History of Diamond prices
Diamonds have always been valuable - the price plays a big part in making diamonds a luxury.
We have put together all information you need to know about how the price of a diamond is determined. From its history to tips on ensuring you get the best diamond at the best price!
What influences the diamond prices?
Diamonds are perceived as crisis-resistant, resulting in very few external influences that can affect its prices. Between 2008 and October 2009, when the fall of Lehman Brothers triggered one of the biggest financial & banking crises of all times, diamond prices declined by about 16.5% on average. In comparison to the price of gold, which fell by more than 21%, platinum by 59%, the S&P 500 dropped with more than 52% and the Shanghai stock exchange plummeted by more than 69%. This shows that diamond prices tend to be more stable compared to other luxury commodities.
Furthermore, all traditional components of an investment portfolio, such as shares, bonds, real estate and future contracts, crashed during the financial crisis of 2008, polished diamonds were hardly affected. This remarkable resistance was already apparent in earlier crises as well, such as the crisis at the end of the nineties or the stock market crash of 1987.
In 2020, the market slowed down significantly due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. Regardless of the cause for a recessive market, polished diamonds have proved to be the most crisis-resistant.
We created the graph below using Rapaport Diamond Prices to illustrate the fluctuations in prices of diamonds from 1978 to 2019
As you can see, diamond prices tend to stay relatively stable; especially for the smaller sized stones. This is because there is a greater supply of smaller diamonds found in the mines, however larger rough diamonds are a rare find thus spiking the price. As you can see there is a dip in the prices for diamonds in 2008 depicting the adverse effects of the financial crisis.
Why not to rely completely on the Rapaport chart?
If there's a whole chart about diamond prices, then why don't we just use that?
The Rapaport is a price chart that is intended to be a baseline pricing for individual loose diamonds. It is meant to represent the current market value of diamonds - useful for diamond traders to get an approximate value for diamonds. The Rapaport chart makes diamond pricing seem so simple. But there are some problems with it, including:
It does not take cut into account. Rapaport prices are only based on carat, color and clarity. Cut is an important factor because it determines how brilliant the diamond appears. The pricing varies significantly between different cut grades.
Different diamonds of the same grade can look very different. One SI2 diamond can be completely eye-clean whilst another has visible flaws. One D colored diamond can be beautiful and clear whilst another looks hazy because of strong fluorescence. Of course the diamond that looks more beautiful will be sold at a higher price.
The price is high. Rapaport itself says the price listed is the 'high asking price'. Retailers will generally apply a discount. Some jewelers will show you the Rapaport pricing and tell you that you're getting a "good deal" because they're selling for less. If you're unfamiliar with diamond prices, you may be fooled into believing this.
We recommend reading our article Expert Tips on Purchasing Diamonds on a Budget to learn how to get the biggest diamond with most sparkle for the best value. Then you'll be able to shop for diamonds online or confidently shop in-store.
Other factors that affect how retailers price their diamonds
Besides diamond characteristics that affect the diamond price, there are couple other things that affect how retailers choose to price their diamonds.
Jeweler Markups: This has the biggest effect on diamond prices. Of course, prestigious brand names such as Tiffany's and Harry Winston have high premiums. But popular mall jewelry stores have high markups as well. Stores with a physical location need to pay for a lot overhead (the store itself, staff, etc., not to mention commission to salespeople), so these costs are then passed onto customers. Online diamond retailers have less overhead, so they can sell their diamonds at a lower price. Read more on Buying Diamonds Online vs Offline.
Jeweler Policies: Some jewelers will give you a lifetime warranty, free resizing and 100% buy-back. These generous policies can be factored into the selling price of the diamond.