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5 July 2008
Super-rich still pay dear for rare diamonds
Sat Jul 5, 2008 3:30pm EDT
LONDON (Reuters) - The rapid rate of increase in wholesale prices of rare polished diamonds is unsustainable, but for now the growing number of super-rich are paying rising prices for top-tier diamond jewelry.
Charles Wyndham, founder of PolishedPrices, a leading index of wholesale diamond prices, said on Friday prices of larger, rare, near-flawless gemstones had shot up by roughly 200 percent over the past 18 months.
The surge has been driven by increased interest from a growing number of multi-millionaires in emerging markets, a shortage of rough diamonds, and the dollars slide, he said.
Diamond jewelry prices have risen in tune with wholesale diamond prices, but fine jewelers like Graff and Cartier say demand is holding up well for top-tier diamond jewelry in upscale retail outlets on Bond Street in London and in New York.
"Sales are doing well -- Cartier is a high-end business and, therefore, better protected," Frederic de Narp, president and CEO, Cartier North America, told Reuters in June. He gave no figures. Cartier is a subsidiary of Swiss luxury goods maker Richemont.
High-end jewelers in London and New York are reporting increased traffic from foreign visitors, especially from commodity-rich countries in the Middle East, South America and eastern Europe.
The wholesale price of internally flawless 3-carat round polished diamonds has jumped to $100,000 per carat as of June 1, from $55,000 last December, according to PolishedPrices.com.
The worlds rarest polished gemstones have experienced staggering price rises in recent months. Wyndham estimated 13-carat perfect diamonds now to be worth in excess of $200,000 per carat wholesale, an all-time peak.
"If you have a perfect stone, you will get unbelievable prices," Wyndham said.
The main PolishedPrices index, which incorporates a range of diamond categories, stood at 136.3 points this week, 6 percent above the level this time last year.
"There are signs that the high prices being paid for fine qualities are beginning to trickle down into the commercial categories, with commercial one carat diamonds also setting an all-time high," PolishedPrices said in its latest market report.
Both the fine and commercial indices are now showing double digit growth since the start of the year.
The rapid upward momentum in diamond prices cannot carry on at the present rate.
"It is impossible for this rate of increase to be maintained," said Wyndham, who has been in the diamond industry for over 30 years.
He was a director of the CSO, De Beers selling arm, before setting up his own diamond businesses in 1995.
While high net-worth individuals want to possess the most exquisite gemstones, the picture is far less buoyant for low-tier gem-quality diamonds, Wyndham said.
The sharp slowdown of the U.S. economy, the worlds leading market for diamond jewelry, has hit demand for low-end diamonds and bolstered inventories.
"As long as youre talking about good quality diamonds, the scene has been pretty positive. However, commercial, lower end (gem-quality) diamonds have had a very rough time," he said.
(Reporting by David Brough; editing by David Evans)
7 July 2008
DTC says prices of some goods to rise at fifth sight of 2008
[AFNS] LONDON, UK 2 July 2008 - The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) has confirmed that prices of specific goods will be raised at its next sight, scheduled to start on July 7.
The DTC declined to comment on how much it would raise prices and which goods would be affected.
Last month, the DTC reported that prices at the first four sights this year had risen by an average of 8.5 percent. No price changes were indicated at the fifth sight in June.
The DTC reports cumulative price changes three to four times a year at strategic times.
The DTC will announce the cumulative price changes for the year before the Hong Kong show to take place September 15-21.
15 January 2008
Blue Hope Diamond glows red in ultraviolet light
AFNS] WASHINGTON D.C., USA 15 January 2008 – The famous 45.52 carat blue stone known as the Hope Diamond glows red when viewed under ultraviolet light, Jeffrey Port, curator of the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C, said.
Port and other scientists studied the stone and other examples of very rare natural blue diamonds loaned by diamond dealers and reported on their finds in the journal Geology.
Port said the red color the Hope Diamond displays under ultraviolet light comes from trace amounts of the element boron, which makes the stone appear blue in normal light. The unique mix of boron and nitrogen now known to exist in the Hope Diamond could help researchers determine whether the Hope Diamond was cut from a much larger rough stone from India that also yielded part of the pre-Revolutionary French crown jewels, he said.
15 January 2008
Tiffany sponsoring Fair Trade Diamond feasibility study
TransFair USA has received a $100,000 grant from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation to explore the feasibility of a "Fair Trade Certification" for diamonds. The company will do research to see if "fair trade" can provide a mechanism to help the most disempowered and disenfranchised people in the diamond supply chain through a transparent and equitable system.
15 January 2008
Major diamond find reported in northern Canada
Some 862 rough diamonds have been found at a property in Nunavut in Canadas Far North owned by Vancouver, British Columbia-based Diamonds North Resources Ltd
15 January 2008
De Beers to start paying out $295 million settlement of U.S. lawsuit
Individual consumers and members of the diamond trade are eligible to claim part of a proposed $295 million settlement of a series of class action lawsuits against De Beers in the United States, according to the "Diamonds Claims Administrator." The payout is subject to final court approval on April 14.
15 January 2008
Strong demand and shortages to boost diamond prices this year
[AFNS] JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 15-01-2008 – Prices of rough diamonds, particularly high-quality stones, will rise further this year as demand surpasses supply, said World Federation of Diamond Bourses President Ernie Blom.
Rough prices will increase due to shortages, increased demand from countries such as China and India, he said.
