While their methodologies and results vary to some extent, even a cursory glance at the major diamond price indexes (RapNet, IDEX, Mercury, PolishedPrices) reveal an undeniable trend of continuing and sustained polished price declines.
Diamond trader and brick & mortar crusader Melvin Moss is back at his provocative best in his most recent diatribe, "The #Diamond Family is Dysfunctional". He argues that major diamond miners producing too much rough at prices unsustainable for the rest of the industry (which deals with underpriced polished) and are extending their reach across the pipeline at the expense of everyone else - particularly retailers. "The diamond pipeline is dysfunctional", he writes. "Miners have a primary obligation to their shareholders.
Chow Tai Fook continued its upward sales trend during Q1 2017 (three months ended June 30), as retail sales increased 17% in value in Mainland China and 7% in Hong Kong and Macau. After 12 consecutive quarters (3 years) of same store sales decline in Hong Kong and Macau, dating back to Q4 2014, the Hong Kong-based jeweler has now experienced growth for the second quarter in a row. Same-store sales growth in the two regions amounted to 11% and 5%, respectively.
Tiffany & Co. announcd Thursday that it has named veteran luxury industry executive Alessandro Bogliolo as its next chief executive officer. Bogliolo most recently served four years as the chief executive of apparel and accessories company Diesel, and his resume includes 16 years at luxury jeweler, Bulgari, including in the roles of chief operating officer and executive VP of Jewelry, Watches & Accessories.
Swiss watch industry exports rose strongly in May, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. They were worth $1.77 (1.7 billion francs), 9.0% more than in May 2016. This was the second positive month after March, confirming the recovery which has been under way since the start of the year. Several important markets posted very strong growth. Hong Kong (+18.1%) and China (+34.4%) led the Asian continent while the situation in Japan (-3.2%) continued to deteriorate.
In ABN AMRO's lastest iteration of the biannual Diamond Market Outlook, Coordinator FX & Precious Metals Strategy Georgette Boele writes, "The recovery in the diamond trade has grinded to a halt at the start of 2017", as US consumer spending has been disappointing in Q1, lower consumption in Hong Kong and Macau has negatively affected demand (according to company reports from main jewelers in the region) and Chinese retail sales were weaker in January and February.
JCK news director Rob Bates takes a look at the resurgence of independent bookstores in the U.S. and sees parallels with independent jewelry retailers: "It’s clear the jewelry industry - and in particular the number of independent jewelers - is shrinking. But that’s true of retail overall. And, until recently, it was true of independent bookstores. If you compare today versus decades ago, the number of brick-and-mortar booksellers has fallen. But the independent segment has reversed that trajectory. The number has risen for the last eight years.
Online coupon search site and retail trend analyst CouponFollow recently released The Millennial Shopping Report, tracking the behavior of those born between 1982 and 1996, who now constitute "the largest generation in human history", with over 80 million members in the U.S. alone. CouponFollow claims that Millennials spend $600 billion annually and are, "poised to inherit $30 trillion from their Baby Boomer parents"; they already account for 28% of all daily per-person consumer spending, and it is suggested that could rise to 35% by 2030.
Arriving at Antwerp’s splendid 19th century Central Station, with its marble staircases, iron and glass vaulted ceiling and gilded details, shoppers visiting Antwerp are filled with high expectations about the jewelry boutiques awaiting them in the world’s diamond capital. For years these expectations were quickly dashed, as consumers were confronted with myriad uninviting and less-than-reputable jewelry shops once they left the station. Where to turn?
In their recent addition to the Diamond Insight reports focusing on diamond jewelry demand and emerging trends, De Beers said it expected single women's acquisitions and spend to increase in 2017, leading to an increase in self-purchasing in non-bridal, discretionary jewelry categories, driving incremental demand above and beyond the fundamental driver of demand, namely, bridal diamond jewelry.
Luxury houses such as Cartier, Piaget and Chanel have launched collections on Net-a-Porter and are doing well, despite critics of the format. Cartier made a relatively risky move by placing Panthère de Cartier, a white gold diamond watch retailing for US$77,000 (HK$600,000) on the online platform Net-a-Porter. Within two weeks of the collection’s launch, the watch was sold. Of course some ‘purists’ believe that luxury products must be felt to create an emotional engagement, which is hard to replicate online.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced on Sunday at the JCK Las Vegas show that their 2017 full-year marketing investment will increase to $57 million from approximately $12 million following the success of the 2016 campaign. This will enable the diamond marketing body to expand its multichannel advertising, PR and digital campaigns as well as continue rolling out the campaign to India.
