ROCKWELL Diamonds generated revenue of $5,9m by selling 6234 carats of diamonds in the quarter ending May, the first quarter of its financial year, the company said yesterday.

While carats sold rose 30% from the 4779 carats in the corresponding quarter a year earlier, revenue fell 24% from $7,8m as the average price per carat fell to $944 from $1631.

Rockwell said the year-on-year decline in price was due to the sale of "high-profile" diamonds the previous year, which boosted the prices for that period.

"In the polished market, we saw some pricing pressure, mainly related to the global financial uncertainty," Rockwell CEO James Campbell said.

He said the pressure on diamond prices was being dampened by growth in demand from India and China. "In the US, especially in affluent market segments, retail sales are showing signs of recovering," Mr Campbell said.

The sale of 1005 carats from the pilot bulk X-ray project at Saxendrift boosted sales, he said.

"It is our plan to incorporate this technology into future mining developments. The results of the proof of concept give us confidence in the sales revenues that this technology could unlock," Mr Campbell said.

Prices for smaller polished diamonds saw the biggest drop, while prices for stones bigger than two carats, which represent more than 80% of Rockwell's output, have been constant. "It is our expectation that rough prices will remain stable for the remainder of the calendar year," he said.

Rockwell's Klipdam mine reported an increase of 20% in carats sold, as a result of mining the Rooikoppie unit.

Earlier this week Rockwell said its production for the first quarter of this year rose 74% to 6116 carats from last year.

downingr@bdfm.co.za