BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to overtake the United States to become the world's largest diamond-consuming country in 2016, Ari Epstein, chief executive officer of Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), said Friday.
China's demand for diamonds has grown sharply in recent years with its rapid economic development.
Many Chinese regard diamonds as a token of love as they are traditional gifts in wedding ceremonies, while others buy the stones with the hope of maintaining and increasing the value of assets, Epstein said.
One fourth of Antwerp's diamond exports, totaling 5 billion U.S. dollars, were sold to Hong Kong and the mainland last year, he said.
The AWDC plans to establish a polished diamond sales center in China, and deepen cooperation with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, in order to boost its presence in the country and Asia, Epstein said.
He added that diamond prices will continue to trend upward in the future due to a limited rise in output and a rapid increase in demand.
Antwerp is the world's most important diamond trading center. About 50 percent of global end-product diamonds are exported from the Belgian city to other parts of the world.