“Good, but not great,” “Okay, but not outstanding.” These are the impressions heard repeatedly while walking around the diamond booths at BaselWorld.
Part of the issue is that the recent Hong Kong show was especially strong for diamantaires, leading to high expectations and potential disappointment if Basel does not turn out to be as robust. The difference is that the first show caters to the booming Asian market, while the Basel show caters to the European market
After the Sabbath shut down, business has ramped back up to full gear on Sunday and Hall 3 is seeing good foot traffic and a decent number of browsers. For some, the browsers are turning into buyers, putting fears of a European lull in diamond buying to rest.
“So far, so good,” says Kristen Kelly of New York-headquartered Cora International, which saw a lot of action on the first couple of days of the show. The company, which specializes in fancy colors from 3 carats and up, has sold a number of stones 5 carats and up in a range of qualities. The main buyers so far have been from Israel, India and even – to the surprise of Kelly – from the U.S.
Alain Shapira of A S Diamonds says despite the market being difficult in general, the show has been surprisingly active. Even though a number of big retailers had bought from the company at the start of the show, Shapira said that making money back on the expenses associated with the show itself is not guaranteed.
The high price of BaselWorld is certainly a factor for those diamantaires thinking of exhibiting and Shapira says that there is talk about the cost of a booth at the show increasing by some 30 percent next year when the long-awaited renovations to the exhibition center open.
Notwithstanding these concerns, Shapira is satisfied with the number of buyers he is seeing. “We don’t see a high volume of buyers like we do in Hong Kong. Here buyers come with appointments and specific orders. If you happen to have the goods they need, you can make sales.”
Shapira says goods larger than 10 carats and smaller than half a carat are popular. So are fancy cuts, “which are very hot right now.” Pears, cushions and ovals are especially in demand.
Raj Mehta, senior vice president of Rosy Blue is also noticing that buyers are arriving with very specific demands. “They are coming with a list and they are only buying what is on that list. When it comes to rounds, no types of goods are moving faster than any others. It just depends what the buyers want.”
Mehta says, however, that fancy shapes in general are doing well, especially ovals, marquis, hearts and radiants.
Regarding his expectations of the show overall, Mehta says so far it is not bad. “We didn’t come with high expectations. We knew it was not going to be as good as last year. But, so far, so good.”
At Leo Schachter, the feeling is one of slight disappointment. “People thought that Hong Kong was going to be the beginning of something. But it isn’t being followed through here,” says Manuel Burak. “There are fewer people than we hoped; it is even quieter than last year.”
However, the company saw traffic on Thursday and Friday, mostly regular customers from Europe, including Spain and the Czech Republic. These buyers were especially interested in fancy shapes – notably cushions, ovals and pears. There is also some demand for rounds, from 20 to 70 pointers and for 1-carat goods.
Isy Namdar, of Namdar-Ramagem Fancy Colors, on the other hand, declares business to be excellent. “We take it day by day, but if the show closed today, I would be happy,” he says. Unlike most of the other exhibitors, he thinks that trade so far is exceeding that seen in Hong Kong.
The Italian company has seen “important European shopkeepers” from Holland, Germany, Austria and the UK, as well as buyers from the Middle East. These customers have been buying better quality high/end goods, mainly pinks and blues.
BaselWorld runs until March 15