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35 posts from August 2005

Botswana says may bypass De Beers' London sales arm

Botswana says a planned sales venture with diamond giant De Beers may bypass the group's Diamond Trading Company operation in London, marking a major departure from De Beers' decades-old central sales structure.

De Beers is under increasing pressure from southern African governments to create jobs by sorting and valuing diamonds locally and by supplying local polishing outfits direct.

De Beers and Botswana, who already share Debswana whose three large kimberlite mines make Botswana the world's top diamond producer by value, agreed this year to create a local sales venture to promote the small local polishing industry.

Officials at De Beers, which is 45 percent owned by Anglo American, said in an emailed response to Reuters on Tuesday that the details still had to be worked out.

But President Festus Mogae told Reuters last week the new venture would bypass De Beers traditional mixing process, in which uncut gems from around the world are mixed by the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) in London to be sold on in batches.

Mogae said "DTC Botswana" -- to be owned half by Botswana's government and half by the DTC in London -- would take rough diamonds from Botswana and other countries in the region and sell them on in Botswana, without going via London.

"The sorting (and valuation) normally would take place in each individual country," Mogae said in an interview in Gaborone, which already boasts a large De Beers sorting operation whose entire gem output is exported to London.

"What would then happen is that the diamonds from the region could then be dealt with here by the Diamond Trading Company instead of being dealt with in London, and it would be possible for sightholders to visit Gaborone and not only London," Mogae said.

De Beers' selected customers are known as sightholders, and there are currently four in Botswana, out of 25 in southern Africa as a whole, mostly in neighbouring South Africa.

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UK shoppers buy bigger and better jewels

Jewellery consumers are becoming more aspirational in their purchases, despite a downturn in trade, buying high-end luxury items including white metals and precious stones, a major survey of trends showed.

"Bigger and better is the message UK retailer jewellers are picking up from their customers," leading UK industry showcase International Jewellery London said in a statement on its poll of more than 30 jewellers spanning the lower and higher end of the market for the first half of 2005.

White metals, led by platinum and spearheaded by engagement and wedding rings continue to dominate higher-end jewel sales, with diamonds featuring as one of the strongest revenue earners, despite lower numbers of shoppers.

Coloured diamonds, especially yellow, were also figuring heavily in reports from luxury retailers, while demand for traditional stones such as blue sapphires, emeralds and rubies fell in favour of pastel shades.

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The Gokhran, Russia’s state repository for precious metals and gemstones, is to offer 438 lots of uncut diamonds weighing 10.8 carats of more at an auction on August 30.

The Gokhran, which is planning three large diamond auctions and two gold jewelry auctions this year, sold 99 percent of the 486 lots of diamonds offered at its first auction of 2005 on June 1 for US$46 million. The lots consisted of 1,261 diamonds weighing a total of 19,250 carats.

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Canada’s resource riches could be attractive to both foreign and domestic organized crime, warns Criminal Intelligence Services Canada (CISC) in its 2005 Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada.

Canada’s diamond industry exemplifies a sector of Canada’s natural resources where law enforcement is continuing to pro-actively monitor the potential criminal exploitation by organized crime. In Canada, the criminal market in natural resources attracts organized crime groups, some of whom are involved in other criminal markets, and individuals unaligned with any one group. These groups could be drawn by the profits to be made, warns the CISC.

According to the CISC, it is possible to smuggle both rough and polished stones into and from Canada, where they can be introduced into the stream of rough, cut and polished and then sold as Canadian diamonds.

Possible threats posed by organized crime’s potential infiltration of the diamond industry are through co-opted or wholly owned mining, exploration, and cutting and polishing firms. Co-option of a firm or a specialized service within could occur if organized crime groups were to place individuals in jobs that could gain access to important industry information or to acquire a supply of rough stones illicitly.

