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18 posts from October 2006

Red Diamond For Sale

The Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia is famous for being the world’s premier source of pink colored diamonds but it is also the premier source of the few red colored diamonds known to exist.  To say that there is only a small number of true natural red colored diamonds is no exaggeration.  The number diamonds certified as red is estimated to be less than twenty so it is rare that a red diamond is seen in public, let alone available for sale.

Bruce Robinson Jewellers in Brisbane, Australia recently purchased a red diamond at the 2006 Argyle Pink Diamond Tender, which featured 65 exceptional colored diamonds.  While the purchase prices for the diamonds at the tender are confidential, the red diamond is now for sale and expected to demand a very high price.

The 0.54-carat brilliant-cut red diamond, named “The Lady in Red” measures only 5.13 mm and is I1 in clarity meaning it has inclusions visible to the unaided eye.  The diamond was a 1.46-carat rough diamond crystal and was cut and polished to its current 0.54-carat weight.  In spite of its small size, this diamond will probably be price well over $2 million.

Red diamonds are extremely rare.  The last red diamond sold for almost $1 million twenty years ago.  Because of their rarity and beauty, several red diamonds are among the most famous diamonds.

Moussaieff_red Perhaps the most famous of the red colored diamonds is the Moussaieff Red, a 5.11-carat ruby-red diamond making it the largest red colored diamond in the world.  Discovered by a farmer in Brazil in the 1990s, the internally flawless 13.90-carat rough crystal was cut by William Goldberg Diamond Corporation. The rare red stone was later sold to the Moussaieff Jewelers for a rumored $8 million.

The second largest red diamond is simply known as Red Diamond and is an emerald cut weighing 5.05 carats.  Its current location is unknown.

Another famous diamond is the De Young Red, a 5.03-carat round brilliant that is the third largest red diamond in the world.  The De Young Red is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.  At one time it was mistakenly sold as a red garnet because the stone’s subtle brown hue give it an appearance more like a garnet than a rare red colored diamond.

The Hancock (Halphen) Red is an extraordinary deep ruby red making it exceptional among the reds even though it is smaller in carat weight at 0.95-carats.  In the 19th century, Edwin Streeter, a diamond dealer in Paris bought the extraordinary red known as the Halphen Red.  The stone disappeared from public view and was never seen again.  Almost a century later, a collector in England purchased a 0.95-carat red diamond, The Hancock Red, named after its owner Warren Hancock.  While there is no proof the two diamonds are in fact the same, the rarity of red diamonds makes it likely they are the same.  The purplish-red diamond sold for $880,000 ($926,000 per carat) at Christie’s in 1987.

Time will only tell what will happen to “The Lady in Red” that is currently for sale in Brisbane.

Las Vegas World Jewelry Center

Jewelrycenterlas_vegasLas Vegas is known for its bright lights and glitz so it is no surprise that it will be the home of the world’s largest jewelry center.  City of Las Vegas officials and Probity International Corporation recently announced plans for one of the largest jewelry projects ever. 

The one-million square foot World Jewelry Center will combine the corporate offices of several hundred domestic and international gem and jewelry companies in what will be the tallest office buildings in Las Vegas.  Adjacent to the more than 50 story trade tower will be a gallery of retail jewelry stores targeted at the middle-market jewelry consumers that make up the bulk of Las Vegas visitors.  The World Jewelry Center’s planned operational date is late 2009 to mid 2010 and will be located in Downtown Las Vegas within the Union Park planned community.

In addition to office space, the World Jewelry Center tower will include several international restaurants, a private club, fitness center, luxury residential condominiums, and exhibition facilities.

Bill Boyajian, former president of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the current Managing Director of the World Jewelry Center.  The Center is designed to be the world’s premier business hub for international and domestic retailers, manufacturers, dealers, and wholesalers in the gem, jewelry and pearl industries.

Las Vegas was selected for this world-class project for many reasons.  Las Vegas has no state corporate, inventory or personal income tax.  The city provides the ability to create a Foreign Trade Zone within the Center.  Las Vegas is one of the largest U.S. convention markets including the JCK Show, which is the world’s largest gem and jewelry exhibition.  Perhaps most important, Las Vegas is a place where people love to travel to for business and pleasure.

