In one of the recent articles, we had a good opportunity to take a look at a couple of very interesting facts about diamonds.
And to be quite honest, being the hardest material on planet Earth and a precious gemstone that has captured the imagination of mankind ever since we first laid our hands upon them, diamonds have so many interesting stories to tell.
Still, to the modern data-driven mind of 2021, these intriguing facts may not be enough to assess the sheer importance diamonds have in our society. In order to know just how big, significant, and valuable something is, we need to have a way to measure that thing against something.
In this regard, cold numbers serve just as good of a purpose as ever.
So, let’s look at some intriguing statistics that should put the magnitude of diamonds in the frame we can easily understand and process. Here’s how the diamonds look when we put them to numbers.
Global Diamond Reserves
As we could see from the example of India, where diamond production was literally brought to a halt after relentless exploitation, diamonds are a limited resource.
Granted, new mines pop up all over the world every now and then, but the processes that produced the diamonds are long over. Therefore, the deposits that came close to the Earth’s surface through the Kimberlite pipes are what we have at the moment.
Keeping that in mind, what are the current natural diamond reserves we can confirm in 2021?
Well, the global diamond reserves clock at approximately 1.4 billion carats (280,000 kilograms) which sounds like a truly staggering amount.
Diamonds Reserves By Country
What’s interesting to note, however, is the extent to which these deposits are unevenly distributed. Namely, according to recent research, only three countries are in control of more than three-quarters of the known diamond deposits.
The latest gathered data says that Russia, Congo, and Botswana combined are producing as much as 80.6% of all world diamond reserves. This situation creates one very uncertain and interesting diamond market dynamic.
But, more about that a bit later.
If we are to break down these “Big Three” by country, we could see that Russia is firmly leading the pack with the largest diamond deposits of a staggering 650 million carats (about 50% of all global reserves).
Congo finishes the race at the distant second place with the reserves of 150 million carats (roughly 13% of the global bounty), while Botswana comes at third place with 90 million carats.
The next two countries in line are South Africa, with a respectable tally of 54 million carats, and Australia, with its reserves of 39 million carats.
When combined, all other countries account for deposits that are no larger than 120 million carats. As we can see, this weight is far less than the number of diamonds that can be found in Congo and clocks at only a fifth of what Russia has under its surface.
Diamonds Reserves Are Depleting
As we already said, in spite of new diamond mines popping up around the world every couple of decades, diamonds, as a natural resource, are ultimately finite. It should come as that much of a shock then that the global production of rough diamonds is slowly but gradually decreasing.
For instance, back in 2005, the worldwide production of diamonds accounted for an estimated 177 million carats. Last year in 2020, the global production was decreased by more than 60 million to 111 million carats.
On the other hand, this trend shouldn’t be taken as a fact, and market circumstances play a very large role in the matter.
Once the global economy struggled its way out of the famous 2008 downturn, the diamond production was, for a couple of years, on a steady rise reaching the new height in 2014 with a total amount of 147 million carats.
What Happens To All Those Rough Diamonds?
So, we have mentioned how many diamonds we roughly extract on an annual basis. Where do all these rough diamonds go once they are pulled out from underneath the Earth’s surface?
Well, the real answer might surprise some of you jewel lovers out there.
Although we like to imagine diamonds like brilliant jewels and gemstones, the relative majority of the world’s rough diamonds (that would be 46%) are produced for industrial purposes. In comparison, only 19% of them are made into polished gemstones further down the line.
Breaking these stats by the countries, we can see that global diamond demand roughly reflects the economic outlook. The leaders in this area are three industrial powerhouse nations – the USA, India, and China, with the latter two countries marking the steady rise in consumption.
That creates interesting economic dependency since neither of these nations is amongst the leaders in global diamond production.
Learn More: How Long Does A Diamond Take To Form And Grow?
Largest Uncovered Diamonds By Weight
Up until now, we have spoken mostly in the overall terms. However, the fact that some nation produces most diamonds doesn’t have to mean it produces the largest diamonds.
