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18 February 2009

New Fund Projects Investment Opportunity in Colored Diamonds
Codiam Fund, which invests in high-end polished colored diamonds, is upbeat about the prospects for the colored diamond market, according to an announcement it released on Thursday. The fund launched in September and reported a 9 percent increase in its net asset value in the first three months of operation.

Mahyar Makhzani, managing director and cofounder of the fund, stressed the investment value of colored stones, whose price points have maintained a reasonable level through the financial crisis. “The investment in this category rather than white diamonds has been proven correct as we are not dealing nor speculating but intelligently investing in a very rare commodity,” he said.

The fund reported that colored diamonds have not decreased in price on a wholesale level in 35 years, and that their value has increased on average between 10 and 15 percent a year. “Colored diamonds have held their value and not suffered from the current economical crisis as other traditional assets have,” Codiam explained in its statement.

The fund was founded by Makhzani and Philip Baldwin, who count more than 50 years experience in the diamond and jewelry industry between them, having served in managerial positions at the likes of Bulgari, Tiffany & Co. and Habsburg. At Codiam, they have laid out a very clear investment strategy. They only look at polished colored diamonds, avoiding the more risky rough market and the volatile market for white stones. The fund therefore only buys intense colored diamonds larger than 1 carat, in the top colors, including red, intense purple, intense green, purple red, purplish red, bluish green, greenish blue, pink, blue, orange and yellow.

The focus on colored diamonds has allowed it to capitalize on traders’ need for liquidity, particularly those with both white and colored diamonds in their inventory. They are still able to sell their colored stones at some profit, which is not the case with white diamonds, Makhzani explained. Codiam also sources stones from private sellers, and while it has in turn resold some of its stock to private buyers and to its own investors, the focus for now is on buying.

Having launched with an estimated kitty of more than $5 million, Makhzani reported that the fund has the cash to make the purchases for now. “We do not need to borrow at this stage to make purchases. What we raise is what we spend,” he added.

That’s not to say it has an open checkbook. The fund sticks to its strict purchasing guidelines, and Makhzani explained that its investment strategy extends beyond merely buying diamonds and hoping they rise in value. The increase in the funds net asset value, he noted, has resulted from creating collections by matching stones of different colors. “The sets are worth more than if we sold the stones individually,” he said. Makhzani stressed that the valuation was based on the opinion of third-party dealers.

Still, Codiam will be hoping the fund’s increase in net asset value, along with its spending power, will woo members of the colored diamond market, particularly at its next major stop, the BaselWorld Watch and Jewellery Show in late March. “We are ready for Basel,” Makhzani said. With a spending power rare in today’s recessionary climate, the funds presence there may spell good news in a difficult diamond market.


By Avi Krawitz, Rapaport News, Diamondsnet

17 February 2009

Diamond Hedgers Report Increase in Fund Assets
West Palm Beach (HedgeCo.net) - Recently launched Codiam Fund, which invests in pre-cut colored diamonds, has reported an increase of 9% in the fund’s net asset value over the first three months of trading.

"We launched the fund in difficult market conditions, confident that our experience and expertise would enable us to identify and purchase rare coloured diamonds that would grow in value for our investors, and the increase to our net asset value has proved this to be true," says Codiam managing director Philip Baldwin, who co-founded the business with Mahyar Makhzani.

The fund managers believe the colored diamonds offer a hedge against market and political crises, as they have not decreased in price on a wholesale level in 35 years, consistently outperforming other diamond categories, with their value increasing on average between ten and 15% a year.

HedgeCo.net - West Palm Beach,FL,USA

15 February 2009

Belgian Polished Diamond Exports Fall 34% in January
Belgian imports and exports of rough and polished diamonds continued to fall in January, according to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

Belgian polished diamond exports fell 34.1% to 471,048 carats last month. In dollar terms, exports were 25.9% lower at $558.4 million.

The declines in polished diamond imports were less dramatic, but were still down strongly. They dropped 25.1% by volume to 616,615 carats in January, and 13.1% by value to $656.4 million.

Rough diamond exports showed a steep decline of 68.8% to 4.64 million carats in January, while in dollar terms, exports fell 68.4% to $304.7 million.

Rough diamond imports also dropped in January, albeit less than the rough diamond export figures. Imports of rough diamonds were down 34.5% to 8.67 million carats by volume, and a 44.1% to $460.6 million by value.

With the recession in the United States worsening and retail sales continuing their slump, exports fell by more than half to the worlds leading export destination, with a 56.5% fall by volume to 49,140 carats. In dollar terms, exports fell 42.5% to $147.4 million.

The fall was offset to some extent, however, with a 9.7% rise in diamond exports to Hong Kong of 108,442 carats, but a 37.5% by value decline to $74.9 million.

Meanwhile, Switzerland imported 28.9% fewer diamonds in volume terms at 50,558 carats, but a 7.8% rise in value terms to $66.7 million.

Israel, the United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Japan and France all imported fewer diamonds both in volume and value terms


Israel Diamond Portal - Ramat Gan,Israel

12 February 2009

Diamonds That Rock
William Goldberg, Sothebys and Christies find that special stones still sell, despite the financial crisis.

In Pictures: Diamonds That Rock Rare colored diamond sales have been solid as a rock in recent months. In fact, the Wittelsbach blue diamond sold for $24.3 million at Christies in London on Dec. 11, 2008, setting a record price for any diamond or jewel sold at auction. The buyer was billionaire Laurence Graff.

Christies Rahul Kadakia believes rare colored gems will remain at respectable price levels. "When it comes to colored diamonds, especially blues and pinks, those are rare in any market," he says.

Says Lisa Hubbard of Sothebys (nyse: BID - news - people ), "Those appear to be holding their value, and they have not been subject to the ups and downs of the white diamond market." Sothebys has also logged strong results in its recent colored diamond sales. An oval-shaped, vivid yellow diamond weighing 36.99 carats, internally flawless, sold at Sothebys New York in December 2008 for $71,870 per carat.

These gems are still the most sought after by famous private purveyors like the William Goldberg Diamond Corp. in New York, which has produced some of the most extraordinary colored diamonds in history, including the 30-carat, $50 million Blue Lili and the 5.11-carat, $20 million Red Shield, the largest red diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America.

