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November 2005
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14 posts from December 2005

Competition Increases in Diamond Industry

Big diamond companies have always had the financial clout to control the diamond industry and that trend seems to be on the rise.

Competition is intensifying in the $US70 billion diamond jewellery market as rising wealth in Asia increases demand for higher-priced pieces.

De Beers, the world's largest diamond supplier, is winning customers from companies such as Tiffany & Co and Cartier four years after creating a retail venture with luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Sotheby's Holdings also began selling a line of gems this month.

"Size is an advantage in this business, as is brand recognition," says Scilla Huang Sun, who manages a $US100 million luxury goods fund, including shares of Tiffany, Richemont, LVMH and Rome-based Bulgari, for Clariden Bank in Zurich.

About 25 per cent of all diamond jewellery is sold during the year-end holiday season, says Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Centre, which is affiliated with De Beers.

Christmas Eve tops Valentine's Day as the most popular moment to pop the question, according to New York-based jeweller Jacob & Co. The average price of a diamond engagement ring reached a record $2600 in the US last year.

The global diamond jewellery market will probably expand by 6-7 per cent in 2006, in line with this year's growth, according to Richard Platt, director of Belgium-based, which tracks diamond prices. Growth has slowed from 9 per cent in 2004, mainly because of the stronger dollar, Platt says.

Demand will grow fastest in emerging markets such as China and India, he says.

That trend will help companies such as De Beers and Tiffany because newly wealthy consumers often seek out well-known brands to show off their wealth, says Jacques-Franck Dossin, a luxury-goods analyst at Goldman Sachs.

"There is a lot of cash out there, especially in countries such as Russia and China," says Bernard Fornas, chief executive officer of Cartier, the world's largest jeweller. "When people have already bought their private plane, their boat and their country cottage, they go for high-ticket jewellery."

Read the rest of the story at

Diamonds are Israel's top export

Exports to the EU totaled $10.7 billion in 2004, including $2.5 billion in diamonds (23.3%).

Exports to the US totaled $14.2 billion in 2004, including $7.3 billion in diamonds (51.4%).

Exports to Asia totaled $7.1 billion in 2004, including $3.2 billion in diamonds (45.0%).

Exports to the rest of the world totaled $6.6 billion in 2004, including $800 million in diamonds (12.1%).

Bling bring change in jewelry industry

Diamonds have always brought sparkle to a woman's eye but the latest trend toward bling is bring dazzle to the jewelry industry.

‘Bling’ originated in the early part of this century with hip-hop performers, those arbiters of cool and practitioners of conspicuous consumption. ‘Bling’ was reserved for jewelry, decorative wheel rims or gold teeth, all of it excessively flashy and expensive as per sources said.

‘Bling’ has been overused by every two-bit jeweler selling cubic zirconium. It has been worn out by virtually all fashion publicists, who for the last five months have been chirping, Bling in the New Year. Use of the word has became common, as persistence of dry cough and annoying as old people who say "phat" and "You go, girl!"

If the word ‘bling’ is never again uttered by any aging cultural observer, some well-meaning baby boomer or a mainstream news organization proud to have incorporated "edgy" lingo into its coverage then 2006 will be a fine year.

Folks exuberantly embrace the word, from the beginning. It quickly entered the mass communication, the pages of weekly magazines and newspaper headlines. It was applied to anything, as their was little concern for it.

Still, for a while, it was tough to argue with the overuse. It seemed to be called for everything, coming down to the runway, squeezes it into overcrowded department stores or sold from the back of a panel van. If the word didn't apply to any single garment, it certainly be applied to the overall fashion of the times.

Designers such as Miuccia Prada were at the forefront in celebrating elaborate glitz during the daylight hours, in the last few years. Prada embellished grandpa cardigans and heavy cable-knit pullovers. She decorated tweed shoes, leather handbags, camisoles and dresses.

Jacob the Jeweler established his reputation by cramming as many diamonds as possible onto a timepiece. Mary J. Blige practically invented ghetto fabulous, a look that evoked a nouveau riche street style founded on diamonds, furs and designer labels.

Fashion and hip-hop had changed by 2005. Where there was beaded everything on the runways, there is now black and white. This fall, 50% attended a Giorgio Armani fashion show wearing clothes that barely whispered. Blige has scaled down her focus on chinchilla and carats further found the Lord and a stylist who understands the meaning of discreet.

Last week, Elton John, pop music's master showman, opted for a sober black suit for his wedding to David Furnish in Windsor. John had a diamond stud in his ear at his wedding. Rappers still like their watches encrusted with jewels and their cross charms visible from 20 paces.

If you are looking for some bling in your life or just want to learn more about diamonds, check out the diamond education at

Mystery of missing jewelry answered in course of move

Have you ever misplaced a piece of jewelry?  You are not alone as the following story demonstrates:

On a cold November day in 2004, Bonnie Dabrowksi is performing the annual ritual of raking up the leaves in the yard of the Springlake Way house in Homeland that she and her family have lived in for 22 years.

There is a certain sadness in the work. Her husband, Bernie, used to take care of the leaves. But Bernie has been gone for more than a year now, and taking care of the yard has fallen to her and their five children.

