Japan’s Diamond Imports in 2014: Less for More

Japan's Diamond Imports in 2014: Less for More
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Japan’s polished diamond imports edged up in 2014, however, the quantity of diamond imports by carat has declined, according to data recently released by the country’s ministry of finance. Japan is one of the world’s four largest diamond-jewelry consumer markets.

In 2014, Japan’s polished diamond imports totaled $888.6 million, up 1.6% over the prior year. The average value of Japan’s diamond imports soared 31.6% to $489 per carat, as the volume of imports declined 22.8% to 1.8 million carats.

Average value of Japan's polished diamond imports 2007-2014

For many years, the country was the second largest market for polished diamonds after the US; however, in recent years the sharp growth of China’s middle class and its growing appetite for diamond jewelry propelled China to the second largest market. In recent years, Japan slipped to the fourth largest consumer market after India.

After a period of declining interest in diamond jewelry, partially tied with the end of generic diamond promotional campaigns in Japan by De Beers, Japanese consumers turned to diamond jewelry again in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami and the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Japan's Diamond Imports - 1997-2014. Edahn Golan diamond analytics

Japan’s Polished Diamond Market

The diamond market in Japan is one of the most lucrative and mature markets in the world.

Japan has a long-standing culture of gift-giving. Coupled with a significant disposable income, Japan is considered an extraordinarily attractive market for diamond merchants and jewelers.

The Japanese diamond market is characterized by certain unique features that set it apart from other diamond consumer markets.

One of the most significant factors that affects Japan’s polished diamond market is its distribution system.

The majority of diamond sales in Japan are conducted through a number of major department stores and specialty jewelers. These stores have established relationships with diamond suppliers and are able to negotiate favorable prices, allowing them to offer competitive prices to their customers.

In addition, these stores possess a reputation for providing high-quality customer service and are able to develop long-term relationships with their clients.

Another unique feature of the Japanese diamond market is the country’s cultural traditions surrounding gift-giving. Diamond jewelry is customarily given as gifts for auspicious occasions like weddings, anniversaries, and graduations. This tradition is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and helped to drive demand for diamonds in the country.

Despite the popularity of diamonds in Japan, the market experienced certain challenges. One of the most significant challenges was the appreciation of the yen, which drove up diamond prices for Japanese consumers. In addition, the financial crisis of 2008 had a significant impact on the Japanese economy, causing a decrease in consumer spending.

A New Consumer Base and Online Sales Support Demand

Regardless of these challenges, the Japanese diamond market continued thriving. Since 2009, diamond jewelry sales gradually increased.

the elegance of diamond jewelry led to rising demand from younger Japanese consumers. This consumer base led to another change: online purchases.

While traditional brick-and-mortar stores remain a meaningful part of the Japanese retail landscape, online shopping allowed consumers to easily compare prices and find the best deals on diamond jewelry.

Overall, the diamond market in Japan was an intensely competitive and lucrative market. Today, the lack of generic marketing is missing. Adding it will support the cultural traditions driving demand.

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