Industry News Round up…
(Oct 24, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Stamford, Conn.–Synchrony Financial is the latest organization to release its forecast for the holiday season, and it predicts single-digit growth in the same range as the NRF and Deloitte.
Synchrony (formerly GE Capital Retail Finance) said Thursday that it expects holiday sales to grow 3.5 percent year-over-year, an estimate that is line with the 10-year historical average of 3 percent.
(Oct 28, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–As the most important sales time of the year, the holiday season is crucial for pulling customers in and interacting with them in order to generate sales.
Innovative, intriguing events can not only attract new customers and bring in existing customers, but engage them in a way that will keep the store front of mind. National Jeweler talked to five retailers across the country about the events they came up with to do just that.
(Oct 28, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Washington, D.C.–A lab-grown diamond company announced Monday that it is now producing high-quality 2-carat diamonds and expects to be growing 3-carat stones by early 2015.
The International Gemological Institute has certified both a round brilliant, 2.03-carat E, VS2 and a 2.21-carat princess-cut E, SI2 stone from Washington Diamonds Corp., the company said.
(Oct 23, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–A cushion-cut, L color, VS2 diamond weighing 101.36 carats sold for $5 million, or $49,100 per carat, during Christie’s Important Jewels auction held Wednesday.
The auction house’s sale, which took place in New York, totaled $33.7 million. It was only 75 percent sold by lot and 77 percent sold by value.
(Oct 5, ‘14, JCK Online)
With retailing’s most hectic season upon us, who could blame you for pushing “decorate the store” to the bottom of the to-do list? But your shop’s image and ambience are particularly crucial during the holidays: Foot traffic is at its peak, and your floor is teeming with impressionable first-time shoppers. A store swathed in elegant holiday decor makes for a more enjoyable shopping experience—encouraging consumers to spend.
Big-box stores have design armies to festoon their buildings in sparkly splendor. But many overtaxed small retailers rely on dated, generic decorations, instead of seizing an opportunity to thrill shoppers’ senses.
(Oct 29, ‘14, JCK Online)
Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, which closed bids on Oct. 8, was the most successful since the tender’s founding in 1984.
The tender drew 600 bids, and successful bids came from 10 countries. Rio Tinto keeps prices confidential, but it did reveal that overall prices for the Argyle mine’s signature pink diamonds have more than tripled since 2000.
(Oct 28, ‘14, JCK Online)
The decision by eight important industry groups to boycott the upcoming World Diamond Council meeting in Antwerp is a huge black eye to the industry—and if there isn’t a serious attempt to ratchet tensions downward, it will have negative, far-reaching repercussions. The World Diamond Council is one of the most important groups in the industry—maybe even the most important—but it may find it difficult to represent the industry after a fiasco like this.
(Oct 28, ‘14, The Israeli Diamond Industry)
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), together with seven other major diamond industry umbrella organizations, announced today (Tusday) that it is withdrawing its participation in the upcoming World Diamond Council Annual General Meeting that is to take place later this week, starting on October 28, in Antwerp, Belgium.
(Oct 21, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–On Monday, Jewelers Mutual’s loss prevention team hosted “Social Media: Opportunities and Perils for Jewelers,” a webinar designed to teach jewelers how to use social media to their advantage without making their store a target for criminals.
The company invited two leading social media experts to offer lessons in promoting jewelry businesses online–Shane O’Neill, vice president of Fruchtman Marketing, and Daniel Gordon, a fourth-generation jeweler and the social media planner for the Diamond Cellar in Ohio.
Since it can’t be expected that jewelers have a presence in all social media outlets, O’Neill said that jewelers should consider a few factors when deciding which to use, keeping the store’s security top of mind.
(Oct 22, ‘14, WatchPro)
Richemont Group has successfully forced Britain’s largest Internet Service Providers to block access to websites selling counterfeit goods in London’s High Court.
The same tactic has already been successfully employed by film studios and record labels to prevent the distribution of pirated films and music.
The ruling against BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE will see customer access to seven websites that infringe Richemont trademarks, including Cartier, Montblanc, Van Cleef & Arpels and IWC blocked.
(Oct 22, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Geneva–Sotheby’s anticipates that the 8.62-carat pigeon’s blood “Graff ruby,” one of the finest privately owned rubies in the world, will sell for as much as $9 million at its auction in Geneva next month.
