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21 October 2008

Diamond analyst sees demand falling worldwide
AUSTRALIA 21 October - World consumer diamond demand could decrease 2-3 percent this year, James Allan, managing director of Allan Hochreiter, said at a conference in Perth, Australia, according to the online journal Mining Weekly.

But rough diamond prices have increased an average of 13 percent (ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent in different categories) so far this year due to declining production in the major international diamond mining centers; the expected result is that world diamond production will total 138 million carats worth $14.3 billion this year, compared with 148 million carats worth $12.6 billion last year.

Canada is turning out 2 million fewer carats in 2008 than in 2007, Russia and Botswana are each producing 1 million fewer carats and Rio Tintos Argyle Mine in Western Australia is producing 6 million fewer carats.

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

19 October 2008

Slump increases demand for diamonds in Spain
Madrid - Spains economic crisis has spurred the demand for precious stones, especially large diamonds, gemologist Adolfo de Basilio said Friday.

The price of diamonds and gold is going up, probably because people are worried about the fluctuations of the stock market and prefer to invest in tangible goods, said de Basilio, who heads a new Gemological Institute in Madrid.

People interested in investing in diamonds should find out their real rather than current market value, because the losses can be enormous if you later try to sell a diamond that had been bought above its value, he advised.

Monsters and - USA

10 October 2008

Diamonds: Losing Luster or Still Sparkling?
Diamonds: Losing Luster or Still Sparkling?

Financial world chaos and extreme market volatility have pretty much sidelined the vast majority of the juniors in the diamond mining sector, according to RBC Capital Markets’ highly regarded diamond analyst Des Kilalea. The senior players remain solidly in the game—albeit in a rather defensive posture—and can anticipate strong price performance to return once the economic storm subsides. In this exclusive Gold Report interview, the veteran analyst also steps back to give us a fascinating Cliffs Notes synopsis of Diamond Geology 101.

The Gold Report: Tell us your thoughts about diamonds vis-à-vis other commodities. For some reason, diamond stocks don’t seem to be enjoying the commodities boom so much.

Des Kilalea: No, they haven’t. Diamonds first and foremost are not driven by industrial demand; they have industrial uses, but disposable income and consumer confidence drive the diamond market because most diamonds in value terms are sold in jewelry. The fact that they’re mined is almost incidental.

Pricing and how they are sold is far more important. The funding structure for the channel that gets diamonds from the mine to the store differs markedly from that of other commodities. Even more important is who buys the diamonds; the U.S. is buying half of them.

TGR: Could you explain the relevance of the difference in the channel and the way it’s funded?

DK: That calls for a bit of history. When De Beers Canada Inc. monopolized the business, it mined and sold its own diamonds, as well as most diamonds mined in Russia and Australia and 30% of the diamonds from Ekati when it came into production. De Beers slowed down its own production when times got tough, and asked its contracted suppliers to cut production. That turned off the spigot. Then to maintain a price level, De Beers bought up some of the surplus diamonds washing around in the markets.

That worked okay except that to fund it, De Beers built a lot of bank debt. At one stage in the late ’90s, it had $5 billion in diamonds on its balance sheet at cost, and nearly $5 billion of bank debt. If you’re the only player in town, you can sustain that because there’s nobody to undermine you. But once new producers start coming in, with the likes of the Canadians saying, “We don’t think it’s a good idea to trade with a monopolist, so De Beers can’t sell our diamonds anymore,” and the Russians and Australians becoming irritated with quotas and deciding to sell more diamonds on their own, De Beers got the carpet tugged little by little from under its feet.

In response, De Beers changed its business model to sell primarily its own diamonds, stopped stockpiling, and stopped supporting the market. It moved into loose partnerships to encourage customers to market the stones more aggressively and get them to commit six to nine months in advance, so De Beers could meet their supply needs, have more certainty and avoid the horrible bank debt.

As a result, De Beers sold $4 billion worth of diamonds from its balance sheet, all of which the market absorbed. But what funded it when it got absorbed was bank debt, which went from about $4 billion to about $9 billion in the cutting centers. In other words, De Beers passed on the financial burden.

As the market grew, the bank debt grew. The people in the middle—the cutters, polishers and traders—don’t generally have much equity in their businesses, so they use a lot of bank debt. At the same time, everybody from Wal-Mart to Tiffany started flexing buying muscle. Cutting centers had surplus inventory after De Beers sold, so they accepted onerous terms—up to 180 days to pay sometimes, and if the customers didn’t sell some of the polished diamonds they bought, they had the right to return some.

The cutting centers have $15 billion or more in bank debt now. That’s fine if the market is growing. But if it slows down, the retailers push more diamonds back to the cutting centers. Because they’re receiving less money, those cutting centers can’t redeem all their debt at the bank and end up with more diamonds they can’t sell. That’s a recipe for a pretty torrid time in the cutting centers. And that’s why the channel financing is so important.

TGR: How do the other commodities differ?

DK: You sell zinc or copper etc for cash, and that’s it. It gets used to build something. But Tiffany could have a piece of jewelry in the store a year before it goes, and maybe they won’t pay the supplier until they’ve had it for six months. So the unhealthy financial storm brewing in the cutting centers actually may turn into a hurricane.

TGR: If cutters can’t pay their debt, isn’t their equity the diamonds they’re holding?

DK: Yes, I suppose the banks could wind up holding a bunch of diamonds and try to liquidate them. But the better banks will have their credit lines secured on easier to liquidate assets such as quality receivables.

TGR: Doesn’t this argue for consolidation among cutters?

DK: Some of the large cutters are financially strong; some actually have commercial paper out in the market. But 50% or 60% are likely to be smaller Indian businesses. About a million people work in the cutting industry in India, and you could see some serious issues when liquidity becomes a problem. You can’t keep your factory going; you can’t pay your people. You go bankrupt—and distressed diamonds don’t sell very well. They’re not investment stones.

The average value of a rough mined diamond is $100 a carat, but the variance is huge. At the top end of the market, the Sultan of Brunei or the Maktoums of Dubai may well be persuaded to buy stones of great value. Some diamonds sell at more than $55,000 a carat in the rough—those are like Picassos. But a lot of the jewelry in the windows in the diamond district of New York is pretty average. That’s what the Indians have been doing quite a lot of. If U.S. consumer confidence is low and disposable income is under pressure, there won’t be buyers.

TGR: That’s a pretty dismal outlook.

