Canadian diamond miner Harry Winston has reported a first quarter net loss of $45.1m, down on last year’s figures, which saw the company end the period in profit.

The company took the loss in the quarter ending 30 April, against a $21.3m net earning in the first quarter of 2008.

The loss includes a non-cash dilution drop of $34.2m that was incurred due to investment by Kinross Gold in the company’s 40% stake in the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada.

Total sales were also down to $109.6m from $156.1m in 2008.

Its mining segment recorded sales of $57.7m, a 29% decrease from $81.4m in the comparable quarter of the previous year.

Harry Winston chairman and CEO Robert Gannicott said the company experienced a number of challenges at the start of 2009 including a decline in retail sales from its high-end jewellery business.

“We began this quarter with a rough diamond market that could see no bottom and retail sales effectively stalled. Rough diamond prices fell to levels not seen since the inception of the Diavik Project seven years ago,” he said.

The company has, however, experienced a pick up since May, Gannicott said.