Sotheby’s Nov. 12 sale of “Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels” brings together a group of exceptional jewels and gems from the collection of Dimitri Mavrommatis as well as pieces with a noble provenance.
(Oct 22, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–Platinum prices are expected to rise slightly in 2015, analysts say, with jewelry demand anticipated to increase as well.
Earlier this month, the white metal hit its low for the year, plummeting to $1,229 on the London PM fix.
(Oct 21, ‘14, JCK Online)
The Ebola outbreak is grabbing all the headlines, yet most of us don’t think about whether it affects our industry. But it does—West Africa is a significant source of diamonds, and the artisanal miners in the affected countries produce (depending on the estimates) about 1 percent of the world’s diamonds by value. That is, perhaps, not statistically significant, but it’s still a good deal of diamonds—and diamond mining in West Africa involves a good deal of people.
Babar Turay is an experienced ecologist who has worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and Estelle Levin Ltd., with a focus on gold and diamond mining in Sierra Leone. A Sierra Leone native currently living in the diamond district of Kono, Turay has written about his personal experiences in a series of blog posts for Estelle Levin Ltd. (the first one is here), and he agreed to answer questions from JCK about the disease and how it’s affected the diamond sector in Sierra Leone.
(Oct 9, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Seattle–Online jeweler Blue Nile has launched a new mobile shopping application that includes the addition of augmented reality to its “Dream Box” feature, allowing consumers to see what a Blue Nile ring will look like on their hand.
The Dream Box feature, which was a component of the original app that came out in 2010, contains thousands of one-of-a-kind rings from Blue Nile. A shake of the phone reveals a custom Blue Nile diamond engagement ring, and for the first time, users can take a picture of their hand to virtually try on the ring.
(Oct 13, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–Shoppers will be cautious this holiday season, with average spending per household expected to decline from $735 in 2013 to $684 in 2014, according to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S.
Findings for the company’s “2014 Holiday Outlook: Top trends, consumer behaviors and implications for retailers” were based on a survey of more than 2,200 shoppers nationwide.
(Oct 8, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Washington–The most recent holiday sales forecast, released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation, predicts that consumers will spend 4 percent more this November and December than they did last year.
Jewelers who spoke to National Jeweler Tuesday said while they don’t see this forecast as overly optimistic, it will be the high end of the market that’ll drive the growth.
(Oct 14, ‘14, Worthly.com)
Spending $743,590 on a wrist watch is excessive to most. The vast majority of timepieces cost nowhere near that much, even when designed by the most upscale, high-end, famous designers in the world. However, not all designers are Patek Philippe. Sotheby’s Important Watches Sale in Hong Kong on October 8 was more successful than even the auction house imagined, with Patek Philippe watches taking the top seven spots in timepiece sales. The most expensive being the diamond and platinum wristwatch with a perpetual calendar, which sold for more than $740,000.
(Oct 7, ‘14, Circa)
Several distinctive diamonds have hit the auction block since 2013.
Sotheby’s sold an 8.41-carat vivid pink diamond at an Oct. 7 auction in Hong Kong for $17.8 million, a record for that type of diamond. The diamond was predicted to sell between $12.9 million and $15.5 million.
(Oct 7, ‘13, BBC News)
A white diamond the size of a small egg has sold for $30.8m (£19.1m) at an auction in Hong Kong.
A phone bidder bought the 118-carat rock, edging out a previous price record for a white diamond of $26.7m.
(Oct 15, ‘14, JCK Online)
At the De Beers forum at this year’s JCK Las Vegas show, CEO Philippe Mellier surprised attendees by declaring that one of the industry’s biggest problems was diamond trade-ins. When consumers receive low prices for their used gems, he pronounced, that adds to a low opinion of the product.
Just two months later, De Beers launched the International Institute of Diamond Valuation (IIDV), which is nothing less than an attempt to reinvent diamond buying. The service is built around a New York City lab that will value trade-ins for retailers. So far, it’s signed up four jewelers, representing 14 stores—R.F. Moeller, the three-store chain in Minneapolis; two out of nine Rogers Jewelers stores; some Reeds stores; and Padis Gems, San Francisco—in what it stresses is only a pilot project.
(Sep 16, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–The head of LVMH’s watch division allegedly told a Swiss newspaper that TAG Heuer has plans to launch its own smartwatch, but that it must be original and different from Apple Watch.
