US diamond market to shine despite China, India growth: De Beers

HONG KONG: The United States is likely to remain the world’s largest market for diamonds for the next 15 years despite a growing appetite for the gems from China and India, leading producer De Beers said today.

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China has the fastest growing demand, jumping to a share of about 15 per cent of the world’s diamond market from less than three per cent in 2003.

But it is not expected to overtake the US market’s 40 per cent share for more more than a decade, De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier said.

“China and India, the engine for growth, these two big markets clearly could be as big as the US in the next may be 15 years,” said Mellier, who was in Hong Kong for the Jewellery and Gem Fair.

“For China to go up to 40 per cent share of the world market, it’s still some ways to go,” Mellier said, adding that he expects the Chinese market to grow more than 10 per cent per annum for “many more years”.

De Beers said China’s anti-corruption drive, which has hurt demand for luxury goods, would not affect the diamond industry.

“I think our business is less impacted by that compared to others,” Stephen Lussier, CEO of De Beers Forevermark said, with diamonds usually used at weddings and other “emotional events” in life.

Global diamond jewellery sales were around $79 billion in 2013, up 3.0 per cent compared to 2012, according to De Beers’ first Diamond Insight Report.

Sales are expected to grow in the long-term helped by recovery in the US economy as well as the growth of middle-class in developing markets of China and India.

The company had earlier said it expects “good to very good” second quarter results in India, which has seen increasing demand for the gems.

Founded in 1888 in South Africa, De Beers last year reported $1 billion in operating profit — more than double that of 2012.

Henry Sapiecha

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