"Ive heard different talk totally, about mines shutting down, like the Argyle mine [in Australia]," says Barry Berg of the William Goldberg Diamond Corp., adding that he expects pink and blue diamonds to become ever scarcer. "Its very hard to find a blue today, rough or polished," he says. "Yellow is a little more available, but orange, I havent seen in ages."

The Goldberg family business has seen prices for important stones remain strong. "We recently sold a 10-carat intense pink diamond for more than $8 million," notes Eve Goldberg. "We also sold a bracelet with 58 carats of fancy colored diamonds, all over one carat, for close to $3 million."

The company has moved from selling stones into jewelry and is pushing deeper into markets like Brazil, Russia, China and India in the hunt for new clients. Back in New York its opening the William Goldberg Diamond Corp. boutique, designed by William Green. This new apartment showroom above Fifth Avenue boasts an outdoor terrace. In contrast to street-level retailers like Harry Winston, Cartier and De Beers, the Goldberg showroom offers privacy and calm to clients ready to spend millions of dollars, protecting them from the prying eyes of the public.

Clients have started to ask the Goldbergs whether they should consider buying diamonds as an investment and a shelter from plunging markets. Sothebys Hubbard is not surprised. Diamonds have an international market, and they are seen as a way to preserve wealth, she says.

But with the economy as unstable as it is, its tough for both auction houses and retailers to know how to price their wares. "Were putting together our spring sale, and its not easy," notes Hubbard, "because values are in a state of flux."


Forbes - NY,USA

11 February 2009

Diamonds are a hot pick with celebrities at 51st Grammy Awards
Diamonds seemed a hot favourite for the celebrity list who sported their classic diamond jewellery pieces at the 51st annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Katy Perry sported six-stone princess-cut diamond drop earrings, diamond bangle bracelets and a floral diamond right-hand ring, designed by H.Stern. Another popular Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow adorned a Chopard designed 11- carat heart-shaped diamond right-hand ring. The choice of Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson was square diamond dangle earrings and a diamond cuff bracelet. The Best New Artist winner – Adele wore 3.96-carat diamond drop earrings, a 28-carat antique diamond flower brooch and an antique diamond and tortoise hair comb, from the design house of Stephen Russell.

Most celebrities who were admired that evening for their dress code, carried off diamond jewellery.

Diamond World Magazine - Mumbai,Maharashtra,India

11 February 2009

Sothebys New York auction fails to sell more than one-third of jewelry lots
AFNS] 11 February. In another sign of falling demand even at the top end of the jewelry market due to the deepening recession, Sotheby’s reported that only 63.6 percent of the lots offered at its February 4 Important Jewels sale in New York were sold. Similarly, only 67.6 percent of the auction goods were sold by value.

The auction house raised a total of $5.1 million in the sale. The top lot, a 20.35-carat diamond ring, was sold for $230,500 to a private collector. The next 10 lots, ranging in sale price from $56,250 to $164,500, were all diamond jewelry as well.

"We were particularly encouraged to see renewed interest in white diamonds from the trade, as evidenced by three of the top four white diamonds selling to American dealers," Gary Schuler, Senior Vice President and Director of Sothebys Jewelry Department, New York, said in a statement.

"We were also pleased by the amount of spirited bidding amongst private collectors, both American and international, who continue to appreciate auction as a place to find the finest signed and period jewels."


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

10 February 2009

De Beers sees recovery in diamond prices by end-2010
CAPE TOWN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Rough diamond prices may recover by Christmas 2010 after big players reduced output in response to a sharp drop in demand, the worlds top diamond producer, De Beers, said on Tuesday.

Global demand for rough diamonds is expected to drop by some 60 percent this year as the global recession hits demand for luxury goods, industry consultants have said, noting lower demand from the vital U.S. market.

De Beers, 45 percent owned by Anglo American Plc (AAL.L), has said it wants to slash production by a "significant" amount.

Stephen Lussier, De Beers marketing director, said De Beers production cuts were confidential, but that together with cuts being made by others they would see prices rise.

"We have no clue when prices will rise, maybe later this year. But realistically by the fourth quarter of next year, we shall see by Christmas 2010. If it comes quicker we are ready to ramp up production," he said on the sidelines of a mining conference in Cape Town.

The company also wants to lay off about a third of its 3,500 workers in South Africa, citing low demand for luxury goods. Consultations on job cuts have also begun at mines in Botswana, Namibia and Canada and its London headquarters.

Lussier said the diamond sector was characterised by reduced consumer demand, low liquidity levels, industry debt and high inventory levels.

Poor retail Christmas sales last year would see a significant return of unsold goods to cutting centres in the first quarter of this year, he said.
Huge debts and high inventories held by cutting centres had choked demand for rough diamonds, he said.

Their debt peaked at $13.9 billion in September and was at $12.6 billion in December, Lussier said, adding that the industrys borrowing base was shrinking owing to the credit crunch. Demand for rough diamonds would only recover once this was addressed, and possibly return to previous levels.

"This crisis has come upon us with great speed and caught us by surprise. In September we could not get diamonds out of the ground fast enough to meet demand," Lussier said.

Until recently, the rough and polished diamond market has been estimated at $50 billion a year, but prices of polished diamonds have fallen 13 percent since reaching a peak in August, according to Polishedprices, an independent news and price list provider to the diamond industry.

The United States, which accounts for about one-half of world diamond demand, as well as major consumers Europe and Japan have been hit hard by the global economic slowdown.

Lussier said diamond markets in China and India were growing fast and would equal U.S. demand by the end of this decade.

"Chinese have an inherent desire for diamonds, they have a much higher per capita consumption than the U.S., the appetite is there," he said. "They should reach the consumption levels of U.S. by the end of this decade."


Reuters, Reporting by James Macharia, Editing by Peter Blackburn

8 February 2008

Asian Buyer Names 101-Carater The Shizuka Diamond
RAPAPORT... The owner of the largest colorless diamond ever sold at auction in Asia has named the stone The Shizuka Diamond. Christie’s sold the 101.27 carat, F color, VVS1 shield shape diamond in May 2008 for $6.21 million (HKD 48.9 million), or about $61,333 per carat.

