China becomes second largest diamond market

08:54, January 25, 2010      

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China surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest diamond consumer market in 2009, according to the latest figures from the Diamond Administration of China (DAC).

Polished diamond import turnover amounted to $699 million in 2009, a 30.7 percent increase year-on-year, the Xinhua news agency quoted figures from the DAC as saying Sunday.

From January-November 2009, Japan's polished diamond imports amounted to $575.9 million, down 20.7 percent year-on-year, said the country's Customs Bureau of the Finance Ministry in December.

"The booming wedding ceremony and gift markets have boosted diamond sales, and Chinese young couples are more likely to show their love through diamonds," said Yang Qingshan, a researcher at the Cheungkei Research Center for Luxury Goods and Services of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Every year about 10 million couples get married, and the figure is expected to reach 11.82 million in 2010, according to figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Yang said various sales channels also make diamonds, once seen as a luxury, more "close to" consumers.
De Beers, the largest diamond producer in the world, expected China would surpass the US to become the world's largest diamond consumer market by 2020.

Make Lumer Shopping Plaza, a diamond marketplace, opened in Beijing January 1 and saw sales revenue of 12 million yuan ($1.76 million) during the three-day New Year holiday.

"Our diamonds' prices are 30-50 percent lower than those in traditional shopping centers, because we purchase polished diamonds from producers in South Africa, Japan and India rather than distributors," said Liu Shanshan, communications manager with Make Lumer.

Liu said 80 percent of the company's consumers are young couples preparing to get married, and diamonds ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 carats sell well.

"We plan to extend our business around the country in the next two years," she said.

The booming diamond market has not only benefited traditional retailers, but also online retailers including sites such as zbird.com, 9Diamond.com and kela.cn.

Zbird.com, an online retailer started on ebay.com in 2002, realized sales revenue of 200 million yuan ($29.30 million) in 2008. The company now has an independent website and stores in Beijing and Shanghai.

Tu Rui, a 28-year-old Beijing resident who got married last month, bought a diamond ring for his wife from zbird.com.

"We went to the China Wedding Expo in Beijing in July and decided to buy the diamond at zbird.com, which can provide customized services," he said.

Yang, the UIBE researcher, said online jewelry sales have become a trend, but consumers should be cautious if they choose to buy a diamond through the Internet.

"Consumers should choose credible online retailers and diamonds with certificates," he said.

Source: Global Times

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