Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Diamond Demand Liftoff Curbed by China Crackdown, Group Says

  • ‘We see stable growth,’ World Diamond Council president says
  • Polished stone sales in jewelry to rise 4% until ’19: Polyakov

Diamond sales growth isn’t expected to accelerate any time soon as demand from China continues to slump, according to the president of the World Diamond Council.

Global polished diamond sales used in jewelry will increase 4 percent a year until at least 2019, according to Andrey Polyakov, who is also a vice president at Alrosa PJSC, Russia’s biggest diamond miner. This is essentially in line with Alrosa’s estimates for average annual polished sales growth in the past decade.

“We see stable growth,” Polyakov said Wednesday in an interview in New York, where the Council is based. He says the decrease in Chinese sales -- a result of the country’s anti-corruption campaign -- will be offset by stable demand from the U.S., Japan, the Indian middle class and in Europe, where Chinese tourists are supporting sales growth.

Rough-diamond prices dropped 18 percent in 2015 as slowing Chinese demand and an industrywide credit crunch curbed purchases. Sales of $630 million at an auction last week by De Beers, the world’s biggest supplier, raised hopes that the industry can avoid a second-half slowdown.

Synthetic Threat

Another factor that may be cutting into diamond sales are synthetic diamonds. Miners have seen the rise of man-made gems entering the supply chain as a threat to the industry. Technological leaps have allowed manufacturers to produce larger numbers of gem-quality stones cheaply, with traders able to attempt to pass them off as mined, or natural, stones.

Polyakov said that while the diamond industry needs to protect itself from attempts to sell synthetic diamonds as natural ones, he wants to avoid a battle between the two sides.

“There is no agenda for that,” Polyakov said. “We are focusing on what we as the industry are doing for the society and what is the value of a diamond.”

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