Global recovery gives De Beers back its sparkle

Diamond giant De Beers has recovered its sparkle, bouncing back to profitability last year thanks to rising prices and roaring demand from emerging economies.

The world's biggest diamond producer reported annual profits of $598m (£374m) in 2010 yesterday, compared with a $220m loss in 2009, on revenues up by 53 per cent at $5.9bn.

Sales of rough diamonds shot up by 57 per cent to $5.1bn as market prices rose by 27 per cent. The US is still the biggest market and demand rose by 7 per cent last year, De Beers said. But the market is growing much faster in China and India, climbing by 25 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, the company said.

The improving market is expected to continue over 2011. "After a better than expected Christmas retail season, the US market is expected to continue its recovery and the exceptional growth seen in China and India is expected to be sustained," the company said. "For the foreseeable future, continued recovery in global economic outlook and strong retail confidence are expected to underpin positive growth in consumer demand for diamond jewellery in 2011."

De Beers is 45 per cent-owned by Anglo American – netting the miner $302m in underlying profit from its investment last year. Another 40 per cent is held by the Oppenheimer family. Its chairman Nicky Oppenheimer is the grandson of Ernest Oppenheimer, who took over in 1927.

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