The global diamond and jewelry industries are turning their eyes East as countries formerly little known for diamond and diamond jewelry production and consumption emerge as powerful players in the international marketplace.
While Russia has been showing a growth in diamond mining importance, and high-end jewelry retailing—with European designers citing it as an increasingly important market, attention is now centering on China.
Hong Kong has long been a major player in the international diamond and jewelry community, but now, the entire Chinese country, it seems, has now picked up on the industry’s potential.
Within a decade, China is expected to become jewelry and diamond consuming and processing powerhouse.
According to analysts, consumer spending is on the rise and China will become the world’s leading jewelry consumer and processor by 2010 as spending on jewelry alone in the country rises an average of 10 percent annually.
According to the China Pearl Diamond Gem and Jewelry Import and Export Corporation, annual jewelry sales in China have reached $12 billion annually, compared to less than $25 million in the mid 1980’s.
Helping to spur this growth is, of course, the country’s entry in the World Trade Organization and the government’s easing of tariffs on jewelry and raw materials, which has helped to eliminate the smuggling of goods that previously dominated the Chinese diamond market in the past.
The government has announced that gemstones and jewelry will be among the first industries that will be opened up to foreigners. Not surprisingly, this comes on the heels of the opening of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange this year.
The newly established exchange, the only one of its kind in China right now, experienced trading volume of more than $15 million in the first half of 2002.
At the same time, in anticipation of the rise in spending and growth in jewelry, global jewelry
retail leaders—like Tiffany—have already set their sights on this massive consumer base and begun opening stores within the country’s major cities.