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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Diamond prices are up because demand is growing — despite the country's recent emergence from various forms of lockdown.

Why it matters: Diamonds were a big pandemic-era winner, when U.S. spending flowed out of service, travel and experiences into goods and high-end products.

  • The trend hasn't reversed, with increases in online sales, younger men who are less anxious about going into stores, and purchases of larger stones. 

By the numbers: De Beers, one of the biggest diamond miners in the world, has already reached 73% of its 2020 rough diamond sales so far this year.

  • E-commerce sales for Signet, the parent company of Kay Jewelers and Zales, grew 125% over 2019 in the latest quarter, thanks to its virtual consultants and try-on features, the company says.
  • And even though store foot traffic may still be down compared with two years ago, the company reported a higher average transaction value.

What hasn't changed: Celebs are still coveting the precious stones, and there's still tremendous value in rarity.

  • Check out rapper Post Malone’s new 12-carat, $1.6 million fangs and the new 470-carat diamond that was just discovered in Botswana.

The big picture: Jewelry and accessories have been one of the biggest drivers of retail growth, especially online, over the past year.

  • Jewelry sales saw the biggest jump of any retail category — up 45% last month versus 2019 — according to Mastercard.

What to watch: New strains of the coronavirus may impact supply chains for diamonds down the line.

Go deeper

Video game sales skyrocket to record highs

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

U.S. video game sales in August hit a record $4.4 billion, proving that the bump in gaming seen during the pandemic last year wasn't a passing trend.

The details: It was a huge month for hardware, which the NPD Group reports hit $329 million, the best August sales number since 2008.

Updated 26 mins ago - Technology

Pandemic gave cover to online dating scams

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Crooked Casanovas used online dating scams to steal an estimated $500 million from lonely victims last year, according to a new analysis of government fraud data by Atlas VPN, an internet security provider.

Why it matters: The isolation of the lingering pandemic provided cover to fraudulent suitors who had an excuse for not meeting up in person even as they fleeced their would-be lovers out of gift cards, money — even cryptocurrency.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker