Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Winter 2014, Vol. 50, No. 4

Online Diamond Sales 17% of U.S. Market


A recent De Beers study noted a 7% increase for diamond jewelry in the U.S. during 2013 and a 12% increase in China. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA.
A recent De Beers study reported that worldwide retail sales of diamond jewelry totaled $79 billion in 2013, up $5 billion on a 7% increase in U.S. demand and a 12% increase in China.
 
Online sales of diamond jewelry comprise about 17% of the market in the U.S., according to the study. These sales include both strictly online companies such as Blue Nile and traditional retailers who also sell over the Internet.
 
The De Beers report also noted that 25% of Chinese consumers now research prospective diamond purchases online before making an actual purchase and that the number of retail stores selling diamond jewelry increased 30% from 2010 to 2013. There are, however, strong signs that the heady growth is beginning to slow, according to De Beers. Retailers in Guangdong Province reported that sales declined 5.1% for the first eight months of 2014, while sales of gold pieces nationwide fell 9.1% during that period, according to a government report.
 
In the U.S., the Department of Commerce reported that jewelry and watch sales from all sales channels increased 4.9% in August, compared to the same month in 2013. This rise reflects even greater sales volume because prices for gold and diamonds declined several percentage points in 2014.
 
De Beers noted that diamond production increased 7% to 145 million carats, still well under the 2005 peak of 175 million carats. It also predicted that production would decline, despite new sources coming on stream, because older mine deposits are becoming more costly to work as operations go deeper and ore grade declines.

Russell Shor is senior industry analyst at GIA in Carlsbad, California.