DK: But that’s the short term. The long-term picture is actually quite good because unlike other commodities, there is a shortage of diamonds. They aren’t easy to find, and when you find them, it takes a long time to develop a mine, and the good diamonds are extremely rare.

I’ll give you a statistic: Kimberlites—the rocks that host the diamonds—were only discovered in the back end of the 1800s. Some 6,500 kimberlites have been discovered since, and of these, fewer than 50 have become mines—less than 1%.

TGR: Is it due to infeasible economics?

DK: Yes, it is. Many of the kimberlites may have diamonds, but a lot don’t have enough of economic significance to mine. With grams per ton in the rock very, very low, you’d need very valuable diamonds to make it pay. The average kimberlite would have a one-quarter carat per ton, and the grade is low. A carat is one-fifth of a gram, that’s one-quarter of a fifth of a gram. It will cost between $10 and $50 to mine that ton, so either you need a very valuable quarter of a carat or you need a mine that has maybe one carat per ton. Plotting or analyzing and defining your ore body also takes a long time and it’s expensive.

So diamond exploration generally is not for junior companies. It’s for the senior companies with more patience and deeper pockets.

TGR: So production is pretty unpredictable?

DK: I can give you a pretty good idea today what production in carats—not in value—will be in five years. That’s because any kimberlite discovered today will not be a mine for five to seven years, and the kimberlites that have been discovered are pretty well known. One in Botswana will be a mine in three years.

TGR: What about Canada?

DK: They keep discovering more kimberlites, but they’re way up in Quebec and the Northwest Territories where it’s expensive to operate because of the weather. It’s difficult to explore because it’s marshy and you can drill only when it’s frozen. Stornoway has a very promising exploration program—and delivered another 12 kimberlites recently, but if any of those become a mine, it probably won’t happen for several years.

Eira Thomas, who runs Stornoway and is well known and highly respected in the diamond geology field, recently made the point about huge swathes of Canada that aren’t mapped. The potential to find kimberlites there is great. There’s no reason to believe some of the next major mines won’t be in Canada. Ultimately, though, it’s a question of how costly it will be to explore the kimberlites, and then mine them if they’re mineable.

They need to be quite big to justify the infrastructure and the costs. As I say, you can drill only during the ice season, and when you finally have a mine, you bring all your fuel in on ice roads. You warm your plant and fly people in and out. You keep a lot of supplies in inventory; in South Africa you’d just go down to the store to buy new winder, for example.

Canada has a great regulatory environment, but it is certainly more expensive to work than many parts of Africa. It might cost $10 to $15 a ton to mine a kimberlite in southern Africa, versus $80 to $120 in northern Canada. So you need great resources, and lots of carats with good values.

TGR: But back to your production prediction?

DK: Diamond production, about 160 million carats a year now, will be 165 million in five years. It’s not going to be 200 million or 120 million. I feel fairly comfortable that I’m not going to be embarrassed saying that, because you don’t have to be a magician. We know what production is, what people have discovered and what they’re doing. It’s a very small sector.

But let’s go back to the demand side for a bit. Even with a hiccup in its growth for the next year or two, as China industrializes, you’ve got to imagine in a decade its GDP per capita is probably going to be at least double what it is now as people come into the cash economy. Already they’re starting to buy diamonds. If China goes up from 1% or 2% of the diamond market to 8%, it would make a very big difference. There won’t be enough diamonds to supply that demand, so prices will go up.

Whether we revisit 1929, I have absolutely no idea. But if you suppose within five years we’re out of this mess, I’d say that diamond prices then will be very strong. Bets are off for the next 12 to 24 months, but the outlook is very good beyond that.

At a lunch in Cape Town in February 2006, somebody asked Tom Albanese—before he had the top job in Rio Tinto—which product in Rio’s portfolio he was most optimistic about.

“Diamonds,” he responded. “They’re rare. They’re the rarest.” At the right price, there’s lots of uranium, and at the right price, there’s lots of coal. Of the major commodities in Rio’s portfolio—iron, coal, copper, nickel, uranium, borax—only diamonds did he say were truly rare.

TGR: And you agree with that assessment.

DK: I think he’s absolutely right. I run a supply-demand model. It’s not as sophisticated as WWW International’s because they model different categories of diamonds, but my numbers show a gap—an undersupply—as do theirs. On average, they’re looking at 3% to 5% real price increases annually on the average diamond. And at the top end, you can probably write your own price on some diamonds. Gem Diamonds Ltd. (GEMD.L, GEMD.VX, ZVW.F), which is mining in Lesotho, recently recovered a 478 carat D; D is the best color—the flawless diamond. That could go and should go, for north of $45,000 a carat.

TGR: But that’s like a special piece of art; a stroke of luck. If I’m drilling, how do I know whether kimberlites hold the high-end, larger-carat diamonds?

DK: First, it’s where the kimberlites are that is most important as to whether there are diamonds. If somebody says, “I’ve got a kimberlite in Israel,” you’d probably say, “Not interested.” Same in England; if there are kimberlites in England, they won’t have diamonds. These places are not on old rock structures called cratons, and most of the world’s better diamond propositions are in cratonic areas—southern and central Africa, northern or northwest Canada, Brazil, Eastern Siberia, a bit of Australia and Karelia in Finland. In these areas, volcanic eruptions transported diamonds to the surface. In the transport, the diamonds either made it or got burned because the kimberlite didn’t move fast enough or was too hot.

TGR: How do alluvials differ from kimberlites?

DK: Alluvials come from kimberlites that eroded over millions of years. The erosion process liberated the diamonds, which then found their way into rivers and ultimately the ocean. But they originated in kimberlites somewhere, millions of years ago. The traditional picture of a kimberlite shows it’s shaped like a carrot. When the top erodes, volumetrically you lose an awful lot more because it’s wider at the top and it tapers.

When they find alluvial diamonds in Sierra Leone and the DRC, scientists have developed ways of predicting, depending on what they find with them, how far they might be from the source kimberlite. The big chase in the DRC at the moment is to find the next large kimberlite that could support a mine. Some serious geologists and sedimentologists are there trying to crack the DNA of what is happening in the DRC. It could be the next big diamond field.

TGR: Putting on our investor hats for a moment, you talked about cutters being really financially strapped in the short term. Some may consolidate, but essentially diamonds will sit in that section of the channel for 12 to 24 months. Meanwhile, mining companies still looking for diamonds now have no flow-through to create cash flow due to that clog in the channel. Shouldn’t I be worried about these miners at this point?