Blom pointed out that De Beers had already increased prices by 3.5 percent across all its goods at the first sight of the year, which could set a precedent for other diamond suppliers. In addition, the surge in the number of junior diamond miners that listed on stock exchanges last year, or planned to float in the first part of this year, indicated that there was a strong market for the stones.
Blom noted that the shortage of diamonds would not affect all goods, stressing that there was an oversupply in the lower-value range.
Blom’s comments were supported by South African diamond industry analyst James Allan, who predicted "modest" price increases in 2008, of around 5 percent across all types of goods.
Allan believes U.S. demand for polished diamonds will fall this year, as economic indicators regarding growth and the job market decline. To a certain extent, however, the falling American demand would be offset by rising demand from India, China and the Middle East.
"They are not close to the U.S. at the moment, but, in a couple of years time, they will be major consumers of diamonds," he told Mining Weekly Online.
19 December 2007
Demand will continue to outstrip supply on world markets
Demand will outrun supply in the world diamond market over the next few years, analyst James Allan of the South African firm Allan Hochreiter said. While supply is growing 1 percent a year, demand is growing 4 to 5 percent, meaning that every year $650 million worth of demand is being added to the $13 billion rough diamond market, he said. That annual growth in demand is about half the size of total South African production, he noted. Since 2002, diamond prices have gone up 35–40 percent, he added. This makes investment in diamonds and diamond companies a good idea, he said.
19 December 2007
Celebrity engagement and personal jewelry stars diamonds
LOS ANGELES, USA 19 December 2007 – The popularity of diamonds remains undiminished among celebrities who received engagement, wedding or other personal jewelry in 2007, one list reveals.
Actress Brittany Murphy got two platinum Neil Lane engagement rings from new husband Simon Monjack. One contained a 5 carat yellow diamond center stones surrounded by a circle of smaller white stones, and the other features a 6.5 carat cushion cut diamond set on a diamond-encrusted band. Model-actress Elizabeth Hurley received an engagement ring with a 15.09 carat Asscher cut diamond in the center. The white gold band, which was set with smaller pave diamonds, came from Chopard’s “Haute Joallerie” collection at Chopard; the same jeweler made Hurley’s white gold wedding band, which is set with 20 square-cut 3.91 carat diamonds.
Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks received a Jacob & Co. engagement ring set with a 15 carat cushion cut diamond from Nick Cannon, although she stopped wearing it in October. Ivana Trump received a platinum engagement ring from Rossano Rubicondi. The ring’s center stone is a 12 carat emerald-cut diamond. It was designed by Ivana’s daughter Ivanka Trump, whose name is associated with Diamond Trading Company sightholder Dynamic Diamonds.
Actor Charlie Sheen gave his fiancé Brooke Mueller a platinum engagement band set with an 11 carat, radiant cut fancy yellow diamond. Comic actor Eddie Murphy gave his fiancé Tracey Edmonds an 8 carat fancy yellow diamond engagement ring from Cartier in July. Actress Kate Walsh received a Neil Lane engagement ring set with a Jubilee-cut diamond in May. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt received a heirloom engagement ring set with a large center diamond surrounded by 10 smaller white diamonds from fiancé Ross McCall.
Australian singer Delta Goodrem received a diamond solitaire ring from Brian McFadden, and actress Heidi Montag received a platinum engagement ring with a lemon amethyst center stone surrounded by small diamonds from actor Spencer Pratt, who co-stars with her on “The Hills.”
15 December 2007
Diamonds are forever a reliable investment
IF you think the idea of investing in diamonds is a bit cliched, think again.
The sparkling stones still attract bigger investment interest than arguably any other collectable.
Since they are sold primarily by weight and quality with internationally accepted grading, the value of diamonds is consistent, no matter where they are traded.
In the context of blue-chip investments, diamonds let buyers scale their purchases to suit the moment, with reasonable certainty prices will remain steady whatever the turn of world events.
In times of economic depression, war or political unrest, diamonds are portable, compact and an excellent hedge, while other forms of investment may prove very complicated.
Easier to move around than a collection of vintage cars or a dozen old master paintings, there are central diamond markets in every major city capable of buying and selling for relatively fixed margins at the standard international price.
Diamonds are mined in a handful of centres across four continents.
Tightly controlled by international networks of dealers arranged as "bourses", rough stones mainly travel to London for sorting and classification.
While the simple grading covers 20 or so qualities, there are more than 5000 detailed categories into which each particular stone may fit.
After sorting, rough stones are directed to cutting centres in Antwerp where nearly 85 per cent of the total rough diamond trade takes place. After this, stones move on to diamond manufacturing centres in Israel, Belgium, India and New York. Similar centres operate in South Africa, Botswana, Russia, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Mauritius.
The very best diamonds - in size and quality - may never be set in jewellery, but simply traded as loose stones, while the majority of stones cut into small sizes end up as ear and engagement rings, brooches and necklaces.
A significant drawcard for collectors, most of whom are (surprisingly) established male businesspeople, is the broad value range of diamonds.
The bigger the stone and better the quality, the higher the price, but even modestly sized diamonds of fine quality command steep prices.
Serious investors only look for stones of high clarity with few inclusions, or those with interesting antique histories.
All the rest, and there are a great many, are sold to jewellers and private collectors less attuned to international trade values.
