Polished diamond imports in Japan fell by 21% in March 2009 ,when compared to the same period last year. Japanese people choose to spend less on luxury items due to the ongoing recession. The Japanese auto and computer/ electronics industry have taken a big hit due to decreased consumer spending in Europe and the US.
The Rapaport Diamond News quotes the data published by the Customs Bureau of the Finance Ministry ($ 73.5 million in March 2008 and only 59.3 million in March 2009). However there was an increase in the total volume of polished diamond imports. The rise in volume of imported polished diamonds was 26% (217,956 carats). There was a drop in the per carat value by 37% to $272. This data probably indicates that due the recession, people are going for slightly lower grade of diamonds.
There was also a large fall in the imports of colored stones ( rubies, emeralds and sapphires) in Japan. Rubies, emeralds and sapphire imports fell 36% to $ 1.9 million in March. Import of other colored stones fell by 30% to $ 4.6 million.
The import of pearls dropped by 33% to 46.2 million.
The major exporters of diamonds to Japan are India ,Israel , Belgium and Hong Kong. Diamond imports from India decreased by 15% to $22.5 million. Belgium took the biggest hit , down by 41% to $11.1 million.Israeli imports were down by 34% to $6.5 million.
The total diamond imports to Japan fell by 19 % to $174.3 million during the first quarter (compared to the same period last year).
According to Rapaport Diamond News there is also significant reduction in the imports of jewelry into Japan. Imports of gold jewelry was down by 37% to $51.5 million in March. Platinum jewelry imports were down by 31% to $35.9 million. Imports of silver jewelry was down by 19% to 16.3 million in March.