Despite the current slowdown in the Chinese economy, the share of diamond consumption in total global sales is expected to increase to 20-25% in the next 10 years, according to the Hong Kong Trade & Development Center (HKTDC). Second- and third-tier cities in the mainland are seen as the main drivers of the growth in buying, Forbes reports. “China is definitely one of our biggest markets," said Hollie Bonneville, head designer at De Beers. "It has probably the highest spending power at the moment within our global audience. The culture of jewelry and gems is quite rich in the Chinese heritage and so their taste is becoming more sophisticated. We get a lot of diamond connoisseurs, collectors, and people who are really looking to find something unique.”
Not only have the Chinese quickly adapted to the practice of buying engagement rings before marriage proposals, but their preferences have arguably advanced past those of other Western countries. Out of the total consumption volume of jewelry in China, it is estimated that more than 50% of jewelry sales are driven by weddings, according to the HKTDC, and the less developed a city is (such as second- or third-tier), the higher the share is. “The bridal market is a very unique segment within the jewelry retail industry," said Arnaud Bastien, President and Chief Executive of Graff Diamonds Asia. "The offer is very wide and it is very price sensitive. This differs from high jewelry or exceptional stones where the clients are usually older, wealthier, and have different purchase motivations.” And diamonds aren’t just a woman’s best friend in China, with 67% of men between the ages 30-44 in China wishing to have diamonds, according to a De Beers survey.