Beyond this very large market for second-rate diamonds, theres an even larger market for imitations such as Fabulite and Cubic Zirconia.
Fabulite is the marketing name for an extraordinary man-made gem with the rather unappealing name of strontium titanate.
Fabulite has a colour dispersion value about 10 times as high as diamond and produces a fiery sparkle superior to most similarly scaled diamonds.
It became popular in the 1950s and is still available today.
More expensive than other recently invented imitation stones, Fabulite tends to reflect more colour than real diamonds but the distinction is so subtle that most amateur buyers will be easily fooled.
Under a spectroscope the distinction is much easier to see.
Cubic Zirconia is another synthetic stone often found pretending to be a diamond, but again with far more colour play than the real thing.
It has a melting point of 2750 degrees Celsius, and requires considerable skill.
The Cubic Zirconia appeared in the market reasonably recently and is often seen in cheap jewellery store sales masquerading as diamond.
The more reputable dealers will clarify the difference, albeit often in very small print. Another common imitation of real diamond is produced by laminating various cheaper stones together, sometimes with a piece of clear quartz at the bottom and top, sandwiching a thin piece of coloured glass or a thin mineral sample which, when cut and polished together, appears to be one natural piece.
A faceted top and bottom will reflect the thin slice of colour throughout the entire stone.
The only way to easily see it is to look "edge-on" right at the joint.
Gemstone dealers and high-end collectors rarely look at imitation stones but work within the various diamond bourses, or markets, trading top quality stones in the same way as stock brokers manage funds of stocks and shares.
If the top end of the market offers little in the way of big profit potential for investors with modest budgets, the estate jewellery trade can still turn up impressive bargains. Old stones cut in antique patterns, often dirty and unloved, can slip through auction sales and jewellery dealers at a fraction of their real value.
Diamonds, like anything, can be upgraded to suit modern fashions, including not just resetting in lighter modern styles, but recutting to improve their refractive qualities.
In Australia, the big city markets are well covered by a clique of knowledgeable dealers.
However, its still quite possible to strike a bargain if you arm yourself with knowledge, the right information and a good quality jewellers loupe.
A pocket scale is useful to help estimate size and weight - and an estimate is usually the best one can do if the stone is fixed in a setting and the property of someone else. The test of a successful buy will come when the stone is removed and properly tested after your purchase, so dont jump in without undertaking a good deal of research.
Bonhams in Sydney has regular estate auctions, often linked to chains of pawn shops selling off unclaimed stock, and it is well worth watching for quality diamonds.
Bonhams has achieved prices of nearly $100,000 for single loose stones several times over the past 18 months at its Sydney rooms.
While in each case the buyers were rather unglamorous looking older men, perhaps the stones went into something lovely for their niece.
The most expensive diamond sold at auction is "The Star of the Season" whichachieved $16.5 million in May 1995. It is one of over 2000 important diamonds owned by Sheikh Ahmed Hassan Fitaihi of Saudi Arabia.
13 December 2007
Eddy Elzas: King of coloured diamonds
They don’t call him the ‘King of Coloured Diamonds’ for nothing. Eddy Elzas is not only one of the world’s most authoritative figures on the subject, he’s also the man who sparked the revival of natural fancy-coloured diamonds in the 20th century by daring to ask: "Who says diamonds should be white?"
In town to unveil his fabled Rainbow Collection, the world’s largest and finest assortment of intense-coloured diamonds, the Antwerp diamond dealer talked about his prized possession.
In 1981, Elzas was offered a ridiculous sum by a Saudi royal, who wanted the whole collection as a wedding gift for Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but he turned down the offer.
"There are 300 diamonds in the Rainbow Collection and each one of them is special," he said.
Interestingly, until the 1970s, diamonds with a hint of colour were considered worthless. But Elzas changed this trend. "In a world of colourless diamonds, they were a rarity. I found this strange and started building a collection of them," he says.
"They thought I was crazy, but I knew better," recalls Eddy who got his first coloured diamond in exchange for a pack of cigarettes.
The 350-carat collection of round brilliants, pears, marquises and emerald cuts to triangles and horses’ heads is worth $100 million (Dh367 million).
12 December 2007
Belgian polished exports and imports rise in November
ANTWERP, BELGIUM 12 December 2007 – The Belgian diamond sector recorded a sharp increase in dollar terms in polished exports and imports in November, according to figures published by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Polished exports amounted to $1.05 billion last month, a 26.4 percent rise on the same month last year. In volume terms, there was a 5.12 percent increase to 829,071 carats. For the January-November period, exports rose 12.8 percent to $9.85 billion and by 6.9 percent to 8.86 million carats.
Meanwhile, polished imports also showed a strong rise in November, rising 26.0 percent on November last year to $873.3 million. In weight terms, exports were up 5.5 percent to 762,207 carats. For the first 11 months of the year, imports climbed 10.8 percent to $9.27 billion, and by 4.9 percent to 9.12 million carats.
As for rough exports and imports, they posted declines in November, although were largely positive for the January-November period. November exports fell 16.6 percent to $847.0 million, and by 36.5 percent to 9.01 million carats. For the first 11 months of the year, exports rose 15.2 percent to $10.3 billion and climbed 5.7 percent to 129.7 million carats.
Meanwhile, rough imports fell 13.8 percent in November to $781,.9 million, and slumped 21.3 percent to 10.6 million carats. For the January-November period, rough imports increased by 9.8 percent to $9.38 billion, but slipped 1.7 percent to 124.2 million carats.
