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September 5, 2006

World Diamond Council set to launch full website
A new website created by the World Diamond Council (WDC) called diamondfacts.org aimed at educating the diamond industry, retail staff, the media and the general public about the industrys steps to counter conflict diamonds will be officially launched next week.
A service of the Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS).

September 5, 2006

FedEx launches secured shipping for Antwerp
[AFNS] NEW YORK, USA, September 5, 2006 – FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, the world’s largest express delivery company, has announced the launch of an improved secured delivery service for diamond shipments to and from the Antwerp diamond district in collaboration with Group4Securicor.
As of October 2, FedEx will launch a secured delivery service with diamond shipments routed through a secured transport process handled by Group4Securicor from pick-up till handover in Paris where they will continue to their final destination through the FedEx network.
A security surcharge of € 50, excl. VAT will be charged per diamond shipment.
For security reasons one day will be added to the standard FedEx transit times. The diamond shipments will reach U.S. destinations within 48-hours to US and Europe and 3 days to most of Asia.

A service of the Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS).

September 3, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Turning baby hair into diamonds
Anyone who watches late-night cable knows that the synthetic jewelry market is thriving. But you may be surprised to learn that one of the industrys more competitive subsets involves human DNA. Pink Tentacle reports that a Russian company named New Age Diamonds is targeting Japanese consumers with something called the Heart-In Baby Diamond, "a synthetic diamond made from the hair of newborn babies." This is reminiscent of an item we posted late last year on LifeGem, "a certified, high-quality diamond created from the carbon of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life." Personal accessory tastes notwithstanding, we prefer either of these options to Breath Capture, a capsule pendant that offers to "capture the breath of a loved one or friend and keep them close. Forever."
Posted by Mike Yamamoto

September 1, 2006

Diamond phone has more bling than ring
Three of the $1.2 million phones have been made.
(CNN) -- A Russian businessman has bought what is believed to be the worlds most expensive cell phone.
The tycoon will be given the 1 million euro ($1.2 million) phone during the Millionaires Fair at Cannes, France, on on Saturday, when the Guinness Book of World Records was to bestow the title of most expensive phone.
The "Piece Unique" handmade phone is constructed out of solid gold, is studded with diamonds and comes with a customized insurance policy.
The phone is one of three that have been produced by Swiss company GoldVish.
One of the phones has been bought by a businessman in Hong Kong, the other remains unsold.
The company has also created 15 other models of luxury cell phones, which start at 18,900 euros ($24,000) and go up to 150,000 euros ($192,000).
It also has 100 limited edition "Plato" phones, which are encrusted with 35-carat diamonds and have a 190,000 euro ($244,000) price tag.
GoldVish CEO Michel Morren told CNN that he came up with business plan for the company three and a half years ago and began working with global distributors in March this year.
The Cannes fair will be the first time the collection had been shown to the public but the company had received pre-orders for phones, which will be delivered at the end of October.
Morren said several people who had bought the phones worked in the film and music industries.
"Many are celebrities and captains of industry," he said
"They are both male and female because our cell phones are unisex. I dont want to say who they are but I expect to see our phones very soon in pictures of celebrities."
Exhibitors at the three-day Millionaires Fair will be peddling a range of luxury goods from antiques, private jets, yachts, fashion, cars and even pets.

By Julie Clothier for CNN

31 August 2006

THE CULTURE OF THE GIA SYNTHETIC CERTIFICATE DEBATE
The form and contents of the proposed GIA certificate on synthetic diamonds was a hotly debated issue at this week’s GIA Symposium in San Diego. The discussion squarely reflects perceived economic interests – and even though every side likes to talk about “protecting consumer confidence”, none of the speakers had done any serious research on what the consumer prefers. Some retailers stressed that a different nomenclature for synthetics would be confusing, but those representing natural diamonds were adamant that different wordings were absolutely imperative.



The “hottest” part of the discussion was the use of the word “synthetics”, the alternative terms “man-made” or “laboratory grown”, or, the more controversial “cultured”. [A remark by a female divorced senior GIA executive at a cocktail party gave the discussion a feminist twist: “I purchase my own diamond jewelry. I would never buy “man-made”, but would go for “laboratory grown”. That is as close we got to a consumer reaction…]
What concerned me, however, was the culture of the debate, far beyond the session at the GIA symposium. A leading producer of synthetics has put the Gemological Institute of America on notice that the GIA may be in violation of U.S. anti-trust laws, specifically the Sherman and Clayton Acts for colluding with the natural industry to get language accepted for the GIA certificates which would make the synthetics certificate a marketing tool for the natural diamond industry against the synthetics producers.



In the public’s mind, it is argued, the word “synthetics” is perceived as “fake”. Even if within the industry most of us understand the meaning of “synthetics”, the consumer, whom we all want to protect, is not part of the debate. The consumer considers it fake. Therefore the synthetic producers are fighting for alternative words, and their preferred word is “cultured”. Gemesis, which has been marketing “cultured diamonds” for quite a while, has never been advised by the Federal Trade Commission, which is the ultimate legal authority in the U.S. on what wording is allowed in the marketing of synthetics to the consumer, of any objections to that term.



The commercial and financial stakes in this debate are enormous. Martin Rapaport, in an eloquent and characteristically entertaining stand-up presentation, introduced another angle in the synthetics debate: “All the suckers in the natural diamond industry are working hard to get higher margins and lift prices so that De Beers can make more money. At least with synthetics, you’ll be making money for yourself.” That viewpoint ignores the likelihood that at some point in the future De Beers itself will market gem quality synthetics. It is commercially inconceivable that the company that possesses the very best (CVD) synthetic production technologies and has the greatest marketing experience would allow a loss of market share in a new emerging market niche. So, ultimately, the current dominancy of De Beers in natural diamonds may repeat itself in a synthetic gem quality diamond environment, but that is not on the cards today or tomorrow.



Today, the natural diamond producers and downstream industry are clearly out to get the synthetics producers – and the GIA and other labs, but especially the GIA – to use words which will protect the natural diamond business.



