Last week, De Beers released a survey of the global diamond market that showed that U.S. diamond sales increased some 7 percent in 2014. That makes it, rather unexpectedly, the best-performing diamond market in the world, outdoing recent champs China and India, where sales rose 6 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
“We were surprised,” says Stephen Lussier, executive vice president of the De Beers group of companies and CEO of Forevermark. “America never ceases to surprise as far as its ability to consume diamond.”
And yet, many U.S. jewelers have reported mixed business, even if they largely agreed that diamonds remain the backbone of the business. And while sales at the majors mostly rose, they undershot expectations.
According to the Commerce Department, jewelry sales hit a record last year, although sales fell in the crucial months of November and December. And to make it more confusing, SpendingPulse called jewelry one of the best-performing categories last holiday.
So what is right? There are a number of theories.
The recovery has not been felt through all areas of the country.
“It’s not a situation where the rising tide lifts all ships,” Lussier says. “There are regional differences; some regions have recovered better than ever. Those differences are not necessarily reflected in the macro data.”
The recovery has not been felt through all segments.