UK’s diamond market sparkles

The UK is the fastest growing market for diamonds in the world with consumers expected to spend over $1.5 billion on the sparkling gems this year, Reuters reports.

“Worldwide the UK market is the only one showing strong growth—up 11% year on year,” Fiona Spence of the Diamond Trading Company, the marketing arm of De Beers, told Reuters. “That is the highest growth in the world.”

Spence told Reuters that sales for the first three months of 2002 had been “fantastic”, confounding forecasts that the economic slowdown after last year’s September 11 attacks would hit the jewelry market.

“We have been pleasantly surprised that things didn’t go by the way after September 11,” she reportedly said.

Spence reportedly attributes this growth to low interest rates and an underlying feel good factor were contributing to people spending money on themselves and their loved ones.

In 2001, 2.9 million pieces of diamond jewelry ranging from nose studs to necklaces were sold, representing about $1.5 billion, Reuters reported.

Harry Levy, a London-based diamond trader agreed that demand is strong, particularly compared with other European countries.

“The upper end of the market, for pieces of 2,000 pounds plus, appears to be buoyant,” he told Reuters.

Levy said one of the reasons why the UK market is so relatively strong could be that young Britons are embracing the concept of buying precious stones, unlike some of their European counterparts.

“Germany a few years ago was on a par with Britain, but now there is less demand there…and as for Scandinavia they don’t seem to be interested,” he told Reuters.