DK: You should. But the main explorers are the big companies. . .and they have deep pockets. They may tail their exploration programs back a bit as they do in bad times, but they’re fine. . . for the main part, it’s business as usual or maybe a little slower. They will keep their mines running at roughly the same output as last year and this year, but will take a hit on the price they get for their diamonds.

That’s how what’s happening in the cutting centers is likely to affect the seniors; they will see prices come down a bit. Some people will say I’m wrong; that prices will keep going up, but that’s just illogical. The United States accounts for nearly half, by value, of all jewelry diamonds; Europe is 15% to 18%. They’re both going into slower growth, if not recession. That’s more than two-thirds of the market, so it’s inconceivable that average diamond prices will go up.

The guys who will hurt are the juniors that could raise money and go hunting for diamonds in the boom, and there were lots of them—not in the kimberlite space, but mostly in the alluvial space, where it’s quicker to get a mine going.

The trouble is that the gravel requires large-scale earth moving operations—cheaper than underground or kimberlite mining, but you still need quite a lot of capital up front. The juniors that developed these little mines now need millions; nobody is prepared to give it to them, and they’re not even in production to be able to fund themselves.

At the moment, if a junior diamond company tries to raise money in London—where most of them have been raising their money—it will find it a very hostile market. Fund managers are struggling; they’ve got redemptions; they’ve got to sell shares; they’re not buying risk assets. . . The key is having production in categories less vulnerable to economic downturns, where prices might be stable or fall only slightly. In other words, bigger diamonds, better quality diamonds, better color diamonds, etc. So juniors that are generating cash are okay. . .

For the complete article, including some of Des Kilaleas comments on specific companies, go to

London-based Des Kilalea, Global Mining Research Analyst at RBC Capital Markets—the corporate and investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE, TSX:RY)—focuses on AIM mining companies and on diamond producers. Before joining RBC, he was head of sales for Nedcor Securities in Johannesburg, with special responsibility for mining sales. He also handled diamond and diversified mining company research at Fleming Martin, a Johannesburg-based stockbroker. An accomplished journalist as well as premier diamond analyst, he won Financial Journalist of the Year honors for his work at Finance Week (1989).

Visit The GOLD Report - a unique, free site featuring summaries of articles from major publications, specific recommendations from top worldwide analysts and portfolio managers covering gold stocks, and a directory, with samples, of precious metals newsletters. To subscribe, please complete our online form (

The GOLD Report is Copyright © 2008 by Streetwise Inc. All rights are reserved. Streetwise Inc. hereby grants an unrestricted license to use or disseminate this copyrighted material only in whole (and always including this disclaimer), but never in part. The GOLD Report does not render investment advice and does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company mentioned in this report. From time to time, Streetwise Inc. directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned and may make purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise.

Gold Seek - USA

7 October 2008

Harry Winston CEO sees growing demand following credit crisis
NEW YORK, USA 7 October - Despite the current economic turmoil spreading around the world, diamond demand is poised to grow due to demand from Russian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese consumers and investors looking for a safe haven, Robert Gannicott, CEO of Harry Winston Diamond Corp., told the Bloomberg news service.

In the new consumer markets, women are especially keen on receiving diamond jewelry for their weddings because divorce laws in those countries offer them little protection, he said.

Gannicott noted that it was difficult to develop new diamond mines due to regulatory and technological hurdles.

His company and Rio Tinto, which are 40/60 partners in the Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories, Canada, are increasing their spending on exploration of lands near the mine by 20 percent, he said.

He also said his company plans to buy or partner with another diamond mining company some time in the next three years.

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

7 October 2008

Jay-Z splashes more than $5million on ring for Beyonce
October 07, 2008 12:00am
ONE person has evaded the worldwide economic crisis - Jay-Z, whose wedding ring for Beyonce cost more than $5million.

Although the couple married in a secret ceremony in April, the ‘Bootylicious’ singer had so far refused to show off the band until she was seen on a Miami beach with younger sister Solange last weekend.

The eye-catching piece is believed to be from celebrity jewellers Schwartz, a long-term favourite of the star.

Mohammed Cimark, who runs Precious Gems and Jewels in London, confirmed the huge octagon-cut diamond was a rarity.

He said: “If it is 18 carats then it’s a lovely size, an exceptional diamond. It’s clearly a premium stone.

“You can’t recognise the colour from the photo and the clarity is hard to see, but the best clarity is internally flawless.”

The jeweller said he believed the stone had been sourced from Africa.

He added to the MailOnline website: “Most diamonds this size you would get in South Africa or Sierra Leone. That’s where you get the biggest diamonds.”

The £2.5 million price tag is not likely to have troubled the rapper.

Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter - reportedly earned £41 million last year from his live performances and album sales, as well as his many other ventures, including a hotel and clothing range.

Melbourne Herald Sun - Australia

1 October 2008

No price increase at De Beers
AFNS] LONDON, U.K. 29 September - De Beers Diamond Trading Company did not impose a price increase at its September sight, the eighth of 2008, and the total value of goods sold in London, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa was estimated at $600 million by the Rapaport diamond news service.

This meant the company has so far sold $5.15 billion worth of goods in 2008, up 2 percent from last year, Rapaport estimated. But despite the lack of a price increase this time, the news service said sightholders are still hurting from Julys 5 percent average price increase, which they have not been able to make up with polished diamond sales.

Some sightholders rejected some of the goods offered in sight boxes this time around. Sales were further slowed by the seasonal approach of the Jewish holidays and Indias Diwali festival. The next sight will be held November 3.

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

30 September 2008

Harry Winston Says Diamond Prices May Rise When Markets Calm
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Demand for safe-haven investments and a dearth of significant new mines will lift diamond prices after the worlds financial markets stabilize, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Gannicott said.

Global supplies of rough diamonds are unlikely to meet expected demand as purchases rise with wealth in Russia, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia.

``Theres a lot more upside in diamond prices than the public market appreciates, Gannicott said yesterday in an interview in New York. ``I dont think the supply-demand gap is understood very well.

Gannicott, 61, is positioning Harry Winston to benefit from heightened price competition for diamonds. Since early 2007, the price of some 3-carat diamonds have risen fourfold on speculation demand would outstrip supply.