What has prompted the accusations against the GIA to possibly be in violation of anti-trust laws are the published comments by GIA Chairman Ralph Destino to the effect that the GIA may now control the nomenclature of companies producing and wishing to grade man-made diamonds. It is argued by the complainant that “this is not a proper function of the GIA, a not-for-profit institution; it is not supposed to be a tool of the natural diamond industry.” Destino’s statements are viewed as placating and benefiting the competitive concerns of the natural diamond merchants, as represented by various trade organizations. Needless to say that these accusations have been totally rejected by the GIA. “In our synthetics certificate, the names “man-made” and “laboratory grown” are clearly mentioned,” says GIA Chairman Ralph Destino. “If stones submitted for certification have been inscribed on the girdle with a word (man-made, synthetics, cultured, or whatever) which is allowed by the FTC, we will respect that and have no problem with it,” stresses Destino.
The charge that he “controls the nomenclature” greatly upset Chairman Destino. “In the past six months I have engaged in an unprecedented dialogue with all our stakeholders. We have changed our image – by our actions. We are not arrogant. We listen, we explain, and, again, we listen. At the end of the day, we are a gemological research organization and we decide on how to express our findings on a grading report,” he stressed to me. Destino finds himself between a rock and a hard space. He wants to listen to the trade and industry, he wants the dialogue, and when he actually implements what he learned from stakeholders, he risks accusations of collusion. Where is the line between “dialogue” and “collusion”?
Trade Unites to Get GIA to Adopt Favorable Wording
What may have triggered the feeling by some of the synthetic producers that there is a potential “conspiracy” [there can be no anti-trust violation without a conspiracy to collude] is the “Memorandum of Understanding” (dated July 26, 2006) between CIBJO, IDMA, IDC and the WFDB, in which these industry bodies agree “that there is a pressing need for a coordinated approach to the grading of diamonds, treated diamonds and synthetic diamonds. …. These organizations, which include all relevant factors and participants in the diamond and jewelry sectors, will cooperate in their efforts to arrive at guidelines for dealing, handling and describing diamonds, as well as synthetic diamonds and treated diamonds.”
These parties represent the industry and trade of natural diamonds. They don’t represent consumers. There is no doubt that the aforementioned trade organizations and others are making concerted efforts to raise significant and material barriers, in the hope that it might avoid, delay or even block man-made diamonds from reaching the consumers – taking away market share of the natural diamonds or reducing their value. T hese industry organizations are protecting above all the interest of their members – they do what a trade association is supposed to do. Something would be amiss if they would act otherwise.
But the culture of the debate may not stray into illegitimate directions. Some diamond bourses prohibit the trade of synthetics on their bourse floor and clearly state a position that synthetics are not diamonds. They are a different product. They have nothing to do with the diamond industry. An eloquent spokesman for the natural diamond industry, Honorary President for Life of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses Shmuel Schnitzer, said that the industry had already compromised: there are two different products, he said, “diamonds” and “synthetics”. The fact that we now allow the term “synthetic diamonds” already represents a great compromise.”
From a legal perspective: what “rights” does the natural diamond business have to determine the marketing terms of an entirely different product? To illustrate this clearly: what right do the manufacturers of shoes have to determine the marketing terms for pantyhose? Both items may compete for similar body space coverage – but they are different products.



What is in the Best Interest of the Consumer?
The most important view that should guide the GIA is what is “best for the consumer”. The GIA hasn’t done the research. It hasn’t devoted resources to really get the view of its most important stakeholders: those who it is supposed to serve.
The GIA has no members (any more). It is a non profit organization championing a cause; it has a mission. The GIAs self-imposed and declared mission is to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science, and professionalism through education, research, laboratory services, and instrument development. Many of our previous articles about the GIA focused on governance issues. We addressed the issue of undue influences by donors, by members, etc. and – we believe – the GIA is more focused today than at any time in recent years on its central purpose: to protect the public’s trust in gems and jewelry.



The GIA should listen to everyone but, at the end of the day, must base the final text of its synthetic certificate on (1) terminology allowed by the FTC and (2) terminology that will protect the public’s trust in the jewelry business. Moreover, it should act carefully not to be drawn into a court case that might question the integrity of the decision-making process.



Destino stressed to me that “the industry must understand that through certificates the GIA gives an opinion on the stones in a professional manner. We are issuing a report. We are NOT issuing a “marketing tool” and the fact that the synthetics certificate also mentions some of the other words (man-made, laboratory-grown) should underscore that.”
However, if the resulting “synthetics certificates” becomes a pure marketing tool for natural diamonds, something may have gone awry.



Many market participants believe that the words “cultured”, “man-made”, “synthetic” or “laboratory grown” are all well understood by the consumer. De Beers disagrees. Says spokeswoman Lynette Hori “we at De Beers are focused on consumer confidence and, as such, we are determined that consumers understand exactly what product they are buying. Cultured diamonds is not understood and all our research confirms this. Consumers should understand that what they are buying is not something that is rare and unique, but something that is mass produced in a factory.”



Lynette is an eloquent corporate spokesman. However, the GIA cannot rely on “research findings” by a clearly interested party. The GIA must commission its own research - and keep an eye on the law.



There appears no legal prohibition to the use of “cultured”, certainly not in the United States. Yes, outside of the U.S., competition authorities (in conjunction with their respective national trade associations) in two countries have explicitly banned the use of “cultured” – Canada, because they feel they have a mining industry to protect, and Australia, because they have both a mining industry and a significant pearl farming industry. In the general scheme of things (as diamond consumer markets), those two countries don’t really matter but they could influence future decisions elsewhere. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has investigated the uses of the word “cultured” (by Gemesis) and has found it to be fully compliant with current FTC Guidelines, or, to be more precise, it never ordered Gemesis not to use it.



It is the view of De Beers that, in past rulings, the “FTC concluded that there was insufficient evidence concerning relevant consumer perceptions to explicitly allow the use of the term “cultured” with synthetic gemstones.” If this is so, why have none of the organizations pressuring the GIA not to use the word “cultured” actually petitioned or filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission? Why didn’t they do this? It has been conjectured that the natural industry has refrained from petitioning the FTC because it expects the FTC to formally approve the use of the word. [From a gemological perspective, the “method” by which diamonds are synthesized may also play a role here.]



