Milan - Diamond prices are now above pre-crisis levels after a 35% to 40% rise so far this year, helped by increased scarcity and an emerging role as an investment, the executive director of jeweller De Beers said. "Diamonds are more scarce than before the crisis. And there are three markets where demand is very strong: China, India and the United States," said Stephen Lussier in an interview in Friday's Il Sole 24 Ore. "The US still represents 40% of global demand," he said, adding that Americans had rediscovered diamonds as a form of diversification investment. "As an investment, diamonds are more similar to art. You need to know what you're buying," Lussier said.However, unlike gold, 99.5% of diamonds still end up in jewellery, he added. Unlisted De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer, is 45% owned by global miner Anglo American [JSE:AGL]. Lussier said De Beers' diamond production, which had fallen during the financial crisis, has increased by 10% to 15% this year and the group will run at full capacity by 2012.