Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published a wide-ranging article comprised of quick diamond-industry stats and trends: "2018 Global Diamond Industry Primer". Here he lays out the current situation and developments as we bring the 2017 diamond year to a close, and identifies what to look out for in the year ahead.
Vrai & Oro, the jewelry designer owned by laboratory-grown diamond producer Diamond Foundry, has closed its Los Angeles retail store after only six months. Despite several articles by the likes of Vogue announcing their partnership, and The Hollywood Reporter dropping Hollywood names like headliner Leonardo DiCaprio, the designer has come to the conclusion, "that retail is a true challenge." The Los Angeles fine jewelry label, which was purchased by Diamond Foundry in November of last year, opened a store in downtown L.A. at the ROW DTLA shopping center last August.
De Beers Group today announced it is progressing development of the first blockchain technology initiative to span the diamond value chain and provide a single, tamper-proof and permanent digital record for every diamond registered on the platform. The initiative will underpin confidence in diamonds and the diamond industry by ensuring that all registered diamonds are conflict-free and natural, while also enhancing efficiency across the sector, the company said in a statement.
Leading Chinese jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook reported a 5% year-on-year increase in same store sales (SSS) for the three-month period ended December 31, 2017 (Q3 FY2018) in its key markets of Mainland China and Hong Kong & Macau, reflecting solidification of the recovery in demand and increasing points of sale. Overall retail sales value in Hong Kong and Macau was flat year-on-year for the third quarter, but recorded 12% growth in Mainland China.
Signet's total sales for the 9 weeks ended December 30, 2017 (“Holiday Season”) were $1,881.7 million, down $59.2 million or 3.1%, compared to $1,940.9 million in the prior year, the group announced in a press release today. Same Store Sales (SSS) decreased 5.3%. Sales declines were primarily driven by weakness in the Sterling division (Kay, Jared, R2Net and Regional brands), impacted predominantly by the credit outsourcing transition* which accounted for approximately two-thirds of the decrease. R2Net was the best performer in the division, increasing sales 38.6% to $50.6 million.
As the calendar turned on the new year, the European Union took over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, aimed to ensure sustainable and conflict-free trade in diamonds. Under the leadership of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, the EU will head this international initiative to stem the trade in conflict diamonds during 2018. The EU emphasized that its tenure would be guided by the principles of sustainability, inclusiveness, responsibility and dialogue.
Sales of jewelry in the U.S. during the holiday season jumped 5.9%, largely driven by last-minute sales, with December 23 approaching Black Friday in terms of single-day spending, reports Mastercard SpendingPulse. They report that holiday sales increased 4.9 percent this year, setting a new record for dollars spent. This is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011 and a further indication of consumer confidence. Online shopping also saw large gains of 18.1 percent compared to 2016, boosted by a late season rally.
In their attempt to position synthetics as responsible alternatives to diamonds, many manufacturers have been propagating misleading, outdated, and inaccurate information about the diamond industry. This information ignores the significant changes which have occurred in the diamond sector over the past 15 years.
Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of Diamond Producers Association
Bain & Company, together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has published their seventh annual report on the global diamond industry, "The enduring story in a changing world", covering industry developments in 2016 and the first half of 2017 as well as the challenges the industry faces and how it is turning them into opportunities. Their report looks at key issues along the value chain, from rough-diamond production and sales, to midstream performance and global diamond jewelry demand in major markets.
Moda Operandi, the American online luxury retailer originally founded in 2011 as a platform to provide consumers access to full collections straight from the runway, has just received a brand-new influx of cash. Billionaire entrepreneur and executive director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Adrian Cheng and Apax Digital co-led its latest round of funding, which totals a massive $165 million in growth capital. That number doubles Moda Operandi's total funding, which had reached more than $130 million as of its Series E round in February 2015.
Recognizing the crucial issue of confidence in the diamond industry and the changing expectations across the value chain, De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver today announced the company has been investing in a blockchain platform to create, "the first traceability platform to span the entire diamond value chain". Consumer expectations regarding the level of confidence "that a diamond has been responsibly sourced, confidence in its value and confidence that it is the real thing", is obviously on the rise.
Last week, the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange and Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange, subsidiaries of Guangdong Assets & Equity Exchange Group, held a series of annual meetings around the theme of “Belt & Road, Hand in Hand — International Jewelry & Diamond Conference 2017". China's Belt and Road Initiative, roughly defined, is a development campaign through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the globe.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has appointed Edward Johnson as director of business development to help expand its expertise and drive growth for the organization. Johnson will focus his efforts around developing strategies to drive membership engagement and strengthen the RJC’s relationships with key stakeholders. His role will be integral to evaluating new opportunities for growth and expansion into niche markets, as well as expanding the RJC globally, focusing particularly on Greater China, India and the USA.