A service of the Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS). Article may be reproduced provided that credit is given to AFNS.
12 December 2007
Graff produces 26 diamonds from the Lesotho Promise
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM 12 December 2007 – The Lesotho Promise, a 603 carat rough diamond discovered in October 2006 at the Letseng Mine in Lesotho, has yielded 26 D-flawless polished diamonds with a total weight of 223.35 carats at the hands of diamond polishers working for jeweller Laurence Graff. The diamonds were cut in Antwerp.
Graff displayed the polished stones himself at the company’s London headquarters. He bought the rough stone, which is the 15th largest rough diamond ever found in the world, through his jewelry company’s diamond manufacturing arm, Safdico, winning a competitive auction with a bid of $12.36 million. He set 35 expert polishers to work on it. They were assisted by computer technology in planning how to deal with the stone, which had many cracks and irregularities.
The polished stones are each laser-inscribed on their girdles with the Graff logo and a unique Lesotho Promise series number. The inscriptions are visible only under a 10X loupe and do not affect the stones’ quality.
Gem Diamonds controls a 70 percent stake of Letseng, which the balance held by the Lesotho government.
12 December 2007
More than 10 million carats expected from Voorspoed
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 12 December 2007 – De Beers’ new Voorspoed Mine in South Africa will produce more than 10 million carats of rough over its expected 12 to 16 year lifespan, at a rate of 850,000 to 900,000 carats a year starting in 2009.
De Beers official Mike Brown said the mine will be about one-third the size of the Finsch Mine, which he once managed. It is currently 35 meters deep but will be dug to 306 to 420 meters in depth, across an area of 12.5 hectares.
The first stones will emerge from the mine in June, and full production will be achieved by the end of 2008, six months earlier than initially expected.
The mine is budgeted to cost R1.3 billion ($194 million). To date, R700 million ($105 million) has been spent and another R400 million ($60 million) has been set aside for the project.
De Beers has owned the site since 1912 but is only able to exploit it now, due to advances in mining technology. De Beers Consolidated Mines, the South African arm of the group, owns a 74 percent stake in the mine, with the balance held by its black economic empowerment partner, Ponaholo Trust.
10 December 2007
Aurora Collection on Display at London Museum
The Aurora Collection is coming to London. The London Natural History Museum has announced that a set of 296 naturally colored diamonds has been lent for display by diamond collectors Alan Bronstein and Harry Rodman.
Composed of a total of 267.45 carats of exceptionally rare stones, including the 12 color varieties from emerald green to blood red, the Aurora Collection is on display in The Vault, the museum’s newest permanent gallery. It was first displayed in Europe in 2005 as part of the Natural History Museum’s Diamonds exhibition.
Fancy colored diamonds are relatively rare. Only one in every 10,000 gem quality diamond is colored, and the color is a result of tiny amounts of non-carbon elements, or from atomic scale defects, in the diamond structure, the museum release stated.
“Each colored diamond tells its own story, giving us insight not only into its formation, but also to the deep earth processes that took place when the gem was formed,” said Alan Hart, curator of minerals at the Natural History Museum.
“For example, yellow diamonds are due to the presence of nitrogen in the structure and green diamonds owe their color to natural radiation damage. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to display this unique collection of exceptionally rare gems at the Museum,” he concluded.
26 August 2007
Book studded with 600 diamonds!
London, August 26: A British entrepreneur is offering a made-to-order edition of his diamond-encrusted book for a whopping 3 million pounds.
Roger Shashoua, voted one of Europe`s top 500 entrepreneurs, has added over 600 flawless diamonds to the cover of his book, `Dancing With The Bear`.
The `oligarch cover` makes it the world`s most expensive book.
Russian tycoons are the target readers for the diamond-encrusted book.
Shashoua, who has described how he made a fortune of 100m-pounds through business in post-Soviet Russia in the book, hopes the concept might be adopted by Russian ex-pats in London.
"There is so much money floating around in Russia that it seemed entirely logical to produce a book designed for the Russian market," the BBC quoted Shashoua, as saying.
"I am just happy that conspicuous displays of consumption can now be associated with writing, rather than fashion accessories. I can only hope that oligarchs will read the book, rather than just keeping it locked away," he added.
13 August 2007
DIAGEM RECOVERS 15 LARGE DIAMONDS FROM ITS BRAZIL KIMBERLITE OPERATION
Canadian diamond exploration and mining company Diagem Inc. has recovered 15 large diamonds from its Collier-04 kimberlite pilot operation in Brazil. The largest stone, weighing 20.9 carats, is the biggest find documented at Collier-04.
The weight of the other 14 stones, which are of relatively good quality, ranges from 4.0- to 17.3 carats. According to Diagem Inc., all stones weighing more than one carat represent 8.4 percent in carat weight of the diamonds recovered since the start of the commissioning of the pilot plant in March 2007.
A total of 21,980 commercial size diamonds weighing 2,691 carats have been recovered from the processing of 9,414 cubic meters of material. This represents an average diamond grade of 0.29 carats per cubi meter and an average carat weight of 0.12 carats per diamond.
“The size and quality of the larger stones improve the Company’s outlook for the economic feasibility of the Collier-04 project,” says Denis Francoeur, Chief Executive Officer of Diagem. “While these results are very encouraging, our primary focus remains the exploration and development of the Chapadao kimberlite pipes, believed to be the primary source of the profuse historical diamond collection in the Juina District.”
