Thursday, March 29, 2012

De Beers Reports Global Diamond Sales +10%

Global diamond jewelry sales increased by 10 percent in 2011 spurred by continued growth in China, according to De Beers research obtained by Rapaport News. The rate of growth was on par with the increase in 2010. De Beers also concluded that sales were boosted by increased diamond prices, which apparently led consumers to seek lower-quality or smaller diamonds.

“Polished price growth was a strong feature of the market in 2011,” De Beers stated in its report. “Pass-through to consumers occurred at different speeds in each market. Overall, the net result was positive.”

Accordingly, Rapaport’s RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1 carat certified polished diamonds rose 19 percent in 2011.

De Beers survey showed that China posted the strongest sales growth, rising by 22 percent during the year, and overtook India and Japan to become the second largest diamond market behind the U.S. De Beers estimated that China has 11 percent of the global market share now, whereas the U.S. market accounts for about 38 percent. The company did not estimate the size of the market in dollar terms.

De Beers observed that the biggest contributors to sales value varied greatly by market with U.S. consumers focused on buying 0.50-carat to 0.99-carat, H color or better and SI clarity stones. In China and Japan, the popular items were in the range of 0.18-carat to 0.49-carat, H color or better, with VS clarity in China and SI clarity in Japan. The strongest items in India were 0.02-carat to 0.07-carat, H color or better, VS-SI clarity goods.

“While the best-selling diamond jewelry products in 2011 varied by market, one common theme was the strength of non-bridal multi-diamond rings,” the company explained. Still, bridal dominated the market, particularly in the U.S. where bridal and engagement rings had a “clear lead” over diamond jewelry.

The research indicated that earrings were important in India and necklaces were big sellers in Japan, while both bridal and non-bridal solitaire products dominated sales in China.

De Beers reported that retail inventory levels were slightly higher in all key markets even though the trend was towards faster stock turnover. The company predicted continued growth in 2012 but it did not provide a forecast for the year. De Beers presented these findings to sightholders at this week’s Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sight.

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