One speaker at a GIA symposium panel alluded to an Internet website where you click on the words “synthetic diamonds” and get into a site selling moissanite and all types of simulants. The question was asked: why doesn’t anyone complain about that questionable marketing practice?
FTC Recognizes the “Synthetic = Fake” Equation
The FTC was persuaded in 1964 that, “the term ‘synthetic,’ as applied to gemstones, is misunderstood by some consumers to mean something fake or artificial.” While the Commission found that other qualifiers such as Laboratory Grown or [Manufacturer Name] Created more clearly communicated the nature of the stone, they decided to allow sellers to use synthetic despite the apparent ambiguity.



“Interestingly enough,” recalls one of my sources, “in the submission made by the American Gem Laboratories during the consultation period leading up to the 1964 opinion, it was admitted that there is a “conscious desire to leave the consumer in a quandary regarding the difference between ‘synthetic’ and ‘imitation’ products… to reduce the capacity of the synthetic material manufacturer to penetrate the U.S. marketplace with their products.”
Four decades later, many interested parties still seem to subscribe to that view. The FTC has not explicitly prohibited the use of the term “cultured” with synthetic gemstones. Here the FTC finds itself at odds with De Beers which holds the view that a synthetic should be called a synthetic because it is synthesized by man. It should not be called “cultured” because it is not produced by an organism. [For the record: De Beers does not object to the terms “man-made” or “laboratory grown”.]



Those who desperately try to give the impression that there is something illegal or improper about the use of the word “cultured” (such as CIBJO) have recently developed a new argument: a German court, in a case against Gemsmart GmbH (the distributor of Gemesis cultured diamonds)has forbidden the use of the word “zuchtdiamant” in Germany in the German language. There was no objection to the English term “cultured”. By the way, t he German judgment reminds one of the Clinique precedent. Estee Lauder’s Clinique products are marketed as Clinique all over the world. Except in Germany. The German regulators said the brand name sounds “too medical to be appropriate for a cosmetics and skincare brand”.



So, they prohibited the company from using their own trademark, and the company was forced to market their products under a different name, LINIQUE. The German ruling on “cultured diamonds” can hardly be expected to become a precedent for other countries. For the trade, what has relevancy is that the judge based his opinion also on CIBJO’s Blue Book, which provides the relevant nomenclature.



FTC Vs. “Industry Governing Bodies”
The synthetics producer that has put the GIA “on notice” may have been trying to do a “pre-emptive” strike – to avoid that the concerted efforts (outlined in the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding) would lead to a situation in which the GIA would be forced, or cajoled, or persuaded, into accepting the “findings” of the concerted efforts – findings which, undoubtedly, will be favoring the position of the producers and dealers in natural diamonds.



The GIA has already conducted one meeting with the signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding, underscoring the determination of the trade associations to influence the GIA – well before, we must add, all members of the Diamond Commission have been appointed or before any professional position has been formulated.



In an odd way, the DTC’s Diamond Best Practice Principles (DBPP) complicate matters – especially for U.S. sightholders -- as there may well be a conflict between FTC rules and the rules of “diamond industry bodies” to which sightholders must comply. The DBPP, in its final clause, in Article 3, requires “full disclosure at all levels of the diamond distribution chain and, most importantly, to consumers, of all treatments to natural diamonds and with respect to wholly or partly synthetic stones and compliance with the rules, regulations and guidelines published from time to time by the diamond industrys governing bodies.” [Emphasis added.] The synthetics clause is the only place in the DBPP where a reference is made to rather undefined and unspecified “diamond industry’s governing bodies.” That requirement is not included on any other item.
The DBPP reference to “industry governing bodies” in the context of synthetics may become problematic for DTC sightholders when there is a conflict between the position of CIBJO, “industry governing bodies”, and the FTC.



It would have been “logical” if a reference had been made to applicable laws and regulations – they didn’t do that. As the FTC has no problem with the word “cultured” – the DBPP try to imply that “industry governing bodies” have a higher weight than governmental regulatory frameworks.



That is not just a theoretical problem. At the GIA Symposium, a U.S. sightholder of the DTC stated that he is both a manufacturer and trader of natural and synthetic diamonds. [Someone suggested to me that this sightholder finds himself in a splendid position; if the DTC would drop him as a client, he might argue that he lost his sight privileges because of his trading in synthetics. Conflicts between DBPP and FTC would complicate such arguments.]



To further complicate matters, CIBJO, which is an important signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding has recently appointed a De Beers representative as Vice Chairman for its powerful Diamond Commission, that must draft the new version of the Blue Book that includes the nomenclature for synthetic diamonds. De Beers “joined” CIBJO recently as a dues paying “associated member” which enabled it to get such a appointment. Thus De Beers joining CIBJO and for it to become a dominant professional force in its Diamond Commission will enable it to greatly influence the position of these “diamond industry governing bodies” on the synthetic nomenclature. Some participants at the GIA Symposium – this writer included – find this role problematic. It may deserve some rethinking.
It is in the best interest of the diamond industry to “help” Ralph Destino and Acting President Donna Baker, who are now skillfully navigating the New GIA, from falling overboard. When a responsible industry party advises the GIA that “our attorneys are convinced the GIA may be violating the Sherman and Clayton Acts”, this should be viewed as a warning call to be heeded seriously – even if might lack any basis in fact, something on which I cannot have an opinion.



One industry leader, recently discussing the conflicting issues with a FTC official, said that the FTC isn’t interested in little trade disputes. If someone doesn’t like a practice, let him go to court. It would be sad if the courts will have to decide ultimately on the terminology – something that has happened in the past and is probably going to happen at some point again. It is quite something else, however, for the GIA to be accused of yielding to pressures by their financial supporters by adopting positions which clearly benefit financial backers – but may not be in the best interest of the consumers.



