Forecasts that the pace of China’s economic growth will slow in 2012 have fueled some additional caution in the diamond markets. Wary of the impact that a global slowdown will have on the country’s exports, naysayers contend that Chinese consumers will curb their spending.
With the May 1 Labor Day long weekend approaching – billed as one of the more important retail periods on the country’s calendar – their concerns may be justified. Shanghai’s diamond wholesale market is not as busy as it was this time last year. While the value of China’s diamond imports was up 24 percent in the first two months of 2012, the quantity of goods brought into the country fell 17 percent from the same period last year, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency citing China’s General Administration of Customs.
Consumers there are looking at the global landscape, and with Europe being China’s largest trading partner, the lingering European crisis will no doubt impact the Chinese economy. In February, China posted a rare trade deficit but managed to return to a relatively deflated March surplus.
Still, the dragon certainly has not lost its fire. From an economic viewpoint, the high pace of growth seen in the past few years was perhaps unsustainable. And viewed in a different light, China’s economy is showing signs of maturing, even if it is still in relative infancy.
One sure signal of its maturing economy is the country’s shift from being an investor-driven to a consumer-based market. The timing for this development could not have been better.
While exports may decline in the face of global (or European) economic challenges, local consumption is still on the rise and helping to sustain gross domestic product (GDP) growth projections at around the 8 percent level. Retail sales grew by a healthy 15 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China.
The 34th Istanbul Jewelry show kicked off today at the CNR Expo and runs until March 25. The fair was organized by UBM Rotaforte and Turkey Ekonomi Bankas (TEB), which is the main sponsor of the event.
More than 30,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, with the majority being from the Middle East, East Europe, North Africa, Russia, the Turkic Republics, as well as all of Turkey. This year’s show will also feature buyer delegations from Russia, Arab countries, Dubai, Iran and Europe. Over 1,000 companies from 24 countries will exhibit at the show, which will feature 5 halls totaling over 1640 square feet of space.
Leading local jewelry and watch companies participating in the exhibition include Altinbas, Atasay, Assos, Asgold, Arpas, Aris, Eris, Gulaylar, Seyrekoglu, Zen Diamond, and Timeart (Belmond, Quantum). There are also international pavilions from Belgium, Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand.
The Antwerp Diamond Bourse announced that it has entered into a partnership with Belgium’s Royal Ballet Flanders, the Financial Times reported.
The deal will include direct sponsorship, a joint logo, diamond jewelry, and a coffee table book of photography. According to the Financial Times, there are also plans to stage a ballet that would require the audience to wear 3D glasses.
The move is seen as Antwerp’s intention to stay on top of the game as the competition for diamonds grows ever fiercer, with emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East threatening to keep it on the margins.
“In a changing world, the Antwerp Diamond Bourse is looking to go far beyond our previous horizons, to partner with other leading institutions, in Belgium and internationally,” Marcel Pruwer, a diamond bourse director, told the Financial Times.