Diamonds sparkle for new buyers, boosting prices

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SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) Putting off popping the big question to your loved one until you find the right price for a diamond ring? You might want to get moving.

Diamond prices may soon be their highest ever, says an industry expert, thanks to growing demand from new markets, boosting the cost of that engagement ring as much as 10 percent.

''If you are actively involved in the production and sales of diamonds, the future looks extremely bright,'' James Allan, a diamond analyst for South African finance group Allan Hochreiter, told a diamond mining conference in Australia on Tuesday.

Consumers worldwide spent billion on diamonds alone last year, and this year will splurge even more for the sparkly rocks, according to Hochreiter.

That would equate to a rise of about to $US99 per carat, he said.

The United States accounts for about 43 percent of all diamond sales, while China's growing affluent class is luring more people into jewellery stores.

''In China, about 40 percent of women are now getting married with diamond rings, and that trend is expected to increase significantly over the coming years,'' he said.

Consumers in India, too, are adorning themselves with more diamonds than ever before, displaying a growth rate of 26 percent last year, he said.

''So as demand increases and supply decreases, the market will balance itself by sharp increases in the price of diamonds from next year through to 2015,'' Hochreiter said.


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