News in the diamond trade, with my reactions and thoughts
A while back, some news sources reported that 25 percent of all diamonds are blood diamonds. That contention was made by Jason Miklian, a researcher from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), following his article on the Kimberley Process and Surat for Foreign Policy. Shocked at that number, I wrote to him, and we had a long, interesting email dialogue. And while he seemed sincere and a decent person, he never really explained where he got the statistic. A few months back, he… …read more
There are those, particularly in the consumer media, who predict that the arrival of lab-grown diamonds will kill the market for natural gemstones. After all, why would consumers pay less for what is essentially the same product, just produced by a different means? Still, the natural trade can point to a notable counterexample: The market for lab-grown colored stones never killed the market for naturals. Which got me thinking: Why is that? And are there any lessons that the… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks […]
Edward Asscher, the fifth-generation diamantaire who heads the Royal Asscher Co. in the Netherlands, was elected president of the World Diamond Council last month. He is the first president to be voted in in the group’s history. In a candid interview, Asscher—who has served as past president of the Liberal Party in the Netherlands, and represented the party for four years in the Netherlands senate—speaks about how he wants to change the Kimberley Process and whether it’s possible to bring… …read more
Source: JCK Online […]
Having spoken to several sources and observers about Chow Tai Fook’s purchase of Hearts On Fire, most agree on two things: This is a great deal for Hearts On Fire. And not such a great one for Forevermark. Of course, Forevermark isn’t part of this deal. But as the other major loose-diamond brand out there, its name keeps coming up. We’ll get to why in a second, but here are my three main questions about the sale. What will happen to Hearts On Fire in the United States? This purchase… …read more
During the Natural Color Diamond Association panel on synthetic diamonds at the JCK show two weeks ago, Jewelers Vigilance Committee president and CEO Cecilia Gardner said something I found quite surprising: Calling a lab-grown diamond eco-friendly might not be permissible under the Federal Trade Commission’s standards for so-called green claims. That lab diamonds are eco-friendly is a regular contention from diamond growers. A rotator slide on the front page of Gemesis’ site declares… …read more
It seems like more and more jewelers are selling diamonds with reports from so-called lenient labs; some retailers have even adopted this as a business model. Yet, doing this might land you on shaky legal ground, according to Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) president and CEO Cecilia Gardner. One of the things that surprised attendees at the annual Rapaport certification conference at the JCK Las Vegas show was Gardner’s contention that retailers bear legal liability for everything they… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks […]
Alex and Ani has always been an unconventional company built around unconventional people. Rhode Islander Carolyn Rafaelian had a nice business selling bangles to department stores when she recruited local politico and businessman Giovanni Feroce to be her company’s CEO. After some growing pains—Feroce reportedly fired just about every original employee—he turned the company into a juggernaut; he told me it’s a billion-dollar business. The odd-couple pairing of former military man Feroce and… …read more
Question : Blood Diamonds
Hi Robert, thank you very much for providing all this information about conflict diamonds. I have been googling to find out as much information as possible about blood diamonds before I decide if I want a diamond or if I should opt for one of the cheaper alternative stones. I have found some articles online that say the Kimberley Process only applies to rough diamonds and doesn’t apply to cut and polished diamonds even if they are funding human rights violations. Is this true? Are cut and polished blood diamonds subject to any regulation?