``If you bought good quality stones five years ago, youre looking at a much bigger win than anything in the stock market, Gannicott said.

Harry Winston fell $2, or 13 percent, to $13.28, yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Shares of the Toronto-based company plunged to their lowest since Jan. 14, 2002.

The Standard & Poors 500 Index fell 8.8 percent, the most since 1987, after the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion plan to rescue the countrys financial system.

Looking Forward

Harry Winston, which owns its namesake chain of 18 luxury jewelry stores and 40 percent of the Diavik mine in Canada, plans to buy or tie up with another diamond producer within three years to ensure access to supplies of rough diamonds, Gannicott said.

Harry Winston and its Diavik partner, Rio Tinto Group of London, also are increasing spending on diamond exploration by 20 percent on lands they jointly control near the mine.

``Rough diamond supply is likely to fall short of expected demand within the next three to five years, London-based RBC Capital Markets analyst Des Kilalea said in an Aug. 27 note to clients. ``Production growth will be limited as older mines become deeper and production is scaled back, while new production is not expected to fill the gap.

A slow regulatory process in some countries will delay the startup of new mines, Gannicott said. Significant new diamond discoveries will probably await development of the industrys next ``magic wand, or some breakthrough technology that improves the odds of explorers finding diamonds, said Gannicott, a geologist by training.

Cultural Reasons

On the demand side, Gannicott expects sales to rise in China, India, the Middle East and Russia, partly for cultural reasons that are not well understood in Western countries. As sales in the U.S. have slowed, women in Russia and the Middle East have been increasing purchases of diamonds as security against the possibility of divorce, he said.

``The ladies that become owners of these things dont have the benefit of divorce laws that were used to, said Gannicott. ``The ownership of a very expensive piece of jewelry that is clearly theirs and is clearly portable means a lot more than it would in our society.

By Christopher Donville and Ron Day, Bloomberg - USA

21 September 2008

Worlds biggest diamond discovered
A gem stone which could become the largest polished round diamond in history has been discovered in southern Africa.

The massive stone weighs 478 carats and was found in gem mines in Lesotho, which have already produced three of the worlds biggest diamonds over the years.

Another similar sized rough stone from the same mine was recently valued at 12 million US dollars, but the clarity and round shape of this gem mean it could be worth considerably more.

Belfast Telegraph - United Kingdom

17 September 2008

Emmys 60th Anniversary to Glitter with Diamonds
17.09.08, 12:27 / World

This year’s annual Primetime Emmys, marking the 60th anniversary of the awards, is going to be dripping with diamonds.

The 625-square-foot hall will reportedly be shaped like a diamond and it will feature sparkly mirrors and diamond-patterned floors.

But most of the glitter will be coming from a big chandelier of diamonds featuring 3,300 of the stones. Its total carat weight is 1,000.

The Hearts on Fire diamond jewelry company created the three-tiered chandelier for the Architectural Digest Green Room. Its price tag after the happy event? $10 million.

By: Rachel Lieberman, Israel Diamond Industry Portal

16 September 2008

Harry Winston sales rise 7 percent
AFNS] NEW YORK, USA 16 September - Harry Winston Diamond Corporation said its sales were $186.1 million in the quarter ending July 31, with earnings from operations of $73.4 million. That was an increase of 7 percent and 30 percent, respectively, compared with sales of $173.3 million and earnings from operations of $56.2 million in the corresponding period of 2007.

Net earnings were $49.9 million, more than double last years figure of $20.1 million. However, net earnings last year were reduced by a net $11.8 million foreign exchange loss, as a result of the strengthening of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, compared to a net $5.3 million foreign exchange gain in the current year.

"Our businesses in Asia, Europe and the Middle East have been sufficient to offset the general market softness in the U.S. and Japan; this contributed to our strong retail finish for [July] quarter," company President Thomas J. ONeill said.

Production was lower than anticipated at the Diavik Mine, in which Harry Winston holds a 40 percent stake to Rio Tinto’s 60 percent, due to the transition from one open pit to the next and the resulting uncertainty in production forecasting, Chairman and CEO Robert A. Gannicott said.

Still, earnings from operations for the mining segment increased 27 percent to $67.5 million. compared to the comparable quarter of the prior year. Rough diamond production was down 23 percent in weight terms to 1 million carats

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

15 September 2008

Lotus Europa Diamond Edition Makes Flashy Debut
HETHEL, England — The diamond-encrusted Lotus Europa on display at the automakers birthday celebration on Sunday was a fake. Yes, the automaker commissioned a diamond-set special model valued at $268,000 to mark its 60th anniversary. But it noted in a statement that "for security reasons, the commemorative Lotus Europa has been fitted with replica diamonds whilst on display."

Still, the images of the real deal were an eye-popper and an invaluable wellspring of inspiration for punsters within the company who couldnt resist calling the vehicle "a real gem of a car."

The car was adorned with 164 round-cut diamonds with a market value of $198,454, said Lotus. The appearance package included high-gloss black paint modified with tiny glass flakes "giving the appearance the car has been showered with diamonds." The diamonds were scattered in such unusual spots as the exterior badge and the speedometer. Other cabin touches included quilted trim and a specially designed rev counter.

Diamonds are the traditional gift at a 60th-anniversary celebration.

Edmunds. com/Inside Line - Santa Monica,CA,USA

15 September 2008

Alrosa Expanding into the DRC
(September 15, 08, 7:08 IDEX Online Staff Reporter)

In an effort to widen its sources of diamonds, Russian miner Alrosa will soon start exploring for the gem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The agreement to allow Alrosa to prospect in the African country was reached at a meeting between Alrosa CEO Sergei Vybornov and DRC President Joseph Kabila.

Alrosa is the world’s second largest diamond company and holds a virtual monopoly on all rough diamond activities in Russia. Russia is the leading source of rough diamonds by volume, and second in value. In 2007, Russia’s diamond production was 38,291,200 carats, or 22.77 percent of global production. The value of Russia’s production was $2.625 billion - 21.68 percent of the value of global production in 2007.

The company is in the process of establishing itself as the leading global diamond producer. In its efforts to achieve this goal, it is overhauling its sales system and seeking new sources of rough diamonds - including outside of Russia.

Alrosa plans to focus its exploration activities in southern DRC. It already has two joint ventures in Angola - The Catoca and Kamachia-Kamajiku diamond mining projects.

