|Agence France-Presse, HONG KONG: The worldwide appetite for diamonds continues to grow, led by huge demand in India and China, a director from gem giant De Beers said Thursday.
India enjoyed a 26 percent growth in the value of diamonds sold last year, while China experienced 18 percent, according to David Rudlin, director of international markets at the Diamond Trading Company, the rough diamond distribution arm of De Beers.
Rudlin said De Beers were now trying to create the same impact in China that they have created in luxury goods-hotspot Hong Kong, where 17 percent of woman own at least 10 pieces of diamond-encrusted jewelry.
"There are some absolute diamond fanatics (in Hong Kong). This is where we cut out teeth," he told AFP.
"In China, the sky's the limit if we can get what happened in Hong Kong (to be replicated there)," he added, after the company had shown off a 102 carat diamond fitted into an elaborate necklace.
Rudlin said worldwide demand had not been affected by the Hollywood blockbuster "Blood Diamond," which showed how the diamond industry helped fund a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone.
"We saw no impact at all on (overall diamond) sales. (The market) still saw growth of five percent in the United States last year, which was the main focus of the Blood Diamond campaign," he said.
Both India and China's rapid economic growth has matched demand for luxury goods. The Indian luxury market is currently worth some two billion dollars and is growing at 20 percent a year, according to figures from India's main trade federation.
Industry experts think China's shopping addiction will mean that by 2010, it will be home to at least seven of the world's 10 biggest shopping malls.