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54 posts from January 2005

Improve Cupid's Aim With Five Simple Steps for Buying Jewelry

From diamonds to pearls, every girl melts at the thought of beautiful jewelry from her sweetie for Valentine's Day. But how does a guy know what to buy? And where does he even begin?

Tips from the independent, non-profit Gemological Institute of America:

     Step 1: Recognize her tastes.  Hearts are always a favorite on
     Cupid's Day, and the shape is in style year round.  Red gems, like ruby
     and garnet, are also a passion of the ladies on this romantic day.  You
     can also personalize the gift by having your jeweler engrave your
     Valentine's name, or a message, on the jewelry.  Pearls are a classic
     gift, and diamonds are also a hit on this day for lovers.
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De Beers's Diamond Sales Rose to Record on U.S., Survey Shows

De Beers, the world's biggest diamond producer, may say 2004 sales rose to a record $5.82 billion as growing jewelry demand in the U.S. and Asia allowed the 116-year- old company to boost gem prices for a third straight year.

Sales probably jumped 5.4 percent, beating the 2000 peak by $150 million, according to the median estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Johannesburg-based De Beers, which sells three of every five uncut diamonds, raised prices three times last year, by a total of 20 percent. Sales will be released on Feb 3.

``It appears to be a competitive market, but in reality they remain the price leader,'' said Chaim Even-Zohar of Tacy Ltd., a consultant in Tel Aviv. ``They are the only game in town.''

Since 2000, De Beers has encouraged customers to spend more on advertising and formed a venture with Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, which runs De Beers-branded stores in London and Tokyo, to fuel demand for diamonds. De Beers changed strategy after its previous plan of buying up rivals' gems left it with a $4.9 billion stockpile that depressed prices.

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Diamonds, the Sexy Valentine

Rings are symbols of union, faith, passion, eternal love and fidelity. And precious stones set in symbolic settings of gold and silver have been part of the marriage ritual for thousands of years. Many suitors will be buying online this year and looking for a great deal to maximise the sparkle of their precious presentation. Competition is fierce amongst internet retailers and one new site is going to great lengths to both inform buyers and guarantee the very best prices. Large, clear pictures of diamond cuts, diamond grading and a large selection of diamond rings on crisp white pages set the style of The site offers free, fast worldwide delivery, a 30 day money back guarantee and a best price promise.

Mastering the "4Cs" - carat weight, clarity, cut and color helps couples cut through the confusing maze of baguettes, roses, asschers and marquises. Visitors also learn many useful facts for getting the ring of their dreams: a sparkly white look comes from the setting as well as a diamond"s facets, and old-fashioned cuts like the cushion have a soft glow rather than the glittery look now preferred by many brides. Ampalian advises couples to choose on instinct as well as weight since each jewel has its own "personality and sex appeal, a life in the stone referred to as fire."

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Found: flawless diamonds abandoned by De Beers

A GEMS windfall in the African kingdom of Lesotho has raised hopes that diamonds may prove to be the impoverished country’s best friend.

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In just six days four enormous flawless diamonds have been discovered at the recently reopened Letseng mine, high in the Maluti mountains.

Together, the four gems weigh 366 carats and conservative estimates value them at $6 million (£3.2 million).

“They are ‘D’ flawless — each one is of the highest quality of white stone,” Keith Whitelock, the chief executive of the Letseng Mining Company, said.

“It is very rare these days to find diamonds of this size and purity. There is a worldwide shortage of large, high-quality stones, so $6 million might even be a bit on the low side.”

Letseng, at 3,200m (10,500ft) the highest diamond mine in the world, is owned by the Government of Lesotho and JCI, the South African conglomerate. The owners say that they expect more big finds thanks to new machinery that has enabled them to tap a rich, deep seam of hard rock.

Golconda drills for diamonds

Drilling for diamonds is getting under way at Shulin Lake, 47 miles northwest of Anchorage. This year’s $1 million drill program is a joint venture between Calgary-based Golconda Resources (51 percent), Shulin Lake Mining and Shear Minerals. The program got the go-ahead after microdiamonds were found at the property in hole 22, the last one drilled in 2004.

Last year’s reinterpretation of an airborne magnetic survey undertaken in 2000 showed that this hole was at the edge of two of the most prominent anomalies. The reinterpretation indicates several targets that could be due to intrusive bodies or pipes, Golconda said in a release Jan. 18. Diamonds are extremely difficult to find, and there are only about 100 diamondiferous pipes in the world.

Gold prices predicted to reach 17-year peak in 2005

Due to reduced production in South Africa and North America, gold prices have been projected to climb 6 percent this year, which would put them at their highest levels since 1988, according to JP Morgan and Chase & Co., the U.S.' second-largest bank.

