De Beers recently released its Diamond Insight Report, a report it prepares annually the covers the entire diamond jewelry pipeline from mine to market.
While the report, which is available in its entirety as a PDF here, covers diamond sales and production worldwide, what follows here are six insights about diamond jewelry and the U.S. market specifically.
1) While 2014 was a solid year for diamond jewelry, 2015 has been more challenging.
Global diamond jewelry sales grew 3 percent in 2014, exceeding $80 billion for the first time. In local currency terms, there was growth in each of the top five diamond markets (the U.S., China, India, Japan and the Gulf Region), which account for 75 percent of global demand.
However, because of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and the slowdown in China, De Beers expects sales to be flat in 2015 when compared with 2014.
2) The U.S. market led the way for diamond sales in 2014.
A few years ago, luxury companies were betting high on China but the economy there has slowed and the U.S. is again the market where the luxury companies, including jewelry retailers, are doing the best.
The U.S. posted the strongest year-over-year growth in diamond jewelry consumption last year, even though it is the world’s most mature market. Demand here was up 7 percent, with China (6 percent) and India (3 percent) trailing.
3) U.S. demand for polished diamonds returned to pre-recession levels last year.
The U.S.’s share of demand for polished diamonds reached 42 percent in 2014, a level not seen since 2008, before the global financial crisis hit.
The report also noted that since 2009, the compound annual growth rate for diamond consumption stands at 5 percent for diamond jewelry and 6 percent for polished diamonds.
4) More consumers are asking about specific brands.
The proportion of U.S. retailers who see consumers asking for diamond jewelry brands increased from 15 percent in 2012, to 33 percent in 2013, to nearly half (47 percent) in 2014, according to De Beers (which, it should be noted, has a diamond jewelry brand, Forevermark).
5) Independents are losing diamond jewelry sales to chain stores of all sizes.
In 2015, De Beers began a study of some 42,000 unique diamond retail locations in the U.S. What it found is that chain stores now sell more diamond jewelry than independent retailers, despite the fact that overall the chains have closed even more doors than the independents over the past eight years.