Diagem focuses on diamondiferous resources in Brazil’s Juina Diamond Province of Mato Grosso. The company has one advanced development stage project and recently discovered two clusters of kimberlite pipes believed to be the main sources of the Juina Province historical alluvial diamond production.
9 August 2007
"Cognac" "Chocolate" "Champagne" Diamonds. What Are They?
Its funny how until very recently, diamonds of considerably lower colors with brownish hues and yellowish overtones, were simply known as "low color diamonds".
Lower colored diamonds, are not as scarce or valuable as diamonds of icy white colors and therefore command less of a premium than the diamonds of higher (better) color grades.
Problem was, certain diamond mines tended to only produce diamonds of substantially lower colors. Well these are diamonds too and they needed to be sold..right? Well, of course!
Some brilliant marketing guru came up with an incredible idea; why not market these diamonds with finesse! Indeed, why not turn the very liability of the stone into something positive?
Thus, was born the marketing strategy known as "chocolate diamonds," "cognac diamonds," and/or "champagne diamonds".
You turn the negative into a positive.......
"Cognac" diamond ring by Judith Harnell.
Companies like Levian, went ahead and marketed the "heck" out of these "chocolate diamonds" which were unpopular and undesireable.
Subsequently and as a result of these marketing efforts, consumers who never would have given a second glance at a "brownish diamond" of poor color, were now looking at purchasing "cognac diamond jewelry".
And so it is today.
This disbeliever (yours truly;-)), also thought the whole marketing thing with chocolate diamonds was a bunch of hooey...........that is until I decided to make a pair of diamond cufflinks for myself, which features an outer ring of brilliant white diamonds, with "cognac" diamonds in the center.
The effect of the white diamonds contrasting with the "champagne diamonds" is absolutely incredible!!
It is literally a thing of beauty and now I am a true believer in the beauty and usefulness of brown diamonds!
To be honest, I dont know if Id go out looking for a honking brownish (a.k.a. "chocolate") diamond engagement ring, or pair of diamond studs. Personally, I think that for these kind of purchases, you are better off staying away from brown diamonds and instead looking for a diamond that will lend itself to maximizing its refracted brilliancy (which is why you purchase a diamond in the first place).
To this end, a reasonably white diamond will do the best job of accomplishing your objectives.
However, when it comes to jewelry pieces, like cufflinks, brooches, rings, necklaces, pendants bracelets, etc., all bets are off!
In fact, I think that brown diamonds tastefully combined with white diamonds in a piece of jewelry, is one of the most gorgeous jewelry items you will ever lay eyes upon!
So if you are thinking "chocolate" "cognac" "champagne" diamonds...GREAT IDEA!
Just make sure you incorporate these diamonds in a jewelry piece or ensemble that will do justice to the beauty of these stones.
Same for any jewelry store owner thinking of selling diamond jewelry with white and chocolate diamonds; great idea!
7 August 2007
The Case Of The Missing Diamond & The Problem With Buying Diamonds From A "Drop Shipper".
We have blogged here and elswhere many times in the past, regarding the perils of purchasing a loose diamond from an internet store who does not physically own or view the diamond in person before you receive it.
Diamond "drop-shipping", is where an internet website selling diamonds, showcases many thousands of diamonds they do not own or have in their physical possession.
The diamonds are comprised from lists of wholesale diamond databases supplied to these vendors by the respective manufacturers who do not deal directly with the public.
When a diamond is sold via the website, the stone is shipped out directly from the manufacturer to the customer, without passing through the hands of the middleman (drop-shipper) first.
I have previously pointed out why buying diamonds this way (to the tune of thousands of dollars) is a recipe for absolute disaster, since the diamond vendor is clueless about the quality of the diamond he has never seen and cannot possibly vouch for the stone in confidence, based upon the limited info. (diamond grading report) provided to him by the manufacturer.
Certainly, if you wish to know actual details regarding the look, brilliancy, inclusions, etc. of the diamond, you are literally on your own.
Indeed, there are only a handful of companies selling diamonds on the internet, who actually have the ability and inclination to personally inspect every single diamond they sell, even when it is one outside of their own manufacture.
Well, here is another reason to be careful when purchasing a loose diamond from a website that acts as a middleman to sell a diamond they have never seen.
The case of the missing diamond.
A very upset customer posted today on the popular diamond discussion forum, Pricescope, regarding her experience with a diamond "drop shipper" who was supposed to ship two diamonds (which she paid for) but only sent one!
She writes: " remember my thread about me buying my 2 stones from BlueNile from my Blue Amex. Anyway got the package today and it only contain one stone but 2 cert. from GIA. I call their customer service and hopefully they will call me back soon . Okay , im freaking out and piss at the service dont they check before shipping it out? We talking about diamonds for god sake. "
Well, unfortunately, the answer is no, they do not "check" before they ship out, simply because they do not do the shipping. In fact, they never saw the diamonds which were not of their own manufacture and were never in their physical possession in the first place.
Sure enough, she posts a bit later with the following update:
"Got a call from Mike at Blue Nile after i call them to follow up, he told me to look everywhere in the box, vendor said it might be pack in a little plastic bag or sometime wrap up in a piece of paper or bubble wraps. I told him my package have no bubbles wrap no little plastic bag or piece of paper, i also told him that i only get one plastic pouch that the GIA cert. supposed to come with. So he ask me to wait and will get back in 1 hr or so.