It is our understanding that some industry organization, possibly the JVC, has been planning to file a petition with the FTC to clearly identify what acceptable qualifiers can be used for describing man-made diamonds. Obviously, the push will be for “synthetic” and to explicitly exclude “cultured”. My U.S. friends tell me that the FTC staff that handles the jewelry related issues at FTC have changed in the past year. The new crew is believed to be open to entertaining such a petition.
Opinion research may, however, not support the hypothesis that the consumer doesn’t understand that “cultured diamonds” are man-made. If we have learned anything from past FTC behavior, it will be guided by information on consumer perceptions. It will not take a position on the natural versus synthetics debate.
The GIA should preserve its independence and remain totally focused on its mission. In the past year, the GIA has fairly well weathered issues that seriously affected the trust in some of its products. If it has learned anything from this period it must be that it must, in an almost religious manner, adhere fully and totally to its own mission statement – to preserving the consumer’s trust in gem and jewelry.
The idea that issues of nomenclature may have to be decided in court and the idea that the Diamond Best Practice Principles may conflict with FTC rules are not giving much cause for comfort. For the GIA to establish in an authoritative manner what indeed is best for the consumer should become a matter of the greatest priority.
At the Symposium, some speakers expressed the opinion that they trust the GIA to do what is best. That is a reconfirmation of the GIA’s mandate.
Let’s see what the GIA will do next.
Have a nice weekend. Chaim Even-Zohar



Tacy - Ramat Gan,Israel



30 August 2006

A Rose by Any Other Name - GIA Symposium Day Two
The first full day of the 2006 International Symposium got off to an early start with a breakfast speech by behavioral market research expert Paco Underhill. Underhill, the founder, CEO, and president of Envirosell Inc., an international behavioral market research and consulting company, spoke about the consumer of the 21st century, and had a stark message for jewelry retailers – the need for change.



During the course of his well attended speech, Underhill was especially tough on jewelry retailers who complain that the Internet is destroying their business. “The net is failing you because you haven’t figured out a way to use it,” he said in no uncertain terms. “If you don’t use the Internet in 2006, goodbye, because you won’t be here in 2010.”



However, it was not all bad news from the man who has made a career out of telling some of the world’s top retailers how they can improve their businesses. Underhill advised the audience – which included many retailers – that they must figure out how to fit into their customers’ lives. As an example, he cited the Damas chain in the Middle East, which offers party rooms for weddings and birthday parties in which groups of women can try on jewelry in a relaxed and accessible atmosphere. “Customers have changed,” he said, “and now it is the jewelry store that needs to be refreshed.”



Following Underhill’s talk, the extensive Symposium program began. The day was divided into four hour and a half long discussion sessions. Choices included Diamonds: Mapping the Future, Jewelry: The Changing Landscape, Luxury Retailing: Going for the Bling, and Identification Technology: The CSI Factor. While the sessions all had a question and answer session, it was during the last gathering of the day, the debate centers, that Symposium attendees really had the chance to air their opinions.



The three debates focused on hot topics in the industry: The Great Synthetic Diamond Debate, Ethical Dilemmas in the Jewelry Industry, and Locality of Origin: Does it Really Matter? With the care for details that the GIA had shown throughout, the Symposium organizers injected some fun into the proceedings. The Great Synthetic Diamond Debate was held in room decorated to represent a Roman amphitheater, complete with stone pillars and an ancient Roman backdrop. The lighthearted atmosphere, however, could not detract from the divisiveness that synthetic diamonds are currently causing in the industry.



Key among the discussion points was the fundamental issue of the nomenclature of synthetic diamonds. Even among the synthetic diamond producers represented on the panel – Tom Chatham of Chatham Created Gems and Diamonds, Bryant Linares of Apollo, and S. Clark McEwen of Gemesis, there is disagreement about what synthetic diamonds should be called. Options range from synthetic, synthetic diamonds (which former WFDB President Shmuel Schnitzer told the audience was already a compromise from what many in the natural diamond trade wanted to refer to simply as synthetics), cultured diamonds, man-made diamonds, or lab grown diamonds, with many in the audience concerned that calling them synthetic or cultured will lead to confusion among consumers.



The discussion also focused upon the need, or otherwise, of gem lab reports for synthetic diamonds. Though the GIA recently announced that they were postponing the launch of synthetic diamond gem reports, Dr. James Shigley, the director of research at the GIA confirmed that the institute is still intending to produce the certificates, though there has been no decision on the final wording to appear on the reports.



As the synthetic diamond debate drew to a close, it was obvious that chief among the audience’s concerns was the subject of consumer confidence. Confidence is an issue that has dominated many of the discussions at the Symposium, and is a topic that will continue once the event finishes.

via Danielle Max, San Diego, Idexonline



30 August 2006

Mariah Carey Receives A Lavish Gift Of $4 Million Diamonds
New York, New York (BANG) - In case Mariah Carey did not own enough jewels, she has been royally pampered with more. The Sultan of Bruneis son unexpectedly gave the diva singer $4 million of diamonds at one of her concerts last week.
The singer received an eight-carat, flawless diamond necklace and matching ring from Prince Azim just as she was about to go on stage in New York last Wednesday.
The 24-year-old prince is third in line to the Sultinate and his father is worth a whopping $32 billion.
His representative told Mariah, "We were sent by private jet to deliver this gift."
The singer was so delighted to be performing in her hometown that she splashed out $38,000 on Cristal champagne for friends and family at the show, which took place in Madison Square Gardens.
Mariah made sure her 150 guests enjoyed themselves, although she could only drink wine.
According to Britains Daily Mirror newspaper, the 36-year old singer said, "Champagnes bad for my voice so I cant have any on tour. I am sleeping 15 hours a day in a room full of humidifiers and am on total voice rest between shows-Im not even supposed to speak."
Mariah is currently on the U.S. leg of her "Adventures of Mimi" tour, but will begin filming her new movie and begin work on her new album at the end of the year.


