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US diamond market to shine despite China, India growth: De Beers

De Beers' 203-carat 'Millennium Star' diamond/AFP

De Beers’ 203-carat ‘Millennium Star’ diamond/AFP

HONG KONG, September 17- The United States is likely to remain the world’s largest market for diamonds for the next 15 years despite a growing appetite for the gems from China and India, leading producer De Beers said Wednesday.

China has the fastest growing demand, jumping to a share of about 15 percent of the world’s diamond market from less than three percent in 2003.

But it is not expected to overtake the US market’s 40 percent share for more more than a decade, De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier said.

“China and India, the engine for growth, these two big markets clearly could be as big as the US in the next maybe 15 years,” said Mellier, who was in Hong Kong for the Jewellery and Gem Fair.

“For China to go up to 40 percent share of the world market, it’s still some ways to go,” Mellier said, adding he expects the Chinese market to grow more than 10 percent per annum for “many more years”.

De Beers said China’s anti-corruption drive, which has hurt demand for luxury goods, would not affect the diamond industry.

“I think our business is less impacted by that compared to others,” Stephen Lussier, CEO of De Beers Forevermark said, with diamonds usually used at weddings and other “emotional events” in life.

Global diamond jewellery sales were around US$79 billion in 2013, up 3.0 percent compared to 2012, according to De Beers’ first Diamond Insight Report.

Sales are expected to grow in the long term helped by recovery in the US economy as well as the growth of the middle class in the developing markets of China and India.

The company had said earlier than it expects “good to very good” second quarter results in India, which has seen increasing demand for the gems.

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Founded in 1888 in South Africa, De Beers last year reported $1 billion in operating profit — more than double that of 2012.

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