To this date, the title of the largest uncovered diamond in history goes to the Carbonado do Sérgio, a 3,167-carat rough diamond uncovered in 1895 in Brazil Sérgio Borges de Carvalho.
The interesting fact about this juggernaut is that, like all other carbonados, the diamond is believed to be of cosmic origin.
The second place goes to the famous Cullinan, which scored an incredible weight of 3,106.75 carats when it was uncovered in South Africa way back in 1905.
Since then, the Cullinan was cut into nine smaller pieces. The largest of these pieces is called Cullinan I and weighs 530.2 carats.
It is interesting to note that the overall weight of the Cullinan stones clocks at a staggering $2 billion, which is the highest market value in history, aside from Koh-I-Noor, which, due to its role as a British royal family gemstone and historical significance, deemed priceless.
The third-largest diamond in history (1,758 carats) is called Sewelô, and it was only recently uncovered (2019) in Botswana by the Lucara Diamond Corp. The current owner of the diamond is the famous brand Louis Vuitton.
The following seven largest diamonds go as follows:
|Ranking||Name||Weight (in Carats)||Country of origin||Year it was uncovered||Current owner|
|4||Currently unnamed||1174||Botswana||2021||Lucara Diamond Corp|
|5||Lesedi La Rona||1109||Botswana||2015||Graff Diamonds|
|7||Currently unnamed||998||Botswana||2020||Lucara Diamond Corp|
|8||Excelsior Diamond||995.20||South Africa||1893||Robert Mouawad|
|9||Star of Sierra Leone||969||Sierra Leone||1973||Harry Winston|
|10||Lesotho Legend||910||Lesotho||2018||Samir Gems and Taché Diamonds|
As we can see, although it misses some of the biggest and most iconic diamonds in history, Botswana is, by far, the biggest present-day large diamond manufacturer.
- What Is The Highest Diamond Carat In The World?
- Diamond History – How They Form And How They’re Found
Diamond Exports By Country
Now, let’s move to some facts rooted in the global economy. Here, we can see that uncovering so many large diamonds in Botswana doesn’t exactly put this country on the map as the powerhouse diamond exporter.
Diamond exports are still dictated by the trading volume.
Speaking in overall terms, all these large diamonds had no impact on the global trading game whatsoever. On the contrary, global diamond sales are on a decline, and today they are worth a total of $73.9 billion.
That is a sharp drop (44.1%) from the year 2016 when global shipments of diamonds were estimated at around $132.1 billion.
Putting this story in the national framework, we can see that the old giant India still stands as the number one global diamond exporter with a total worth of approximately $15.2 billion. Despite the flattering title, this number marks a 30.4% drop from last year.
Second place goes to the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong, which, compared to its modest size, exports diamonds in the value of $10.5 billion.
Third place goes to the United States with an export value of $10.4 billion.
And, if we would try to compile the list of the top 15 diamond exporters in the world, it would look something like this:
|Ranking||Country||Estimated export value (in USD billions)||Market share (in percent)|
|5||United Arab Emirates||6.4||8.6|
|11||China (without Hong Kong)||1.1||1.5|
By looking at these numbers, we can extrapolate a couple of interesting observations.
The first would be that these 15 countries we have listed above produce as much as 94.9% of the total diamond export, which suggests that the global diamond trade is very uneven.
Going into even more depth, we can see that these top 15 are dominated by the Asian countries, which held 55.7% of the global diamond sales in 2020.
Europe comes in second place with 18.8%; North America comes third with 15.4%, while Africa (one of the biggest manufacturers) scores only 9.7% of global diamond exports.
The Fastest Growing And Fastest Declining Diamond Exporters
The numbers we have listed may not stay like that in many years to come.
Although it is very unlikely that some underdog will seriously jeopardize the top five diamond exporters, we are seeing some very interesting fluctuations in the export game that suggest that we may see some notable performers.
Of course, speaking about the growth of export in percentages doesn’t have to speak all that much. The biggest movements are usually observed in the countries where diamond exports were, up until that moment, dead in the water.