Maira Oliveira - All Headline News Reporter



29 August 2006

Hershley says it with a diamond kiss
There is one Hersheys Kiss that is not going to be eaten, and that is the 18-karat gold and diamond brooch in the shape of the iconic candy commissioned by the chocolate company from renowned jewelry designer Neil Lane to commemorate the candys upcoming 100th anniversary.
The Neil Lane kiss features 755 diamonds weighing 7 carats and is worth more than $25,000.
The brooch is to be auctioned as part of the "Clothes Off Our Back" foundation sale with all proceeds from celebrity-worn items going to childrens charities.
The online auction (www.clothesoffourbacks.org) began on August 28 and continues until September 15.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

BHP Billiton revenues and profits soar
Mining giant BHP Billiton posted a 26 percent rise in revenues to $39.1 billion for fiscal year 2006 which ended on June 30. The company said the rise was mostly due to rising commodity prices, as it posted profits for the year soaring 63 percent to $10.5 billion.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

House of Taylor Jewelry Q2 sales soar
Los Angeles-based international jewelry company House of Taylor Jewelry, Inc., whose principal shareholders include Dame Elizabeth Taylor and former supermodel Kathy Ireland, posted a 207 percent jump in net sales to $2.5 million in the second quarter from $809,000 a year earlier.
House of Taylor Jewelry, Inc. which designs, markets and sells branded jewelry to independent jewelry retailers, posted sales of $1.4 million in the first quarter.

The company, however, posted a net loss of $290,000 including a gain of $2.6 million on an adjustment of a warrant liability that mostly reflects start-up expenses in connection with marketing and product roll-out.

In the first six months of this year, net sales more than doubled (106 percent) to $3.8 million from $1.9 million in the year earlier period.

"We have made significant progress laying the groundwork and establishing the infrastructure for rolling out our branded products to independent jewelry retailers throughout the United States and in select international markets. Initial response has been excellent, as evidenced by orders the company has received at recent jewelry industry trade shows and the early direct contacts our newly expanded sales force is making with store owners and buyers. Now more than ever, independent jewelers are seeking new co-op branding and marketing initiatives to bring visibility and traffic to their stores,” said Jack Abramov, President and Chief Executive Officer.
The companys product expansion focuses on diamond basics, loose diamonds, exclusive ‘Elizabeth’ one-of-a- kind jewels and new Kathy Ireland Jewelry bridal and fashion collections. A select group of ‘Elizabeth’ items will be featured in a series of upcoming Christies Auctions beginning this fall.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)

29 August 2006

Shanghai Diamond Exchange diamond imports surge in July
The Shanghai Diamond Exchange reported that diamond imports soared in July by 120 percent to $7.38 million.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

River Diamonds begins Sierra Leone drilling
UK-based international diamond exploration and mining company River Diamonds, in a joint venture with African Precious Minerals, has started a diamond-drilling program at Pandubo Blow in Sierra Leone.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

Lazare Kaplan International reports higher sales
Diamonds and jewelry manufacturer Lazare Kaplan International Inc. announced net sales of $528 million and $135 million respectively for the fiscal year and fourth quarter ended May 31, 2006.
The sales figures were 25 percent and 4 percent higher, respectively, compared to the same periods last year.
The company said the increase in net sales for the fiscal year and fourth quarter 2006 reflected increased sourcing and distribution of rough diamonds partially offset by lower sales of polished diamonds.
Net income for the fiscal year and fourth quarter ended May 31, 2006 was $1.5 million and $0.5 million, respectively, compared to $5.2 million and $0.6 million for the same periods last year.
Polished diamond gross margin for the fiscal year and fourth quarter ended May 31, 2006 was 13.8 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively, compared to 16.2 percent and 15.9 percent for the comparable prior-year periods.
Rough diamond gross margins for the fiscal year and fourth quarter ended May 31, 2006 was 2.4 percent and 2.1 percent compared to 3.5 percent and 2.3 percent for the same periods in the prior year.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

Alrosa contests EC ruling stopping sales to De Beers
Russian diamond monopoly Alrosa has filed a lawsuit contesting the European Commission decision outlawing the sale of its diamonds to De Beers after 2008.
Alrosa also wants compensation from the European Commission for court costs.
The European Commission ordered the reduction of sales to De Beers during the years 2006-2008, and the ending of sales in 2009.
De Beers’ purchases are not to exceed $600 million in 2006, $500 million in 2007, and $400 million in 2008.
The European Commission began an investigation into the sales following a 2002 agreement between De Beers and Alrosa in which the Russian miner would sell De Beers $800 million annually for five years. The European Commission opposed the agreement saying it breached anti-monopoly rules.
In separate news, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported that Alrosa’s net profit, calculated to Russian Accounting Standards, plunged 25.7 percent on the year to 4.8 billion rubles ($177 million) in the first half of 2006.
Alrosa, which mines almost all Russia’s diamonds and produces around 23 percent of global output, said the fall in profits was due to lower demand.
Alrosa’s revenues fell 2.7 percent to 36.41 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in the first half of the year, while pre-tax profit fell 11.2 percent to 7.6 billion rubles ($281 million). Alrosa’s sales for 2005 were $3.1 billion.

Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

Surat floods could cut Indian exports by $1 billion
India, the world’s largest diamond manufacturing center, could see a $1 billion fall in its diamond exports this year due to extensive flooding in Surat, the country’s main polishing center.
The floods, which forced many people to take shelter on roofs, forced diamond, jewelry and other businesses to close down for at least two weeks during August. Around 75 percent of India’s cut and polished diamonds are processed in Surat.
Diamonds and jewelry exports, which last year were worth close to $17 billion, play a vital role in the Indian economy, accounting for around 20 percent of its exports.
Bakul Mehta, chairman of Indias Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, the industry’s umbrella organization said the estimate of a $1 billion loss this year was only a preliminary estimate and the final figure could be higher.
Many diamond factories in Surat are yet to resume working at full capacity since workers left the city due to fears that the floodwaters could spark the outbreak of disease, Mehta said.
He said that manufacturing equipment worth 3 billion rupees ($64 million) was damaged by the floods. He estimated that around 1,000 of the city’s 6,000 diamond processing plants were believed to have been destroyed, while another 2,000 suffered varying degrees of damage.
He believes that factories will be unable to recommence full operations until the beginning of September.
Meanwhile, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) has told sightholders affected by the floods that they may defer goods. The DTC added that this applied to only a very specific type of goods and that “very few sightholders have actually been affected.”
The DTC announcement was made before its August 29-31 sight.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