The unnamed buyer named the diamond as a gift for his wife of 16 years, Christie’s reported. The stone was cut from a 460 carat rough to 101.27 carats, into an unusual modified shield shape flaunting 92 brilliant facets, the auction house added.

Diamonds.net - New York,NY,USA

6 February 2009

De Beers, Brides Magazine Partner on Duo Diamond Ring Launch
RAPAPORT... De Beers Diamond Jewellers will debut Duo, an interlaced diamond engagement ring and wedding band, at stores on February 10, 2009. The Duo diamond ring design incorporates what De Beers calls an "intimate twist" of two bands, tiny diamonds on a smooth platinum ring and a central round stone. "The delicate entwine effect and contrast in texture of the sparkling micropavé and flawless platinum create a modern and elegant style," according to De Beers.

De Beers and Brides magazine have partnered on the launch of Duo (pictured) in conjunction with the magazines 75th anniversary. Duo will be featured in the March/April issue of Brides, and readers may enter a drawing to win a Duo ring, valued at $18,000. De Beers stores, meanwhile, are hosting interactive events for engaged and preengaged women in New York, Washington D.C., Bal Harbour, Naples, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa and San Francisco. Ten De Beers stores will also unveil "bridal windows" to highlight Brides magazine, featuring floral designs and photo exhibitions.

Rapaport News

6 February 2009

Diamonds & Gemstones: brighter long term prospects
After a strong first half in 2008 current conditions in the diamond market are tough. Retail sales of diamonds, a discretionary purchase, have been hit by the economic crisis. The credit crunch has dried up liquidity in the diamond pipeline, which has relied heavily in the past on bank finance. Diamond stocks are high. The producers are cutting back production to support prices and conserve cash, while explorers are battling to find funding. Share prices in the industry are down some 75% over the year.

But the industry has a long history and has survived worse downturns in the past returning leaner and fitter each time. Although the odds may be long the returns on capital in the sector can be huge. For example the world’s largest diamond mine by value, (Jwaneng in Botswana), is reputed to have been the most profitable mine of any type anywhere in the world, with a profit to revenue ratio in excess of 90% (turnover $2bn pa, profit around $1.8bn) Similarly the Marsfontein diamond mine in South Africa produced such wonderful stones at the outset that it recouped its exploration and development costs within five days of production.

It is also an industry with a potentially bright future as there is a widespread belief that there will be future supply shortages due to the combination of increasing demand from the emerging markets but constrained supply (there are only 20 years of known diamond reserves left in the ground). Moreover today’s difficulties could make the future rough shortages more acute and the upswing, when it comes, more favourable.

Before looking in detail at current prospects for the sector here’s a quick review of the basics of supply and demand.

Fundamentals of Diamond Supply and Demand
Diamonds were formed billions of years ago from carbon crystallised at great pressure and heat in the earth’s mantle some 150km below the surface. The ‘elevators’ which brought them and other minerals to the surface were pipes of molten rock known as kimberlites. To date some 7,000 kimberlites have been found, though fewer than 1,000 of these are diamondiferous, and just 30-50 have included sufficiently viable quantities to become diamond mines.

Although kimberlites are the primary source diamonds are also found in secondary deposits where the stones have been washed away from the host kimberlite pipes and concentrated by water action in either alluvial (river) deposits or in marine deposits on the sea floor or beaches. While kimberlites are generally the biggest and most profitable mines alluvial diamond projects, which tend to be small to medium size, nonetheless have a number of advantages. They have a low capital cost, equipment can be reused and they can generate cash relatively quickly, even just 18 months after initial exploration. Also they often enjoy a high value per stone, as only relatively large diamonds are found. Note that diamonds are unlike other commodities as each stone is unique. Depending on the size, colour, quality (and cut for polished diamonds), the price can vary from a few dollars to $50,000+ per carat (a carat is 0.2g). This means that any comparison involving carats needs to be treated with care as the value of each carat is also crucial.

Diamond production is geographically concentrated, with just 9 countries accounting for 97% of annual output. Botswana is the largest producer by value, with a 24% market share and in total more than 60% of world production comes from Africa. The picture in carats is quite different because of the enormously different stone size profiles of the countries; the average $/ct in 2007 ranged from $722 in Lesotho to just $13 in the DRC (and the range from individual mines can be far greater than this).

World Diamond Production 2007

Source: Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

Historically output has also been concentrated in the hands of a few majors including De Beers, the Russian company Alrosa, Rio Tinto, BHP and Harry Winston. Together they have typically accounted for around three quarters of world production, though the share is changing as a number of new producers, such as Gem Diamonds and Petra Diamonds, have come onstream in the last few years on the back of the favourable long term fundamentals in the diamond market.

Demand-wise diamonds have been desired for centuries, or even millennia, because of a combination of their history and their physical and emotional properties. Physically diamonds are the hardest substance in the world, they have high thermal conductivity and a number of optical properties including high brilliance, refraction and lustre. Emotionally they have been seen as a symbol of love, prestige and beauty for many years, and of course there have also been a number of memorable expressions associated with diamonds. “A diamond is forever”, coined in 1947, was named the best slogan of the 20th century by Advertising Age, while everyone knows that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Indeed it has been pointed out that diamonds have achieved almost universal product recognition. About 90% of the value of diamond production is polished in the diamond cutting centres (such as India, Israel, Antwerp and New York) and used in jewellery, with the remainder being used for industrial purposes such as drilling, computer chips and stone-cutting.

Diamonds are owned by hundreds of millions of women around the globe though there are significant differences between countries in the size and qualities demanded, in the types and designs of jewellery sold, and in the relative importance of the gift/self-purchase market and in the occasions/rites of passage for which diamonds are acquired.

Recent Developments in the Diamond Market

Until fairly recently there was widespread optimism in the diamond market about future long term supply-demand fundamentals with an expectation that the industry was on the cusp of moving into an era of supply shortage and rising prices. Many presentations were given by many companies showing a chart similar to the one below, which shows BHP’s view of future the global supply/demand balance at the time that it was presented in 2007. On the one hand demand was expected to rise steadily driven by ongoing demand growth from the US, (the world’s largest market accounting for almost half of world demand), and strong growth from the newer diamond markets of India, China and the oil states. On the other supply growth was expected to be constrained by the combined effect of declining production at several maturing mines, the lack of new major discoveries in recent years and the long lead times to build a large mine.


