Visiting a chum in hospital, I had to hang around for rather a long time and ended up giving myself caffeine poisoning and an overdose of The Financial Times.
I had read the main part a couple of times and finally persuaded myself to read a special report on Scotch Whisky, a drink I do not partake of, or as the Scots would say, ‘have a wee dram’, though I have to admit it is pretty good in cooking, I actually prefer it to using brandy.
Exports of Scotch Whisky in 2013 were £4.3 billion.
China unsurprisingly showed the greatest growth with a 141% increase.
America, the largest market, only had 8.7% growth.
However, the American market was £819 million and China was only £50.9 million.
Over the last few days, if not weeks, I have had several calls telling me in an ever increasing pitch of hysteria that our diamond market is grinding to a halt and for some may have even reached that ultimate state of inactivity.
All I can say is that I get a lot better news going to see my chum who has got to spend at least another three months in hospital than I do hearing about the diamond market.
This has been compounded by the pretty dismal general economic news, that is, until the American Fed suggested the other day that it might raise interest rates sooner than expected.
A short time ago any mention of any foreseeable rise resulted in a sudden and sharp relapse; for some reasons that I cannot fathom, this time, exactly the opposite reaction occurred.
Stock markets have suddenly shot up, apparently this euphoria is due to the belief that an increase confirms that America’s recovery is sound.
I remember in the darkest days of the early 80’s being told by the advertising chaps that retail demand was holding up surprisingly well.
From my point of view in the sales department at the DTC, however correct they may have been, it certainly was not showing up on my market radar screen, as I tried to make some paltry rough sales.
Suddenly, come the second half of 1985 and for a good few years, everyone was off to the races, as the market boomed away happily and De Beers soon was complaining it did not have enough rough.
I suppose nothing had to do with the fact that I was shunted out of sales in 1984.
So however difficult the current market maybe, the fact is that the largest consumer market for diamonds is not doing too badly, to say the least.
Yes, there is clearly an overhang of rough and polished and when credit is tight this only increases the squeeze on prices.
But I think those numbers from the whisky market make a telling point for diamonds.
There has been far too much of a hoopla about China where, though there has undoubtedly been spectacular growth, it has come from a low base; so, a slowdown there, however uncomfortable, should not be the focus of attention.
Our wee drams of comfort are the fact that the industry’s major market is most certainly not in doldrums.