Be that as it may, the five fastest-growing diamond exporters in 2020 (in comparison to 2019) were the following newcomers:
- Albania: 3,580%
- Bahrain: 2,901%
- Czech Republic: 576.4%
- Laos: 545.6%
- Norway: 357.1%
It is up to be seen will this growth, at least partially, be sustained in the following years.
On the other hand, the year 2020 wasn’t so kind to some other much better-established diamond export names.
Here are the five biggest drops we have observed in comparison to 2019:
- United Kingdom: -60.6%
- Israel: -52.1%
- Canada: -45.4%
- United Arab Emirates: -45%
- Switzerland: -42.3%
Diamond Imports By Country
Now, let’s take a look at the other side of this coin.
When we discussed diamond exports in one of the previous sections, we mentioned that the global diamond trade has experienced a sharp decline since 2016. These numbers can be, for all intents and purposes, translated to imports since they are mutually dependent.
However, we need to check the final breakdown of the top 15 countries that have imported diamonds to get the complete story.
Let’s look at the value of imports and their cut in the global diamond import game.
|Ranking||Country||Estimated import value (in USD billions)||Market share (in percent)|
|5||United Arab Emirates||6.3||8.5|
|6||China (without Hong Kong)||5.9||8|
As we can see, the top five names are virtually the same as in the case of diamond exports.
Keeping in mind that these countries can’t rely on domestic diamond deposits, we can only observe that they have managed to establish themselves as the biggest diamond trading markets in the world.
In this case, these top 15 countries round up 96% of the global diamond import.
Once again, Asia leads the pack with 63.5% of the global import share ($47.2 billion), North America imports 17.2% of the diamonds, and Europe closely follows in third place with 15.3% of the imported worth.
It is worth taking a separate look at Botswana that, besides the incredibly rich diamond deposits, also makes the list as one of the biggest diamond importers. That puts the developing African country firmly on the global diamond trading map.
Botswana is also the only country amongst the top 15 that has experienced growth in diamond import in comparison to 2019 (+7.4%).
The Fastest Growing And Fastest Declining Diamond Importers
While the top 15 diamond importers paint a very similar picture to the export numbers (this shouldn’t be a surprise since we are talking about well-established global diamond markets), things become much more interesting when we look at the aspiring import newcomers.
The five fastest-growing diamond importers in comparison to 2019 are as follows:
- Honduras: 20,467%
- Antigua and Barbuda: 2,429%
- Qatar: 145.9%
- Egypt: 101.9%
It’s yet to be seen how these drastic import spikes will affect the global diamond market.
On the other hand, import drops largely follow the global trading declines we had an opportunity to observe in the previous passages.
- United Kingdom: -67.8%
- France: -46.1%
- United Arab Emirates: -42%
- Italy: -39.3%
Per Carat Diamond Prices
Taking a look at their complicated history and their overall place in the global economy, we can say that diamonds are a very unique commodity. Unlike fossil fuels and other limited resources, humanity has found a way to produce new diamonds artificially.
And since most of the diamonds currently in existence are used for industrial purposes, one would say the price of natural diamonds will greatly devalue with the passage of time.
Still, that is not the case. On the contrary, the appeal of diamonds is so alluring that per carat price is, for decades now, on a constant rise.
Let’s take a look at this picture that illustrates the per-carat price growth since 1960:
Even if we take into account the inflation of the US dollar, diamonds’ steady increase in value is more than evident.
Diamond Sales Volume
Much like any other business area in the world, the diamond industry has suffered a heavy blow due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The diamond consumption hit the recent history bottom last year during July and August.
An article from July 2020 claims that the rough diamond sales were down 80 – 90% in Q2 compared to the same period the previous year. These devastating results can be largely attributed to the worldwide travel restrictions imposed by seemingly all governments to prevent the spread of the said virus.
Furthermore, the new COVID-19 situation effectively forced major mining companies to adopt the price-over-volume strategy and cut production by as much as 20%. When the demand started to turn over during the third quarter, major miners lowered the diamond price by 10%.