A Jan. 24 report from London-based JP Morgan analysts forecasts an average gold price that will rise to $435 an ounce in 2005, reports The metal rose 13 percent in price last year, spiking in part due to the dollar's weakness against the euro, which drove investors away from U.S. securities. Gold is currently priced at $425 an ounce.

The weak U.S. dollar combined with diminished output from gold mines packed a one-two punch to drive gold prices upward. Gold production dropped 5 percent last year, according to London-based research group GFMS Ltd., via Bloomberg, while in the past three years, the South African rand has doubled against the dollar, leading to decreased profits for South African mining companies that produce most of the world's gold.

"The easy pickings have been exploited," said the JP Morgan report of gold mining, "and exploration now requires deeper, more expensive drilling with arguably lower likelihood of success."

On Dec. 2, gold reached a 16-year high of $456.89. The JP Morgan analysts foresee average gold prices reaching $450 in 2006, and dropping to $448 in 2007.

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Indian gem and jewelry exports rise 38 percent

Exports for gems and jewelry out of India rose 38 percent in 2004, the country's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) announced recently.

Total exports of Indian gems and jewelry amounted to $14.33 billion for January through December of last year, up from $10.4 billion during the same period in 2003.

India's cut and polished diamond exports helped to drive overall exports in 2004 by rising more than 28 percent, reaching $10.3 million compared to $8 million the previous year. The country's rough diamond exports saw 11 percent growth for the year, rising from $6.6 million in 2003 to $7.4 million last year. Indian colored gemstone exports grew 3 percent in 2004.

GJEPC Chairman Bakul Mehta expressed pleasure at India's gem and jewelry export performance for the year, asserting in GJEPC's release that the industry "is moving in the right direction" and expressing faith that it will continue its strong performance.

"We are confident that we [will] surpass the set target of $16 billion by 2007, and are hopeful that this growth rate shall continue," Mehta said in the statement.

Comprised of more than 7,000 Indian jewelers and originating in 1966, GJEPC is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of India's government, Ministry of Commerce and elected representatives from the country's jewelry industry.

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DISC relaunched by diamond industry leaders

Diamond industry leaders announced Wednesday the relaunch of the Diamond Industry Steering Committee (DISC), a group dedicated to promoting the interests of the American diamond industry.

Jacob Banda, president of the Diamond Dealers Club, called the meeting of industry leaders in an effort to rejuvenate DISC, which has decreased its activities since 1990, when it was founded. In its newest incarnation, DISC aims to capitalize on the industry momentum that started gathering steam at the World Diamond Congress, held in New York in October.

Basant Johari, president of the Indian Diamond and Colored Stone Association; Ronald J. Friedman, president of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America; and Banda will serve as DISC's co-chairman. Their organizations will fund the committee.

"We have made giant progress in providing a common voice for the common interests of the American diamond industry," says Jeff Fischer, president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association.

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Four giant diamonds discovered at Letseng Mine

In just six days, four huge flawless diamonds have been discovered at Lesotho's Letseng diamond mine high in the Maluti mountains.

The four stones together weigh 366 carats and mine chief executive Keith Whitelock says he expects them to fetch a minimum of $6-million (R36-million).

"Each one is of the highest quality of white stone -- D flawless," said Whitelock "there is a world-wide shortage of large high-quality stones so $6-million might even be a little conservative."

Letseng was only officially opened last year after investment from Brett Kebble's mining finance company JCI and is already exceeding expectations.

The mine is now jointly owned by JCI Limited, Matodzi Resources and the Lesotho government.

"Letseng is unique because it regularly produces very large high quality stones," said Whitelock.

"The big stones we have just discovered were found in the normal course of production. Because we know that very big stones appear regularly, we had to design a recovery process that would recognise much larger gems than are usually found in other diamond mines; fortunately the process is working well."

The run of good fortune began on January 21 when a flawless 76-carat stone was recovered. This was followed two days later by a 112-carat stone. On January 25 a 106-carat beauty turned up and a further 72-carat stone was recovered on January 26.

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Israeli diamond manufacturers trying to counter offshoring:

Israel's diamond manufacturers are adopting all possible measures to counter reported shifting of base by companies to countries with low labour costs, especially India, a media report said.

Amid growing concerns over reports of Israeli diamond companies shifting bases to India, Israeli Diamond Manufacturers Association President, Moti Ganz, told business daily 'Globes' that a technological response is being formulated to counter India's advantage.

An expected completion of development of an innovative diamond polishing machinery would make Israel competitive against countries with low labor costs, especially India, Ganz told the daily.

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