DTC launches TV ads for Journey Diamond Jewelry campaign
The Diamond Trading Company’s (DTC) Journey Diamond Jewelry (JDJ) marketing campaign took off on Sunday night with the broadcast of its first prime time commercial during the Emmy Awards show. The televised advertisements will run until the end of the Christmas sales season in December.
The Journey idea for couples is straightforward: the jewelry is a reflection of their relationship with four or more diamonds set from smallest to largest. As the promotion tagline says: “With every step, love grows”.
DTC research showed that men found it difficult to show deep emotions in words and often for different ways to express their love. As a result, JDJ was developed as the perfect gift to show their ongoing love and commitment.
"Journey Diamond Jewelry is a beautiful and inspiring concept. Not only is it a lovely way to express optimism for the growth of a relationship, it acknowledges that every couple has a truly unique love," says Sally Morrison, Director of the Diamond Information Center. "It’s also a reflection of the more creative approach to diamond jewelry that’s occurring with both high-end designers as well as chain retailers. There are so many interesting designs, it’s easy to express personal style as well as sentiment." Morrison adds.


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



29 August 2006

Belgium July diamond exports rise
Belgian polished diamond exports in July climbed 4.5 percent on July 2005 to $936.2 million, while reporting a fall in carat terms of 4.4 percent to 824,983 polished carats.



For the first seven months of the year, polished exports rose 8.2 percent to $5.78 billion. In weight terms, there was an 8.3 percent fall in exports to 5.26 million carats.
Meanwhile, polished diamond imports rose 6.5 percent in July to $654.1 million, with a similar rise in carat terms of 6.51 percent to 668,321 carats.



For the January-July period, Belgium imported $5.37 billion in polished diamonds, a 10.1 percent jump on the same period of last year. In weight terms, there was a 6 percent fall to 5.53 million carats.



The United States remained Belgiums main export destination for polished goods, with July seeing a 9.5 percent rise to $350.2 million. The outstanding rises in exports, however, were to China ($12.8 million) with a 54 percent rise, and Italy ($36.4 million) which recorded a 37 percent increase .



Countries importing fewer goods included France, with a 9.3 percent fall to $14.2 million, Israel with a 9.7 percent decline to $115 million, and Japan which bought 11.3 percent fewer goods ($30.4 million) in July.
For the year-to-date, Belgium exported fewer polished diamonds to all countries except China, which saw an increase of 48 percent.



In dollar terms only Japan declined (1.9 percent) to $210.9 million. There were increases of 65 percent to China ($86 million), 17 percent to Hong Kong ($864 million,) and 16.5 percent to Dubai ($284.6 million) for the first seven months of 2006.



Belgium has exported $1.82 billion of polished goods to the United States (up 9.4 percent) year-to-date representing 1.013 million carats (down 0.7 percent.)


Via Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS)



28 August 2006

Emmy Debut for Journey Diamond Jewelry
Last evening, during the Emmy Awards broadcast, viewers saw the launch of the Journey Diamond Jewelry (JDJ) marketing initiative. It was the Diamond Trading Company’s (DTC) first prime time commercial. The televised spots will continue to run through the December holiday period.

The JDJ concept for couples is simple: together they are on a unique journey and their relationship is evolving. The design of the jewelry reflects this with four or more diamonds set in a graduated pattern from smallest to largest. The campaign tagline is ”With every step, love grows”.

Research has shown that men find it difficult to express deep emotions in words and often seek other ways to show their love. That desire, coupled with the prominence of diamonds as the ultimate symbol of love, makes JDJ the perfect gift to show continued affection and commitment.

"Journey Diamond Jewelry is a beautiful and inspiring concept. Not only is it a lovely way to express optimism for the growth of a relationship, it acknowledges that every couple has a truly unique love," says Sally Morrison, Director of the Diamond Information Center. "It’s also a reflection of the more creative approach to diamond jewelry that’s occurring with both high-end designers as well as chain retailers. There are so many interesting designs, it’s easy to express personal style as well as sentiment." Morrison adds.

Since early this year, when the JDJ concept was introduced to the trade at major industry venues, it has been dominating trend forecasts.

DTC, the marketing arm of De Beers, will support retailers sales efforts with their integrated consumer advertising campaign through the Diamond Promotion Service. DPS is offering print, radio and television spots that retailers can use until spring 2007. The first major print push in leading consumer publications throughout the U.S. begins in September.


Via IDEX Online Joseph V. Kuca



28 August 2006

Life Cycle of Diamonds Indicates the Best Places to Search for Them
Could Australia rise to the top of the diamond pipe again? Macquarie University researcher Craig O’Neill believes his research could open new diamond fields across Australia.
It turns out that diamonds are not forever after all. And that may be a good thing for Australia’s $100-million a year diamond industry.
By determining how and where diamonds form, disappear, and re-form, geoscientists from Sydney’s Macquarie University can now indicate the best places to look for them. And in Australia that means a broad arc of country stretching from the Kimberleys to southwest Queensland.



“Australia is facing a diamond drought,” says research team leader Dr. Craig O‘Neill, from the National Key Centre for Geochemistry and Metallogeny of Continents (GEMOC).
Craig is one of sixteen young researchers presenting their work to the public for the first time as part of the Fresh Science national competition. One of the Fresh Scientists will win a study tour to the UK courtesy of British Council Australia and have the opportunity to present their work at the Royal Institution in London. “We hope our work can help the Australian industry find more diamonds and grow to become the biggest in the world again.”
By combining laboratory results on the behaviour of rocks and diamonds under pressure, O’Neill and colleagues have been able to simulate using computers the conditions deep under the Earth’s continents, where diamonds form. Their results suggest that diamonds may be much more widespread than previously thought.



“People used to assume that once formed, diamonds were pretty much indestructible, and stayed fixed in one place at the bottom continents. It took some violent event, such as a volcanic eruption to bring them to the surface,” says Craig.
“But we found that down where they actually form, it’s more mushy than solid rock, and the diamonds, far from being indestructible, can really take a beating, sometimes being destroyed entirely.”“The challenge is actually getting them to the surface,” says O’Neill. “That requires a very violent type of volcanism called kimberlites. These are like geological atomic bombs. Fortunately they’re pretty rare.”



