By Michelle Graff
London--De Beers recently released its Diamond Insight Report, a report it prepares annually the covers the entire diamond jewelry pipeline from mine to market. 

While the report, which is available in its entirety as a PDF here, covers diamond sales and production worldwide, what follows here are six insights about diamond jewelry and the U.S. market specifically.

1) While 2014 was a solid year for diamond jewelry, 2015 has been more challenging.
Global diamond jewelry sales grew 3 percent in 2014, exceeding $80 billion for the first time. In local currency terms, there was growth in each of the top five diamond markets (the U.S., China, India, Japan and the Gulf Region), which account for 75 percent of global demand.

However, because of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and the slowdown in China, De Beers expects sales to be flat in 2015 when compared with 2014.

2) The U.S. market led the way for diamond sales in 2014.
A few years ago, luxury companies were betting high on China but the economy there has slowed and the U.S. is again the market where the luxury companies, including jewelry retailers, are doing the best.  

The U.S. posted the strongest year-over-year growth in diamond jewelry consumption last year, even though it is the world's most mature market. Demand here was up 7 percent, with China (6 percent) and India (3 percent) trailing. 

3) U.S. demand for polished diamonds returned to pre-recession levels last year.
The U.S.’s share of demand for polished diamonds reached 42 percent in 2014, a level not seen since 2008, before the global financial crisis hit.

The report also noted that since 2009, the compound annual growth rate for diamond consumption stands at 5 percent for diamond jewelry and 6 percent for polished diamonds.

4) More consumers are asking about specific brands.
The proportion of U.S. retailers who see consumers asking for diamond jewelry brands increased from 15 percent in 2012, to 33 percent in 2013, to nearly half (47 percent) in 2014, according to De Beers (which, it should be noted, has a diamond jewelry brand, Forevermark).

5) Independents are losing diamond jewelry sales to chain stores of all sizes.
In 2015, De Beers began a study of some 42,000 unique diamond retail locations in the U.S. What it found is that chain stores now sell more diamond jewelry than independent retailers, despite the fact that overall the chains have closed even more doors than the independents over the past eight years.

In 2007, independents made 56 percent of diamond jewelry sales in the U.S., followed by chains (small, medium and large) at 27 percent, department stores at 8 percent, discounters/membership club retailers at 6 percent and “other” at 4 percent.

Today, independents’ market share for diamond jewelry sales has shrunk to 35 percent, with chains, now at 42 percent, and department stores, now at 11 percent, taking the most away from the independents. The market share for the discounters has crept up only 1 percent, to 7 percent, while other has remained steady at 4 percent.

(The 2007 sales figures do not include online sales made in these channels, while the 2015 figures do.)

6) There is a power in having a multi-channel presence, not being just brick-and-mortar or online.
In the U.S., between only 7 and 13 percent of diamond jewelry sales are made online, and two-thirds of those come through pure-play online retailers--many of which, like Blue Nile, now have a physical presence--or the websites of large chain stores.

Independents don’t sell a lot of diamond jewelry online but use it for marketing and communications, driving foot traffic into stores.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.