BHP’s View on the Future Supply/Demand Balance in 2007

At the beginning of 2008, although there were plenty of challenges facing the industry, the prevailing view was still one of rising demand but supply constraints. Rough prices duly rose some 15-25% during the first half of the year.

Since September 2008 however there has been a sea change. The economic crisis has hit the retail sales of diamond jewellery in the all-important Christmas season by more than was anticipated in the market. This, as always, has had a far greater impact on the rough market because the effect is amplified by the large pipeline inventories required to support the many different types of diamonds and diamond jewellery. On this occasion it has been made even worse by the credit crunch and lack of liquidity. Sales in the rough market have been decimated and prices are down some 30-50%, though prices of polished diamonds have fallen far less.

The diamond sector has responded in a number of ways. Many producers have announced cutbacks. De Beers for example has embarked on a programme which will reduce output “significantly” this year, Rio Tinto has cut output at Argyle mine in Australia, shut its diamond processing facilities for up to three months for maintenance and delayed the mine development programme at Argyle, its biggest mine, while Alrosa has stated that it will sell significantly fewer diamonds this year. The exploration and small and mid-tier producers companies meanwhile are looking at new funding routes such as sales agreements, private equity, development agency funding and Middle Eastern capital in order to survive. The mood now is very subdued in the market and 2009 is expected to be very challenging.

In the meantime the equity markets have hammered the sector. The market cap of the 24 diamond companies listed on the London Stock Exchange has fallen 75% from £1.8bn at the end of 2007 to £485m by the end-08. The flip side of that of course is that companies are now at historically very cheap levels and, arguably, there are still some grounds for optimism.

· De Beers has commissioned and published a report on luxury goods suggesting that in the current climate consumer are growing fatigued with mass marketed luxury products and will gravitate instead towards fewer but better things. Buy less but buy better! This may favour purchases such as diamonds which can be enjoyed for a lifetime and passed down generations.

· The company announced that it will unveil a new “big idea” later this year to drive diamond category growth.

· In previous recessions sales of ‘rites of passage’ jewellery such as diamond engagement rings, have generally held up.

· Since diamonds are available in every size and quality there are stones for every budget

· There is still plenty of scope for further demand growth in the emerging markets.

· The outlook of future supply constraints has not gone away. Indeed it has been made more likely after the recent setbacks and exploration cutbacks.

· History has suggested that when a rebound comes in diamond prices it comes quickly and sharply. Surpluses turn very quickly into shortages and this could be exacerbated by the production cutbacks. It could be argued that the foundation for a strong recovery in diamond prices is being laid.

Perhaps the most widespread view now is that the long term prospects are still favourable but the timing of any supply deficit has been pushed out. Meanwhile the short term will be extremely challenging, and as Gareth Penny, Managing Director of De Beers, pointed out the problem with the long term is “getting there …... without action in the short term there can be no success in the long term”.

So in the short term cash will be king. The market will favour cash, production, innovative financing solutions and companies with sound projects which are viable at lower prices. Potential takeovers could be attractive.

Jacjie Steinitz, Proactive Investors USA & Canada - USA

2 February 2009

Wealthy clients investing in significant jewels
New York--The sinking economy has meant a lot of bad news for independents: Retail is down overall and jewelry sales were off for many over the holidays.

One ray of light in an economy dominated by a plunging stock market and failing real estate sector stands to be a boon for jewelers: High-end customers are turning to significant gemstones as investments, independents recently told National Jeweler. Industry leaders report similar patterns throughout the marketplace.

"Historically, diamonds have been a proven asset on multiple levels, and independent jewelers are seeing this trend today," says Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Center. "In extremely soft economic times, people look to very hard assets, and diamonds prove to be less volatile than pretty much anything else I can think of."

Levinson Jewelers in South Florida has seen a 100 percent increase in sales of jewelry for investment purposes, says owner Mark Levinson. He says clients like to add jewels to their investment portfolio--especially because the asset is easily transportable to the best market.

"If the euro is stronger than the dollar, you can have your diamond in pocket and take advantage of that," Levinson says. "You cant put gold or platinum or real estate in your pocket. But you can put millions of dollars of diamonds in your pocket. In that way, it is discreet--its not like a piece of real estate you have to register. Plus, its an investment category that is fun and exciting. If you own a stock, you get a certificate. With a beautiful diamond, you can wear and enjoy and have fun with it."

B.W. David Leavitt, owner of Antique and Estate Jewelry in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., says business has been booming among his high-end customers who are scooping up significant investment jewels.

"All of the biggest diamonds Ive ever sold have been to men who buy as investments to hoard," Leavitt says. "If its over 20 carats, its for an investment. They dont let their wives wear it--even if it is in a ring. Today, there is more interest in that than in the past. People understand that diamonds are a good investment, and theyre hedging against inflation."

Leavitt says his customers are also interested in rubies and sapphires from Myanmar, a country that is the subject of a gemstone embargo. High-quality Burmese stone supplies are increasingly rare and, therefore, increasingly valuable. Leavitt also does swift trade in certified stones.

"Anytime I get a necklace with all certified diamonds, I could sell 11 of them," Leavitt says. "A couple of times Ive gotten investment portfolios--a whole box of 60 GIA [Gemological Institute of America] certified diamonds for $2.5 million to $3 million. I sold every single one of them--either loose, or set in one piece or a suite."

Three years ago, Leavitt sold a necklace of 149 total carat weight, D-color, Asscher-cut stones for $525,000, and in late November, sold it for his client at $1.42 million.

"What other investment could I have sold in the worst week of the year?" he asks.

Morrison, Leavitt and Levinson all attribute this trend to an increasingly sophisticated clientele who are better educated about both finance and jewelry than ever before.

"In the 1987 stock crash, everyone stopped buying jewelry," Leavitt says. "People were just blindsided. But now people are more world-savvy and are looking for other ways to invest."