The lastest disruptive online diamond sales platform, a "reverse auction site" startup called Legemdary, purports to serve the interests of diamond buyers and wholesalers by cutting out retailers altogether, writes Rachelle Bergstein for Forbes, introducing the company to a global audience. Legemdary calls itself the only straight to wholesale online diamond marketplace, connecting prospective engagement ring buyers directly with wholesalers who bid to supply the consumers' needs.
Everlane’s founder, Michael Preysman, who sells classic designs over the internet by promising “radical transparency”, believes he has identified the issues Millennials have regarding provenance and price. He pledges low-cost, high-quality goods made in factories used by designer brands, thus making them more appealing to their consumers. Everlane has a studio in Soho, New York, where shoppers are encouraged to try on the products and then return home and purchase their goods online, an inventive way of combining retail and ecommerce.
The diamond industry has a sort of 'Holy Grail' when it comes to consumer confidence and putting to rest an issue that critics rely on to deride the trade as unethical and still awash with 'conflict diamonds': guaranteed provenance. Acoording to an interview last week, Andrey Polyakov, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and a vice-president of Russian diamond giant ALROSA, believes one key to obtaining that grail is close at hand in the form of a physical 'fingerprint' that would enable diamonds to be tracked to their origin.
Signet Jewelers Limited has announced that it had reached an agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve all claims related to the pay and promotion of female retail sales employees at the company in EEOC v. Sterling Jewelers Inc. The Consent Decree states there were “no findings of liability or
The French luxury group Kering reported a strong first quarter, with group revenue rising by 31% y-o-y basis to $3.89 billion. Sales from its luxury activities for the same period totaled $2.63 billion, up by a steep 34%. The sales growth in the group’s directly operated store network increased significantly to 36.6%, as a direct result of the remarkable performance in Western Europe and the Asia Pacific area, which reported sales increases of 49.9% and 46.7% respectively.
The video is incorrect when it states baldly, “Diamonds can’t be tracked.” True, there is nothing gemologically in a diamond that offers any proof of origin. But there is no reason that diamonds can’t be tracked. Bananas are tracked. Coffee is tracked ... If a manufacturer buys directly from a specific mine, establishing a diamond’s origin should be relatively easy. All it has to do is segregate those specific goods and then make its systems open to audit ... Brilliant Earth, like other e-tailers, stocks virtual inventory. It is also true that the stones it sells sometimes appear on other sites. I wouldn’t call any of that a smoking gun. And I wouldn’t call a company a scam based on one supplier’s purported comments on a hidden-camera video.
- JCK's Rob Bates on the 'Brilliant Earth Diamond Scam" video.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of De Beers Group, today announced the launch of a world-first Synthetic Diamond Detection training course. It is the first in a series of education services to be rolled out during 2017, according to a press release. The two-day lab-based course will be unveiled in the U.S. towards the end of the JCK Jewelry show in Las Vegas on 8 and 9 June, and in India at the IIDGR Facility in Surat on 15 and 16 May.
Chow Tai Fook has partnered with luxury travel retailer DFS Group, a subsidiary of LVMH, to open its second boutique in the United States on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The Hong Kong-based jeweler’s branded store will launch in T Galleria by DFS in the heart of Honolulu and close to the iconic Waikiki Beach. T Galleria by DFS is a prime shopping destination for travellers seeking leading international luxury brands; Hawaii is a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, with jewelry fast becoming a key retail category for travellers to the islands.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced their intention to spur demand in the third largest diamond market, India, by launching their “Real is Rare” slogan in September. The DPA - an international alliance of the world’s leading diamond mining companies whose mission is to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, and the diamond industry - initially launched its “Real is Rare” campaign in the U.S. in 2016.
Some interesting industry developments took shape at last week's Diamond Detection Expo and Symposium sponsored by India's Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
The world’s largest jeweler, Hong-Kong based Chow Tai Fook, reports strong retail sales growth in the fiscal fourth quarter, reversing 12 consecutive quarters (3 years) of same store sales decline in Hong Kong and Macau, dating back to Q4 2014. The uptick was strongest in Mainland China, where overall retail sales value increased 16% while same store sales rose 12%. Overall and same store sales in Hong Kong and Macau rose by 1% and 4% respectively.