I understand the desire […]
As the result of section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, public companies have had to file reports over the last month disclosing whether they use conflict minerals, which are defined as minerals emanating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or its nine adjoining countries. Gold is considered a possible conflict mineral, as is tungsten, tin, and tantalum. This section affected companies from a variety of sectors—not just jewelry—and… …read more
In the first interview since he took over the position of De Beers’ executive vice president of global sightholder sales from Varda Shine earlier this year, 30-year De Beers vet Paul Rowley talked to JCK at the De Beers forum in Las Vegas about why banks are skittish about the industry, whether prices will go up, and how De Beers intends to ensure sightholders pay their bills.JCK: You have been in the job for a number of months. Anything that you want to change as far as sightholder… …read more
There has been a lot of talk about the need for the diamond industry—particularly big miners and retailers—to act collectively to promote diamonds generically, like De Beers used to. Five years ago, there was an attempt to establish a new entity called the International Diamond Board to do just that. That fell apart, and at last week’s De Beers forum at the JCK show in Las Vegas, Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier expressed neither much hope it would ever be resurrected nor enthusiasm for the idea… …read more
Botswana became independent in 1966. But at this year’s JCK show in Las Vegas, the country—or at least the diamond part of it—seemed to be declaring its independence for a second time. Not only did the world’s leading diamond producer have a tourism-promoting booth at the show (which, suffice it to say, doesn’t get lots of booths devoted to tourism), its minister of minerals, energy, and water resources, Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, was quite visible, accepting an award at the Diamond Empowerment… …read more
Stephen Lussier, CEO of Forevermark, spoke to JCK on May 29 after his brand’s breakfast in Las Vegas for a wide-ranging conversation that touched on not just his product but larger challenges the industry faces. Here he speaks about why retailers are stuck with declining diamond margins, whether future generations will still want fine jewelry, and what the industry can learn from Coke and Pepsi.
JCK: Who do you see as the biggest competing brand to Forevermark?
Stephen Lussier: This will sound… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks […]
In an interview yesterday at the Forevermark breakfast, De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier denied reports the company aims to raise prices an average of 5 percent a year. He also touched on synthetics and whether De Beers currently has a deal to enter that market.One note: Mellier will speak on these topics and more at a session on De Beers’ Perspectives on the Diamond Industry, on Friday, May 30, at the Surf Ballroom in Mandalay Bay, 4 p.m.–5:15 p.m.JCK: There have been reports that De Beers plans… …read more
The vote on Zale’s acquisition of Signet is set for Thursday. Given the repeated attacks on the buyout from 9.5 percent shareholder TIG advisors, I have no idea how it will go. But what’s fascinating is watching a subtle change in how the buyout has been portrayed. When it was first announced, we kept hearing how well Zale was doing, how successful its turnaround has been. That was the rationale for keeping Theo Killion and his team. But the dissident shareholders seized on that and used it… …read more
Source: JCK […]
Earlier this month, a Tennessee TV station slammed a local store for using reports from EGL International, a lab that it claims has lower grading standards. (EGL International did not return a request for comment on that report.) That report found a receptive audience in EGL USA, which has been engaged in an eight-year legal battle with other EGLs stemming from its attempts to have overseas EGL reports banned from U.S. shores. That case went to trial in June 2013, but no decision has been issued… …read more
Source: JCK Online […]
With TIG Advisors sending out almost-daily missives expressing opposition to Signet’s deal for Zale, it is clear that the purchase now faces a rockier road than it had in the past. The smart money still thinks that it will go through in at least some form; even TIG says it doesn’t oppose the acquisition, it just thinks it undervalues the company. (Its first presentation was titled “Right Deal, but the Wrong Price.”) But it’s worth looking at this in a larger context: These pre-deal headaches may… …read more
Business Insider just came out with a slide show featuring a bunch of scary-sounding charts demonstrating the growth of e-commerce. “Let’s face it, the old retail model is dying fast,” it begins. “Hundreds of stores are closing, because sales are tanking.” It declares that e-commerce is driving nearly all U.S. retail growth.
