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59 posts from February 2005

Union slams De Beers for possible layoffs

Labour union Solidarity on Monday criticised the De Beers mining group over its intention to retrench more than 1 000 of its 9 000 employees because five of its seven mines were operating at a loss.

"It is odd that De Beers has issued a single retrenchment notice for all its mines," Solidarity spokesperson Dirk Hermann said.

"General practice is to determine the reason for operating losses per business unit, or in this case per mine."

He said what made the retrenchment notice even more odd was the fact that diamonds as a commodity were doing better in the current economic climate than gold and platinum.

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KATE WINSLET was a winner before she arrived at the OSCARS last night (27FEB05) - she was covered in crystals and diamonds.

The FINDING NEVERLAND star was chosen to take a Cleopatra clutch bag with 40 carats of diamonds attached to it to the ACADEMY AWARDS by British bag designer LANA MARKS.

The British actress also opted to wear a STUART WEITZMAN Tstrap, pointed toe shoe decked with Swarovski crystals - designed for her by the Beverly Hills footwear king.

Weitzman also designed BARBRA STREISAND's 2005 Oscars shoes.


Over $16 million worth diamonds were sold at the 6th international auction for special size diamonds, reads ALROSA Co.'s press release RIA Novosti received on Monday.

The auction was sponsored by Russia's Diamond Chamber and ALROSA Co. It opened on January 17, while its outcomes were summed up on February 25, 2005.

Thirty-seven companies from Russia, the United States, India, Israel, Belgium, and Belarus, which specialize in operations with large diamonds, took part in the event.

591 diamonds weighing more than 10,300 carats overall, including 16 particularly large diamonds weighing over 50 carats, were put up for the auction. The largest diamond at the auction weighted 158.58 carats.

An overall of $16.6 million worth diamonds were sold at the auction.

Kate Winslet Selects LANA MARKS for 2005 Academy Awards

Hollywood leading lady and Best Actress nominee for the 2005 Academy Awards Kate Winslet wore a $100,000 custom made LANA MARKS Cleopatra Clutch to the 2005 Academy Awards. Lana J. Marks personally designed and customized this dazzling couture handbag especially for Ms. Winslet for this occasion.

Ms. Winslet's Cleopatra Clutch has been handmade in four separate countries, two of which Ms. Marks personally traveled to in order to ensure the perfection of this creation. The handbag has been dyed a unique shade of matte silver alligator. The handbag's frame is handcrafted in 18 karat white gold, paved with white diamonds and sapphires. A 1920s inspired clasp, also in white diamonds and sapphires, accents the signature contour of this Cleopatra Clutch. Over 40 karats of white diamonds and sapphires grace the front of this dazzling creation.

"I greatly admire Kate's work and it's a tremendous honor to design this exquisite creation just for her," says Ms. Marks.

Drew Barrymore will also be arriving at the 2005 Academy Awards wearing the sleek, shiny alligator LANA MARKS Concord Clutch. The geometric slim proportions of the clutch are the epitome of glamorous fashion with an edge.

Setting a new standard for luxury accessories, world-renowned Lana J. Marks is the CEO and Designer of her Palm Beach based companies. Lana J. Marks has personally distinguished herself as one of the most talented accessories designers to both Hollywood and royalty. She truly understands glamour, sophistication, proportion, and versatility. The LANA MARKS Collections now consists of over 150 designs available in 100 colours of alligator, ostrich, crocodile, and lizard. LANA MARKS designs are available at her shops on Madison Avenue, New York; Worth Avenue, Palm Beach; and Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and fine stores worldwide.

Visit LANA MARKS on the web at

Information About Diamonds

Diamonds are minerals which consists of carbon packed into a tight crystalline form. The light entering the mineral's top part once it was cut gives it that sparkling glow once it also goes out on the same part. There are several forms of diamonds. They are diamond proper, bort, ballas and carbonado. Diamond proper is known as the crystalline gemstone. Borts are tough, dark-colored, imperfectly crystallized diamonds. Ballas ones are compact and tough while carbonado are carbon-colored ones without slants.

Their 10-rating based on a scale of 1 to 10 makes them the hardest substance on earth, as recorded by the mohs hardness scale. This was invented by German minerologist Friedrich Mohs. Yet the hardness of a diamond's surface depends on its cut.

A diamond has many properties. One of it is color: colorless, yellow, brown, green, blue and the rarest of all, the red ones. Some elements consisting of just a small portion in a diamond gives its color. Other properties include brilliance, fire, luster and fluorescent glow once diamonds are struck by sunlight. It results in the light blue, milky white and red shine in other gems. They are also cold when touched and acid-resistant.

The exact origin of diamonds are still unknown but researchers theorized that extreme pressure and heat are involved in the formation of diamonds. Magma inside a volcano is probably where diamonds originate. Once extreme heat and pressure mixes, an eruption occurs and hence, the pipes characteristic of diamonds are blown upward and take form in sedimentary rocks. Some diamonds are also found in meteorites in its graphite form.

Some diamonds can be found underwater which was near where these mineral deposits came from. Others can be found in other minerals like sandstones, conglomerates, etc. which were once a part of the alluvial deposits during the earlier era when geologic changes took place.