Historically, significant diamonds have proven to be much more solid investments when compared with their smaller counterparts.

The Rapaport Group reported that as of Sept. 15, half-carat diamond prices were up 9 percent over the previous year, while 5-carat diamond prices were up a whopping 40 percent during the same period. Prices are poised to grow by double to $40 billion by 2016, while mine production is projected to grow by just 50 percent to 20 million carats, according to Rapaport Group, which forecasts diamond demand.

Over the long term, the market for small diamonds has been rocky.

Rapaport last year told MarketWatch that the value of a half-carat diamond in 1980 would have fallen 20 percent by 2006, and a 1-carat diamond would have dropped by 40 percent during that period. By comparison, a 5-carat diamonds value would have tripled in the past 25 years.

While all of the experts interviewed confirmed they are also seeing this trend, the very exceptionally high-end corner of the market does seem to be showing weakness.

Market leaders took notice of Sothebys Nov. 20 Magnificent Jewels Sale in Geneva, where just 60 percent of the 371 lots actually sold, and many of those items went for below expected prices. These include an 8.02-carat fancy-pink diamond ring that fetched $1.32 million--just below its pre-auction estimate--and a natural pearl, emerald and diamond necklace, which went for the same price, at the low end of the pre-auction estimate.

Meanwhile, the 71.73-carat Lesotho diamond, which was expected to command from $3 million to $5 million, did not sell, nor did a 10.48-carat fancy deep-blue diamond, which the auction house expected to sell for between $6 million and $9 million.

Similarly, Christies Dec. 2 Hong Kong jewels sale sold 63 percent of its 289 lots on offer. Sothebys Magnificent Jewels auction in May, by contrast, reached near record levels.

At press time, Laurence Graff, of Graff Diamonds, paid a record $24 million at Christies London for the Wittelsbach Diamond, a 35.56-carat blue diamond that made history as the priciest diamond ever sold at auction.

Leavitt says his very wealthy customers are also buying jewelry simply for the sake of buying jewelry.

"I was worried after the market crashed that we would die this season," he says. "But Ive done my best year ever. My clients have lost craploads of money, but they still want a Christmas present."

By Emma Johnson, National Jeweler

1 February 2009

Global Diamond Demand
RAPAPORT... Antwerp
In rough:

• Nice goods smaller than 2 carats are still moving. The reason is that, after the violent reduction in prices they have been through, it could turn out to be profitable to polish them and sell the polished in about two months. That presumes, of course, that prices do not continue to drop.



In polished:

• Melees, 4-per-carat and 5-per-carat are doing well because they are

20 to 25 percent cheaper than in September 2008.

• Premiums on triple EX goods are vanishing.

• The 5 to 15 percent premiums on oversizes are gone as well.

China

• The wholesale market has improved due to the Chinese New Year sales season.

• Most in demand are rounds in 0.15- to 0.69-carat G+, VS and in 0.15- to 0.69-carat I-J, VVS.

• Ox-themed talisman jewelry, gold bars and figurines of various sizes are popular.

Hong Kong

• K-M colors in most sizes are in demand as buyers look for low price points.

• Sizes larger than 5 carats in H-J colors are also finding some movement.

• Demand is good for SI clarity in all colors.

• Demand is relatively good for G-I colors in VVS clarities in a wide range of sizes.

• Small setting sizes are weaker in both rounds and fancies.

India

• Domestic market demand is good for VVS-VS in G-J colors in 0.30- to 2-carat round shapes and in D-H colors in 0.30- to 1-carat oval, marquise, pear, heart and princess shapes.

• Demand is strong for pointers from 0.30 to 0.90 carats and 1 to 1.49 carats in VVS-SI goods.

• U.S. market demand is for ideal and excellent cuts from G to J in VVS-SI round shapes.

Israel

• Trade is running at about 25 percent of the volume at this same time

in 2008.

• Medium-sized stones of 1 to 3 carats are moving at large discounts.

• Due to liquidity problems, companies are willing to sell goods at discounts as high as 50 percent below list.

• Large stones above 5 carats are still not selling.

• People are afraid of large quantities of returns after the poor U.S. Christmas.

• A lot of cancellations came in for the Macau show. Those who went reportedly were very disappointed.

Japan

• Following the New Year, Japan’s largest holiday, the market is not yet fully reopened so market activities were minimal.

Russia

• Russian jewelers consumed 3.2 percent less gold and 31 percent more silver in 2008 compared with 2007, according to the Russian Assay Chamber.

• The chamber stamped 43.57 million golden items in 2008, which is 5 percent fewer than in 2007. The number of silver items stamped increased 25 percent.

• The Assay Chamber stamped 30,040 platinum items, which is 28 percent more than in 2007.

U.S. Retail

• The best-selling shape for engagement rings is round.

• 1.5 carats is the most popular size.

• SI1 is the clarity most people buy, though VS2 is a tempting alternative.

• The top color is G, though more budget-conscious customers trend toward H, and more-well-heeled clients prefer F.

• Platinum is strong again, though it’s neck-and-neck with 18-karat white gold at all but the most high-end stores. Palladium is increasingly popular as well, while yellow gold has all but vanished.

• The average price for an engagement ring, including stone and setting, is $7,500, though sales in the $3,000 range are becoming more common.

U.S. Wholesale

• Sales of fine-quality, large diamonds are very slow.

• SI2 and lower clarities are selling in weights up to 3 carats.

• H through J colors are meeting some demand.

• Certified goods and collections are moving much slower than in 2008.

• Colored diamonds in all sizes are meeting moderate demand.

• Rounds remain the most popular shape, with princesses increasing slightly in popularity.

Diamonds.net - New York,NY,USA

1 February 2009

Global Diamond Demand
RAPAPORT... Antwerp
In rough:

• Nice goods smaller than 2 carats are still moving. The reason is that, after the violent reduction in prices they have been through, it could turn out to be profitable to polish them and sell the polished in about two months. That presumes, of course, that prices do not continue to drop.



In polished:

• Melees, 4-per-carat and 5-per-carat are doing well because they are

20 to 25 percent cheaper than in September 2008.

• Premiums on triple EX goods are vanishing.

• The 5 to 15 percent premiums on oversizes are gone as well.