Reuters reported Sunday that Jean-Claude Biver told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, “We want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch. We cannot afford to just follow in somebody else’s footsteps.”
(Sep 17, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–One of the earliest-known Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 watches that belonged to filmmaker and oceanographer Philippe Cousteau is expected to fetch up to $150,000 when it hits the auction block at Antiquorum Auctioneers later this month.
Cousteau is the son of Jacques Cousteau, a French naval officer, conservationist, scientist, author and researcher who studied the ocean and forms of life in water. Philippe Cousteau was the lead photographer on many of his father’s expeditions, wearing the Sea-Dweller timepiece for 10 years before giving it to his close friend, Thomas Horton.
(Sep 15, ‘14, Digital Look)
British miner Gemfields has announced it has entered a joint venture with East West Gem Investments (EWGI), as the group seeks to extend its network in Sri Lanka.
Gemfields has acquired 75% operating interest in 16 exploration licences, covering a range of minerals, for about $0.4m and under the agreement Jersey-based EWGI will hold 25% of three Sri Lankan-based subsidiaries.
(Sep 15, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–Jewelry that once belonged to Rachel Lambert Mellon, a horticulturalist and art collector who died earlier this year at the age of 103, will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s in November, including a fancy vivid blue diamond estimated to garner up to $15 million.
Mellon’s collection of jewels and objects of vertu, small objects created from precious materials used as works of art or that have a practical purpose, will be offered Nov. 20 and 21 at Sotheby’s New York.
(Sep 16, ‘14, JCK Online)
Global diamond jewelry sales hit a record $79 billion in 2013, as the market faces a coming rough shortage, according to De Beers’ inaugural Diamond Insight Report.
The report said that U.S. sales rose 7 percent last year, while sales in India and China grew 12 percent. According to the report, one in six U.S. diamond jewelry sales were made online in 2013—about 17 percent. In China, about a quarter of diamond jewelry purchases are made on the Internet.
(Sep 17, ‘14, National Jeweler)
London–Storm Mountain Diamonds unearthed a 23.82-carat pink diamond from its Kao mine in the Kingdom of Lesotho, and said it will put the stone up for sale this month.
Dubbed the “Lesotho Storm,” Fusion/Hennig Tenders will offer the diamond for sale in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Antwerp between Sept. 21 and Oct. 7. Storm Mountain Diamonds did not respond when asked for an estimated sale price for the stone.
(Sep 16, ‘14, JCK Online)
The 122.52 ct. blue diamond rough found in June—one of the most significant gem finds in recent years—has been sold for $27.6 million, far below the record price some were expecting.
That price works out to a $225,269 a carat.
Petra Diamonds, which found the gem at its Cullinan mine in South Africa, sold it to a partnership comprising an anonymous polisher, which owns 85 percent, and Petra, which owns the rest.
(Aug 19, ‘14, JCK Online)
The new De Beers is many things: a miner, marketer, retailer, and brand owner. Now it also may become a secondhand diamond dealer.
The gem giant has launched the International Institute of Diamond Valuation (IIDV), a New York City–based lab meant to handle off-the-street diamond buying for retailers.
“All the research we have done indicates that the consumer experience with secondhand diamonds isn’t that good at the moment,” says De Beers spokesperson Lynette Gould.
(Aug 25, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Crime is an ever-present threat to jewelers throughout the country, but California jewelers are having a particularly active year.
In jewelry crime driven by organized crews, it’s not uncommon to see a recurrence of similar losses in a single geographic area or even to see specific types of crime scenarios move from one geographic area of to another as the perpetrators attempt to outpace law enforcement authorities. Jewelers especially in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco have witnessed an increase in criminal activity this year.
(Aug 25, ‘14, JCK Online)
The Department of Homeland Security has advised retailers to check their POS systems for a malicious hacking software called Backoff.
The software allows hackers to collect credit card payment data from cash register systems.
The program was first discovered in August 2013 but has not been detectable by antivirus software until now. The Secret Service estimates that 1,000 businesses may be affected.
(Sep 2, ‘14, Israel21c.Org)
A rare Purple Orchid diamond, weighing 3.37 carats and worth $4 million, is to be unveiled this month by Leibish & Co. of Ramat Gan, seat of Israel’s diamond exchange.
