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China Now Key to De Beers' Future

28 May 2024

De Beers says China is the most important market for De Beers diamond jewelry

Selecting China for the most new store launches in its global portfolio, London-based diamond company De Beers Group will open 10 more stores in the country due to China's resilient economy, growing middle-income group and huge business potential, said its top executive.

"Today … China is the second most important market in the world (only after the United States). It's been growing extremely strong over the last 25 years, but we have to be even more ambitious. China's growing so fast that we hope that China can become an even more important destination for diamonds than it is today," said AI Cook, CEO of De Beers Group.

Having more diamond retail venues in China than in any other country on earth, Cook said the group plans to further its expansion plan by opening more than 10 stores within the next few years in key growth cities in the country.

"For us, China is the number one country for our De Beers Jewellers ...We really want to expand our presence in China, expand the number of our stores and expand the number of people who work for De Beers in China to create more jobs, also, and even more importantly, create more and more customers," Cook said.

Focusing on the exploration, mining, marketing and retailing of diamonds, De Beers Group produces about one-third of the world's diamonds, and it currently operates 40 stores around the world, with 25 operating in China, the CEO added.

De Beers Group began to explore the China market in 2000 with local Chinese retailers and opened its first store in the country in Beijing in 2011.

"We are strong believers and strong supporters of the Chinese economy, and that is why we plan to invest more and more in China going forward," explained Cook.

Cook added that his confidence came from China's buoyant economic growth and the ensuing great demand for diamond products from Chinese consumers.

"China is a very important market for luxury products and for diamonds. Despite economic challenges, despite everything else, we find we know two things: China is resilient and we know that diamonds are resilient as well. Now we expect the Chinese economy will continue to grow," said Cook.

"Never in the course of human history has an economy grown like China's and never in the course of human history have we seen it in the economy the size of China's continuing to grow," he added.

Over the past two decades, China has grown into a major diamond market, with its diamond demand surging from $841 million in 2000 to some $8.8 billion in 2022. During the same period, its market share has grown from 1.5 percent in 2000 to 10.2 percent of the global diamond market, said the De Beers Diamond Insight Report 2023.

Major Chinese retailers still have full confidence in the natural diamond market in the year 2024.

"While it will take some time for natural diamonds to return to the pre-COVID level, the sector is believed to move forward to a positive direction," David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council, was quoted by local Shanghai news portal as saying.

The De Beers report projected China's middle-income group will grow from about half of the population to some two-thirds by 2030, which will bring about a market potential of 140 billion yuan ($19.3 billion) for diamond consumption.

"Our research shows natural diamonds are the third most desired gift by Chinese women, after only gold and holidays abroad," said Cook.

According to Cook, China and Shanghai, in particular, are extremely important for the group. Having its China headquarters in Shanghai, the city is home to five De Beers Jewellers stores, the most among all cities worldwide.

"Shanghai really represents the epitome of the center of Chinese business. Shanghai is such an important city in China. It's really such a center for business. It brings together all the influences of China, both the history and the future. I find that whenever I visit Shanghai, it's changed so much and it represents the future. It represents the change in China," Cook said.

"We anticipate investing in China and building more and more new stores so that we can bring the magic of De Beers Jewellers to more and more people," he added.


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