But how about jewelry? While e-commerce has clearly roiled our industry—particularly by hurting retail margins for engagement rings—and many jewelers have indeed closed, our… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks – […]
Ashley K. Orbach was appointed special advisor for conflict diamonds for the U.S. Department of State earlier this year, which means she represents the United States in front of the Kimberley Process. (Her official title is special advisor, conflict minerals and precious stones, showing that she will work on more than diamonds.) The affable and approachable Orbach, who previously served as foreign affairs officer with the U.S. Mission for the United Nations, talked with JCK about what the U.S…. …read more
Source: JCK Online […]
Whether it strikes a nerve with consumers, the two-part TV story that ran this week on Genesis Diamonds in Nashville certainly found a responsive audience in our industry, given the number of times I’ve seen it posted, tweeted, and emailed. The story criticized the three-store chain for using what it calls “exaggerated” EGL International reports as the basis for comparison prices. One competitor said: “People think [the store is] comparing apples to apples. They think they’re getting a great… …read more
We have heard a lot lately about recycled diamonds. At an informative discussion on trade-ins last week at the American Gem Society Conclave (ably summarized here), a retailer raised a loaded question: Must a jeweler disclose to a consumer if a diamond, or piece of jewelry, is pre-owned? Sure, retailers have to declare if a stone is lab-grown or treated—but whether it’s used? There doesn’t seem to be much industry consensus about this (other than, if the buyer asks, tell him the truth… …read more
Source: JCK […]
At the recent American Gem Society Conclave, speaker Peter Sheahan gave an excellent presentation about how all industries are dealing with rapid change. “Don’t build your future on the beliefs of the past,” he exhorted. “Just because a certain kind of marketing worked for the 30 years you’ve been in business, doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow. When a historical business practice meets the future, the future always wins.” I’m often asked where the industry is going. While life always… …read more
Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that one section of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s conflict mineral rule, its response to Sect. 1502 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, was unconstitutional. At issue was the mandate that public companies declare, in their SEC filings and on their websites, whether their minerals were conflict-free. The term conflict-free, the court felt, connotes a value judgment, and requiring companies to use a term they may not agree with (a “metaphor… …read more
Source: JCK Online […]
At a diamond meeting a few years back, a group was taking a picture that included a controversial Zimbabwe minister. At least one participant stayed out. “I don’t want to be in a picture with someone who might end up tried for war crimes,” he said. Smart policy, I thought. I stayed out of the picture, too. A few weeks back, I wrote about negative perceptions of our industry and how they are often unfair. So I will add that comments like this don’t help:Belgium has again faced criticism from… …read more
After the United States didn’t block the resumption of Marange exports under the Kimberley Process in 2011, it was desperate to have something to show for an outcome it was clearly not happy about. So the U.S. reps struck a deal with South Africa to carry out what was labeled a two-year “reform agenda,” to bring much-needed change to the KP. To help cement this newfound alliance, after hours at one KP meeting, former assistant secretary of state Jose Fernandez crooned a karaoke duet with the… …read more
Some further thoughts stemming from last week’s post on Antwerp and Zimbabwe: Whatever you feel about Antwerp World Diamond Centre CEO Ari Epstein’s remarks last week to the Zimbabwe Parliament, he did have a point. His organization was able to get the European Union to remove its sanctions against Marange diamonds, and when Antwerp auctioned those gems, they fetched nice prices. It’s also pledged to help with value addition and improving technical skills. And yet Zimbabwe seems to be… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks – […]
Yesterday De Beers announced five new sightholders. For reasons that have been repeatedly explained to me—but I’m still not sure make sense—it announced it had added companies, but did not reveal their names. However, we have learned those companies are: Diambel Group, StarRays, J.B. and Brothers (aka Yaelstar Group), D. Navin Chandra Gems, and Vallabh Dhanji. All are Indian companies or companies with Indian roots based in Antwerp. The fact that De Beers… …read more
It’s one of the oldest clichés: Don’t judge a book by its cover. And yet, that is especially tricky in this industry, which is devoted to providing a nicer cover for a customer’s book. In the last few decades, our collective idea of acceptable attire has shifted, and dressing down has become more acceptable in the workplace and in public. Which means that the shabbily dressed guy hesitantly entering your store may be a rock star, plumbing contractor, or dot-com millionaire. Many longtime… …read more
Last week, Israel Diamond Exchange unveiled a new slogan: “Natural is real.” The slogan is a clever play on the word Israel, and a less-clever poke in the eye to lab-grown diamond producers, who do, in fact, produce real diamonds. This comes on the heels of the bourse’s decision to ban synthetics from its trading floor. (Interestingly, the exchange first banned lab-grown gems 10 years ago. So it’s not clear if this is a re-ban or a clarification of the existing one.) These incidents make… …read more
There’s a lot of talk about whether rough should be traded in Antwerp or Dubai. But in the last year, a new market has emerged that could prove equally significant—online.