According to the purveyor of colored diamonds and colored diamond jewelry, purple diamonds of this color and clarity almost never appear in nature. This particular gemstone came from a mine in South Africa, one of the only mines where purple diamonds can be found in the world.
(Sep 3, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Kfar Saba, Israel–Challenged to provide a solution for Tiffany & Co., Sarine Technologies has developed a system that grades round and fancy-shaped polished diamonds to determine the stones’ symmetry and proportions, technology that will be available to other companies in the industry.
Called DiaMension Axiom, the automated system uses microscopic magnification and advanced video imagery analysis to grade a polish diamond’s facet symmetry, Sarine said, a feature that typically is evaluated manually by gemologists using microscopes.
(Sep 4, ‘14, JCK Online)
Bonhams has announced that its autumn Fine Jewellery Sale will take place Sept. 17 at the auction house’s new headquarters on London’s Bond Street.
The most valuable piece of the sale is a diamond riviére necklace made of 40 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 76 cts. in total. It is estimated at £250,000-£400,000 ($412,380–$660,250).
(Aug 4, ‘14, JCK Online)
It’s the moment that this industry is built on. The moment that has spurred countless jewelry commercials. The moment when the woman receives her engagement ring and—hopefully—cries and says yes.
Now, a group of Michigan entrepreneurs has invented a product that captures that instant forever: the Ring Cam, a jewelry box with a small camera installed, so that the reaction to the proposal can be saved, memorialized, and even posted on Facebook.
The product started as a design project at Hope College. One of the participants came up with the idea after a friend got engaged.
(Aug 4, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Columbia, Md.–Pandora is launching a new initiative to celebrate the women around the world who work to improve the lives of women and children in their communities.
The Hearts of Today program launched in the United States on July 28 to give Pandora the chance to support a number of charitable causes important to women to help make changes needed for the future.
(Aug 5, ‘14, The Seattle Times)
High prices for diamonds bit into Blue Nile’s revenues and earnings, prompting the Seattle-based online jewelry retailer to reduce its profit margin on some diamonds in order to spur more sales.
Sales of engagement jewelry in the U.S. fell 4.6 percent to $60.9 million in the quarter ended in June from the same period a year ago. Executives attributed the decline to sticker shock, as the cost of small-sized diamonds rose by double-digit percentages from last year.
(Aug 6, ‘14, National Jeweler)
London–Beginning in March 2015, companies that are not De Beers sightholders will have the opportunity to compete for the rough diamonds that weren’t offered to, or refused by, sightholders, and will be known as “accredited buyers.”
Accredited buyers will have the chance to purchase ex-plan: rough that falls outside of the intention to offer (ITO), the 12-month forecast of what De Beers intends to offer each sightholder based on the size, clarity, etc. of diamonds they normally need. De Beers said it expects to have an “enlarged pool” of ex-plan availability in the next contract period, as it makes more rough available through this channel to give different diamond companies, not just sightholders, the ability to show demand for its diamonds.
(Aug 6, ‘14, Day News)
Gem Diamonds announced last Tuesday that its Letseng Mine in Lesothohas unearthed another large gem quality white diamond. The rough white dazzling diamond weighs 198 carats and measures 1.18 inches across. The find was of very high quality and shows no fluorescence. It is expected to fetch a substantial price. Gem Company looks to the sale of this latest diamond find this year.
(July 24, ‘14, JCK Online)
Pure Grown, the man-made diamond company formerly known as Gemesis, is selling a 3 ct. K SI stone—which it calls the largest colorless diamond ever produced by nonnatural means.
Lisa Bissell, the Fabrikant veteran recently appointed president and CEO of the company, says that she has every intention of selling the gem, which has a report from the International Gemological Institute. “I don’t run a museum,” she says. She predicts it may fetch $21,000.
Considered by many the most important and valuable Rolex wristwatch, here offered is Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1951 18K iconic yellow gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual DateJust reference 6305 chronometer on a matching 18K Jubilee bracelet with deployment clasp, presented to General Eisenhower by Rolex to celebrate the production of their 150,000th watch to obtain ‘Official Chronometer’ certification, and to recognize the general’s great achievements in World War II. Rolex employed a highly skilled artist in Switzerland to accomplish Ike’s requested engraving on the watch-back and clasp, in both places inscribing his initials, “DDE,” and on the watch-back adding the five-star general insignia and date that NATO appointed him as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, “12-19-1950.” Dwight D. Eisenhower frequently wore this watch throughout his tenure in presidential office, and it is accompanied by an unparalleled offering of corroborating information, documentation, and photographs.