Blue Nile proceeded to call the wholesaler (who actually shipped the diamond (s) to the customer) in order to find out what happened to the missing stone. Wholesaler responds by saying they are pretty sure the second diamond was included in the package and asks Blue Nile to request that the customer "look a bit harder".
Customer is confident that only one diamond was shipped and no other.
Now the reality is that mistakes do happen and Blue Nile is a reputable company. Hopefully, they will get to the bottom of this and make sure the customer gets the second diamond she paid for.
However, the bigger problem (and one that the customer was clearly unaware of, by the way she posted..) is that Blue Nile never actually inspected the two diamonds they sold this woman.
They therefore had no way of discussing the quality or beauty of the diamond with any authority.
Obviously, they also have no idea how many diamonds were actually shipped with the package.
Sure, they offer return polices and are backed by an honest reputation. However, it is still important for customers to be informed and aware of the way they are purchasing diamonds over the Internet.
To be clear, many loose diamonds are sold over the Internet every single day by honest and reputable companies who never get to see the stone. These companies offer return polices and customer service guarantees which are designed to foster trust and quality assurance. Additionally, there is nothing inherently wrong with acting as a middleman to sell wholesale diamonds at a profit. This is called capitalism; everyone does it and many of these companies are completely honest and reputable.
Still, it is important to realize that Diamonds are not all created equal.
It is important and crucial to inspect a diamond for its structural integrity, cut precision, quality and beauty/light performance, before making a purchase of this magnitude.
2 August 2007
Alrosa Auctions $36 Million of Rough Diamonds
At Alrosa’s 23rd international auction for special sizes of rough diamonds, which ended August 1, the firm sold 120 parcels for a total sum of over $36 million. Special size auctions offer rough diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats.
The rough diamonds to be auctioned were on display at the Russian Diamond Chamber for a month. Alrosa offered 632 stones with a total weight exceeding 11.4 carats, the largest stone weighing 274.37 carats.
Representatives of 61 companies specializing in big diamonds from Russia, Israel, Belgium, India, UAE, Lebanon, Belarus and the U.S. participated in the auction.
The next auction will take place at the end of August 2007.
30 July 2007
Uncut diamonds gain popularity
From Tiffany to De Beers, a new look in diamond jewelry is on the rise: uncut diamonds that to the untrained eye can look more like gravel than gems.
Known as rough diamonds, these are the stones in their natural state, before theyve been cut with the facets that give diamonds the sparkle, brilliance and clarity they are known for. In colors from milky white to yellow, green and brown, the large, uneven stones often have a cloudy appearance.
For jewelers, these stones have another appealing quality: The wholesale cost of uncut diamonds is far below that of cut and polished gems. Yet some customers are proving willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for them.
At De Beerss three U.S. stores, which started offering rough-diamond jewelry two years ago, one of every five pieces sold now features rough diamonds. A $45,000 rough-diamond necklace is displayed prominently in the window of the companys Fifth Avenue store in New York. Meanwhile, Bergdorf Goodman added rough diamonds to its jewelry selection last September. Retail prices for rough-diamond jewelry vary considerably, from $600 for a small uncut diamond set in a stainless steel ring at De Beers to $750,000 one-of-a-kind necklace of pearls and rough diamonds by Frank Gehry at Tiffany.
But because some of the usual key standards for assessing a diamonds value, such as cut and clarity, dont apply to uncut stones, it can be tough for consumers to evaluate pricing. "Its pretty much a blind purchase for consumers," says Tom Moses, a senior vice president at Gemological Institute of America, which set the widely used "4C" standards (cut, color, carat and clarity) for cut diamonds. The institute doesnt have a system for evaluating uncut diamonds.
Diamonds have long been marketed for their timeless style in the world of luxury goods. But in a time of quickening fashion cycles and a craving for the new and different, even the diamond industry has begun looking for novel products. In recent years, colored diamonds, in shades like yellow and pink, have become more popular.
Industry observers say the uncut diamonds are being marketed to a subset of customers who increasingly want things that are both exclusive and subtle, conveying status only to people in the know. "Luxury consumers are maturing "beyond the look at me phase," says Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a market-research firm. The rough stones also tap into the current popularity of all things natural in the fashion market.
"Its a fashion twist on diamonds," says Lisa Kazor, senior vice president of precious jewelry at Neiman Marcus, likening the trend to black diamonds, which first appeared on the market eight years ago.
Many rough-cut diamonds used in jewelry are unsuitable for cutting because of their shape or flaws in the stone. In some cases, a potentially cuttable rough stone is selected for a piece of jewelry because it has an unusual shape in its uncut form. Generally, however, experts wouldnt advise consumers to consider cutting into a rough diamond theyve bought in a piece of jewelry: The odds of finding a valuable cut diamond inside are fairly low.
Rough diamonds still represent only a tiny portion of the market for diamond jewelry. Last year, consumers around the world spent $68 billion on diamond jewelry, says Ken Gassman, president of the Jewelry Industry Research Institute. He estimates that sales of jewelry made with rough diamonds amounted to a few hundred million dollars at most.
Among major diamond retailers, De Beers was an early promoter of rough diamonds. Two years ago, the company launched its Talisman collection, a line of jewelry featuring uncut diamonds, sometimes mixed with polished stones. The company says its Talisman pieces, which range in price from $400 to $700,000, are among its top sellers.
