Diamonds are starting to sparkle again, says Rachel Millard in The Daily Telegraph. The sector has been hit hard by Covid-19. The value of diamond imports to India, where the vast majority are cut and polished, collapsed from $1.5bn in February to just $1m in April. Yet prices have since recovered and the polishers are busier than ever. Diamond sellers have a Christmas sales surge to thank, say Thomas Biesheuvel and Yuliya Fedorinova on Bloomberg.
The industry had been in “the doldrums” for five years as wealthy shoppers splurged on luxury travel. Yet the virus has knocked out that competition. Still, some fear that the re-opening of the leisure industry later this year could mean the recovery proves a flash in the pan. Annual diamond jewellery sales are worth $80bn worldwide.
The diamond market faces a long-term challenge from artificial gemstones. They are chemically identical to natural diamonds and indistinguishable without specialist equipment. Industry giant De Beers has met the problem head-on.
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In 2018 it began selling synthetic diamonds for the first time, hoping to brand them as a cheap and cheerful but inferior product to the “real” thing. Early indications are that that strategy is working, says Millard. The premium a buyer pays for a natural diamond over a lab-grown one has widened of late. A natural diamond costs roughly $1,465 compared with $600 for an artificial equivalent.
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