The research suggests a number of places to start digging. “In order to find diamonds at the surface, you need both diamonds deep underground and kimberlite volcanism. That seems to happen mostly where thick and thin pieces of continent are sandwiched together,” says Craig.



In Australia, this occurs in a broad swathe from the Kimberleys in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory to southwest Queensland.
“The most interesting part is what the work tells us about processes deep underground. The Earth has a whole secret life happening down there we know very little about.” The best Fresh Scientist will win a study tour of the United Kingdom courtesy of British Council Australia.

Azom.com - USA



28 August 2006

EGL USA finds new way to detect synthetic diamonds
In response to the influx of small, synthetic, gem-quality diamonds that have been entering the marketplace undisclosed, the EGL USA Group of gemological laboratories says it has come up with a new, more accurate detection system.



Developed by the Gem Identification and Research Department of EGL USA, the system is called the Cross-Reference Identification System (CIS), and its aim is to consolidate and connect all the analytical instruments and techniques into one comprehensive cross-referencing tool for diamond research and identification, the lab announced in a press release Aug. 24. CIS allows gemologists to identify synthetics set in jewelry.



CIS uses advanced testing with a deep ultraviolet (UV) source, supported by XRF spectroscopy. The process is particularly valuable in testing small, mounted yellow diamonds (ranging in size from 0.01 to 0.06 carats), which are the most prevalent synthetics. Prior to this new process, it was only possible to determine the synthetic origin of larger, unmounted yellow diamonds, using standard laboratory equipment such as a microscope, cross polarized filters and UV lamp, or advanced instruments such as UV-VIS and FTIR spectroscopy.



Recently, EGL USAs New York laboratory put the technology to work when it received, for color and clarity grading, a piece of jewelry allegedly containing 26 small (0.02 carat) fancy vivid yellow diamonds. Using CIS, EGL USAs gemologists determined that the stones contained a telltale cubo-octahedral pattern, as well as the presence of metal catalysts. The initial results indicated that the diamonds were synthetic. After communicating the initial results to the customer, the client requested that the stones be unmounted for additional testing. To the clients dismay, the final analysis confirmed the initial findings. Though the stones were sold as "natural fancy yellow" diamonds, they were not natural, the lab says.



EGL USA acknowledges that reputable synthetic diamond manufacturers such as Gemesis, Advanced Optical Technologies Corp. and Chatham do sell their products with full disclosure, but cautions purchasers at every level that diamond grading from a reputable gemological laboratory is the only real way to authenticate gemstone purchases.

National Jeweler - New York,NY,USA



26 August 2006

A New Optical Sorting Method for Diamonds
Precious stones are hard to see when they are extracted from the mine: They are hidden among masses of bedrock. A new sorting plant retrieves the precious diamonds and even detects the particularly valuable pure white and green gems.



The ancient Greeks called them the tears of the gods, the Romans saw them as fragments of fallen stars. In no other material is the dispersion of visible light as beautiful as in a diamond. It is precisely this strong ability to refract light that is now being put to use by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing IITB: A new optical sorting method identifies the coveted gems in the midst of the extracted kimberlite bedrock and separates them out at lightning speed.
At the core of the diamond sorting plant is a high-resolution linescan camera, which – unlike a conventional camera – produces a continuous image rather than sequences of images. The camera faces the fragments of broken rock, which are thrown from a conveyor belt into an intercepting pit. The stones are illuminated from a certain angle as they fall. If the beams encounter a diamond, the light is deflected towards the camera. This registers the flashes of light and transmits a signal showing their exact position to a computer. The computer, in turn, is connected with 200 air jets with valves that can be separately opened and closed. “The computer has 60 milliseconds in which to decide whether or not to actuate a jet in order to blow out a diamond”, states project manager Günter Struck of the Visual Inspection Systems business unit at the IITB. In collaboration with OptoSort, a company based near Itzehoe, the project group has developed the illumination technique and adapted the rapid-response image evaluation process to suit the task in hand. The new sorting plant also uses a special conveyer belt that runs at a constant speed: “We need to be certain that the diamond identified by the camera will arrive at the appropriate air jet at a particular point in time”, says Struck.



The novel diamond extraction method has been in operation in two mining regions in South Africa since the beginning of 2006. The plants sort several tons of rock per hour and identify diamonds as small as 0.6 millimeters in diameter. The new technology is thus faster and more efficient than the traditional X-ray method of diamond sorting. It detects all diamonds except rough black ones. “Instead, though, it retrieves the extremely precious pure white diamonds and the even rarer green gemstones that the X-ray method fails to find”, declares Struck.


Azom.com - USA



24 August 2006

GIA to Unveil Authoritative Book on Colored Diamonds at Symposium
The Gemological Institute of America will be releasing its new book Gems & Gemology in Review: Colored Diamonds at GIAs 4th International Gemological Symposium in San Diego, California, August 27-29. This beautifully illustrated volume combines more than 70 years of articles and notes originally published in Gems & Gemology, the Institutes award-winning quarterly journal.



Copies of the book, edited by John M. King, will be available at Symposium in the G&G booth, located in the Elizabeth Foyer on the second level of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss Colored Diamonds with King during the "Meet the Authors" book-signing event Sunday and Monday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Elizabeth Foyer.



"With this book, John King has captured the allure of fancy-color diamonds, as well as the science involved in characterizing and grading them," said Alice Keller, editor-in-chief of Gems & Gemology. "There is no other publication like it."
With more than 100 entries, the book explores the unique characteristics, lore, and color grading of colored diamonds.



In addition, Colored Diamonds features all-new introductory text and commentaries from diamond industry leaders. The 340-page volume also comes with a supplementary booklet of color reference charts of the most important hues of diamonds. Several of these charts were created exclusively for this booklet.



King is technical director of the GIA Laboratory in New York and a respected authority on fancy-color diamonds. With more than 25 years of laboratory experience, he has written a number of landmark articles for Gems & Gemology and frequently lectures on colored diamonds and laboratory grading procedures.