All these circumstances caused the mining revenues to decrease by 33%, but it also increased the inventories by 17%.
Further down the line, cutting companies saw their revenues drop by 25% while the price of the polished diamonds dropped by only 3%, which in these circumstances was nothing short of impressive.
Diamond Industry Rebound
However, the start of this looks much more promising.
For instance, January and February of 2021 proved to be incredibly successful across the entire diamond pipeline exceeding all expectations in sales. Due to last year’s slowdown, the diamond inventories in the pipeline were at their lowest point in the last 7-8 years.
Now, the diamond cutters are forced to buy heavily to replenish their stocks. These fluctuations had a big impact on the price of the rough diamonds.
As early as September 2020, De Beers increased the prices for the first time since 2018. Following these motions, ALROSA increased the rough diamond prices by 6-7% in an effort to bring the value in line with confirmed demand and ongoing market trends.
Trading Sessions In Early 2021
Judging by the early signs, we can safely say that the mentioned increase in price hasn’t affected global consumption and customers’ relentless appetite.
For instance, De Beers has reported that in the period from January 18 to February 2, the company sold $650 million worth of rough diamonds.
To illustrate the situation, this is the biggest score since 2018, 18% higher than during the same period the previous year and 44% higher than at the previous time.
Similar results were reported by ALROSA that sold the total worth of $430 million of rough diamonds – a 6% increase since January 2020.
Compared to the sales reported in December 2020, these numbers do mark a considerable drop of 18%, but we have to point out that this sudden spike was driven by the sales of a couple of unique diamonds and did not grow into a trend.
In-Depth COVID-19 Implications
What are some of the tendencies and implications regarding the diamond consumption pipeline we can extrapolate from the previous year’s experience? Well, for better clarity, we will split them into short-term and long-term:
|Rough diamond slates||Cutting and polishing sales||Retail sales|
|Short-term tendencies||Most mines had to lower their production and experience financial losses. Some smaller mines were completely shut down.||Disruption of traditional on-site sales models. Operating margins temporarily improved.||Growth of online trading channels. Affinity for diamonds as an emotional response to the crisis.|
|Long-term tendencies||Rough sales expanding to the virtual market. Ongoing optimization of trading portfolios to meet the speculative behavior in the market. Partnerships between miners and midstream parties. Data-driven production optimization.||Introduction of demand-driven sales models. More conservative financing models, peer-to-peer financing. A higher degree of cutting and polishing automation.||Marketing evolution is driven by AI and advanced data analytics. Complete overhaul of the retail experience with new tools and omnichannel strategies.|
Polished Diamond Demand By Region
Now that we have checked all these facts let us take a look at how the global polished diamond market looks before the beginning of the pandemic. Although we are still missing the latest data, this information will be of great value in analyzing the post-COVID state of the market.
As we can see, in the pre-pandemic years, the USA stood as the undisputed number one diamond consumer in the world. The US polished diamond demand was also on a steady rise until 2019, so we can see this market share diminishing considerably in the foreseeable future.
The fluctuations in other corners of the market are much more interesting to observe, and it is yet to be seen if India will be able to close the gap on China when the economy gets back on its feet in full force.
Now, before we go more in-depth about the state of the mining industry, let us quickly go through the top five mining companies that are ruling the modern industry for a reference.
ALROSA is a company that operates mainly in the Russian region of Yakutia (Siberia). The conglomerate controls 94% of that country’s diamond resources and roughly 25% of the world’s diamond output.
Outside Russia, however, ALROSA runs only one mining operation – the company has a 32% share in the Catoca mine located in Angola.
ALROSA’s total 2019 mining output accounted for 38.5 million carats.
Diamonds mined by ALROSA are estimated and categorized by Yakutsk Diamond Trading Enterprise (YAPTA). The retailers that have a working relationship with the company are Tiffany & Co., Chow Tai Fook, and Rosy Blue.