Theft and distortions in the valuation of diamonds that are both imported and exported are also possible through jewelry stores and diamond exploration companies, as is insertion of non-Canadian diamonds into the stream of diamonds labeled as originating from one of the Canadian diamond mines. Organized crime groups are likely to be drawn to the mine sites and their neighboring communities as their populations swell with well paid workers with few outlays for their money. In the past, organized crime has supplied similar resource extraction-based communities with illicit drugs, contraband tobacco and alcohol, illegal gaming and associated loan-sharking, and prostitution, says the report.

Additional potential threats from organized crime that could have a direct and indirect impact on the Canadian diamond industry include: misrepresentation of high-quality fake stones for real diamonds; an increasing involvement by organized crime in polished stones as a means to transport currency, as well as investment in jewelry stores; an increase in the smuggling of rough stones in order to avoid the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme; and opportunistic theft at mine sites or while in transit to secondary stages.

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Lower-cost platinum jewelry resisted by some in industry

Dreaming of draping yourself in fine platinum jewelry — but the price is out of reach?

Some jewelers want the Federal Trade Commission to allow an alloy of 58.5 percent of the precious white element mixed with common metals to be marketed as platinum — at a proportionately lower price.

Others say that lowering the high purity of items that can carry the platinum hallmark would undermine the market. They are asking the FTC to bar companies from using the word platinum to market such alloys.

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New Book Discusses Fascination With Bling, Jewelry

A new book will hit the shelves next week, courtesy of Wenner books, discussing the trends and documenting the metallic fashions used by rap icons, and even pop culture, over semi-recent years. The title and now pop-referenced terminology, “bling bling,” was popularized with Louisiana rap artist B.G. and his song “Bling, Bling” around the turn of the century, but the text revels more in making sense of the phenomena. The book uses images and shows hip hop artists dating back two decades to create a frame of reference for how and why the “bling” permeates fashion in a current sense.

The author is former MTV news writer, Minya Oh, also known to the hip hop world as Hot 97’s Miss Info. Oh makes sure to compare and contrast current stars such as 50 Cent, Lil’ Jon, and Snoop Dogg, as well as taking a look back into the past and identifying what artists such as Slick Rick, Chuck D, or even Afrika Bamaataa were rocking.

Another premise that Oh works with in this book is the fundamental reasons that bling is so prominent in hip hop culture or in the world. Ultimately, every people and every culture has used some item(s) to symbolize status and represent wealth; however, there are also many that use jewelry today to make passers-by believe that they are financially better off than they may realistically be.

“People want to sparkle,” Oh said. “Everyone wants to stand out, none more so than rappers. They were struggling to find their place in both music and the larger American culture, and went from struggling minority to legit millionaires. They’re living out champagne wishes and caviar dreams, and then we follow suit by getting our own little personal piece of glamour. There’s never been more rhinestones on the least jewelry-related products. We’re seeing bling bling in banking ads, chewing gum ads, hundreds of products. It now translates to all types of people, because it makes you more glamorous than you were.”

Oh also notes that some bling is used to make an individual seem less glamorous, such as Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s gold fronts or Lil’ Jon’s pimp cup chalice. The Cash Money Millionaire affiliate, Baby, even had his metal mouth permanently bonded. This is not common practice, nor is it suggested. Baby, as a result though, “can eat anything, even if it’s scalding hot,” Oh said.

Glamour is not the only tale in the book though. Oh catches up with artists that responded to the public and corporate pressure to maintain a certain image that they could not keep up or even make a jewelry purchase that they knew they could not afford. Issues of jealousy, not to mention being threatened, robbed, and/or hurt are also mentioned. Oh summarized the book, succinctly, stating that “If anything, the book shows the good, the bad, the ugly, and then the sad. They’re chasing these gold dreams, but what happens when you put too much value in your chain? If you spend all your money on your ring and then you go broke? It’s not an advertisement for jewelry.”

Source: SoundSlam

Synthetic New Age Diamonds is Expanding Capacities

Due to a large number of requests from wholesalers, retailers and jewelers New Age Diamonds had received since its first entry to the world market, company has decided to expand production in all categories. Market demand brings some new ideas and accents. In colors - all tints of orange from light yellow to vivid canary, that are very attractive to customers. When it comes to the weight range, there is quite a strong interest in diamonds from 1/4 ct to 1+ ct.

