This is a tricky question. Who buys the most diamond jewellery in the world? At a glance, the largest importers are India and Belgium, but this doesn’t really tell us the full answer. It seems odd that these two countries would be the biggest diamond importers. India is the second most populous country in the world at 1.25 billion people. Belgium has a population of 11.2 million. India’s population is 111 times that of Belgium.
Importing vs. Buying
What’s happening here? Well, the question is who buys the most diamond jewellery, not who imports it. Belgium and India don’t buy diamond jewellery at these levels. Instead, these two countries serve as important middle men for the diamond market.
Diamonds in their rough stone shape migrate all the way across the globe in order to pass through Belgium for grading and cutting. More than 80-percent of diamond production passes through a single square mile in Antwerp, Belgium. More than 90-percent of diamond production also passes through India to be cut. This means that many of the same diamonds pass through both countries.
These aren’t the only diamond hubs in the world. Dubai, Israel, and Thailand all have their own industries dedicated toward diamonds. Yet purely in terms of importing diamonds – whether for grading and cutting or buying and selling – India and Belgium make up 54-percent of the world’s traffic. Add in Israel, and you’ve got 73-percent of the world’s diamond importing covered.
The Largest Buyers
Purely in terms of global sales of finished diamonds, the U.S. easily leads the world. The United States makes up for 18.4-percent of purchased imports. Perhaps unpredictably, Hong Kong comes in second.
India, Belgium, and Israel follow these. In hubs where diamonds are graded and cut, they’re also very often sold as well. China follows in sixth.
There’s also been an expansion in the taste for diamond jewellery in the East. Parts of Chinese and Indian society have begun valuing diamond jewellery in a way they haven’t always – in part, this has to do with the improving buying power of urban citizens in these nations. It also has to do with the mixture and appeal of Western culture with Eastern. Just as many elements of Chinese and Indian culture have infused into ours, many part of our cultures have infused into theirs. One of those things is a new found preference and taste for diamond jewellery.
Rounding out the top 10 are the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Botswana, and the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom would have once been higher on this list, as De Beers’ rough diamond once almost entirely went straight through London for sorting and valuation. Now, much of this is done in Botswana. Those diamonds coming from Botswana don’t count as diamonds that have been imported or bought. Yet because De Beers has centralised so many operations in Botswana, their operations elsewhere often import into Botswana – where they are sorted and often sold.
Singapore, Japan, Thailand, France, and Italy also make this list, and it is expected Russia may not just crack it – but shoot up the charts sometime soon as their state-owned diamond business accelerates production and begins doing more of its business in-country.