The De Beers Group announced that its auction sales business will start piloting fixed-price forward contracts.

These contracts will offer the opportunity for auction sales customers to secure access to future supply with certainty over the price to be paid when the contract reaches maturity.

The first event will take place on 16 February 2017; for the grainers, smalls and near-gem categories of rough diamonds, said De Beers.

The pilot has been developed in response to customer feedback on auction sales’ previous forward contract sales, which offered the guarantee of future supply, but with a ‘floating’ price based on the spot price at the point when the forward contract matured.

Fixed-price forward contracts are expected to provide a highly effective supply sourcing option for small and medium sized enterprises, which are seeking access to regular rough diamond supply at a predictable price.

Neil Ventura, executive vice-president of auction sales at De Beers, said: “Extensive customer dialogue has highlighted potential to further develop the forward market for our rough diamonds.

“Our customers have told us that they see value in securing short-term supply contracts but that they would prefer to do so on a fixed price basis, avoiding potential challenges when securing contracts on a floating price basis that references the underlying spot price at contract maturity.

“We are therefore piloting three-month forward contracts on a fixed price basis to complement our spot sales channel and the term supply contracts offered by Global Sightholder Sales, while further testing stated customer demand for regular, guaranteed short-term supply at a fixed price.”

Since launching forward contract sales on a floating price basis in December 2013, auction sales has steadily developed its forward sales channel, selling more than 350 bespoke supply contracts in total over the period.

The pilot for fixed-price contracts follows other auction sales pilots, including those enabling third parties to use its auction platform for rough and polished diamond sales.