The rise of a company called Diamond in the Rough reflects the growing popularity of uncut diamonds. Four years ago, the company began selling rough-diamond jewelry pieces online at prices of $500 to $1,200. But sales took off last year when the company decided to relaunch with new jewelry designs using bigger stones - at higher prices. It showed its new collection at a jewelry trade show in Las Vegas last year, where it attracted significant attention from retailers, according to Anjanette Clisura, the companys president. Now the companys pieces, which only use diamonds of five carats or more, sell at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus for prices starting at $5,000 and averaging about $35,000. Diamond in the Rough expects sales this year to double to $5 million.
The profit-margin advantage can be substantial for jewelers. Jewelers pay about $8,000 for a high-quality one-carat polished white diamond, according to Ronnie Friedman, president of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of the U.S. Prices vary much more for rough diamonds on the wholesale market, with some selling for as little as $50 a carat and others costing several thousand dollars per carat, depending on the color and quality, experts say. Retail prices for rough diamonds also vary, but for a sense of the cost relative to cut diamonds, consider a 5-carat rough diamond set in a white-gold ring with pave diamond accents by Diamond in the Rough, which sells for $33,000. Under the industry rule of thumb, a rough diamond of that size could be expected to yield a cut diamond of half its weight - about 2.5 carats, which in a ring would retail for an average of $40,000. A fairly high-quality, 5-carat cut diamond could cost $160,000 or more.
Designers say the high price tags are justified by the uniqueness of the stones and the designs. Uncut diamonds are also often adorned with smaller polished ones for contrast and extra sparkle.
Some shoppers say theyre willing to pay more for jewelry that looks unusual. Penny Waller, an artist in California, says she recently spent $15,000 on three rough diamond rings from designer Todd Reed. "There is a little magic" in a stone that is "untouched, in its natural state," she says.
27 July 2007
Queens Wedding Dress, Diamonds Go on Show at Palace (Update1)
Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth IIs London home, opens to visitors tomorrow, marking her 60th year of marriage with an exhibition of dresses, diamonds and uniforms worn at her wedding.
King George VI was on the throne in 1947 when Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh, who had dropped his titles of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. The bridal dress by Norman Hartnell, a one-time theater-costume designer, was inspired by Botticellis 15th century painting, ``Primavera, symbolizing rebirth after the war, said the Royal Collections press office.
The palace opens 19 state rooms every summer with an exhibition that celebrates the royal familys history. While the shows dont state any message, they touch on the U.K.s relations with other nations in earlier eras of British life. This years show includes wedding gifts of gold and silver from world leaders, and a piece of Indian lace woven by Mahatma Gandhi.
Amid the postwar austerity, the bride wore a gown of ivory silk decorated with seed pearls and a 13-foot star-patterned train. Her Russian tiara was originally made for her grandmother, Queen Mary, according to a statement by the press office which mounts the annual exhibitions.
Gifts from her parents included a Boucheron diamond and ruby necklace and Cartier diamond earrings. Presents from Pope Pius XII, President Chiang Kai Shek and U.S. President Harry Truman are also on display. The princess signed the marriage register with a gold pen given her by the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.
Royal and Rowling
The 81 year-old queen today has a fortune valued at 320 million pounds ($652 million) by the Sunday Times Rich List, while the Harry Potter books author J.K. Rowling has a net worth of 545 million pounds.
The way to the exhibition, ``A Royal Wedding: 20 November 1947, is through the state rooms, furnished with 18th-century gilt chairs, clocks and Sevres porcelain bought by George IV after the French revolution. The galleries include paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Canaletto.
The Queen first opened her primary residence to the public in 1993 to raise money for the restoration of another of her homes, Windsor Castle, which was gutted by fire the year before.
Admission is 15 pounds for adults, an increase of 1 pound on last year. The entry fee permits visitors to see the staterooms and exhibition with an audio guide before exiting through palace gardens. Admission fees go toward maintaining and expanding the collection.
The palace had more than 400,000 visitors last year.
The show is at Buckingham Palace through Sept. 28, having been extended by three days from an earlier scheduled closing, said a spokeswoman for the Royal Collection.
27 July 2007
Diamonds & Jewelry: Luxury or Commodity?
With the explosion of Internet sales of diamonds and jewelry during the past several years, consumers have learned that the online diamond and jewelry marketplace is not only a source of in-depth information and education, it is also a place where you can often purchase high quality diamond engagement rings and jewelry at a fraction of the traditional jewelry store prices.
This powerful concept, together with burgeoning consumer confidence in the Internet marketplace as a viable medium for making expensive purchases, has led to an overall decline in retailer profits (profit margins) for the sale of loose diamonds and jewelry.
Diamond stores, regardless of whether they operate on the Internet or off, have been forced to recognize the power of the "Internet revolution" and have lowered prices on their merchandise in order to remain competitive.
In almost all instances, traditional retail jewelry stores are no longer able to command and expect significant profits on diamond and jewelry products that can be purchased on the Internet for a fraction of the price. Consumers either buy directly off the Internet, or they use the price point on the net to negotiate a better price (or a price match) with their local jeweler.
Indeed, the only way that jewelry stores continue to reap some of the "1980s profits" on their diamonds and jewelry, is often by aligning themselves with a "brand" or a niche that gives them the ability to sell on their own terms, without fear of "watered down profits".