The World Jewelry Center project has now been officially announced but is still in the planning stages.  The Center will require 400 to 600 companies to reside there and the project will require commitment from 25 to 50 percent of those companies in order to get financing prior to construction.  While World Jewelry Center and Las Vegas officials are optimistic, success will depend on getting jewelry companies to signup for space in this revolutionary jewelry facility.

Pink Diamonds Sold

Rio_tinto_logo_1 The world’s most consistent supplier of pink diamonds is the Argyle diamond mine in Australia, owned by Rio Tinto.  Every year they collect the biggest and best pink diamond and offer them for sale at the annual Rio Tinto Diamonds Argyle Pink Tender. A select list of colored diamond specialist from the diamond trade is invited to bid on the diamonds and it is Rio Tinto’s prerogative if the price is high enough to sell.

This year, 65 polished pink diamonds, ranging from 0.49 to 2.03 carats, totaling 61.43 carats, were offered at the tender which concluded October 4 after exclusive viewings held in New York, Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, and Perth.

All 65 diamonds sold with twenty-six bidders purchasing one or more of these exceptional diamonds.  While Rio Tinto does not disclose the winning bids, the company did indicate the bids were at an all-time high, the largest since the 1984 Tender.  Since polished pink diamonds have been known to sell for prices over $400,000 per carat (twenty times prices of white diamonds), the annual pink diamond Tender is an exceptional event in the diamond industry.

Pink diamonds continue to be a fascination with diamond shoppers and admirers worldwide.  When the news came out that Ben Affleck had given Jennifer Lopez a pink diamond engagement ring in 2002, interest in pink diamonds soared and remains high to this day.  That was the first time most consumers had ever heard of or seen pictures of a pink diamond ring.  What many shoppers forget is that Jennifer’s 6.1-carat pink diamond cost over $1 million, which is more than ten times the price of a white diamond.

Many of the pink diamonds sold at the Argyle Pink Tender may never be seen in public.  These rare pink diamonds often end up in private collections or owned by the some of the world’s wealthiest shoppers.

5.47-carat Canary Diamond Found

Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas is the world’s only publicly operated diamond mine where visitors are allowed to search and keep any gems they find.  Park visitors search for diamonds in a 37.5 acre plowed field.  Over 40 different rocks, minerals and gemstones are found in this eroded surface of a volcanic pipe, but it is the diamonds that are the big attraction.

Craterwehle547diamond_1This month a visitor from Wisconsin, Bob Wehle, made headlines at the Park.  He had made several trips to the Park in recent years and had found four relatively small diamonds but this trip produced bigger results.  Bob uncovered a 5.47-carat, canary yellow diamond, which is the second largest diamond found in the park this year.

In an effort to increase the “production” of diamonds, the park staff had dug a trench in mid-September to provide new levels of dirt for prospectors to search.  Bob Wehle was screening dirt from this newly dug trench when he saw the bright yellow diamond appear on his quarter-inch mesh screen.  The diamond crystal is a rounded double pyramid shape with beautiful yellow color.

This year has been an exceptional year for larger diamonds with Marvin Culver’s 4.21 carat yellow Okie Dokie Diamond discovered March 12, Mike Ellison’s 2.18-carat white Moonshine Diamond July 25, Mr. and Mrs. Roden’s 6.35-carat brown diamond on September 23, and now Bob Wehle’s 5.47-carat yellow diamond on October 14.

Just as big winners at the casinos in Las Vegas raise the interest and excitement of gamblers, the big diamond finds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park keep hopes high among diamond seekers and rock hounds.

Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at this location since John Huddleston, the farmer who owned the land, discovered the first diamond in 1906.  The Crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972 and since that time, visitors have discovered 25,000 diamonds.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is open daily with admission to the diamond search area is $6 for adults, $3 for children (age 6-12), and discounts are available for organized groups of 15 persons or more.  There is no other place in the world that for such a small admission fee rock hunters can seek the diamond of their dreams.

Diamond Supply & Demand Update

Handfull_of_diamondsThe international demand for diamonds became to soften at the end of the fourth quarter of 2005 and showed signs of weakening during the first nine months of 2006.  The most noticeable slowdown in demand growth seems to be the small diamonds like those typically cut in India. 