China

• The wholesale market has improved due to the Chinese New Year sales season.

• Most in demand are rounds in 0.15- to 0.69-carat G+, VS and in 0.15- to 0.69-carat I-J, VVS.

• Ox-themed talisman jewelry, gold bars and figurines of various sizes are popular.

Hong Kong

• K-M colors in most sizes are in demand as buyers look for low price points.

• Sizes larger than 5 carats in H-J colors are also finding some movement.

• Demand is good for SI clarity in all colors.

• Demand is relatively good for G-I colors in VVS clarities in a wide range of sizes.

• Small setting sizes are weaker in both rounds and fancies.

India

• Domestic market demand is good for VVS-VS in G-J colors in 0.30- to 2-carat round shapes and in D-H colors in 0.30- to 1-carat oval, marquise, pear, heart and princess shapes.

• Demand is strong for pointers from 0.30 to 0.90 carats and 1 to 1.49 carats in VVS-SI goods.

• U.S. market demand is for ideal and excellent cuts from G to J in VVS-SI round shapes.

Israel

• Trade is running at about 25 percent of the volume at this same time

in 2008.

• Medium-sized stones of 1 to 3 carats are moving at large discounts.

• Due to liquidity problems, companies are willing to sell goods at discounts as high as 50 percent below list.

• Large stones above 5 carats are still not selling.

• People are afraid of large quantities of returns after the poor U.S. Christmas.

• A lot of cancellations came in for the Macau show. Those who went reportedly were very disappointed.

Japan

• Following the New Year, Japan’s largest holiday, the market is not yet fully reopened so market activities were minimal.

Russia

• Russian jewelers consumed 3.2 percent less gold and 31 percent more silver in 2008 compared with 2007, according to the Russian Assay Chamber.

• The chamber stamped 43.57 million golden items in 2008, which is 5 percent fewer than in 2007. The number of silver items stamped increased 25 percent.

• The Assay Chamber stamped 30,040 platinum items, which is 28 percent more than in 2007.

U.S. Retail

• The best-selling shape for engagement rings is round.

• 1.5 carats is the most popular size.

• SI1 is the clarity most people buy, though VS2 is a tempting alternative.

• The top color is G, though more budget-conscious customers trend toward H, and more-well-heeled clients prefer F.

• Platinum is strong again, though it’s neck-and-neck with 18-karat white gold at all but the most high-end stores. Palladium is increasingly popular as well, while yellow gold has all but vanished.

• The average price for an engagement ring, including stone and setting, is $7,500, though sales in the $3,000 range are becoming more common.

U.S. Wholesale

• Sales of fine-quality, large diamonds are very slow.

• SI2 and lower clarities are selling in weights up to 3 carats.

• H through J colors are meeting some demand.

• Certified goods and collections are moving much slower than in 2008.

• Colored diamonds in all sizes are meeting moderate demand.

• Rounds remain the most popular shape, with princesses increasing slightly in popularity.

Diamonds.net - New York,NY,USA

1 February 2009

Pink Diamond Treatment
A three-step treatment process produces pink diamonds that look almost natural.

Due to the rarity and the high cost of natural-color pink diamonds, there is great interest in methods to produce treated pink diamonds. The latest treatment method involves a complex three-step process: high-pressure/ high-temperature(HPHT) annealing, followed by an irradiation with electrons and then a low-temperature annealing. The process can transform a natural light yellow or brown, type Ia — nitrogen-rich — diamond into a fancy color pink, as well as red or purple, diamond. Colored stones produced using this process became commercially available beginning in 2004.
Many gemological and spectroscopic properties that distinguish natural from color-treated diamonds have been previously identified. However, the recent study of a pink color-treated diamond shows, for the first time, that it is possible to treat a diamond in order to create a color distribution with the same aspect as a natural-color pink diamond.

Natural-color type Ia pink diamonds
The color zoning observed in natural-color pink, but also red and purple, diamonds is the result of external stress applied to the diamonds during the time they spend in the earth.

This stress causes some planes of carbon atoms to slip with respect to each other. As a result of this plastic deformation, these naturally colored diamonds show a color distribution that appears striated. The color planes are oriented in the direction of the slip, so that pink, but also purple or red, planes are seen in an otherwise near-colorless diamond. These striations are commonly called “colored graining” in gemology and are described as characteristic of such natural-color diamonds.

Treated-color type Ia pink diamonds
The presence of colored graining is strongly believed to be characteristic of natural-color pink, red and purple diamonds. However, this criterion should be interpreted with care. The recent examination of a 0.36-carat, fancy intense purplish pink diamond illustrates the complexity. Face-up, the treated diamond appears homogeneously colored.

However, a microscopic examination reveals an uneven color distribution that is identical to the color distribution previously described for a pink diamond of natural color. The color zoning shows a very delicate colored graining, with purplish pink bands of different widths, ranging from very thin to large, running through the whole stone, in an otherwise near-colorless matrix. The color zoning of this treated diamond is very different from that reported previously for a treated diamond. The color zoning for the earlier treated pink to red to purple diamonds consists of a combination of straight, angular and irregular-shaped colored areas.

Dr. Andru Katrusha, of the Institute for Superhard Materials in the Ukraine, and Professor Dr. Heiner Vollstädt, of SedKrist GmbH in Germany, were the two scientists who treated the stone. They carefully selected a light brown natural type Ia diamond that they submitted to HPHT treatment at approximately 2200ºC. After HPHT treatment, the stone turned greenish yellow. It was then further irradiated with electrons, which turned the diamond dark green. Finally, in the third step, the diamond was treated with heat at 1000ºC for two hours to produce its purplish pink color.

This fancy intense purplish pink diamond is the first treated diamond reported to possess a color distribution identical to that of a natural-color pink, type Ia diamond. Although this stone is small, it opens new possibilities for making treated diamonds look more natural.

Identification
When exposed to both long-wave and short-wave ultraviolet (UV) radiations, the 0.36-carat treated diamond shows a combination of orange and chalky green-yellow fluorescence of weak intensity. Careful examination of the luminescence pattern reveals that the two fluorescence colors are limited to different growth structures. These luminescence reactions are consistent with those previously described for pink, type Ia, color-treated diamonds. On the other hand, when a natural-color pink, type Ia diamond has a luminescence reaction under UV illumination, it is usually blue under long wave and blue or yellow under short wave.

