move to a digital world.

What is the future of the jewelry industry under a new natural attack such as this one? 2020 is gonna be a pretty bad year for the jewelry industry overall but if we survive this, we will be able to flourish our sales by 2022.

The ExJewel team has been tracking the trend since its birth and it’s not looking great for the next few months! Here is the plan for our discussion today:

  1. Gold is cheap as…
  2. Jewelry giants are doing awful!
  3. The Diamond industry is worst than expected!
  4. Retail is dead. Online is not!
  5. China has survived the crisis. There is hope for our Westeros!

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1- Gold is cheap as…

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We told you it was time to appraise your jewelry! I guess now, it’s not too late! Golds price per ounce has dropped from its highest point on 06th of March 1.704 to 1.494 (-14%) in 1 week only. It must be affecting the jewelry manufacturers and sales incredibly.

Why gold hasn’t risen during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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It’s true, gold should thrive during economic and geopolitical crises such as the one we’re now facing with the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. So it’s worth reviewing why were are experiencing the opposite!

  • Many countries citizen such as in Germany is experiencing a rush for buying gold before the lock-down [Source]
  • Gold may not be a reliable safe-haven asset during periods of financial market stress
  • You’ll regret buying now instead of sitting on your hands a while longer.

2- Jewelry giants are doing awful!

An empty high-end shopping centre in the central business area (CBD) in downtown Beijing on February 10, 2020 – the first working day after the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: SCMP / Simon Song
An empty high-end shopping centre in the central business area (CBD) in downtown Beijing on February 10, 2020 – the first working day after the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: SCMP / Simon Song
LVMH share
  • For people who don’t really know who is LVMH yet, it’s quite easy to know that it is one of the biggest luxury group made in Paris! Even the biggest actors in the industry are at their lowest, making a luxury product destructible.
Tiffany & Co shares

Tiffany & Co was quite lucky to be acquired by the luxury giant at the end of 2019. Branding has great value as a luxury product, but for a short period of time. Unfortunately for them, the virus affected the NY-based company’s sales quite dramatically. Jewelry sales are driving to its lowest point in major retail cities such as New York, Dubai or Geneva where the absence of Chinese tourists has affected the trade as containment has hit the US!

3- The Diamond industry is worst than expected!


Since last checked during the Chinese New Year, diamond prices have gone down to an incredible curve and this number keeps descending day by day. But, if we see the diamond market before this virus, it was not as flourishing as other luxury industries.

  • An excess inventory was already witnessed by major diamond online sellers
  • Weak Chinese demand: 2019 HK -13% and China -5%
  • 2019 US imports over half a carat down 28.4% to $6.395B
  • Rough prices were too high to be profitable for diamond sellers
  • India is shutting down! India’s net polished diamond export was low since February 2019 (-50% compared to today, a year later) as a new trend emerged: Lab-grown diamond.
  • The average price for a 1-carat diamond has decreased by 11.5% since 2015 and even worst, 50% since 2011!
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For this following example, we calculated 3 major factors that we think are important for you to understand the stake here! The diamond Index, the search for diamond and the number of cases worldwide.

  • The Diamond Index and Diamond Drivers were formulated following comprehensive research and analysis of the IDEX inventory database, aggregated since February 2001. Research and development were conducted in cooperation with Dr. Avi Wohl, Senior Lecturer of Finance at the Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University. The diamond index is updated every hour. The percent of change displayed is with reference to yesterday’s closing time (24:00 EST).
  • Total COVID19 cases worldwide provided by Wordometers
  • Diamond search trend provided by Google: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.
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Alrosa Diamond share

Alrosa, the diamond giant, saw its lowest point ever! But, other diamond mines have not been alarmed yet since its production hasn’t stopped rising since last year, in particular in Botswana.

4- Retail is dead. Online is not!

[Source]

Here is some after-effect of the coronavirus to the retail space:

  • B2C Retail stores are closing down their door.
  • B2B offices are shutting down by the day as jewelry inventory at the retail level are piling onto dormant stocks
  • As you can’t sell and neither buy, the market freezes.
  • Some couples are cautiously moving ahead, while others are forced to delay their ‘I do’s’ for now.

Here is some decision making that hit the industry quite hard:

  • Major country locking down their borders and affecting containment procedures
  • Major jewelry tradeshows such as HK, Basel-world, GemGeneva, etc… around the globe are being postponed or canceled.
  • Online jewelry and diamond sales are up and running (Nivoda, Rapnet, Rare Carat…) but many countries now have implemented travel bans, significantly reducing the number of flights available globally. Sellers are stuck at departure and are not reaching arrival destinations.
  • Good news I received lately: Milan Design week is rebranding itself to be digital as Italy’s lockdown is worst than any other country. Also, the first online diamond trade fair is scheduled to take place, organized by AWDC and IDI.
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Dormant inventory is useless at times of crisis. The value of your inventory is replacement cost. My advice is to appraise your jewelry inventory as fast as possible, sell below your cost and make a lot more money than you had.

5- China has survived the crisis. There is hope for our Westeros!

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The virus first emerged silently in China, a little bit more than 4 months ago. Containment was successful. Now, China can re-live, freely. I guess the frozen moment is over and people are back to normal. Shops are reopening slowly and slowly with a slow rise in luxury item sales in less than a month. This only should comfort brands and diamond dealers. While the rest of the world goes into lockdown, China is re-emerging, some experts say “revenge shopping” could boost a cautious recovery of the luxury industry. I guess it’s time to embrace technology and sustainability as China did. [Souce]

(From #Corona 🍺 to #Purell. Conspiracy theories double-checked. – [Source])

CONCLUSION

Now the question is, how are we gonna fix that in the next few months? Well, it’s quite easy to figure out. To illustrate my point, you’ll need to watch the latest Diamond Explained by VOX on Netflix. To summarise, DeBeers created a campaign that revolutionized the way we see a diamond. Diamonds were forever, so than jewelry…

We can clearly say that a “branded” diamond is not, at least, anymore. It is an asset that drives the market, a fresh start as commonly say! Diamonds are more than a luxury product we buy for an engagement. Jewelry and precious stones are significant worth in risky PESTEL times! (remember them? They are pretty important for any business to survive)

As much as we want to do nothing, we have to stay in the game. And our odds of winning go up dramatically if we play together — courageously and as a team. In an incredibly short period of time, this pandemic has entirely disrupted our industry. The situation changes every day, and so much is still uncertain. 

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