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Emerging market set for further growth

19 September 2018

Imports of polished diamonds at Shanghai Diamond Exchange (in US$100 million)

Source: Shanghai Diamond Exchange

Shenzhen-based companies’ outlook on the city’s jewellery industry in 2018

Source: Shenzhen Gold & Jewelry Association


China, the world’s biggest market for platinum jewellery, also leads global growth in demand for gold, diamond and coloured gemstone jewellery. According to a market study by the National Gemstone Testing Centre (NGTC), China’s demand for diamond jewellery is estimated at 62 billion yuan (about US$9.7 billion), with a projected annual growth rate of 5 to 10 percent over the next five years. Despite the economic downturn in recent years, China remains one of the world’s most lucrative jewellery markets, supported by a growing middle class and higher-income groups. The rise of millennials also provides new opportunities for investors from all regions.

In 2017, China’s total imports of polished diamonds reached 2.43 million carats, rising 32.8 percent from the previous year; in value terms, this amounted to US$2.515 billion, a 23.4 percent increase over 2016. This represented a record-high level of polished trading at the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE), figures from SDE showed.

While the total volume of diamonds traded at the exchange in 2017 was 492.587 million carats, up 59.3 percent from the previous year, the value of diamond transactions reached US$5.344 billion, an increase of 19.96 percent from 2016.

As of December 31, 2017, SDE had 389 members, including 233 foreign members that accounted for 60 percent of the total.

The world's major jewellery producer

China’s abundant supply of natural and human resources and its relatively competitive production costs have attracted local producers as well as investors from abroad to set up manufacturing facilities on the mainland to cover demand from both domestic and export markets. At present, China is a major source of freshwater pearls. The country also produces gold and a wide variety of natural coloured gemstones, accounting for a significant portion of global supply. With production facilities concentrated in the southern part of the country, cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou (particularly its Panyu district) in Guangdong Province have become major trading hubs for global jewellery players.


According to the Shenzhen Gold & Jewelry Association, as of September 2017, the total value of jewellery manufacturing and processing in Shenzhen reached approximately 150 billion yuan (about US$23.4 billion), and the wholesale and retail trade volume was approximately 45 billion yuan (about US$7 billion).



China is currently the world’s biggest market for platinum jewellery, with annual consumption estimated at 1.5 million ounces, translating into about 12 million pieces of platinum jewellery a year.


China leads global consumption of gold for a fifth consecutive year in 2017 with an annual consumption of 1,089 tonnes, representing an increase of 9.4 percent from the previous year. Consumption of gold jewellery went up 10.35 percent to 695.5 tonnes while that of gold bars rose 7.28 percent to 276.4 tonnes. On top of traditional plain gold items, gold jewellery manufacturers have recently been introducing more fashionable designs in 18-karat gold and marketing them as affordable luxury items for the growing young-consumer market, which is looking for fashionable and daily-wear jewellery.


Demand for diamonds in China is estimated at about 62 billion yuan (about US$9.7 billion), with a projected annual growth rate of 5 to 10 percent over the next five years.

Bridal market

Every year, over 11 million newlywed couples are recorded in mainland China, providing huge potential for the bridal jewellery segment