Demand for diamonds is continuing to grow, just not at the accelerated pace of recent years.  The two diamond-mining giants, De Beers and Alrosa, both show interim results for 2006 to be above 2005’s record levels.  In June De Beers estimated growth of 3% to 4% for the consumer markets and in the low single digits in rough diamond carat production.  Alrosa also projects low single digit increases in rough diamond carat production with marginal increases in rough diamond sales.

There are indications that being at the end of August, diamond activity has started to increase again but the economic challenges continue with high interest rates, higher gold and platinum prices, and reduced operating margins for the entire diamond distribution pipeline.  The high interest rates are placing extraordinary pressure on the financial stability of many companies in the diamond industry.  The total level of diamond industry bank debt is reported to be $11 billion to $12 billion and the doubling of interest rates in past months is creating cash flow crisis for many businesses.

Annual rough diamond worldwide production is expected to fall from 140 million carats this year to 130 million carats in 2010 as mature mines produce at declining rates and there are not enough new mines to take up the slack in production.  If demand continues to grow and production forecasted to decline, the expected result is continued price increases for diamonds for the next several years.

Christie’s Jewelry Auctions at 15-Year High

It was an exceptional two days for Christie’s Auction House with over $49 million in jewelry sales.

The Magnificent Jewels auction on October 10th was highlighted by the sale of a 51.08-carat rectangular-cut, D-color, VVS1-clarity diamond set in an 18-karat white gold ring that sold for $3.15 million.  The next biggest sale at that auction was a 22.63-carat marquise-cut, D-color, Internally Flawless diamond set in a platinum ring that sold for $1.75 million.

Barkin2276ctAnother auction held October 10th, featured more than 100 jewelry items sold by actress Ellen Barkin.  The top selling item at that auction was a 22.76-carat diamond ring by designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR) selling for $1.8 million. 

Barkinperelman The most fascinating item to sell was Barkin’s wedding ring from her six-year marriage to Ron Perelman, the billionaire chairman of Revlon Inc.  The ring sold for $130,000.  The $20.3 million total "makes Ellen Barkin's collection the highest single-owner jewelry sale of the past 15 years in the U.S. and also places it among the top four ever worldwide," said Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie's jewelry department.

A third auction, held October 11th, was An Exceptional Collection of Art Nouveau Jewels.  The Art Nouveau period (early 1890s to 1910) featured themes of romanticism and femininity.  Jewelry from the period used non-traditional materials such as horn, ivory, glass and enamel, and semiprecious stones such as opal.

The fourth jewelry auction of the week was the October 11th even headlined as Van Cleef and Arpels: A Centennial Tribute Part I.  The event is one of many this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Paris-based jewelry giant, Van Cleef and Arpels.  A subsequent auction (Part II) will be conducted in Geneva November 16th and will feature the Millennium brooch, a one-of-a-kind ruby and diamond double brooch designed as two flowers containing 817 Burmese rubies weighing 67.66 carats, 636 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 33.53 carats, 10 pear-shaped diamonds weighing 6.41 carats, and 20 baguette-cut diamonds weighing 2.37 carats.

6.35 Carat Diamond Found in Arkansas

Rodendiamond635_carats2Donald and Brenda Roden of Point, Texas found a 6.35-carat coffee color, brown diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park on September 23, 2006.  They named their gem the Roden Diamond and are uncertain at this time whether they will eventually sell or keep it.

Rodendiamond635_carats1Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz noted, “The Roden’s gem is the eighth largest find of the 25,714 diamonds discovered since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972.”  He described the gem as “about he same size and color as a large coffee bean.  The gem has somewhat distorted octahedral shape and a metallic-looking shine that is characteristic of diamonds from the Crater of Diamonds.”

Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is located in southwest Arkansas two miles southeast of Murfreesboro.  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. 

Learn more about Crater of Diamonds State Park...

You Can Have It All

I was re-reading an article today written by a jewelry industry “sales expert.”  He stated that customers want three things from a jewelry store:

  • Great service
  • Top quality products
  • Low price

He then goes on to say that it would be great if you could figure out how to give them all three and still make money, but no one ever has.  His conclusion was that you have to figure out which two you can provide that will allow you to stay in business and make some profit.

Diamond_source_of_va I have read that article several times in the past months but today it seemed to strike a real nerve with me.  Perhaps it is because we work hard every day to provide all three things to every one of our clients and we continue to stay in business and grow. 

