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About 31% Of Chinese Couples Using Diamond Engagement Rings, Up From Zero In The '90s

That's one driver of growth for the diamond market, Citi analysts say.

Posted on November 8, 2013, at 4:14 p.m. ET

Bobby Yip / Reuters

Now for some news about sparkly things!

Citigroup analysts, in a report about the growing diamond market, say that a bunch of demand is coming from China, where diamond engagement rings have only just become a trend in the past 20 years.

About 31% of Chinese couples now use diamond engagement rings, though the practice, incredibly, was virtually nonexistent in the 1990s, the analysts wrote in the Nov. 7 note, citing data from De Beers. It's a generational shift that some attribute to the connection between diamonds and romance in Western culture, and clearly, it's occurred quite rapidly.

Citi Research/De Beers

"Certain regions, such as Shanghai, have penetration as high as 62% of couples," Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen wrote. It's feasible that on average, it may become a tradition among 50% of couples in the medium-term, he wrote.

That's helping companies like Tiffany & Co., which is seeing the strongest comparable sales growth in the "Greater China" region, where it operates 67 stores. Blue Nile, the online jeweler, recently said China has an $8 billion engagement market, versus $5 billion in the U.S., which is a tremendous opportunity considering the shifting views of the Chinese consumer on big rocks.

"The growing middle class, the desire to actually have a traditional, American-based setting, which is a large stone as opposed to bunch of small stones, is really a shifting dynamic in a positive way for us," Harvey Kanter, Blue Nile's chief executive officer, said at a conference in September.

Diamond Demand to Grow in China

De Beers/Citigroup

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.