IDEX Online Staff Reporter

11 September 2008

Rockwell Finds 189.6 Carat Diamond
(September 11, 08, 11:01 IDEX Online Staff Reporter)

Rockwell Diamonds mined a 189.6 carat diamond at its Klipdam mining operation north of Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Initial indications suggest that the diamond is D Color, the miner said on Thursday.

The unusual find has an oval, somewhat flattened and strongly resorbed shape and shows features typical of top color high value type-2 diamonds.

Aside from sparse black inclusions on the one side of the rough diamond, the heart of the stone appears to be clean and could result in a final polished diamond of considerable value, the company added.

Rockwell has also recovered a rare 1.13 carat intense blue flawless diamond from the same mine. The miner is considering its marketing options for this diamond, which has been submitted for valuation.

Klipdam has produced rare fancy stones in the past, including a 7.28 carat intense flawless pink stone which was sold in November 2007 for $145,000 per carat.

Rockwell regularly recovers intense and vivid yellow colored diamonds from both Klipdam as well as the adjacent Holpan operation, and from its Wouterspan and Saxendrift operations on the Middle Orange River.

“We are ecstatic with the recovery of yet another large stone of exceptional size and color at Klipdam,” Rockwell President and chief executive John Bristow said, noting that finding diamonds greater than 100 carats in size “are an inherent part of the diamond population found in these unique alluvial deposits.”

So far four stones over 100 carats in size have been recovered from the site

IDEX Online Staff Reporter

11 September 2008

Diamond-set leather case offered for iPhone
NEW YORK, USA 9 September - Apples wildly popular iPhone now has a diamond-studded accessory for those with the money to buy it.

A case made of leather and set with 272 diamonds, 6.8 carats total weight, is now available.

The leather case is embossed with the logo of Noreve St. Tropez on its rear.

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

1 September 2008

Colored diamonds see popularity grow
When brown doesnt sell, call it champagne

Melanie Erickson has never liked diamonds all that much.

Until she noticed champagne-colored diamonds six years ago at markets and gem shows she visited for her Sioux Falls, S.D., business, the Bead Co.

"Ive never been a diamond person, but the minute I saw them I fell in love with them."

Now she owns a princess-cut, champagne-colored diamond ring with two bands of champagne diamonds surrounding the main stone.

"I like things to be antique or have an eclectic look. Its not the same thing as everyone else has. Its something original and unique." The champagne- or cognac-colored diamonds look soft and antique, says the 34-year-old beader and jewelry designer.

Colored diamonds are popular but they arent really new, says Paul Curtin, owner of Raymonds Jewelers in Sioux Falls. "Ive carried them for 20 years."

Jerry Ehrenwald, president and CEO of the International Gemological Institute, agrees. Natural-colored diamonds have always been around, he says.

Colored diamonds can be purchased from department stores to upscale jewelers. They are experiencing an uptick in popularity, although demand has varied over the years.

"Demand has grown in the last decade as a result of Hollywood," says Ehrenwald, who is a graduate gemologist and a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers.

The diamond company, De Beers, had an overabundance of brown diamonds and renamed them champagne and cognac to make them more desirable, says Alon Spektor, co-owner of The Diamond Room in Sioux Falls. "A champagne is a glorified brown diamond."

The gimmick caught on. After all, people have their own tastes about whats beautiful.

And celebrities helped.

Actress Cameron Diaz once wore a 20-carat cognac-colored diamond at the Academy Awards and Jennifer Love-Hewitt wore a 7-carat brown diamond ring, according to the Web site of the Natural Color Diamond Association, an international trade organization that is an authority on natural color diamonds.

Celebrities get national attention for what they wear on the red carpet, and that translates into an increased demand for colored diamonds, jewelers say.

There are more than 300 colors of natural diamonds including pink, blue, yellow and green. Red is the most rare natural diamond. The most intensely colored stones are called fancies and are more rare and valuable than colorless diamonds. For example, a deep canary yellow diamond or a naturally occurring blue diamond are more valuable and costly than their colorless cousins.

"The color is what determines the price," says Spektor.

When grading the color of colorless diamonds, a grade of D, or colorless, is the most sought after, says the IGI Web site. The further down in the alphabet, the more color is present, so the diamond is less valuable per carat, Ehrenwald says. However, once the grade goes past Z, the diamonds "start to appreciate ... [and they] pick up so much body color that it becomes attractive."

Trace elements in the stone help determine the color. Over the millennium, naturally occurring radiation and intense pressure colors the stones. Nitrogen imparts a yellow or orange shade, boron gives a blue shade and hydrogen produces violet shades in a diamond.

"Its the originality" of the colored diamonds, says Erickson. "People are realizing they dont have to do the same thing as everybody else."

And of all the luxuries you could spend your money on, be it furs, cars or diamonds, Ehrenwald says, "diamonds hold their value."

The News Journal - Wilmington,DE,USA, By DORENE WEINSTEIN

27 August 2008

DTC diamond prices up 16 percent through August
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company (DTC) said it raised rough diamond prices by a cumulative average of 16 percent from the beginning of this year through the August sight. The DTC now provides this information at three points during the year—before the JCK Las Vegas Show at the end of May, before De Beers releases its annual results in late July, and before the September Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Fair.

Some boxes have gone up in price more than others, and the sharpest increases this year have been predominantly in rough that produces highly sought after polished stones of better than SI quality or weighing more than 1 carat, the DTC said.

"The DTC takes a long term, sustainable view on its pricing and decisions are influenced first and foremost by demand for polished," Mahiar Borhanjoo, the DTC’s executive director of sales and client services, said. "So far during 2008, DTC has seen strong and continuing consumer demand for most categories of polished diamonds, especially in the larger goods."

The Rapaport news service reported that the August sight brought in an estimated $725 million for the DTC.

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

22 August 2008

Global diamond demand stays strong
Increasing global demand for top-quality diamonds keeps market alive.

Despite cautions of an economic downturn in the U.S. in 2008, De Beers has been able to boost rough diamond prices by 16% on the back of strong demand. De Beers’ marketing unit, The Diamond Trading Company (DTC), has managed this through incremental raises throughout this year.

The latest cumulative figure includes a further hike in August, a July price increase of 5% on top of previous price hikes of 8.5% this year. According to Mahiar Borhanjoo, Executive Director, DTC, Sales and Client Services, so far this year, the DTC has seen strong and continuing consumer demand for most categories of polished diamonds, especially in the larger goods. He said that the marketing unit took a long-term, sustainable view on its pricing, and decisions were influenced first and foremost by demand for polished gems.