"With the continued growth in popularity of colored diamonds, we felt the timing was right for this compilation of information about them," said King. "Given the scope of this book, we hope it will be of interest and use to all those who are passionate about these diamonds, whether they are manufacturers, retailers, or collectors. The history and technical information will be an asset to all readers."



Colored Diamonds is the second volume in the Gems & Gemology in Review series. Synthetic Diamonds, edited by GIA Director of Research Dr. James E. Shigley, was released in April 2005. Shigley will also be participating at the "Meet the Authors" event during Symposium.



Softbound and enclosed with the color reference charts booklet in an attractive slipcase, Gems & Gemology in Review: Colored Diamonds is available for $59.95 plus shipping and handling.


GIA Press Release



22 August 2006

$1.15 mln In Diamonds Stolen at Australian Show
More than 500 loose diamonds worth over $1.15 million have been stolen over the weekend at a Sydney jewelry fair. The goods were in a sealed security bag.

According to police, the diamonds were stolen from an exhibitor’s booth at the Australian Jewellery Fair between 9 am Saturday and 8:30 am on Sunday. Their theft was discovered by an employee who alerted the police.

Investigators reportedly interviewed several witnesses and examined closed-circuit television tapes.


Via IDEX Online Staff Reporter



21 August 2006

Rough Diamond Imports Surge in June
August 21, 06, 7:58 Edahn Golan:
Despite falling by nearly a third in volume terms, rough diamond imports to the U.S. jumped by over a third in value in June, leading to a near doubling in the average price per carat (p/c). U.S. firms imported $102 million worth of rough diamonds, a 35 percent leap compared to June 2005.

Total weight of imports sagged 31.65 percent to 55,922 carats, continuing the decline seen since April. As a result, the average price jumped 97.5 percent to $1,822 p/c from $922 p/c in June 2005.

U.S. rough diamond traders and polishers imported 30,117 carats worth $49,825,000 from South Africa, at an average of $1,654.38 p/c. Guinea, an infrequent source of rough to the U.S., supplied 722 carats worth $15,286,000, at a high $21,171.75 p/c.

Botswana and Russia, steady suppliers of rough diamonds, shipped 9,596 carats and 2,945 carats respectively. The value of imports from Botswana was $11.27 million, an average $1,174.45 p/c. Imports from Russia were worth $9.997 million, a $3,394.57 p/c average.


Via IDEX Online Staff Reporter Rough Diamond Imports Surge in June

18 August 2006

How diamonds became a power for good in Africa
AFRICA’S commodities, especially diamonds, have a bad development reputation. But they have also been given a bad rap.



They are all too often judged as reasons behind, and a fuel for, conflict — articulated in the academic literature as the “greed versus grievance” argument. But this is a false dichotomy, misrepresenting their real value. With the right ingredients of good governance and careful leadership, commodities have been a tremendous force for continental good.
Africa’s diamonds have had a positive impact on the economic development of key producer countries, notably Botswana, Namibia, SA and Tanzania. Yet, anxious to find an explanation for conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and, to some extent, the Democratic Republic of Congo, writers, film makers and nongovernmental organisations continue to blame diamonds. The term “blood diamonds” is now enshrined in the literature of such organisations and in our collective psyche.



Yet the negative association that gives rise to this term could be applied to any commodity that supports governments and non-state actors involved in repression and violence. Liberia and Sierra Leone may have used diamond revenue to decimate their populations but Rwanda did not use diamonds to carry out its genocide. It relied on foreign aid and loans.



Contrary to the widespread perception of a business operating outside or on the fringes of the law, diamond producers have instead worked together with governments and nongovernmental organisations to establish a unique regulatory public-private partnership as the Kimberley Process. This diamond certification scheme cuts out all but a small fraction of blood diamonds, just 0,2% of overall African diamond trade — or $20m — at last count. Now the industry is again leading the way in finding means to regulate the 1-million African artisanal diamond miners and ensuring a better price for their hard work through the Diamond Development Initiative, with the first pilot scheme in Tanzania.



And why should the Kimberley model not be extended to other commodities, including gold and rare metals, and particularly to Africa’s $200bn yearly oil production? This is not the only positive change in the African diamond industry in the past decade. Previously viewed as a monopoly, De Beers is today recognised as being in compliance with the strict competition laws of the European Union and the US. The historical view of the diamond business operating on the fringes of legality, benefiting a few at the expense of Africa’s citizens, is a parody not in line with the contemporary reality of increasingly widespread, mutually beneficial public-private partnerships.



The occasion this September of the 40th anniversary of its independence reminds one of Botswana’s exemplary record in this regard. Gross domestic product per capita has increased from $70 in 1966 to $9000 today. This increase owes everything to the productive combination of diamonds, governance and sound leadership. Botswana’s government has moved positively in taking charge of diamond production by becoming an important shareholder in De Beers. More than a commercial relationship, this is a symbol of what is possible when government and business co-operate in Africa over commodities.



A positive attitude towards the harvesting of resources in Africa — especially diamonds — by the international community is needed. Today’s African governments are more responsible and responsive towards their citizens; so nongovernmental organisations and other advocacy groups should adjust their view of Africa lest they damage the very people they are trying to assist.
Mineral-rich countries, including Angola, Botswana, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, SA and Tanzania, should be encouraged to work with the mining industry and other development partners, including nongovernmental organisations, which are generally working for the development and the wellbeing of the people, in order to exploit such resources for the benefit of their people. Regulatory measures should be enforced to ensure that the exploitation of one of Africa’s most precious commodities is no longer perceived as synonymous with the exploitation — or worse — of African people.



Recent Group of Eight summits have focused on the emerging partnership between Africa and the international community, of a continent increasingly recognised for its reform efforts. The past of blood diamonds is behind us. We are instead looking forward to the future, focusing on enhancing domestic certification schemes, increasing the number of Africans employed in trading, polishing and cutting, and extending private-public regulatory practices to other sectors. We would prefer if all our friends in the international community looked in the same direction.



‖Mazimhaka is the deputy chairman of the African Union Commission. He writes in his personal capacity. This article appears as a preface to a forthcoming publication of the London-based Royal United Services Institute on African security, commodities and development.

Patrick Mazimhaka Business Day - Johannesburg, South Africa




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