Being founded in 1888, De Beers is one of the oldest players in the game. The company’s headquarters are in London, with AngloAmerican serving as a majority owner (85%) since it bought out Oppenheimer’s stake share.
The company’s 2019 mining output was estimated to be 30.78 million carats generating a total revenue of $4.6 million.
De Beers’ mining operations are mostly located in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Canada, and the company also has a distribution offshoot going under the name of Diamond Trading Company (DTC).
Through its partnership with Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Group, De Beers also has a stake in the retail business running more than 50 stores all around the globe.
Debswana Diamond essentially presents a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers and the Government of Botswana, so its operations are located primarily in this developing African country.
Being in such a unique position, Debswana Diamond is also one of the largest contributors to the Botswana economy, accounting for 70% of the total national export.
The company’s estimated 2018 set at around 24.1 million carats before dropping to 23.3 million in 2019.
As you can probably guess, Debswana Diamond products are distributed through De Beers’ trading network.
Rio Tinto Diamonds
Rio Tinto Diamonds are a part of the much larger Anglo-Australian conglomerate called Rio Tinto Group that has a stake in virtually all parts of the overall mining industry.
But, even this small part of the Rio Tinto empire has operations on five different continents, produces 17.03 million carats in diamonds (2019 estimation), and generates $619 million in revenue.
However, in recent years the company experienced some drawbacks and was forced to shut down a couple of famous mines (e.g., Argyle mine).
Rio Tinto diamonds are mostly processed in facilities in Antwerp, Belgium, and later sold at diamond markets in the USA, Hong Kong, and India.
Dominion Diamond is a Toronto-based company (it was founded in 1994), and all of its wealth is mined from Canadian mines like Diavik and Ekati.
Therefore, the history of Dominion Diamond mostly follows the gradual decline of the Canadian diamond mining industry until the temporary shutdown of the Ekati mine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, we are still talking about one of the most significant players in the game, whose 2019 output accounted for 6.7 million carats.
Related Read: The Diamond Industry: How Does Diamond Business Work?
In the previous sections, we had an opportunity to take a look at the countries with the biggest diamond deposits. Now, we will go a bit more into details and put a greater focus on singular countries and their mining operations.
As we could see from the diamond deposit breakdown above, Russia makes an absolute world leader in this regard. The large-scale diamond mining in Russia started in 1947, with the majority of diamond deposits being located in the Siberian region of Yakutia.
Today, the majority of Russian mines are under the control of a company group called ALROSA.
To illustrate the situation, back in 2014, Russia was able to mine 39 million carats of diamonds. Out of that pile, ALROSA mined as much as 36.2 million carats.
Russian mining production grew to 43 million carats in 2018, after which the industry was temporarily disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
It is estimated that the Russian diamond production in 2020 fell by a staggering 28 million carats, which accounted for 20% of the last-year volume of mining. For comparison, the last production drop recorded in 2019 was only 5%.
The distribution of assortment, however, remained virtually the same all throughout this crisis, with medium and large diamonds making somewhere between 70% and 80%.
The biggest mines in Russia are:
- Aikhal – This is, at the same time, the biggest mine in the world. The mining operations go below hundreds of meters underneath the surface, the annual production sits at around 1.3 million carats, and the estimated deposits are 40-50 million carats.
- Udachny (“Lucky”) – The third biggest mine in the world, with a depth of more than 630 meters. The annual production is estimated to be 5 million carats.
- Nyurba – Once again, this mine is located in the rich Yakutia region. The mining began in 2001, and the production varies between 0.7 and 2 million carats per year.
Diamond exploration in Botswana started in the years immediately after World War II, while the mining operations were officially launched in 1971 with extreme success.
In the years since, Botswana easily made its way through to become the world’s second-largest diamond miner in the world.
In terms of value, Botswana sits in the first place.
And if these accolades weren’t enough, Botswana’s two biggest mines are the two most productive mines in the world. That can be explained by the fact that the African diamonds are, generally speaking, of better quality and are larger than the ones mined in Russia.