Slumping U.S. retail sales have only put a damper on cheaper, mass-marketed items that utilize lower-quality gems. Buoyant growth in China, India, Russia, and the Middle East is helping to even out some of the U.S. impact. De Beers, the controller of around 40% of the rough diamond market, posted a 10% rise in first half rough diamond sales to $3.3 billion.

Dubai’s diamond business is also benefiting from the skyrocketing diamond demand. The Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) reported that the total trade in rough diamonds in Dubai grew 36% to $3.03 billion in the first half of 2008, compared to the same period last year. The value of Dubai’s rough diamond imports rose 23% to $1.15 billion, while exports surged 44% to $1.88 billion. Dubai exported $2.82 billion worth of rough diamonds last year, while imports for the same period stood at $2 billion.

While exports in terms of carats grew marginally in the first half of the year, the price of diamonds rose by 10% and helped push the overall trade to high levels. For the first half of the year, Angola, India, Europe, and China were the top diamond trade partners for the Gulf emirate. Together, they accounted for around 85% of total trade volume. Retail diamond jewellery turnover in the GCC is worth about $2 billion a year and is expected to see a significant increase this year, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. The DDE plans to hold rough diamond sales weeks every month, starting from August 24. The DDE is the only exchange in the region to service the diamond trade from mining to retail.

Stockhouse - Vancouver,BC,Canada, Leia Michele Toovey

1 August 2008

Promoting Diamonds on MySpace
Theres plenty of rock on MySpace--but rocks? Diamonds and gems are almost the last thing youd expect to find on the social networking site thats become a major marketing tool in the world of music.

But now, according to the New York Times, French jeweler Cartier has decided MySpace is a gem for their purposes, too. With 3,800 "friends," Cartiers MySpace site advertises its Love jewelry collection, and includes samples of music and film clips. This signals a change of direction for luxury brands when it comes to the company they keep. They times, they are indeed a changin.

Cartier, owned by Richemont, is one of the first luxury brands to use a social networking site, but it begs the question: can you sell $5,000-and-up tank watches to kids looking for the next free download?

In the Times piece, Cartier execs explain that while they may not be selling bling on MySpace, they are getting the word out--and that MySpacers can sample sample their music from artists like Lou Reed and Grand National, with themes of love composed exclusively for Cartier. (And commissioning those songs did not come cheap.)

Modern marketers are excited about blending entertainment and marketing and spreading it through chain letter-style links . But luxury brands have so far been snobs about social network sites.. Cartier took the risk, a spokeswoman for the brand said, because it was a "different way to talk to a young audience."

If Cartier is marketing through MySpace--whats next? Maybe its time to search out Louis Vuitton on Facebook.

by Merle Ginsberg, Conde Nast Portfolio - New York,NY,USA

4 August 2008

Rich add a little sparkle to their investments
Rich add a little sparkle to their investments
4:00AM Monday August 04, 2008

This 21.9 carat ring fetched over US$3 million. Photo / Bloomberg
Diamonds, like art, are a commodity that is gaining attention as an alternative investment.

Increases in the price of the rarest colourless and coloured diamonds are attracting wealthy investors and structured funds as stockmarkets and real estate values decline.

The price of five-carat gems with the potential to be sold at US$1 million ($1.35 million) or more has risen 76.5 per cent in the year to May 2008, according to, the website of the International Diamond and Jewelry Exchange.
"Theres a group of very savvy, tremendously wealthy people who have put a small portion of their fortunes aside to invest in diamonds," says Francois Graff, managing director of London-based Graff Diamonds International. "Theyve made incredible returns."

Five years ago, dealers were paying US$70,000 per carat for colourless diamonds of 10 carats and more, says Graff.

"Now were paying over US$200,000 per carat."

There are only about 200 highest-grade, D-flawless, colourless diamonds of more than five carats discovered per year, says Raymond Sancroft-Baker, Christies Internationals European director of jewellery. The annual yield of large-scale blue and pink stones is considerably smaller.

"Diamonds are getting rarer. The earth just isnt giving them up," says Sancroft-Baker.

Diamond Circle Capital Plc, a specialist investment fund listed on June 25 on the London Stock Exchange by Diapason Commodities Management SA, is the first publicly listed fund to invest in rare coloured and colourless diamonds, according to the International Diamond and Jewelry Exchanges website.

"Over the last 12 months, the best pink and blue diamonds have increased in price between 75 and 100 per cent," says Alan Bronstein, a New York diamond dealer whose Aurora Collection of 296 coloured diamonds is on loan to the Natural History Museum in London. "These are some of the rarest and most colourful things in the world."

Graff says that within the last three months he has sold a D-flawless, emerald-cut, colourless diamond of 243.96 carats to an Asian buyer for more than 50 million ($134 million).

"There were quite a few people ready to buy that stone," says Graff, who has placed a similar price on a flawless, 20-carat, fancy, deep-blue diamond.

The record for any gemstone sold at auction is US$16.5 million with fees paid for the 100.1-carat Star of the Season pear-shaped, colourless diamond at Sothebys, Geneva in May 1995, says Sothebys.

"When stockmarkets go down, its always good for us," says Joanna Hardy, senior specialist at Sothebys jewelry department in London. "People with a lot of surplus cash turn to something more tangible."

Hardy says she doesnt expect prices for large-scale colored and colorless stones to fall within the next six months. Her company is selling diamonds to buyers from a record number of countries.

"Its not as if there are suddenly going to be more of them," she says.


17 July 2007

No Misconception -- Lab Created Diamonds are Distinguishable
RAPAPORT... As many of you may have read, on June 21, The New York Times published an article (which was posted on that insinuated – via a series of quotes – that lab-created diamonds are indistinguishable from the real thing, which is inaccurate.

While the referenced jeweler could not detect the lab-created diamond with his loupe, the gemologists at IGI have been accurately and consistently detecting synthetic and simulated gemstones for over 30 years.
In 2003, “Good Morning America” came to IGI and "tested" three diamonds, one being Apollo man-made, to see if IGI could discern which was which ("Dead Ringers" airing September 3, 2003.) IGI succeeded, and continues to combat claims that these stones are indistinguishable from natural diamonds.
In January 2007, IGI launched a report designed specifically for laboratory-grown diamonds, due to the influx of commercially available synthetic diamonds into the marketplace and the need for consumer education as well as the increased demand from both its clients and the industry for this service.
The reason I chose to publicly address this issue, is it is vital for industry members to keep each other informed of such misconceptions, so that we can together, educate and assure consumers there is an absolute and accurate way to differentiate natural mined diamonds from those grown in a laboratory.

