Tue, Mar 16, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Sales sparkle as consumers buy more diamonds

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The economic recovery is fueling purchases of diamonds, with vendors expecting to see sales in the first quarter rise by about 30 percent year-on-year, industry insiders said yesterday.

"Both Western and Chinese Valentine's days, Mother's Day in May and Christmas are traditional big holidays for diamond vendors," said Jackson Ko (柯朝祥), general manager of Emperor Diamond Co (京華鑽石).

Emperor Diamond was established in 1994, specializing in diamond imports and wholesaling.

The company began to make inroads around eight years ago, has expanded to 38 outlets nationwide and has around 8 percent of the nation's diamond market.

"Thanks to the economic recovery, we saw a leap of around 30 percent in sales this Valentine's Day compared to last year and expect sales in the first quarter to grow at the same level, year-on-year," Ko said, adding that the company expected a 20 percent increase in sales this year.

He declined to elaborate on the sales target.

Taiwan's GNP per capita reached US$10,470 in 1992, a critical level that allowed the nation's diamond market to boom as people had higher purchasing power for luxury goods, Ko said.

"About 80 out of 100 Japanese women over 20 years old have diamond jewelry, whereas their popularity in Taiwan is estimated at 40 percent," he added. "Taiwan's diamond sector still has great space for future growth."

Anna Chou (周娜慈), a manager at Diamond Trading Company, agreed, saying that the company saw its highest growth rate, more than 10 percent, in 2000 and an annual growth of around 5 percent to 10 percent thereafter.

"Sales of diamond jewelry are expected to rise by 10 percent, compared to the NT$18-billion turnover last year, thanks to the economic rebound," she added.

The Diamond Trading Company, based in London, was established in 1934 as the rough-diamond sales arm of DeBeers group, which controls up to 70 percent of diamond mines worldwide.

"Following the rise of feminine consciousness, more female consumers are purchasing diamonds for themselves as rewards, without waiting for their partners to purchase them as gifts," Chou said, adding that female shoppers make up 50 percent of their customer base, with steady growth annually.

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