New Age Diamonds is determined to increase the volume of production by bringing some new equipment into operation. In order to make all contacts with dealers and representatives more efficient, the company management is considering a possibility of organizing some affiliates on territories close to prospective customers. Currently, New Age Diamonds is choosing the reliable and serious partners from already existing and interested in that kind of collaboration companies. Each of these new branches might be specialized in one specific category such as new colors or bigger sizes. Recent experience of New Age Diamonds on the world market shows an ultimate economical effectiveness of such strategy.

Mr. Shulepov, President of New Age Diamonds, said -
"We plan to perform the following important economical actions:
- launching of new capacities in the beginning of year 2006
- having intensive advertising, promotional and marketing campaigns to support the brand
- increasing volume of productions month by month
- paying special attention to the most prospective destinations such as developing of new tints of pink (from light to deep red), diamonds of 2+cts
- cutting fantasy shapes for modern designs".

Such promising perspectives make New Age Diamonds ready to have a business dialog with potential investors in order to find a respectable and stable partner for prosperous future. Mr. Shulepov is currently negotiating with some North American and European companies that expressed their interest in such a cooperation. Many years of experience and reliable scientific background definitely gives a decided advantage to overcome all expanding-related problems in short terms.

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6,000 Years Of Jewelry

Phoenix Ancient Art (, one of the world's leading dealers in rare and high quality antiquities from Western civilizations, today announced that its latest exhibit, "6000 Years of Jewels: Fine Metalwork and Jewelry from Antiquity," will be displayed at the company's Manhattan gallery.

Prior to arriving in New York, the collection was displayed at Phoenix Ancient Art's gallery in Geneva, Switzerland, where it garnered rave reviews. The Tribune de Genève, Geneva's main daily newspaper, called the exhibition "Geneva's exhibition of the year."

Featuring 100 breathtaking pieces dating from approximately the 4th millennium B.C. to the 13th century A.D the exhibition offers a fascinating glimpse at the superb tradition of ancient metalwork and jewelry. Originating from cultures throughout Western civilization-including Spain, Germany, Central Europe, the Balkans, Greece and Rome, Anatolia, the Levant and Mesopotamia-the pieces showcase various artistic styles and impeccable craftsmanship.

"The ancient techniques created by these designers are virtually impossible for today's jewelers to recreate, even with modern technology," said Hicham Aboutaam, co-founder of Phoenix Ancient Art. "It's a testament to the genius and accomplishments of ancient artists that we are still admiring their creations thousands of years later."

The collection presents an intriguing display of how the various civilizations used different metallurgic techniques to great effect. One striking theme is the reverence for precious materials, such as gold, silver and precious stones. Pieces from antiquity accented with sapphires, carnelian, agate, sardonyx, emeralds and natural pearls are also found, serving as testament to ancient tastes for wealth and luxury.

The exhibit displays a variety of wearable items-including rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets-such as a gold torque necklace made from a hammered bar of gold originating from Western Europe in the second millennium B.C.

Vessels are also prominently featured, including a magnificent 5th - 4th century B.C. Greek silver rhyton with fluted body and a gilt lion's head protome, and a Hellenistic Greek gold cup with scenes of fishermen in repoussé from the second- first century B.C.

Located at 47 East 66th Street in Manhattan, the gallery will be open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. Private appointments can be made by calling (212) 288-7518.