How can we do what the “sales expert” says is impossible; we focus on our clients and have developed a better way to sell diamonds.  The traditional jewelry store has been doing business the same way for decades.  They build or rent a store, decorate it with lavish display cases and lighting, stock it with hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of inventory, advertise on billboards and in magazines and newspapers, hire sales personnel to wait on customers and then try to sell customers what they have in the display cases.  All went well with this strategy for many years as long as their competitors did the same.  They could mark items up 100% to 200% and thus pay their overhead and have plenty left over for the storeowner’s pocket.

About ten years ago, the jewelry industry was given a jolt by the introduction of the Internet.  At first the storeowners simply said, “Nobody will buy a diamond online” and went on doing business the same as usual.  However, over time, the jewelry stores suddenly realized that they now faced a new type of competition.  This new competitor did not have the high overhead of a retail store with inventory so could offer prices that were a fraction of those in the traditional jewelry store.  Moreover, what made the threat seem even more insidious is that these competitors often were in other cities and states.

The jewelry storeowner quickly started blaming all their problems on the “Internet” rather than looking at their own business and asking what they need to do to compete in this new game.  They started using scare tactics like saying merchandise sold by online retailers was inferior and the “rejects” from the traditional jewelers stock.  They warned that online retailers were switching diamonds or certifications.  They cautioned that online retailers were not diamond experts and thus could not provide the advice and product compared to the “established” jewelry store. 

Ironically, all the arguments they were using against the online retailers were really the shortcomings of many, if not most jewelry stores.  These statements are based on fear, not fact, because the typical online diamond retailer can sell higher quality diamonds for less money.  In addition, online retailers often have more experience and diamond expertise than the tag readers who stand behind most jewelry counters.  When I mention online retailers, I am describing established businesses that find most of their customers online and I am excluding most of the snake oil salespersons who hock their goods on eBay.

Getting back to the three things clients want (quality, price and service), it is fairly easy to see how online retailers can provide better quality and price but what about the service.  All too often, the jewelry store defines service with the old concept of having inventory, a nice store and fixing items when they break.  However, the online retailer has defined service as providing the client with the best advice and product possible without intimidation and often from the convenience of their home.

At Diamond Source of Virginia, we seek to find the best diamond in terms of value that meets our client’s specific requirements.  We search the inventories of hundreds of cutters and wholesalers worldwide to find the best of the best diamonds.  Then we offer to help set the diamond in rings and other jewelry items using some of the top designers and manufacturers in the country.  Because we do not own inventory, we can be unbiased and on the client’s side rather than trying to push some item that has been sitting in a display case for years.  We provide advice not only on the diamond, but also on the mounting, the insurance, and the cleaning of the jewelry item.

The bottom line is that we do provide what the client wants (great quality, low price and exceptional service) and as a result, have most of our business come from referrals and repeat buyers.

Snowshoe Resort Rental

Snowshoe1 If you are looking for a great vacation rental during the winter ski season or a quiet mountain retreat during the rest of the year, I can recommend this beautiful mountain cabin near Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.

Snowshoe2 Located in Slatyfork, West Virginia just 4 miles from the entrance to Snowshoe Mountain Resort, this secluded mountaintop retreat has large picture windows that offer spectacular views of the Snowshoe Resort.  Early risers will enjoy watching the sun creep up over the Western Territory of Cupp Run and Shay’s Revenge.  In the evening, fall asleep in the loft as you gaze out over the twinkling lights of the Village at Snowshoe!

Snowshoe Mountain is the perfect year round destination for adventure filled vacations in West Virginia, especially skiing and snowboarding.  During the summer, Snowshoe in West Virginia is one of the best places in the country for mountain biking. 

See more pictures and learn more about this vacation rental…

Lesotho Promise Sells for $12.36 Million

Lesothopromisediamond The 15th largest rough diamond on record sold for $12.36 million to South African sightholder Safdico, which is a partner of Graff, the London jewelry company known for exceptionally large diamonds.

The 603-carat rough diamond was mined on August 22 at Lesotho’s Letseng mine, which is owned 30% by the Lesotho government and 70% by Gem Diamond Mining.  The white stone was judged to be in the colorless range and high clarity so will make a breathtaking finished diamond. Once cut and polished into a large stone (probably over 60 carats) and other smaller stones, the resulting diamonds are expected to retail for over $20 million.

Related article...

Lesotho Promise: Largest Diamond Found this Century