The De Beers Group made headlines last month when it announced the end of its joint venture with LVMH with the aquisition of their 50% share in De Beers Diamond Jewellers (DBDJ), a move that Chaim Even-Zohar characterizes as, "brilliant and long overdue." He writes, "With De Beers at the helm, the venture will get a realistic chance to succeed.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury producs group, recorded revenue of 9.9 billion Euros ($10.51 billion) for the first quarter 2017, an increase of 15%. Organic revenue (with comparable structure and constant exchange rates) growth was 13% compared to the same period of 2016, an increase attributable to all business groups.
With 850 million active users monthly, western luxury brands have been quick to embrace China’s “most important platform for luxury brands”, WeChat. Local and international brands have realised the potential of the platform to make them key players in China’s $103 billion jewelry market. Western companies have used it for flash sales as well as marketing and customer interaction. While these flash events have spurred sales, China’s online sales remain limited, says Antoine Pin, managing director of Bulgari in greater China.
Fun fact: Retail trade lost more jobs in the past 2 months than coal mining lost in the past 20 years.
Economist Paul Krugman responding to Bloomberg article, "America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever"
American’s have a positive view of the current economic condition leading consumer confidence to reportedly reach the highest level in over 16 years. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped by more than 100 since February, indicating an improvement for the second consecutive month. It also eclipsed economists’ estimates of 114.
“It is time for the international community and the diamond industry to put the process into the Kimberley Process and enable the initiative to move into a new chapter. Or it will really become ‘bull—,’” said Brad Brooks-Rubin of the Enough Project.
"The Kimberley Process (KP) is one of the key institutions that the diamond industry depends on to deliver the assurance that not only are rough diamonds responsibly sourced," writes Vinod Kuriyan, chief editor of GEMKonnect and a veteran analyst of the diamond industry, "but that they deliver fair value to artisanal miners and the local communities in the sourcing area." His defence of the KP was prompted by Martin Rapaport's statement on stage last week at the
Speaking at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) Café - a monthly guest lecture series at AWDC - diamond industry analyst Edahn Golan addressed the latest trends in the U.S. retail jewelry market. Drawing on actual point-of-sale data gathered by NPD Group from thousands of retail doors in the U.S., including major jewelry chains and hundreds of independent jewelers, Golan notes that the industries tracked by NPD in the U.S.
Fashion and jewelry houses are stunned by the latest shopping trend: See-now, Buy-Now. Consumers nowadays desire instant gratification and no longer wish to wait between seeing an outfit on the runway and being able to purchase the look. This trend is likely due to the increase in women who are buying jewelry and designer clothes for themselves. “They buy jewelry like they buy fashion, so are more spontaneous now,” said Nicolas Bos, chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels.
Signet Jewelers, as part of its effort to support and reinforce its Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds (D-SRSP), has been working on a project with product-testing firm United Laboratories and the Diamond Producers Association to create a facility for testing synthetic diamond screening equipment, writes Rapaport News.** The intention is to create an industry standard for such equipment so that, "su
Every marketeer has spent countless hours strategizing on how to target millennials, which has led them to neglect an important audience: introducing the Midult. Paula De Luca, creative director of trend forecasting company Trendvision, defines the midult as a women between the ages of 35 and 55 who has spending power – in other words, a Generation X female, born between 1960 and 1980. Following millennials and baby boomers, Gen X is the third largest generation in America, making up 25% of the 60 million adults in the U.S.
Stéphane Fischler, President of the International Diamond Council, founding member of the European Council of Diamond Manufacturers, Vice President of the World Diamond Council and President of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre talks to Manisha Gupta on India's CNBC-TV18. He shared his view of the Indian diamond industry and the road ahead for its diamond market. An abbreviated version:
CNBC: How do you see diamond consumption growth in India?
The European Parliament last week approved a draft regulation intended to prevent the minerals trade from funding conflict and human rights violations in Africa. If adopted, this “conflict minerals” law will oblige all but the smallest EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores from conflict and high-risk areas to do "due diligence" checks on their suppliers, and big manufacturers will also have to disclose how they plan to monitor their sources to comply with the rules. Authorities in EU member states will be responsible for ensuring compliance by companies.
The Antwerp diamond industry this year is celebrating its 570th anniversary. A document recently discovered in the City Archive identifies the first signs of a diamond trade in the city dating back to 1447.