After 35 years as a rough broker, Guy Harari says he first got interested in an online trading platform when he sat in his office and had an epiphany. “I’m thinking, how come I can’t go on my computer and see what’s going on [in the rough market]?” he says. “Why do I have to travel all over the world, call all sorts of… …read more
You may remember Supplier of Choice. It was the De Beers policy designed to set the industry up for the post-cartel world. It billed itself as transparent, open, and objective. No longer would the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) be a closed club, it proclaimed; under the new policy, any company could apply to become a sightholder. (Executives even held webinars about how to apply.) Not that landing on De Beers’ magic list was easy. All prospective and current clients had to fill out an… …read more
Source: JCK Online Cutting Remarks […]
Promoters of synthetic diamonds often argue that if all diamonds are grown in a lab, it would eliminate blood diamonds. The problem with that logic, which is recognized by most NGOs active on this issue, is that it would wipe out the market for good diamonds, too. As most of the industry is well aware—even if most of the outside world is not—diamond mining has turned Botswana into one of the most prosperous and stable nations in Africa. The movie Blood Diamond caused considerable anxiety in… …read more
Last week came word that a document is being circulated trying to raise money for Hearts On Fire, suggesting the company is seeking new investors. According to spokeswoman Angie Kielt: “Hearts On Fire is not for sale; however, we are raising capital to grow our brand in Asia.” When asked what would happen to HOF’s current 49 percent owner Eurostar if the capital was raised, Kielt declined comment, saying, “HOF is only in the early stages of exploring the opportunity of raising capital for our… …read more
With Baselworld here, various news sources have asked watchmakers their opinions of smartwatches. The answers are mostly the same. Here’s The New York Times, quoting Swatch CEO Nick Hayek:
[Smartwatches] raise several problems compared with traditional mechanical watches. The drawbacks, he said, include their limited battery life and the fact that they are “trackable” by the National Security Agency and other intelligence services. “People don’t want these complications,” Mr. Hayek…
Yesterday, I talked about how modern consumers desire more individuality in their engagements and weddings. A good illustration of this is the small but growing number of people whose job involves coaching future grooms how to pop the question.
Take Sarah Pease, whose official title is proposal planner for her New York City–based company Brilliant Events Planning. She began as a high-end wedding coordinator but then started looking at the engagement aspect. “I heard about a friend of a friend…
So the theme of the week has been industry consolidation, given the JBT’s year-end stats and Signet’s pending purchase of Zale. Yesterday, as an experiment, I looked up National Jeweler’s 2003 list of Top 40 jewelry chains.
Here they are the first 10 names:
- 1. Zale
- 2. Sterling,
- 3. Friedman’s
- 4. Fred Meyer
- 5. Whitehall
- 6. Helzberg,
- 7. Crescent,
- 8. Samuels,
- 9. Ultra,
- 10. Reeds.
[Diamond Helpers Comment :: Not one of these companies pass our tests. I have not yet found a single large chain store that meets the criteria, and that is predictable for many reasons.]