In order to comprehend the color origin of a diamond, the use of a sensitive spectrophotometer is required. The color center associated with pink, red and purple plastically deformed diamonds produces a large absorption band centered at about 550 nanometers (nm). Often, in type Ia diamonds, the N3 color center also can be detected. The presence of both centers is then responsible for the overall color of natural diamonds. With treated diamonds, the pink, purple and red coloration is mainly due to the single nitrogen/single vacancy (NV¯) centers produced during the multistep treatment process. The treated diamond recently studied has an absorption peak at 637 nm and an absorption band centered on 570 nm. Other color centers of weaker intensity, including H3 and H4, also can be observed.

In some cases, a desktop gemological spectroscope may help to identify a treated pink, as well as red or purple, diamond, if the absorption line at 637 nm has sufficient intensity.

Dr. Erel is a gemologist with the Gübelin Gem Lab in Lucerne, Switzerland.


By dr Eric erel, Diamonds.net - New York,NY,USA

27 January 2009

DODAQ Launches Online Cash Market for Diamonds
Antwerp –Tuesday 27th January 2009: The world’s first online electronic diamond exchange was launched today. Based in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world, it will enable polished diamonds to be globally traded like other commodities. See the trading platform at www.exchange.dodaq.com

DODAQ (Dealers Organisation for Diamond Automated Quotes) offers two-way auctions for individual categories of polished diamonds, thus creating real-time spot prices and the first cash market for diamonds. The two-way auction mechanism provides price transparency to eliminate the mystery of diamond pricing and allows the market to decide fair value, just as markets for stocks, currencies and other commodities are determined.

DODAQ is open to all, both within and outside of the industry, enabling diamonds to be realized for the first time as an asset class, and an alternative investment opportunity to gold. It provides both a liquid entry and resale point for investors, representing a revolutionary step in the evolution of the global diamond industry and bringing it up to date with 21st century trading practices. It also provides the necessary vaulting to solve the burden of physical ownership.

All client funds are held by ABN AMRO Bank, and DODAQ uniquely offers instantaneous settlement, steering the industry away from the current reliance on credit. Chief executive officer (CEO) Simon Okuniew said: “DODAQ is a cash market. For us to guarantee settlement we need to be satisfied that the diamond is real and this is achieved through certification. The system calls for the original certificate, which will then be checked to verify that the certificate and diamond match. They are then sealed so that at no stage can they be handled. The diamonds are then sent to our specialist vault in the Freeport of Geneva which is run by our professional custodian Malca-Amit, one of the most respected security and storage operators in the world with a 21-year proven track record.”

Specific changes in the diamond industry as well as progressions in technology and trends prompted the establishment of the DODAQ exchange. Simon Okuniew said: “In recent years certifying diamonds has become an industry standard. By standardizing diamonds we are realistically able to call them a commodity and therefore trade them as such. All global markets are traded electronically, so the logical next step was to create a fully automated electronic exchange for diamonds.”

DODAQ is currently offering online webinars for those wishing to understand the trading platform, which can be arranged on the homepage at www.dodaq.com, where a simulator version of the exchange is available. They also welcome visitors to their popular demonstration room at their offices in Antwerp.

Rapaport News

27 January 2009

Diamonds highlight the new First Lady
[AFNS] WASHINGTON D.C., USA, 27 January - Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, wore diamond jewelry to the inaugural ceremonies earlier this month, according to the Diamond Information Center.

This included round diamond stud earrings surrounded by pavé stones that she wore on the whistle-stop train ride to the inauguration, and simple diamond stud earrings at the ceremony itself.

At the inaugural balls on January 20, Obama sported diamond linear earrings by Loree Rodkin, diamond bangle bracelets and a diamond ring.

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

27 January 2009

Diamonds highlight the new First Lady
[AFNS] WASHINGTON D.C., USA, 27 January - Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, wore diamond jewelry to the inaugural ceremonies earlier this month, according to the Diamond Information Center.

This included round diamond stud earrings surrounded by pavé stones that she wore on the whistle-stop train ride to the inauguration, and simple diamond stud earrings at the ceremony itself.

At the inaugural balls on January 20, Obama sported diamond linear earrings by Loree Rodkin, diamond bangle bracelets and a diamond ring.

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

27 January 2009

Tiffany-owned Canadian diamond polishing plant closes
[AFNS] YELLOWKNIFE, CANADA, 27 January - A Canadian diamond polishing plant owned by Laurelton Diamonds, a subsidiary of U.S. fine jeweler Tiffany & Co., has shut down due to lack of rough diamond supplies.

The plant, which opened in 2003, employed 38 people in Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories. The vast far northern territory is home to the Ekati Mine, which is 80 percent owned by BHP Billiton, and the Diavik Mine, a 60-40 joint venture between Rio Tinto and Harry Winston Diamond Corp. Both mines supplied the Laurelton plant.

Twenty-five of the workers at the plant are out on the street, while the other 13 will get jobs in other Laurelton facilities outside Yellowknife, Linda Buckley, a spokeswoman for Tiffany and Co., was quoted as saying.

Sirius Diamonds and other polishing plants located in Yellowknife, where the provincial government hoped to get a diamond polishing industry started, have also closed in recent years.

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

27 January 2009

NRF predicts U.S. retail sales to drop 0.5% in 2009
[AFNS] NEW YORK, USA, 27 January - The National Retail Federation (NRF) is predicting that U.S. retailers will post their first annual fall in sales in 2009 since the body started tracking the data in 2005. The NRF forecasts a decline of 0.5 percent this year.

The prediction follows data showing that Christmas retail sales in November and December dropped by 2.8 percent on the same period of 2007.

The NRF said retailers might see sales start to rise in the final quarter of 2009, forecasting a sales rebound of 3.6 percent.

Retailers in the United States, however, face a long and difficult path to the final quarter of this year, the NRF said, predicting sales will drop 2.5 percent in the first half of the year, and by 1.1 percent in the third quarter.