Diamond Newsletter Archive

Check out the topics in our Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 2005-01

Highlights: Jewelry Insurance
Shopping Mistakes: Surprising Her With The Wrong Shape
Diamond Producers
AGS Web Site
Inclusions & Blemishes: Cavity
Gemstones: Aquamarine
Planets of Diamonds

Newsletter 2005-02

Website Highlights: Special Offers Page
Shopper Mistakes: Paying for Higher Clarity than Needed
Cleaning Diamonds
Jennifer Lopez Diamond For Sale
Inclusions & Blemishes: Naturals and Indented Naturals
Canadian Diamond Production
Gemstones: Beryl

Newsletter 2005-03

Las Vegas Trade Show
Highlights: Colored Diamonds
Shopper Mistakes: Cut Important for Beauty
Diamonds to Dazzle at Sothebys
Diamond Prices Impacted by Supply and Demand
Inclusions & Blemishes: Twinning Wisps
Canadian Diamonds: Value Added
Gemstones: Chrysoberyl

Newsletter 2005-04

Selling Your Diamonds
Shopper Mistakes: Beware of Sales
Hearts & Arrows
Certification Comparison
Inclusions & Blemishes: Clouds
Diamond and Jewelry Trade Show
Gemstones: Emerald

Newsletter 2005-05

For Guys Only - For Gals Only
Shopper Mistakes: Do Not Assume Jewelers Are Diamond Experts
Diamond Prices Update
Inclusions & Blemishes: Chips and Cavities
China Increases Share of Diamond Polishing Market
Gemstones: Garnet

Newsletter 2005-06

Designers Gallery
Shopper Mistakes: GIA Graduate Is Not GIA Certification
Natural Pink Diamonds
Inclusions & Blemishes: Feathers
Diamond Demand Outpaces Supply
Gemstones: Opal

Newsletter 2005-07

Argyle-Cerrone Cognac Colored Diamond
Highlights: Artificial Diamonds
Shopper Mistakes: What Will This Diamond Appraise For?
Champagne Colored Diamonds
Inclusions & Blemishes: Surface Grain Lines
Increasing Demand of Diamonds
Gemstones: Spinel

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What will this diamond appraise for?

What will this diamond appraise for? This is a common question asked by diamond shoppers but the real question should be "what is this diamond worth?" If you thought the appraised value was what a diamond was worth, then you are among the majority of shoppers confused about what appraised value really is.

At many jewelry stores, diamond appraisals are used as marketing tools. Clerks point to the diamond's appraised value as evidence that customers are getting a bargain. It is not uncommon for appraised values to be 25% to 100% more than the purchase price of the diamond but that does not mean the price is a great deal. It more likely means the appraised value is artificially too high.

Beware of stores that use appraised value as a sales gimmick. And if they provide a "certification" that has an appraised value, run for the door. The true certification laboratories like the AGS, GIA and EGL do not have a dollar value on them. These labs provide grading reports that assess the characteristics of a diamond, not the value.

Using appraisals as marketing tools is shameful. Customers see the high appraised value and walk out of the store thinking they got a great deal. What they really got was an ear full of misinformation and a document with a grossly inflated value.

Appraisal values do have a purpose and that is to set the maximum that insurance companies are responsible for if you file an insurance claim. Keep in mind that I said the maximum. Most insurance companies have the fine print that says they are only responsible for the value they can replace the item for or the appraised value, which ever is less. Here is a common story we hear locally in Richmond so I would imagine it happens all over the country.

Customer of some jewelry stores pay $12,000 for what we sell for $6,000. They get an appraisal from the store for $15,000. They think they got a great bargain because they got their item for 20% less than its appraised value. They get the jewelry item insured and pay premiums based on the $15,000 value. A year or two later, the item was taken in a theft or loss and they file an insurance claim. The insurance company only gives them $7,000 because that is what they can replace it for now.

Because the replacement value of jewelry does appreciate with time, it is probably a good thing to have the appraised value be higher than the purchase price. The real problem in the example above was that the purchase price and the appraised value are way too high relative to what our price would have been.

So how can you be sure of a diamond's worth? The best way is to compare the diamond you want with comparable diamonds from sources with low overhead and low prices. That is how we determine the best values for our clients every day. We find diamonds that meet our clients' requirements and then seek the best value based on the price and quality. Putting some inflated appraised value on the item does not make the diamond worth more or a better bargain.

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