These were the biggest companies 11 years ago. Assuming the Signet/Zale merger goes through, five […]
On a recent episode of Parks and Recreation, the characters played by Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones—whose character is pregnant—decide to get engaged. They stop by a jewelry store to get a ring. However, once they learn how much cost and effort is involved in a wedding, they start to wonder whether they really need to get married. “Why spend thousands of dollars to reaffirm what we already know—that we love each other?” asks Jones. In the end, she buys only a locket. “I don’t want a ring…
I have heard it said that if you really want to distrust the mass media, read articles on a subject you know a lot about. And so it is with diamonds. Every six months or so, I come across articles along the lines of “diamonds are a scam.” (See recent pieces in The Huffington Post, PolicyMic, and Bustle.) Now, JCK’s editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky, Trace Shelton at Instore, and Edahn Golan at IDEX have had their say on these articles, and their takes are all worth reading. But I’d also…
Some thoughts about where the jewelry business stands now that Signet and Zale are tying the knot: It could be harder for competitors to get their names out. Every Christmas and Valentine’s Day, Signet runs a huge amount of commercials for Kay and Jared. Zale’s also airs plenty of ads but not as many as Signet. Now, Zale’s could have the same ad budget as Signet’s other brands. And with Kay, Jared, and Zale’s flooding the airwaves every holiday, that presents a challenge for other jewelers…
Two weeks ago, it was announced that the record-setting November sale of the 59.6 ct. Pink Star, which dealer Isaac Wolf bought from Sotheby’s for $83.1 million on behalf of …read more
The push for an online sales tax has taken a surprising new twist. The way most proposals, including the one that passed the Senate, work is that residents pay sales …read more
This week brought news of a class-action lawsuit that charges the five banks overseeing the daily gold price fix with manipulating the market. For those unfamiliar, since 1919, London fix …read more
This week, RadioShack announced plans to shut 1,100 stores. This led to a slew of unpleasant headlines, even as its CEO talked about how the company would now offer a …read more
This is one reason why jewelry stores are difficult and costly to operate. I had a 30-06 rifle pointed at my face by a 17-year-old suicidal pregnant girl when I was managing a store in Austin. Needless to say, the owners finally listened to my advice to spend the money to get a security system and keep a guard on duty.
Diamonds are very attractive to the stressed, criminal mind. And insurance on diamonds is much harder to obtain and a lot more expensive than it is for most other retail merchandise. Creating a safe space for staff and customers definitely […]
De Beers Approves Financing for Canadian Diamond Mine
De Beers Board of Directors has given approval to move the Snap Lake project from the current stage of preproduction development into full construction at a cost of approximately $509.7 million.
This is a bit of a game changer, because DeBeers will be offering diamonds that are guaranteed non-conflict, and mined in North America.
Read the full article at JCK Online.
A $1 MILLION dollar reward has been offered to anyone who can report the location of a 17.48 carat diamond stolen from it's owner in Switzerland. They suspect it has already been sold to a new buyer, so they will also pay whatever the current owner may have paid for it, plus the reward, to have it back.
[Editor’s Note :: This article is for dealers attending the Tucson show, but it gives consumers a good idea of how things are going, and prices are rocketing this year, for some time now.]
February’s annual Arizona gathering of the world’s gem dealers, rock hounds, crystal sages, and purveyors of gems and minerals kicks off at the beginning of the month.
Prices are going up as mining declines and supply goes down, and fine goods get harder to find. As stock gets harder to replace, prices soar.
Besides the big story on ever-increasing gem prices, expect to encounter the same gemstone treatments that […]
The world’s second-largest miner, Rio Tinto announced its first rough diamond tender for 2014, which consists of 124 lots of the special gems including a range of rare natural pink precious rocks from its Argyle mine in Western Australia.
According to Patrick Coppens, general manager of sales for Rio Tinto Diamonds, the global demand for precious stones continues to be strong.
Experts predict that rough diamond production will grow at an average annual rate of 4.8% from now until 2018, reaching a peak level of 169 million carats and a production value of $19.6 billion.
By 2019, however, the report authors expect average […]
Brad Brooks-Rubin has led the US State Department’s conflict diamond desk for 4 and 1/2 years, and is moving on. He recently talked with JCK magazine about the controversies during his tenure, what he has learned, and the plusses and minuses of the KP. Here is the interview.
It sheds a light on the strengths and weaknesses of the Kimberley Process, and show how hard it is to make this a perfect protection against the flow of conflict diamonds into the market. It also shows the efforts that are engaged in doing their best.
Here is the article about :: Exit […]
Last week, JCK posted an article where their writers mystery shopped five jewelers. Rob Bates, Senior Editor, went to the Tiffany flagship store in midtown Manhattan. During his discussion with three of the Tiffany staff members, he asked about conflict diamonds, and got three different answers.