De Beers has released its most comprehensive picture yet of the diamond jewelry market in 2021, in its recently released Diamond Insight Report. According to the company, global demand for natural diamond jewelry in 2021 rose by an estimated 27 percent from 2020, and by 10 percent from 2019, which preceded the COVID pandemic, to reach an all-time high of $87 billion.
2021 was a year of recovery from the decline in consumer demand for natural diamond jewellery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2020, the report said, with the pace of the global recovery strongest in the early part of year, compared with a low base a year earlier when most lockdowns were in force. But it moderated in the second half when the comparative base was higher.
Among the main diamond-consuming countries, polished diamond demand in the United States grew by more than the global average, as a result of which its share of global demand rose to more approximately 54 percent.
The share of Greater China in polished diamond demand recovered somewhat year-on-year in 2021 but remained below the 2019 level. India and Japan lost share due to slower than global growth rates, the report said.
MOST CONSUMER MARKETS RECOVER STRONGLY
In the United States, natural diamond jewellery sales rose by 34 percent to $47 billion. The report said that demand for diamonds was supported both by the government’s fiscal stimulus programs and by the savings consumers had accumulated by spending less on travel and entertainment during COVID-19-related restrictions. The end-of-year holiday season saw unprecedented growth on what was as already stronger base in 2020.
In Mainland China, demand for natural diamond jewelry grew by 23 percent in local currency and by 32 percent in US dollar terms. But Chinese acquisitions abroad remained dormant due to COVID-19 related international travel bans. Domestic diamond jewellery sales recovered strongly in the first half of the year from a low base, while growth moderated in the second half.
In India, consumer demand increased by an estimated 20 percent in both local currency and U.S. dollars. The India market was hard struck by COVID-19 challenges in the early part of the
year, but recovery gained pace as cities started to come out of lockdowns, culminating with a surge in consumer sentiment and demand during the Diwali holiday season.
Demand from Japanese consumers grew by 15 percent in local currency and by 12 percent in U.S. dollar terms, with recovery was strongest in the first half of the year.
Demand from consumers in the Arabian Gulf rose by an estimated 24 percent in U.S. dollar terms, with consumer demand had recovered to 2019 levels. Demand for diamond jewellery in all remaining markets grew by an estimated 15 percent.
2021’S MOMENTUM CARRIES ON IN 2022
The positive momentum from 2021 carried over to the first half of 2022, with major luxury brands reporting strong sales growth in Europe and North America. This offset a reported deceleration in China.
Luxury jewellery, which had, outperformed other luxury categories in 2021, continued to post strong sales growth in the first half of 2022, the report stated.
Global demand for natural diamond jewellery in the first half of 2022 grew by an estimated high single digit figure compared with the first half of 2021. Growth was estimated to be strongest at low double digits for the United States and Japan, while India and the Gulf grew in single-digit figures. China was the only country to experience a decline in diamond demand, largely due to the impact of continuing COVID-19 lockdowns.
A combination of nominal wage growth and a steady pace of employment growth contributed towards higher consumer demand for natural diamonds in the United States in the first half of 2022. But the high rate of inflation and the global economic challenges exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict dented consumer confidence in the second quarter and diamond demand subsequently started to soften at the end of the quarter, although it remained positive overall for the half-year, the report said.
China has proven to be an outlier thus far in 2022, reporting a mid-single-digit year-on-year decline during the first half, which was caused by depressed consumer demand in the second quarter.