By Jerry Ehrenwald, - New York,NY,USA

16 July 2008

Diamonds are an investors best friend
Diamonds are an investors best friend
Updated: 2008-07-16 07:48
Diamonds, like art, are a commodity that is gaining attention as an alternative investment.
Increases in the price of the rarest colorless and colored diamonds are attracting wealthy investors and structured funds as stock markets and real-estate values decline.

An employee at a diamond merchants workshop inspects diamonds while grading them in Mumbai April 30, 2008.

The price of 5-carat gems with the potential to be sold at $1 million or more has risen 76.5 percent in the year to May 2008, according to, the website of the International Diamond and Jewelry Exchange.

"Theres a group of very savvy, tremendously wealthy people who have put a small portion of their fortunes aside to invest in diamonds," said Francois Graff, managing director of London-based Graff Diamonds International, in a telephone interview. "Theyve made incredible returns."

Five years ago, dealers were paying $70,000 per carat for colorless diamonds of 10 carats and more, said Graff.

"Now were paying over $200,000 per carat," he said.

There are only about 200 highest-grade, D-flawless colorless diamonds of more than 5 carats discovered per year, according to Raymond Sancroft-Baker, Christies Internationals European director of jewelry. The annual yield of large-scale blue and pink stones is considerably smaller.

"Diamonds are getting rarer. The earth just isnt giving them up," said Sancroft-Baker.

The commodity asset-management firm Diapason Commodities Management SA listed a specialist investment fund, Diamond Circle Capital Plc, on the London Stock Exchange on June 25. Diapason did not immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Diamond Circle Capital is the first publicly listed fund to invest in rare colored and colorless diamonds, according to International Diamond and Jewelry Exchanges website.

The fund, which in June 2007 was due to have a $400 million start-up, raised $74.32 million through its initial public offering, said the website.

"Over the last 12 months, the best pink and blue diamonds have increased in price between 75 and 100 percent," said the New York diamond dealer Alan Bronstein in an interview.

Bronsteins Aurora Collection of 296 colored diamonds is currently on loan to the Natural History Museum in London.

"These are some of the rarest and most colorful things in the world," said Bronstein, whose diamonds are specimen examples of less than 3 carats.

"They used to be viewed as curiosities," said Joanna Hardy, senior specialist at Sothebys jewelry department in London. "Now buyers are taking colored diamonds much more seriously. People want to have something different. And they value rarity."

In May, the Codium Fund, specializing in investing in colored diamonds of at least 1 carat, was to be launched in the Netherlands Antilles with a target investment of $100 million, Arab Times said on its website.

Over the last five years, managers of art-investment funds, which buy and sell a pool of works for a set management fee and a share of any profit made, have been keen to promote art as an alternative asset class. So far, the Fine Art Fund, started in 2004, is the only one of these vehicles that has remained conspicuously active in the West.

"The diamond market, like the art market, is based on individual transactions," said Graff, whose father Laurence is a bidder at many Sothebys and Christies contemporary-art auctions. "The wealthy dont need to invest in funds. They can just pick up a telephone and buy the things for themselves."

Graff said that within the last three months he has sold a D-flawless, emerald-cut colorless diamond of 243.96 carats to an Asian buyer for in excess of 50 million pounds ($99.6 million). "There were quite a few people ready to buy that stone," said Graff, who has placed a similar price on a flawless 20-carat fancy deep-blue diamond.

The record for any gemstone sold at auction is the $16.5 million with fees paid for the 100.1-carat "Star of the Season" pear-shaped colorless diamond at Sothebys, Geneva in May 1995, according to Sothebys.

"When stock markets go down, its always good for us," said Hardy. "People with a lot of surplus cash turn to something more tangible." Sothebys was selling diamonds to buyers from a record number of countries, Hardy said.

"Weve got a lot of customers from the Middle East, Russia and the Ukraine. And there are more buyers from Europe than America at the moment," she said.

Hardy does not expect prices for large-scale colored and colorless stones to fall within the next six months.

"Its not as if there are suddenly going to be more of them," she said.

China Daily

9 July 2008

DTC raises rough prices 5-15 percent
AFNS] LONDON, U.K. 9 July 2008 - De Beers Diamond Trading Company (DTC) increased prices for rough goods by an average of a little more than 5 percent at its July 7-11 sight, the sixth of the year. Prices for better goods that produce polished weighing more than 1 carat went up as much as 15 percent, while prices for I quality goods remained unchanged.
The company has promised to release advance pricing information before the sights that preceded the JCK Las Vegas Show in May and the September Hong Kong trade show, which will mean it will disclose information again before the August sight.
It released detailed information to sightholders before the July sight at their request.

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

9 July 2008

HRD Antwerp launches refined cut grade
Instead of reporting about two criteria - proportions and finish - the HRD Antwerp - Diamond Lab will now assess the diamond cut according to three criteria, being proportions, symmetry and polish. In addition, HRD Antwerp now introduces an ‘excellent’ cut grade on top of its very good quotation.
"We needed to adjust our system in order to meet the market demands, since diamond dealers felt there was a discrepancy in grading terminology between different diamond labs. The introduction of an excellent quotation does not imply that our very own very good grade will be downgraded. On the contrary, we have upgraded part of the top-level cuts which, before, would get a ‘very good grade", explains Georges Brys, General Manager of HRD Antwerp.

The HRD Antwerp cut grade is not a black box, as its system is fully transparent and consultable. The standards and criteria are checked with the diamond dealers and manufacturers and are based upon an optimal optical performance. But most of all, the entire system is founded on extensive research on hundreds of thousands of diamonds.
The new cut grade will be operational as of January 1st, 2009.
HRD Antwerp holds a symposium on its HRD Antwerp Cut Grade on July 17, 2008 at 5 pm at its premises. For more information, contact Ms Veerle Van Esbroeck at - Registration is required.

