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A Firsthand Look at the Ebola Crisis and the Diamond Industry

(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.

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Blue Nile app lets shoppers virtually try on rings

(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.

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8 keys to being competitive this holiday season

(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.

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Jewelers weigh in ’solid’ holiday growth prediction

(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.

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Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auctions Patek Philippe Watch for $740,000

(Oct 14, ‘14,
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.

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Vivid pink diamond sells for record $17.8 million

(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.

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White diamond sells for record $27.3m in Hong Kong

(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.

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Why Retailers Like De Beers’ Recycled Diamond Program

(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.

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TAG Heuer to develop smartwatch

(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.”

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Sea-Dweller of famous ocean lover for sale

(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.

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