Apr 13, 2010
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De Beers sees India feed post-downturn global sparkle

Apr 13, 2010

By Siddesh Mayenkar & Sourav Mishra

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The world's top diamond producer De Beers expects India to maintain its double digit growth in demand and hopes to globally raise production by about a quarter on the back of better outlook, a top official said.

"In places like India and China, we have actually seen double digit growth in 2009, with 15-17 pct rise in consumption of diamond jewellery in India. The double digit growth will continue in 2010," Varda Shine, CEO of Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the sales and distribution arm of the De Beers, said late on Monday 12 April.

"Diamond Jewellery has been slowly gaining momentum in India, we are seeing definitely more blended jewellery," said Shine.

De Beers expect to produce 30-32 mln carats of diamonds globally in 2010 as against 24.6 mln in 2009.

The group slashed output in early 2009 and its biggest unit in Botswana shut down completely for several months after demand for luxury goods plummeted. The mines are open again, but at reduced levels as the sector adjusts to the post-crisis economy.

De Beers, which controls around 40 percent of the rough diamond market, was hit hard during the downturn as consumers shied away from luxury goods.

Total global sales fell to $3.24 bln in 2009 from $5.86 billion in the year-before period, Shine said, but declined to give sales figures for India.

India is the fourth biggest consumer accounting for about 7 percent of diamond consumption, while U.S. leads with 40 percent.

Shine said retailers across India are re-stocking diamonds as demand is better than the past two years.

"For the first three months of 2010, our (global) sales were three times the size of 2009... that is quite a big jump and indication of the change in the market."

The DTC has also extended the three-year supplier of choice (SOC) contract by one year until March 2012, when the new application process will start.

DTC supplies rough diamonds to select customers, who polish, cut, and use the roughs for jewellery making.

DTC has a network of 93 sightholders or customers globally, and about 40 of them in in India.

India processes about seven in every 10 of the world's diamonds, mostly cheaper stones less than a carat, and holds about 57 percent of the diamond processing industry.

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