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

9 July 2008

Diamond-filtered vodka offered for sale in Poland, United States
[AFNS] MASSACHUSETTS, USA 09 July 2008 - A high-end vodka produced in Poland, where it is filtered through 600 1-carat diamonds and diamond dust, is now available for sale in the northeastern United States.
Diamond Standard Vodka has been made near Warsaw since 2004, but Michael Smolana, owner of the company, had problems getting it patented and exported, the Boston Herald said.
He finally made contact with TransBorder Marketing Inc. in Massachusetts, which has sold approximately 3,000 bottles of the vodka at about $100 each and is expanding into New York and New Jersey. The marketing slogan is "Fashion you can drink."

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

7 July 2008

De Beers Polishes Its Image
When Gareth Penny became De Beers Groups chief executive in 2006, the worlds biggest diamond producer was mired in some of the worst crises in its 120-year history.

When Gareth Penny took over at De Beers in 2006, the company faced allegations of buying conflict diamonds, price-fixing and racial discrimination. WSJs Vanessa OConnell spoke with him recently to see how the company has dealt with the challenges.
Rapper Kanye Wests "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" in 2005 and the movie "Blood Diamond" in 2006 were triggering a wave of negative publicity about buying "conflict diamonds," which were sold in the 1990s by African rebels to help pay for their wars. De Beers had already worked with the United Nations, governments, and human-rights groups to introduce the Kimberley Process, a voluntary certification program for rough diamonds that allows the origin of the gems to be traced, but the company was vulnerable to a consumer backlash nonetheless.
On its home turf in South Africa, De Beers was criticized for not pushing hard enough for black participation, both in diamond cutting and its own upper ranks. And, after years of sparring with antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe, it was trying to settle class-action suits in the U.S. alleging that its monopolistic practices had long kept the price of rough diamonds artificially high.
Today, De Beers is "in transition," says Mr. Penny, 45 years old. The company, whose sales slipped 2.8% last year to $6.84 billion, has a new business model and is trying to polish its image. And Mr. Penny now casts himself as an unofficial ambassador for Africa who can help bring businesses and jobs to the continent. Excerpts from a recent interview:

WSJ: When you took over, De Beers faced several crises. Which have you resolved? What remains?

Mr. Penny: Over the last six or seven years we have dramatically refashioned the business that we are in, exiting third-party contracts and no longer trying to control supply. Our market share today is still significant, but it is 40% as opposed to 80% or 90% of the diamond business. It is now a very competitive business. We go head to head with all manner of major mining companies everywhere we do business and, on the retail side, with the Cartiers and the Tiffanys and the Bulgaris.
With regard to conflict diamonds, De Beers has worked with many governments around the world to form the Kimberley Process, which has been so successful in stemming diamonds used to fund conflict. One hundred percent of De Beers diamonds today are conflict free.
We have also completed a major black-empowerment deal so that 26% of our South African company is in the hands of a black investment vehicle. We have 50-50 partnerships with Botswana and Namibia. We are looking for ways in which to create opportunities for other businesses -- emerging businesses -- in Africa. Annually we are investing something like $4.6 billion with partners into African economies.
And a judge has recently accepted the [$295 million] settlement reached in the U.S. class action.
I am pleased to say we made significant progress.

WSJ: What is the evidence of that progress?

Mr. Penny: With conflict diamonds, the countries that the issues had been around -- Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc. -- are countries at peace. It is estimated that 99.8% of all diamonds in the world flow through the Kimberley Process, which is extraordinary.
If you look at the contribution that the diamond industry makes in a country like Botswana, 33% of gross domestic product is directly accountable to the diamond industry and to the mines that De Beers operates with its partners. And nearly two-thirds of foreign-exchange revenues are generated through the diamond business. I think all that points to the kind of contribution that we make. [Anglo American PLC owns 45% of De Beers, the Oppenheimer family owns 40% and the government of Botswana owns 15%.]

WSJ: De Beers has a reputation for being very secretive.Why has it opened up and become more active publicly?

Mr. Penny: The product we sell stands for the deepest of human emotions: love and commitment. So we have taken the view that we are enormously proud of what De Beers and its partners are doing today. We want people to know that with any diamond they buy, that product is not only deeply meaningful to them but, in terms of the contribution that it is making, to Africa. If we can tell our story across the world, it is positive for us, and the industry, and for Africa.

WSJ: Have De Beers and the diamond industry embraced change quickly enough?

Mr. Penny: It is fair to say that in the 20th century the industry probably didnt react as quickly as it needed to. It has been quickly catching up in terms of emerging major diamond brands and the significant positions they are occupying in the luxury-goods space. And if you look at huge growth markets like India and China and you see the speed with which diamond acquisition and diamond gifting is becoming a part of everyday life, it is pretty dramatic.

WSJ: There have not been any significant discoveries of diamond mines since 1990. Does that mean prices are going to shoot through the roof?

Mr. Penny: Finding diamond mines isnt easy. We spend $100 million a year looking for diamond mines around the world. If we are successful we may find one major discovery in a 10-year period. So there is an emerging supply-demand gap. Demand is driven both by the existing markets -- the American market is important -- but equally by the new emerging markets, most particularly, India and China. So you are seeing -- and you are going to see -- price rises. I wouldnt describe them as going through the roof, but I think they will be systematic and sustained. Our prices went up 8.5% in the earlier part of the year, and since then, there have been further price rises.

WSJ: The U.S. dollar is weak world-wide and yet it continues to be used as a base for diamond trading. Why?

Mr. Penny: Well, it is something we have looked at. We used to use pounds up until the 50s. But in the last 50 years we have traded in dollars. We are conscious of the fact that America represents 50% of our market. And there are other countries whose currencies are tied to the dollar -- which takes us up to something like two-thirds of the consumer market. So for the time being, we have no plans to change.

WSJ: What are your plans for the De Beers retail business?

Mr. Penny: Well, it is still in start-up phase, [but] it is expanding very rapidly. By the end of this year it should have just short of 50 stores, which puts it probably in the top five [jewelry] retailers in the world. We will have to see how the year pans out as a whole, but I am pleased with the progress.

WSJ: Any thoughts on the U.S. economic slowdown?

Mr. Penny: The jewelry market, like many other sectors of the economy, is going through a challenging period. Some retailers obviously will do well, even in difficult circumstances. And others may not. Longer term, we are optimistic about the American market. It has been a robust and growing and healthy market for decades. We would expect to revert to that pretty soon.

By VANESSA OCONNELL Wall Street Journal - USA

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