De Beers lifted diamond prices at its third consecutive sale as an industrywide recovery from the pandemic gathers pace.

The world’s biggest diamond producer raised prices by about 4 per cent at its second sale of the year, according to people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

A spokesman for De Beers declined to comment.

Diamond prices are rebounding after the coronavirus crisis brought the industry to an almost complete standstill in the first half of last year. Strong holiday sales in the U.S. and positive signs from Chinese New Year have seen buyers rush to replenish their stocks of rough stones.

De Beers is tapping that demand after the Anglo American Plc business was forced to make deep price discounts last year. The increase at this week’s sale in Botswana follows price gains of about 5 per cent last month, the biggest in years. The company also edged prices higher in December.

The price rises were once again focused on the biggest and most expensive diamonds. Prices for rough stones that would produce a 2 carat to 4 carat polished gem climbed more than 7 per cent, the people said.

The price increases at the two previous auctions didn’t deter customers -- the cutters, polishers and traders who dominate the industry’s midstream -- with De Beers reporting it’s biggest sale in three years in January. Still, some industry participants have raised concerns that the market is running too hot, risking a slump later in the year.