Today, rough diamonds account for 25% of Botswana’s GDP and 60% of the country’s export.
- Jwaneng – In terms of overall produced value, Jwaneng is the richest diamond mine in the world. Located in the Kalahari Desert, the mine is under the shared ownership of the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group. The mine produces 12 million carats per annum.
- Orapa – Much like the previous mine, Orapa (“The resting place of lions”) is run by the Botswana Government and De Beers Group. Orapa scores annual production of 11 million carats, but in 2006 the mine produced the record-breaking 17.3 million carats.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
When looking at the mining volume, DRC comes in third place in the entire world, but most of Congo’s diamonds come from the informal sector.
Namely, DRC scores a very low presence of large-scale diamond mining companies.
As a matter of fact, the only commercial diamond mining operation in the entire country represents the joint venture Miniere de Bakwanga founded by the Belgian company Sibeka and the DRC Government.
Having a 20% stake in the mine, De Beers makes a minor partner in the venture.
The rest of the mining is performed by more than 700,000 artisanal miners, which cover the vast majority of DRC’s diamond resources.
Another factor that puts DRC in a unique position is the constant political turmoil that prevents other larger-scale operations and more extensive exploration.
The discovery of large diamond deposits in Australia quickly put the country on the mining map, but at this moment, the future of this branch is impacted by a couple of very unfavorable factors.
Most of this boils down to the fate of Australia’s most famous Argyle mine, which soon after opening started sprouting out 12 million carats per year. However, it quickly turned out that only 5% of these diamonds feature gem quality.
In 2013, the current owner Rio Tinto transformed Argyle into an underground mine and finally shut Argyle down in November 2021.
This way, the future of Australian mining largely falls on the shoulders of two other famous mines, Ellendale (temporarily shut down by at-the-time owner Kimberley Diamonds) and Merlin Mines (owned by Merlin Mines Ltd).
Canadian diamond mining began somewhat late during the 90s. The first active mine in Canada is called Ekati, and it’s owned by Dominion Diamonds.
The success of this operation opened up the way for other notable mentions like Diavik (Rio Tinto Subsidiary), Snap Lake, and Victor (both of them operated by De Beers).
In 2013, Canada managed to extract 10.6 million carats of diamonds, roughly worth $1.9 billion. This number grew to 23 million carats (total worth $2.7 billion) in 2018.
However, the current Canadian diamond mining industry is heavily impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 and the shutdown of some remote hard-to-access mines.
Diamond Mining On A Global Scale
Looking at the mining industry as a whole, we can extrapolate some very interesting and relevant facts.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused serious disruptions in the diamond mining industry, causing mine closures all across the globe. Smaller companies suffered a heavy crisis and, in some cases, zero buyouts which forced them to cut prices by 25% to 30%.
Overall, rough diamond sales decreased by 30 million carats or $4.1 billion.
Production dropped by 20% or 28 million carats, with the biggest decreases being noted in Russia, Canada, Botswana, and Australia.
In Botswana, the production of the two biggest mines Jwaneng and Orapa, was cut by 26%.
All mining companies except ALROSA reported negative earnings during the first half of 2020.
Due to the reopening of some of the mines that were temporarily closed during 2020, the rest of 2021 should score stable numbers for the mining industry. During the next 3-5 years it is projected to grow by 2%.
Pre-Pandemic Overview Of The Industry
The manufacturing of gem-quality diamonds has advanced more since 1980 than it has in the previous one hundred years. That is very important to remember since diamonds as a material are notoriously hard to work with.
If we take a look at the illustration below, however, we can also see that cutting and processing lends diamonds with a relatively small value compared to profit made at the sales points.
The relatively low space for diamond cutters to make a profit produced some very interesting developments in the previous turbulent years.
Here, we are going to take a closer look at this segment of the pipeline.
At the moment, the most important diamond trading centers are located in Antwerp, Tel Aviv, and Dubai. From these developed markets, diamonds are sent for further processing to main centers in Surat, India, as well as the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The competitive prices of these Asian giants caused old polishing centers like Antwerp to leave the race and focus on trading gradually.
