Shoppers are increasingly treating themselves to diamond jewellery, rather than buying it for others – helping push the global market back into growth.
Worldwide diamond sales hit $80bn (£62bn) in 2016, according to industry leader De Beers, reversing a dip the year before when demand from China and India slumped.
Global sales were bolstered by rising demand in the US, the world’s biggest diamond market, which accounts for 50pc of all polished stones.
Stephen Lussier, marketing director of De Beers, said that one-third of all sales in the US were now down to “self-purchase”, up from around a quarter before 2008.
“Gift-giving is still the foundation of sales, but there is a trend of economically empowered women buying diamond jewellery for themselves,” Mr Lussier said.
This is split across younger, “millennial” shoppers – those born after 1980 – and married women, according to De Beers.
The increasing popularity of designer jewellery, such as “stackable” diamond rings, was also driving self-purchase, Mr Lussier added. “It’s very hard for men to buy design-oriented jewellery because we get it wrong. We can buy the classical cuts but women are more particular about designer jewellery.”
Diamond jewellery sales in India slumped 8.8pc last year after the local market was hit by a six-week jewellers’ strike and a surprise demonisation programme launched by the government.
The removal of high-denomination banknotes in a crackdown on the black market rocked the local diamond industry, which is largely cash driven. Although India only accounts for 6pc of global retail sales, it is responsible for around 90pc of the world’s diamond cutting and polishing.
Mr Lussier said the world diamond market was looking “pretty steady” this year, with India bouncing back more quickly than expected, and sales rising in China.