Extremely small-sized diamonds known as hexagonal diamonds were found in meteorites. They were similar to the common cubic diamonds but its angle has been turned to about 60 degrees from the cubic diamond's position. These hexagonal diamonds are contained in the graphite form of meteorites during impact to the earth's atmosphere. They are blended in extremely hot temperatures.

Sierra Leone: Good Progress, But a Long Way to Go

Sierra Leone, which for a decade was regarded as a byword for conflict diamonds, has made great strides in cleaning up its diamond trade dealings although government revenues from the business are minimal and the vast majority of the country's citizens are not benefiting from its exports of gems, according to a new report.

The report was produced by the Ottawa-based Partnership Africa Canada and the Freetown-based Network Movement for Justice and Development.

Official diamond exports showed an almost 100 percent rise to $126 million last year from $74 million in 2003, but according to the report this was overwhelmingly due to the Kimberley Process which compels the legal sale of diamonds and the improved security situation rather than efforts by the Sierra Leone government to crack down on diamond smuggling.

"Hardly anyone, including government officials, attributes (the rise in diamond exports) to internal curbs on illicit diamonds mining and smuggling, both of which continue to thrive," wrote the report's authors.

In an estimate based on information from other sources, the report believes $30 million-$170 million of diamonds were smuggled out of Sierra Leone last year.

The report pays tribute the transparency of the operations of Sierra Leone's Gold and Diamond Department which values diamonds for export and levies export taxes.

It points out, though, that the direct taxes the government receives from the diamond mining industry is tiny. The government's three percent tax on diamond sales brought in less than $4 million last year. During the 1991-2001 civil war, almost no diamond income made its way to government coffers.

Diamonds were used to pay for the arms that kept the war going, aided by the fact that Sierra Leone's shallow alluvial deposits can be mined with the most basic of tools, such as a pick and shovel, while smuggling the gems out was a simple matter due to the country's largely unguarded borders.

The report points out that the smuggling of diamonds, as with the legal gems trade, is largely controlled by members of Sierra Leone's Lebanese community which "dictate the price of rough diamonds, reap most of the economic rewards and exploit those in the production chain below them".

The report says that deep mining operations, of which there are few, could provide the key for increased job opportunities and increased government revenue.

Koidu Holdings, a company 60 percent owned by the Steinmetz Diamond Group, has invested more than $20 million in opening two kimberlite mines. Up to August last year, the firm exported 46,000 carats worth $9 million.

In stark contrast to the largely ungovernable artisanal diamond mining industry, a full 40 percent of profits from underground mining operations go to the government in corporation tax, surface rent and royalties.

As the Partnership Africa-Canada report says: "Clearly, Sierra Leone requires the investment that such companies can bring in order to develop the diamond deposits buried deep in kimberlite pipes. Most of the problems of today's diamond industry in Sierra Leone boil down less to willful corruption and mismanagement than to challenges of governance and procedure."

Diamonds Compared to Cubic Zirconia

The beauty and brilliance of diamonds has been admired throughout history. However, in past centuries their use was reserved strictly for royalty. Today, thanks to remarkable diamond substitutes like Cubic Zirconia, almost anyone can afford to dapper up their accessory collection with dazzling, eye-catching jewelry.

Because Cubic Zirconia is the finest synthetic stone, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a diamond and a well-cut Cubic Zirconia without the assistance of magnification. Since it does not contain any of the impurities or flaws normally found in diamonds, Cubic Zirconia usually present more sparkle and clarity than a diamond. While they are not quite as hard as diamonds, they are still much harder than most other gemstones.

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Learn more about Cubic Zironia at

Oscar hopefuls for hire in fashion house wars

HILARY SWANK, who is tipped for the best actress award at tonight’s Oscar ceremony in Hollywood, will be sparkling whether or not she wins: she is being paid a fortune to wear diamonds by the Swiss jeweller Chopard during the Oscar season.

Nominated for her performance in Million Dollar Baby, Swank, 30, has become the most prominent celebrity for hire as fashion firms and others vie to cash in on the Oscars.

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Thieves hijack truckload of diamonds

Thieves hijacked an armored car at Schiphol Airport outside Amsterdam and escaped with millions of dollars in diamonds.

The BBC reports that the diamonds were supposed to be loaded on a plane to Antwerp in Belgium when the robbers struck. Some reports put the value of the gems at almost $100 million, the BBC said. KLM officials said that the robbery took place in front of several witnesses Friday morning on a cargo ramp at the airport. The robbers drove off in the armored car, which was recovered a short time later in a village near the airport.

A diamond cuppa

PG Tips has commissioned a diamond and gold teabag to celebrate its 75th birthday.

The innovative item brings a different meaning to having expensive tastes, with the teabag said to be the most expensive in the world.

Jewellers Boodle and Dunthorne have created the item, which is the standard pyramid shape, filled with 100 2.25-carat diamonds and fine, limited edition tea leaves.

The rest of the bag includes 100 diamonds and a white gold chain in place of the standard teabag string, which is also adorned with a further 80 diamonds.

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