In 2018 overall diamond polishing revenue grew up to 3%, largely supported by the healthy increase in demand. However, the lower eventual sales and overly excessive inventories accumulated during 2017 caused net imports to drop by 30% by the end of the year.
These unfavorable market terms combined with narrow profit margins of the entire industry caused the polishing sector to subtract by 3% during 2019. In the meantime, India continued to dominate the cutting and polishing market with a share of a staggering 90%.
During 2019, overall processing revenue fell by 11% for a number of different reasons, the biggest of which being the decline in demand for polished diamonds. As a result, polishing prices fell by 4%.
Post-Pandemic Overview Of The Industry
The next heavy blow was dealt by the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic disrupted or completely disabled all facets of the industry and caused sales of polished diamonds to drop by 26% during the entirety of 2020.
In India, the major player in the cutting and polishing industry, the net import of rough diamonds fell by 23%, but since other players were affected even more severely, the Asian giant managed to carve out 95% of the market share.
Due to strict government policies in the virus centers, China was one of the first countries to get its diamond game back on its feet. As a result, the local polished diamond industry managed to stay at a formidable 3%.
Until the end of 2020, the global diamond polishing industry managed to achieve a 20% finishing the year with a drop of only 3% compared to 2019.
General Industry Insights
Diamond jewelry was generally flat during the larger portion of 2019. The only notable exceptions were noted in the United States during the holiday season (1% growth) and China.
The industry suffered a heavy blow during the COVID-19 pandemic when most of the weddings were canceled and retail chains were temporarily closed. However, these unfortunate circumstances brought a slight increase in local consumption.
The US diamond retail industry came out of the pandemic especially hurt. Sales of jewelry stores dropped by 40%. The echoes are expected to be felt in the following years, with the 15% decrease in year-to-year retail results.
European markets that are still mostly based on brick-and-mortar retail chains also suffered heavy losses, and the 2020 market decline is estimated at 20%.
Looking at the matter from the global perspective, we can see the following results:
In terms of the materials dominating the jewelry market, gold still stands as an undisputed champion. The material scored the largest market share and generated revenue of $117.6 billion in 2018 before the pandemic numbers settled in. The largest consumers of gold in that period were China, India, and the USA in that particular order.
In recent years, diamonds scored a massive growth in popularity, coming at second place of the most popular materials. One of the contributing factors to this rise in sales was the increasing distribution of synthetic diamonds that are, on average, 20% to 40% more affordable than natural diamonds.
The third most popular material in the jewelry market before the pandemic was platinum. Other notable performers include the likes of silver, copper, and steel.
Related Read: Diamond Vs. Platinum: Comparison Guide
Scoring a formidable market share of 28.9%, rings proved to be the most popular products sold at a jewelry marker. Influential voices contribute this popularity to affordability, exciting designs, and practical applications.
Of course, diamond-studded rings are still some of the most popular wedding rings or romantic presents in circulation. The rest of the market looks roughly like this:
Speaking in terms of consumption, we can easily see that, with its staggering share of 60.1% South Asia makes the single largest jewelry market in the world. This market growth was mostly driven by the steady growth of the Chinese economy and the growth of the spending power of the local population.
Other notable market fluctuations are also being noted in Africa and the region of the Middle East that were projected to experience growth of 8% by 2025 before the COVID-19 took its toll on the industry. However, this market will surely get back on track as soon as the consequences of the pandemic recede.
Although they are still seen as major jewelry markets, Europe and North America are projected for slower growth due to higher exports to the South Asia region.
We hope this breakdown of the entire diamond pipeline gave you some general insight into the current state of the industry.
Of course, the unfortunate events we have experienced last year and still experience to this very day make the whole picture somewhat muddled.
But, the numbers we have seen in the last couple of years before the pandemic give us a good idea about how the industry will look like when the global economy finally settles in the following years.
We hope you enjoyed the article. Until next reading!