Tiffany & Co. today (March 17) reported its financial results for the full year and the three months (fourth quarter) ended January 31, 2017, which were consistent with its previously issued guidance for the 2016 fiscal year. Worldwide net sales declined 3% in the year and rose 1% in the fourth quarter, while in both periods higher gross margins countered growth in operating expenses. Net earnings per diluted share declined 1% in the full year and 2% in the fourth quarter. The company generated more than $700 million of cash flow from operating activities in the full year.
Organizers of the CARAT+ "Diamond Event" trade show to be held in Antwerp from May 7 - 9 have announced an agreement with "Bond Girl" Caterina Murino (Casino Royale, 2006) to be a guest of honor, and has announced an exclusive media partnership with The Rapaport Group. Murino, playing the sultry Solange Dimitrios, became the 71st member of one of the most celebrated and exclusive clubs in movie history, known as "the Bond Girls".
The Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) will host the International Diamond Conference, "Mines to Market 2017", to be held on March 19 and 20, 2017 in Mumbai. It will gather leading miners, diamantaires, retailers, bankers and analysts from across the globe on a single platform to discuss issues faced by the global diamond industry, such as supply and demand, marketing and financing, and will cover all aspects of the diamond pipeline including mining, midstream, marketing & retail, international finance, valuation with KP and diamond certification.
Diamond industry analyst and author of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky, takes us on, "A Trip Through the Diamond Industry in March 2017." If there is one trip you make this weekend, we recommend this one.
Sales at specialty jewelry stores in the U.S. grew 3.8 percent to $31.43 billion in 2016 following a sharp rise in December, according to data from the the U.S. Census Bureau. December sales jumped 7 percent to $6.21 billion from $5.81 billion in December 2015, the provisional figures showed. To give an indication of the impact of December sales on overall jewelry sales, the monthly sales average for the 11 months before December was $2.29 billion, meaning that December sales represented a 170% rise over the 11 months prior.
Signet Jewelers, recently making unfortunate headlines with the reemergence of allegations for sexual harassment, has reported falling sales nearly across the board in the fourth quarter (the 13 weeks ended January 28, 2017), as overall same-stores sales fell 4.5% in the quarter, and 1.9% for fiscal year 2017. The 4.5% fall in Q4 sales compares unfavorably to a 4.9% increase in Q4 2016.
When people talk badly about diamonds, they think of the stone they're going to buy, but they don't think of the lives that are going to be affected. In Botswana, for example, 45-50% of the total GDP comes from diamond mining. So when people say, "I'm not going to buy a diamond because it has a bad rep", think of the two-plus million people in Botswana that will be affected.
- William Lamb, CEO Lucara Diamond, Interview with Bloomberg TV, on India's demonitization, diamond demand, Kimberley Process, positive sentiment in industry, Trump effect, DPA, Millennials and finding a buyer for the magnificent Lesedi La Rona ... all in 6 minutes.
Retail sales in Hong Kong across all categories resigtered an 0.9% drop in value terms and a 1.4% fall in volume terms year-on-year, according to statistics released last week by the HK government.
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), a committee dedicated to educating and regulating the ethics and integrity of the jewelry industry, has appointed Tiffany Stevens as its new president and CEO, reports JCK. She succeeds Cecilia Gardner, who held this post for 18 years, was general counsel of the World Diamond Council for 15 years and was involved in the Kimberley Process from the time of its inception in 2000.
As the Hong Kong Trade Fairs get under way, all eyes are on the Chinese retail market and their largest contingent of diamond consumers – the Millennials. Since 2015 luxury jewelers have noticed a growing demand for diamonds by Chinese millennials, aged 18 to 34, who are altering the perception that diamonds are only a symbol of love to be received when getting engaged, married or for an anniversary.
The Academy Awards taking place tonight are not only Hollywood cinema's biggest night of the year, but are also one of the most pivotal annual events for fashion, brands and iconic jewelry.
In recent weeks there have been growing signs that the volume of synthetic rough diamonds flowing into the pipeline is rising significantly. Most goods appear to be of Chinese origin, and in sizes from one point up to three quarters of a carat. What is particularly worrying is a definite rise in the incidence of synthetics stones in quite large parcels of rough diamonds, which its owners previously had assumed were all natural ... Right now we are seeing particular demand among members of the rough diamond trade, who have a particular need to defend the integrity of their product.
