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China's diamond import sustains growth momentum in Q3 of 2021

18 october 2021
With the rapid recovery of China's retail jewellery market, the diamond imports of the country have maintained a sustained growth momentum in the first three quarters of 2021.
According to the data from Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE), the diamond transaction in the SDE from January through September 2021 reached $5.72 bn, representing an 81.2% increase over the same period of 2019, and approaching the all-time high of $5.78 bn in the whole year of 2018. The diamond transaction value records the total rough and polished shipments in and out of the SDE and reflects how active the trading activities are.
The SDE is the only portal in China to import polished diamonds under the favourable tax policy of 0% tariff and 4% Value Added Tax (VAT). Net import of polished diamonds through the SDE from January thru September, which reflects the value of polished diamonds imported for consumption in China, reached $2.32 bn, up 59.3% year on year of 2019. This figure has well exceeded the whole year amount of 2019 and 2020 (respectively $1.85 bn and $1.42 bn). With the current growth momentum, the annual net polished import in 2021 is projected to approach $3 bn to set a new record high since the SDE was founded in 2000, exceeding the existing milestone of $2.74 bn in 2018.
Net polished import in September reached $239.9 mn, up 14.6% year on year of 2020 and up 83.1% of 2019. Import of rough diamonds under normal trade category from January thru September reached $49.96 mn, posting an increase of 123.7% compared to the same period in 2019.
The growth of diamond imports reflected the pace of rapid recovery of China’s jewellery market. From January thru August 2021, China’s jewellery retail of the key sampling jewellers registered a 45% increase year on year over 2020, which ranked top among all the retail categories in terms of growth rate, according to the data by the National Bureau of Statistics of China.
“The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Golden Week holidays are traditional sales seasons. Meanwhile, due to the impact of the pandemic on international travel, a large part of overseas jewellery consumption by Chinese tourists has shifted back to the domestic market. Furthermore, the Chinese government has been strengthening its anti-smuggling and anti-money laundering efforts this year, which has played a positive role in promoting the entry of diamonds into the Chinese market through the legal import channel of SDE. I believe this year's diamond imports through the Shanghai Diamond Exchange are more reflective of the actual demand in the Chinese diamond market,” concluded Lin Qiang, Vice Chairman of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and President of the SDE.
According to statistics from the Gems & Jewelry Trade Association of China (GAC), diamond jewellery retail accounts for approximately 13% of China's $92.74 bn jewellery retail market.The overall recovery of the jewellery market in 2021 has driven the development of the diamond market, however, the wedding market, the backbone of diamond consumption, still needs further recovery.
In the first half of 2021, 4.166 million couples registered marriage in China, posting an increase of 287,000 couples compared to the same period in 2020, but a decrease of 814,000 couples year on year of 2019. It is believed that with the gradual improvement of the epidemic, the wedding market will usher in a round of growth in the future.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough&Polished