She is back in the house that night when she notices for the first time that the engagement ring he gave her is missing from her finger.

She is frantic.

She backtracks to every store and restaurant she has been to that day, but no one has found the diamond and sapphire ring.

Read the rest of the story at

UN Extends Ban on Liberian Diamonds

Diamonds continue in the news with regard to international security.

The UN Security Council took just four minutes to unanimously extend bans on the sale of arms, diamonds and timber in post conflict Liberia for a further six months.

"The Security Council, determining that the situation in Liberia continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security, decided today [Tuesday] to renew its ban on the sale or supply of arms, diamonds and timber," read the statement.

Liberia's transitional government has failed to clean up the valuable diamond and timber sectors, important sources of funds for arms during 14 years of civil war, according to investigations by a UN Panel of Experts.

The Panel noted that iron ore and scrap metal is also being sold off for a fraction of its market value and that the government has signed deals on steel that were "not transparent and contained provisions that could be costly to Liberians".

The sanctions, now effective until 21 June 2006, include travel bans on individuals identified by the UN as a threat to peace in Liberia.

Read the rest of the story at

Christmas Cake with Diamonds

The economy is finally picking up, and Tokyoites are in a spending mood this winter. So how better to celebrate Christmas than with a diamond-studded, $1.7 million cake?

The sparkling pink creation, which went on sale Tuesday at Takashimaya Department Store in central Tokyo, "has already received many inquiries" from prospective customers, said store spokesman Takeshi Morinaka.

A total of 223 diamonds -- including a 5-carat, heart-shaped stone -- adorn the double-layer, marzipan-coated fruitcake, designed by Tokyo-based sweets chef Jeong Hong-yong.

"It's entirely edible, except for the diamonds of course," Morinaka said.

For those who can't afford the luxury, Takashimaya will be serving up a replica of the cake at a champagne party on Christmas eve, he added.

The cake is on display at the store until Dec. 25.

GIA credibility tarnished

The Gemological Institute of America, which grades diamonds for independent dealers and big retailers, fired four employees and shuffled top management after an internal investigation of its policies, the Wall Street Journal said.

The institute's internal probe started after a jewelry dealer who was also the former head of retail operations at luxury jeweler Harry Winston claimed that the institute and two diamond dealers conspired to inflate the grade of two diamonds that he sold to members of the Saudi royal family.

The diamonds, which were sold for $15 million, were taken to an independent appraiser and found to have a lower grade that made them worth much less, the paper said.

The dealer alleged that lab workers took bribes to inflate the quality of diamonds in grading reports, according to the news report, which cited people familiar with the situation.

Read the more about the article that brought the GIA's scandal to the public's attention after several months industry discussion and GIA internal assessment.

Treasured Colored Diamonds

The Mineralogy Department at London's Natural History Museum, which is staging the exhibit Diamonds: The World's Most Dazzling Exhibition, estimates that one in every 500 to 10,000 gem-quality diamonds is colored.

As one can imagine, such rarity makes some colored diamonds very valuable.

"Colored diamonds are not for 'regular' people," says Sally Morrison, director of the DIC, an organization that promotes the diamond industry. "They tend to be very expensive. The price depends on supply. The rarest is red — I've seen two of those in my life."

Red diamonds, including the 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red on display in London, are worth $1 million or more per carat, according to Morrison.

Read more about rare colored diamonds and why they are so special at

China's passion for diamonds drives Australian gem production

China's demand for coal, iron ore and gas may be making Australia rich, but its hunger for our resources doesn't end there.

The country's growing middle class has found a passion for diamonds, fuelling a 30 to 40 per cent price rise in the stones. Analysts have declared diamonds an investor's haven.

And Australia is expected to benefit, with some of the world's highest quality gems found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

With only 20 mines around the world producing diamonds, the boom is expected to last for some time yet.

Read the rest of a ABC Online transcript discussing the impact China's growing demand for diamonds has on the Australian diamond mining industry.  This also sheds light on why diamond prices worldwide have increased the past two years and are projected to keep increasing.

$1.5 million Diamond Theft in Richmond, Virginia

Police believe a professional, international theft ring is responsible for stealing up to $1.5 million in jewels from a distributor as he left an upscale jewelry store.

The armed thieves jumped the distributor, who works for the New York company Judith Ripka, in the parking lot outside the Victoria Charles Ltd. store around 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 9. The man was being escorted by a shop employee when four men, armed with silver handguns, jumped out of a blue minivan and surrounded them, Sgt. Gary Borges said.

Borges said the thieves stole both men's watches and tried to force them into the trunk of the distributor's car. When that didn't work, the thieves fled.

"The whole robbery took maybe 30 or 40 seconds. They were very professional," said Borges, who said neither man was injured.

The Atlanta-based distributor had just picked up his valuables _ which he valued at between $1 million and $1.5 million--from the store's vault. Police said the wholesale value of the stolen jewelry would be closer to $700,000.

Investigators believe the theft ring follows luxury jewelry distributors as they travel from city to city, and that the gang tracked the distributor to Richmond from a jewelry show in Baltimore.