- Joseph Kuzi, CEO and President of Diamond Services, anounces expansion of its synthetic screening service in Hong Kong and New York due to rise of undisclosed rough synthetics in pipeline
Forevermark, the diamond brand from the De Beers Group of Companies, has expanded to 2,000 retail outlets globally with the intention of expanding by an additional 10% this year, said CEO Stephen Lussier. The opening of the 2,000th Forevermark outlet, the Zen Diamond Anatolium store in the city of Bursa in Turkey, was followed by an announcement of a strong 2016. The brand spent US$85 million on consumer-facing marketing activities in 2016 to help stimulate global demand for diamond jewelry.
De Beers Diamond Jewelers on Old Bond Street is considering leaving its flagship London store after almost 15 years, citing an increase in rent and business rates as motivating its decision to relocate, writes The Telegraph. A spokesperson for the company told The Telegraph increased costs related to its lease had led it to “explore alternative options on Bond Street” for its move.
"Last year, 1,669 jewelry businesses (including manufacturers and wholesalers) ceased operations in the United States, a 50 percent jump from 2015, according to the Jewelers Board of Trade", writes JCK's Rob Bates. In total, the number of jewelry businesses fell by 6%. He notes that a surprisingly large number of businesses closed their doors in the fourth quarter, traditionally a time when the trade is in full swing. Bates provides the gory details: 1,269 U.S.
Signet Jewelers has announced several organizational changes, "Designed to enable execution of key business priorities including strengthening customer service, enhancing digital capabilities and driving profitable growth." This includes the promotion of Sebastian Hobbs, UK Managing Director, to the newly created role of President and Chief Customer Officer, while two long-time executives will be retiring: Ed Hrabak, Signet Chief Operations Officer; and Tryna Kochanek, EVP, North American Store Operations.
Citing data from its RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI), Rapaport News writes, "Diamond manufacturing profits were squeezed in January amid strong rough demand while polished prices softened." Despite a disappointing holiday season, demand of rough is strong as jewelers will need to restock after the holiday season. This is demonstrated by De Beers' First Cycle sales of $720 million, its largest sight since July 2014.
Last week - on the occasion of the "Diamond Year" that the City of Antwerp will celebrate from October 2017 through February 2018 - the City of Antwerp dug deep into its "Insolvente Boedels" archive, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage resource, to reveal documents dating the diamond trade in Antwerp back to 1447 - or 570 years ago. The "crown jewel" of the documents revealed is an edict dating from 1447 in which the 'College of Mayor and Aldermen' decree that, "No one may trade in fake diamonds." The College was well ahead of its time.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, recorded a 5% increase in revenue, reaching $40.08 billion (€37.6 billion). With an organic revenue growth of 8%, Q4 saw an acceleration compared to earlier in the year. Europe, the Unites States and Asia, excluding Japan, remain well positioned and continued to show significant improvement. This slower demand in Japan and France was likely due to the continued decline in the number of tourists. The strongest performers included fashion and leather goods (+34%) and wine (+13%).
U.S. retailers are under threat of having no option but to close their stores and move their business to the Internet, write Lindsey Rupp and Molly Smith for BloombergMarkets. In the last 18 months, over 5,000 stores have closed their doors, with an additional 10% of all U.S. retail spaces being forced to repurpose or close down altogether. Although consumer spending this holiday season (Nov-Dec) increased overall by 4% to $658.3 billion, ending slightly higher than earlier projections, this can be attributed to deep discounts and online purchases.
Sustainability has entered the mainstream in a signficant way, with young companies often making it a prime selling-point while well-known retailers, consumer products giants, and tech firms cater to consumers who increasingly care about sustainability.
The Seattle-based online jeweler Blue Nile has partnered with online diamond buyback company Mondiamo to create what it calls a transparent process for those looking to sell their diamond jewelry, writes The Seattle Times. The service works like this: Customers enter details of their stone’s grading report on the site and receive a minimum guaranteed cash offer. (For non-GIA reports, the price is adjusted based on a proprietary algorithm.) If there is no report, no offer is given.
Rob Bates of JCK has gathered his sources to put together an overview of holiday jewelry sales and says that, "The data shows a mixed, but not altogether downbeat, picture. This year, holiday results appear to be all over the map—some independents did great; others recorded a 1 to 2 percent gain, which has become standard for many since the recession. In a surprise, we also saw mixed results at the mass-market level as well." Below are a few notable takeways from the information JCK has gathered.