"Most of the consumer behavior we saw in 2008 will continue well into this year," said Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the NRF. "Shoppers will be seeking value and trading down to discount and off-price retailers in order to stretch their purchasing power."

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

27 January 2009

Shanghai Diamond Exchange reports record business levels in 2008
[AFNS] SHANGHAI, CHINA, 27 January - The Shanghai Diamond Exchange reported a record $1.31 billion in transactions in 2008, a 30.5 percent increase over 2007.

Diamond imports into China, driven by demand for wedding jewelry, totaled $535 million in 2008, up 21.7 percent, although growth slowed in the final quarter as the worldwide slump set in.

Diamond imports and exports combined were $1.17 billion in 2008, up 29.1 percent, and bonded trades between Shanghai Diamond Exchange members totaled $100 million, a 78.6 percent increase.


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

27 January 2009

BHP Rio Tinto cut thousands of jobs
AFNS] GABORONE, BOTSWANA, 27 January - BHP Billiton will lay off 6,000 mineworkers at several different mines by the middle of this year, mostly in Australia. The firm has more than 100,000 employees worldwide.

The news follows rival Rio Tintos announcement that it is laying off 14,000 employees and cutting $5 billion in spending.

In the final quarter of 2008, BHP Billiton produced 594,000 carats of diamonds, down 30 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 and down 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008.

Production in the second half of 2008 totaled 1.367 million carats, down 27 percent from the second half of 2007.

"Production decreased due to lower grades following changed ore sources," the company said in a statement.

It added that its 80 percent owned Ekati Mine in Canadas Northwest Territories is changing over from open-pit to underground mining, which will result in variations in the mix of ore processed from time to time.

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

27 January 2009

DTCs January sight one-sixth the level of year-earlier figure

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

20 October 2008

Two giant South African diamonds sold
TWO GIANT diamonds were sold for more than 6million (R60m) to a Middle Eastern buyer at an auction last week, bucking a wave of gloom that has taken the shine off luxury sales.

The Ponahalo diamonds, mined in South Africa and named after a tribal word meaning “vision”, sold at Christie’s in New York at the end of an auction overshadowed by massive losses on world stock markets.

The Ponahalo weighed 316 carats when discovered in its rough form in 2005. Two separate diamonds were cut, weighing 70.87 and 102.11 carats, about the size and shape of chocolates.

The first sold for R21.5m, including commission, and the second for a total of R41.1m after a bidding war.

Although the winning bid came in anonymously to a telephone operator , the buyer was apparently so proud that he wanted to be revealed.

“The buyer of the diamond was Mr Amer Radwan of Dubai and he has asked us to relate to you that he purchased this diamond,” auctioneer Rahul Kadakia announced, prompting surprised laughter and a few gasps.


The diamond industry now fears a painful end to the year. “The now inevitable economic slowdown will impact the entire diamond pipeline,” the industry website idexonline.com said. — Sapa-AFP



Dispatch Online - South Africa

21 October 2008

Burdened diamond dealers welcome supply cut
Reuters Tuesday October 21 2008 *WFDB President Avi Paz concerned about industry debt
*Says total industry debt at around $12-$15 bln
*Welcomes De Beers move to cut sales to sightholders
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The head of a diamond trading group said a downturn in the United States, the worlds top consumer, may compound his members debt burden, and as such he welcomed a move by De Beers to trim supply in the coming months. Avi Paz, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday he was concerned about the debt burden in the diamond industry.
"The banks are nervous, the banks are looking at every diamond dealer, and looking at the debt and how they are covered," he said by telephone from Israel.
"I call on my colleagues to be careful, to have liquidity."
A rough estimate of total debt in the diamond industry was $12 billion to $15 billion, but so far there had been only isolated problems, he added.
The Belgium-based federation is an umbrella organisation representing 26 member bourses that trade in rough and polished diamonds and precious stones.
Paz issued a statement last week asking diamond producers to reduce supply during the current economic turmoil to stabilise the sector.
He welcomed a move by diamond giant De Beers, which controls around 40 percent of the market, to reduce the amount of unpolished gems at its next two sales due to reduced demand.
"This is a very important statement, it will assure the diamond industry worldwide."
"BE CAREFUL"
He said De Beers "sightholders" -- tightly screened clients -- had an obligation to buy the unpolished diamonds on offer at periodic sales.
In the current economic climate, however, they might find it difficult to sell all the processed material to jewellery makers and end up with increased debt burdens.
Diamond prices, which have surged in recent years on tight supply and buoyant demand, have recently been hit by the global credit crisis.
Until now mass-market jewellery using small diamonds have been hardest hit by the downturn in the United States, the biggest consumer of diamond jewellery, accounting for half of the total market.
But recently, even prices of large, high-quality stones that appeal to the very wealthy have declined.
A lot of diamonds were still being sold in the United States and the product should appeal to people wanting a safe haven investment, Paz said.
But he urged those in the industry to be cautious about developments in the future. "Im worried, I think people should be careful about next year... they should take steps to be liquid and not over-buy in polished and in rough (diamonds)."
De Beers, 45 percent owned by mining group Anglo American Plc, said in August it had boosted rough diamond prices by around 16 percent so far in 2008 due to strong demand.
But it said in July it was cautious about developments in the second half due to a downturn in the United States. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Simon Jessop) Printable version larger | smaller Business

The Guardian newspaper, UK

21 October 2008

Victorias Secret offers $5 million diamond bra
NEW YORK, USA 21 October - Victorias Secret has come out with the latest edition of its "fantasy bra," featuring 3,575 black diamonds, 117 certified white rough brilliant cut diamonds weighing 1 carat each, 34 rubies and two black diamond "drops" that hang from the lingerie and together weigh 100 carats.

The total weight of the bra is 1,500 carats, and the asking price is $5 million. But in 2006, the lingerie company offered a bra priced at $6.5 million that was set with 800 carats of diamonds by Hearts on Fire and also featured a 10-carat diamond brooch as a centerpiece.

Earlier editions were even more expensive, with the 2003 model priced at £11 million (approximately $20 million then), a 2001 bra that was worth $12.5 million and a bra worn by supermodel Tyra Banks in 2004 that was valued at $10 million.


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


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