De Beers says diamond jewelry sales grew by 7% in 2003

Jewelry retail sales increased by nearly 7% globally in 2003 compared with 2002, the De Beers Group says in a recently released report.

“This is a staggering result considering the negative impact that SARS had in Asia in the first half of the year and the Iraqi war, both of which created considerable lack of consumer confidence,” the report says. “However, it is worth pointing out that diamond jewelry sales outperformed GDP only four times in the last 15 years, and three of those have been since the announcement of Supplier of Choice in 2000.”

The key growth market last year was India, which increased by 22%. De Beers said this growth was attributed to the success of Nakshatra branded diamond jewelry introduced through Supplier of Choice a few years ago and now the number one brand in India.

The U.S. achieved 6.5% growth for the year and over 10% growth for the last half of the year. De Beers says this reflects the success of Project Rudolph, a new Christmas marketing initiative introduced to drive sales through the Supplier of Choice strategy.

In Japan, De Beers says in its report, six Diamond Trading Company Sightholders linked up with major manufacturers and retail chains and department stores and independent jewellers to drive a recovery in sales.

“A new Trilogy brand was launched in September based on the success of the Past, Present and Future theme in America but reflecting a woman’s personal achievement,” the report says. “Our consumer research showed us that it is a woman’s inner sparkle and radiance or ‘kagayaki’ that makes her beautiful. Diamonds reflect that ‘kagayaki’ “

China achieved an 8% growth rate in 2003 despite the negative impact of SARS during the first half of the year.

“The main reason for this was popularity of the diamond wedding band,” De Beers says. “In markets like Shanghai, 85% of recently married women received a diamond wedding band. Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and other key cities in China, now have a well-established cultural imperative for diamond wedding bands laying the foundation for future growth for women’s diamond jewelry as the market matures. Many people predict that China will surpass America as the largest diamond market in the world in the future.”

In its report, De Beers says these initiatives and the increased diamond jewelry sales “demonstrate the transformation of the diamond industry from a commodity, price-driven market into a modern, healthy, growth-driven market of the future.”