(July 29, ‘14, JCK Online)
Despite all the hype about e-commerce, most consumers still prefer shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online, particulary for jewelry, according to a new survey by A.T. Kearney.
“The future of retail is omnichannel, but it’s anchored in brick-and-mortar,” says Michael Brown, partner in the consulting firm’s consumer and retail group and coauthor of its new omnichannel shopping preferences study. “Brick-and-mortar will remain the cornerstone of retail.”
(July 30, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Seattle–Amazon has entered the 3-D printing arena with the launch of its “3D Printed Products” store, a marketplace that gives shoppers access to more than 200 unique, customizable print on-demand products, including jewelry.
The new store features a search tool, interactive 3-D preview functionality, and a customization widget that allows customers to create and design products to their liking starting from available design templates.
(July 22, ‘14, Luxury Daily)
Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil has tapped classical guitarist and recording artist Miloš Karadaglic to design a special edition maestro timepiece for charity.
Raymond Weil will auction off two of the 50 watches produced at select events over the course of 2014, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Mladost Orphanage in Bijela, Montenegro, a cause chosen by the musician. This will not only help the brand with its corporate social responsibility, but it will reinforce the watchmaker’s position in the music industry.
(July 22, ‘14, National Jeweler)
New York–More than 100 vendors are set to exhibit at the upcoming New York Antique Jewelry & Watch show, which is scheduled to take place Friday through Monday at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.
The antique jewelry and watch collections that will be on display at the show span all eras of jewelry history, from Renaissance to modern days, and pieces will feature such precious and semi-precious stones as colored diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, jadeite and pearl.
(July 18, ‘14, JCK Online)
The London silver price mechanism will now be set via an electronic, auction-based mechanism administrated by CME Group and Thomson Reuters, according to a statement from the London Bullion Market Association.
The new mechanism was chosen because it is electronic, “auction-based and auditable and tradable with an increased number of direct participants,” the LBMA said in a statement.
(July 21, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Moscow–Alrosa reported a 13 percent increase in revenue from rough diamond sales in the first half of the year in a “positive” market where it said rough prices rose about 6 percent.
In reporting preliminary first half and second quarter sales results Monday, the Russian diamond miner said it sold 21.1 million carats of diamonds through the first six months of the year, with revenue from rough sales reaching $2.7 billion.
(July 23, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Biel/Bienne, Switzerland–Though operating profit and net income declined for the Swatch Group in the first half of the year, net sales increased.
In its half-year report released Tuesday, Swatch Group reported that net sales for the first half of 2014 grew by 7 percent year-over-year at constant exchange rates, from $4.44 billion to $4.54 billon.
(July 7, ‘14, National Jeweler)
Our country, like the rest of the world, is in a time of great flux. The economy has pulled people in two directions–rich and poor–as historically seen only prior to revolutions. Russians were starving on the streets in 1917 as the tsar indulged himself and the nobles with fineries from the jewelry house of Fabergé. And remember the phrase “Let them eat cake,” uttered about the masses at the time of the French Revolution?
(July 8, ‘14, Reuters)
NEW YORK/LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) – Palladium rose for the 12th straight session to its highest in more than 13 years on Tuesday amid firm automotive demand and continued concerns supplies in South Africa will tighten even after the end of a months-long strike.
Gold turned lower even as the dollar’s recent rally faded and investors awaited clearer signs from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it is on track to raise U.S. interest rates next year.
(July 10, ‘14, Rob Bates, JCK Online)
On Nov. 14, Sotheby’s Geneva expects to fetch a record $17 million for what it calls the Holy Grail of watches—the Henry Graves Supercomplication, considered the most complicated watch ever made completely by the human hand.
The Supercomplication set an auction record for a timepiece when Sotheby’s sold it in 1999 for $11 million. That record holds to this day. The bidder was anonymous, and it was not clear who owned it in recent years, although a 2010 Bloomberg article says that a member of the royal family of Qatar returned it to Sotheby’s to help cover his debts to the auction house. (Sotheby’s declined comment, saying the consigner of the watch requested confidentiality.) Now the auctioner will offer it again in a sale that coincides with Patek Phillipe’s 175th anniversary.