The Hearts on Fire Signature Diamonds Brand, which has a registered trademark touting themselves as being "the worlds most perfectly cut diamond," is a perfect example of some of these last "strongholds" of retailer "profit bonanzas".
Hearts on Fire diamonds (tm) is a company that manufactures beautiful Ideal Cut Diamonds which they market through authorized retail jewelers across the country. They do not sell their diamonds over the Internet..and for good reason.
Indeed, diamonds of similar quality, beauty, and ideal cut quality, can be purchased over the Internet at an absolute fraction of the Hearts on Fire diamonds prices.
Therefore, Hearts on Fire made a decision to market their diamonds exclusively within the framework of traditional "bricks & mortar" jewelry stores.
They are an excellent company, with a high quality product and amazing retailer support. The retailers who are authorized to carry the Hearts on Fire diamond brand, swear by the product, since it allows them to sell a beautiful "flagship" ideal cut diamond, at a huge markup and significant profits, per the "suggested price" structure mandated and enforced by the company and without fear of being undercut by Internet diamond stores.
However, aside for a few select "brands" like Hearts on Fire diamonds, most of the diamond and jewelry marketplace has been strongly affected by the Internet revolution, with an overall decline in profits due to the competitive nature of the Internet.
So the question is, has the Internet turned diamonds and jewelry from a luxury item into a commodity?
I have recently seen threads on this topic from a few different marketing and branding gurus including our friends and Janus Thinking.
Here is my own take:
Obviously, the old profits on diamonds and jewelry are gone forever. Consumers today are smart, savvy, and educated. However, the reality is that diamonds are still considered luxury items. These are not commodities like bread, butter and milk. Additionally. diamonds and jewelry are not intrinsic to our survival...(well at least for most people..;-).
Therefore, the reality is that you are still buying diamonds and jewelry with your discretionary income, regardless of the value and excellent price.
This simple fact, in my opinion, still qualifies diamonds and jewelry as being considered luxury items.
27 July 2007
De Beers loses its sparkle as sales slide
Half-year profits rise but diamond giant reveals that availability is becoming a problem after end of Russian supply deal
Steve Hawkes and agencies
De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, has suffered a slide in sales after cutting the amount of gems it buys from the biggest producer in Russia.
The group said that while consumer demand was holding up, sales of unpolished stones were down seven per cent to $3.4 billion (£1.6 billion) in the first half of the year due to difficulties in sourcing supplies.
Gareth Penny, managing director, said: “Our sales were down, only because they were constrained, principally because of Russian supply.”
De Beers is winding down a deal to buy diamonds from Russia’s Alrosa after the European Commission last year raised concerns that the relationship would tighten the South African firm’s grip on the market.
A European court earlier this month lifted the curb but De Beers today would only say it was analysing the judgement.
It plans to cut purchases from Alrosa by $100 million to $500 million this year and $400 million in 2008.
The company has also suffered from supplies shortages at new mines such as Snap Lake in Canada.
Despite the supply constraints, a stronger price for rough diamonds saw underlying earnings in the six months to June 30 rise 5 per cent to $324 million.
It means a $156 million profit contribution to Anglo American, which holds a 45 per cent stake in the company.
De Beers said the diamond market seemed to be shrugging off the consumer slowdown and the negative publicity caused by the Oscar-nominated film ‘Blood Diamond’ last year.
The film, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, showed how sales of diamonds in conflict zones have been used to fund wars.
De Beers today said there was some evidence of weakness at the lower end of the US market, but added that the high end “remains strong”. China and India were “robust”.
“We continue to forecast growth in diamond jewellery demand in the four to five per cent range for the full year,” the group added.
23 July 2007
Oppenheimer positive on concept of diamond futures but notes problems in implementation
Jonathan Oppenheimer of De Beers says he likes the idea of a diamond futures contract, but they need to unpack the valuation of derivative stock.
Head of De Beers South Africas chairmans office, Jonathan Oppenheimer, supports the concept of a diamond futures market, but says he struggles to understand how the valuation of stock for this trade would be done.
Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg, Oppenheimer said although he liked the idea of diamond derivatives contracts, it was nearly impossible to get two pools of identical diamonds from two different mining areas.
And diamonds would have to be homogeneous to be sold on a futures market.
Oppenheimer said his view was not that it cant be done, but only that the company needed to understand how this market would function and how the valuation would be done.
"We are not saying yes and we are not saying no, we are saying that we are ready to understand diamond futures and to unpack it (the concept)."
This came after the Financial Times reported recently that bankers and diamond experts are to launch two initiatives in coming days to create the worlds first derivatives contracts linked to diamond prices
Oppenheimer allayed fears that synthetic diamonds would pose any threat to real gems by saying that people bought diamonds for their intrinsic value while they were aware that synthetics were produced in a factory "last week".
"Something that is 2-3 billion years old simply has a passionate feeling to it."
He said the idea of a diamond as a gift of love has been entrenched in society for a long time and was not something new.
"The idea of a diamond signifying a sense of permanence is a beautiful thing," he added.
Oppenheimer said the facts did not support a view that the company could stockpile diamonds. The best thing De Beers could do was to grow demand for diamonds and the company was therefore trying to create a spin around the precious stones.
The company is focused on growing demand for diamonds in China and India and consumers here are showing a great willingness to express their love with diamonds.
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