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35 posts from August 2005

Kimberley finds diamonds are not forever

Kimberley's diamonds once drew prospectors from all over the world, but the end of underground mining in the remote Northern Cape Town has left some wondering how it will survive without them.

Hundreds of workers still descend more than 0.5km underground at the town's three mines before dawn, but only for essential maintenance. Production has stopped and although consultation with workers continues, gem giant De Beers says it doubts mining will ever restart.

"We are moving towards the final cessation of underground operations," said David Noko, the De Beers Kimberley operations manager. "It has hit morale. Shock, frustration, anxiety - there are all of these things."

Diamond prices have risen some 5% in the last year, fuelled mainly by demand from newly-rich middle-class Chinese and Indian customers. However, the firm says the mines that once produced most of the world's gems are simply too exhausted and expensive to run profitably.

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1.22 carat diamond in Arkansas park

It might be a hobby, but Steve Lee really knows how to spot a diamond in the rough. Lee's most recent find -- a 1.22 carat, gem-quality diamond -- turned up during a recent visit to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro.

Sign up for: Globe Headlines e-mail | Breaking News Alerts He said he hadn't been able to hunt for diamonds in more than two years because a disability forced him to use crutches. Lee returned this year after friends persuaded him to take up the hobby again.

"It's a real thrill to find one this nice," he said Tuesday. "Even if you can't get around good, you can still do it."

Crater of Diamonds Superintendent Tom Stolarz said the size of the find isn't necessarily unusual for the park, but the quality of the diamond is exceptional. The state park is the only diamond mine in North America in which the public can dig.

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Five-year-olds find 1,000 year old jewelry

Two playful five-year-olds in Tromsø have made an archeological find that has stunned experts.

The pair of boys discovered jewelry over 1,000 years old while playing near their house. Associate Professor Inger Storli at Tromsø Museum called the find sensational and unique, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.

"Our eyes popped, because none of us had seen anything like it before," Storli told NRK.

The boys found the artifacts, estimated to be from around the year 900, under a tree root in the family garden. A large disc-shaped patterned pendant and a silver bead were uncovered by the Tromsø youngsters.

Archeologists have made additional discoveries after visiting the site, with a large silver chain with an apparently brass animal head at each end the most impressive.

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Diamonds lose 'world's hardest' title

Diamonds have been usurped as the world's hardest material, thanks to researchers in Germany, who have made a new material by compressing carbon-60 molecules. They have dubbed their new form of carbon "aggregated diamond nanorods".

The University of Bayreuth team, led by Natalia Dubrovinskaia, have patented their breakthrough, which they expect will have many applications in industry.

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The latest improvement at Arkansas's diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park, is a new 3,900-square-foot Diamond Discovery Center, a US$965,069 structure that now serves as the gateway to the park’s 37½-acre diamond search area and an in-depth introduction to the adventure of searching for diamonds. The Diamond Discovery Center is a diamond search area-based, interpretive facility that is designed to enhance the visitor experience at the park by helping park visitors understand diamonds and how to search for them at the site.

The exhibits include the diamond hunters’ hall of fame, and feature information about the many notable diamonds that have been unearthed here since those first diamond discoveries in 1906. Along with the exhibit gallery, the two level barrier-free building features a refreshment facility, digging equipment rental, restrooms/bathhouse/changing rooms, office, and storage on the lower level. The building’s upper level features a 1,600-square-foot classroom. The building sports an architectural design reminiscent of old mining buildings. This mining-theme is carried into the interior with the look of the exhibits and furnishings.

Located in southwest Arkansas, the park is the world's only publicly operated diamond site where the public is allowed to search and keep any gems found, regardless of value. Visitors search over a plowed field, the eroded surface of the earth’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area. Other semi-precious gems and minerals found here include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite and quartz. The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and the exhibit gallery in the park visitor center explain the site’s geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.

Tiffany is lowering its price on some products.

Tiffany (NYSE: TIF) has had stellar success with international sales recently. Last year, it recorded $2.2 billion in sales at more than 150 locations around the world. In recent years, Tiffany has opened stores across Europe, Asia, and South America.

That's the good news. The bad news is that as part of its sales strategy, Tiffany has been offering many of its products at lower prices in an attempt to appeal to a broader range of customers.

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China becomes leading jewelry consumer

The Platinum Guild International unveiled data recently which ranked China as the second largest consumer of gem products, with its over 100 billion yuan of annual sales for both jewelry and jade, second only to the US.

China's jewelry consumption is increasing by 8 percent to 10 percent annually. Sales of jadeite, jade, and pearl jewelry reached some 40 billion yuan per year, the largest in the world. It is the world's fifth diamond jewelry market, with annual sales of 30 billion yuan, and the fourth gold jewelry market, valued 30 billion yuan.

India may source diamonds from Angola

India is willing to explore the possibility of sourcing rough diamonds from Angola and encouraging Indian entrepreneurs to set up cutting and polishing units in the African nation.  Today in Sify Finance 

This was indicated by Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath when his Angolan counterpart Abrabao Pio Dos Santos Gourgel met him here recently.

Nath conveyed India's interest in participating in other sectors like phosphate, manganese, copper and zinc. He drew the attention of Angolan government to ONGC Videsh's willingness to invest over $ one billion in a refinery project at Lobito.

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Odimo Incorporated Announces Purported Securities Class Action Lawsuit

Odimo Incorporated (Nasdaq: ODMO), an online retailer that offers high quality diamonds, fine jewelry, brand name watches and luxury goods through three websites (,, and, today announced that it received notice that a securities class action complaint has been filed against the Company and two of its officers in Circuit Court in Broward County, Florida on behalf of a purported class of purchasers of the Company's common stock.  The complaint alleges violations of federal securities laws due to allegedly false and misleading statements in Odimo's public disclosures in connection with its initial public offering.

Alan Lipton, Odimo's President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "We firmly believe that this lawsuit is without merit and we intend to vigorously defend the Company and our employees."


A major qualitative research survey of key UK retailers conducted by International Jewellery London, dedicated to identifying predominant trends in jewelry buying for the first half of 2005, found that consumers are ‘trading up’ to higher priced items and the luxury sector is witnessing customers buying bigger, certificated stones.

Over thirty jewelers, from the high street through to the luxury sector, were interviewed and the results revealed evidence of changes in traditional consumer spending patterns in the jewelry industry, with ‘bigger and better’ being the message UK retailer jewelers are picking up from their customers.

The industry as a whole has experienced lower footfall throughout 2005 but, despite this, diamonds remain one of the strongest revenue earners for retailers.   This is fuelled by falling demand for traditional stones such as blue sapphires, emeralds and rubies. 

In keeping with the trend towards bright feminine shades in colored stones, luxury retailers report that colored diamonds, especially yellow are becoming increasingly popular. Other hot colors and stones are pink sapphires and, to a lesser degree, brown stones are growing in popularity.

White metals, led by platinum and spearheaded by engagement and wedding rings, continue to dominate higher-end jewelry sales. At the same time, despite a muted comeback for yellow gold, demand for white gold pieces has fallen in both the number of items sold and the overall metal weight.

While demand for silver has followed a similar pattern, some department stores are reporting a rise in popularity of better quality silver items such as the combination of white diamonds and silver and branded, designed pieces.  Retailers also report a resurgence in demand for pearls of all colors, with a trend to multi-strand items that incorporate other precious and semi-precious stones.

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