The latest fraudulent twist on the synthetic diamond landscape has profound implications for the efforts to keep natural and synthetic diamonds separate, if the incident in question is not an isolated one. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recently recieved a round brilliant cut diamond (image, left) submitted for an updated diamond grading report. Its girdle was inscribed with an actual GIA report number (image, right), identifying the stone as a natural, untreated diamond. After testing, however, it turned out that the newly submitted diamond was an HPHT-grown synthetic diamond.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) launched its new “Real is Rare” advertising last night (Nov. 16) on the 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards on Univision. The second phase of trhe campaign focuses on real, intimate moments within relationships. “The Reveal” is one of two new videos presenting a modern take on love and diamonds.
The African Diamond Conference (ADC), a joint initiative of Belgium's Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), took place yesterday at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. With nearly 400 in attendance, the ADC featured a broad range of speakers from across the entire diamond pipeline - from mine to finger - as well as diamond industry stakeholders.
According to a new report from consultancy Bain & Co., after stalling in 2016, revenues from personal luxury goods are set to rise 6 percent in 2017 to 262 billion euros ($308 billion), thanks to thriving demand from Chinese and Millennial shoppers, writes Reuters. Earlier projections were for a growth rate of 2 to 4 percent, but as Bain opens its summary statement, "Luxury is back in fashion.
HRD Antwerp today launched its new diamond ID CARD: a highly affordable grading report for diamonds that weigh between 0.08 and 0.998 carats. "With this new product, we aim to bring a comprehensive solution to one of the diamond market’s main current challenges: ensuring confidence in small-sized diamonds," says Michel Janssens, CEO of HRD Antwerp.
Two leading Hong Kong-based jewelry retailers, Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, delivered strong results in the second quarter of their respective financial years ending September 30 2017, signalling the sustained recovery of the Greater China market after a prolonged slump. Chow Tai Fook reported a 15% increase in retail sales in Mainland China and a 12% rise in Hong Kong and Macau compared to the same period a year ago. Luk Fook, reporting only same-store sales (SSS), reported 17% growth year on year, including a 16% increase in gem-set jewelry.
Next week, on October 26, HRD Antwerp is planning to launch a brand new product that it says will be a revolutionary concept on the diamond grading landscape, the HRD Antwerp diamond ID Card for diamonds smaller than 1 carat. While the details have yet to be released, HRD Antwerp says their new product will help keep the European gemological lab at the cutting edge of diamond grading technology.
In 2015, CAP Conseil, a sustainable development consultancy based in Belgium, presented the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) an idea for a fully ethical and traceable diamond jewelry project from small-scale origin. Two years later, the first MY FAIR DIAMOND collection has become a reality.
Diamond industry analyst Ehud Laniado takes a helpful look at the, "trends, anomalies and problems in the wholesale sector of the diamond market" as we approach the holiday season. As anticipated, demand is rising, but changes in the nature of that demand are causing some concern; in particular, the steady shift to lower-priced goods, lower peaks in demand and an overall decline in polished prices.
Last week, a delegation of leading jewelers and diamond traders from across Europe spent three days getting acquainted with their counterparts in Antwerp, enjoying a behind-the-scenes look at the diamond capital and doing business at high-level networking events.
I’m not here to throw mud at the Diamond Producers Association or its efforts. What they do is great and very much needed. However, I do want to suggest that we need to go beyond general promotion. The augmenting campaigns, those that create a specific desire followed by a specific action, is the kind of marketing we are missing today.
- Edahn Golan highlights need for diamond marketing, wonders if DPA getting consumers into stores.
JCK's Rob Bates writes about a recent anti-money laundering compliance oversight that cost Richmont - through one of its Cartier stores - $384,000 in a settlement with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). "On four separate occasions between 2010 and 2011, an individual purchased jewelry from Cartier boutiques in California and Nevada", but the Cartier shops involved neglected to identify the company to which the jewelry was shipped - Shuen Wai Holdings Limited in Hong Kong - as being on the blocked list.
Boosting confidence in the diamond trade by overcoming the last great hurdle of guaranteed provenance is no small task, but the daunting scale of the job at hand has not deterred Leanne Kemp, CEO and founder of British tech start-up Everledger. Combining the blockchain technology underpinning Bitcoin with HD photography and specialized applications, the company records 40 metadata points to create a unique thumbprint of each stone.
“People have long bought flashy items because they made them feel good. Now some say those same items make them feel icky,” wrote JCK’s Rob Bates. According to a recent New York Times article a percentage of affluent consumers are moving away from the ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’ stereotype. Some even consider their wealth a burden, going as far as hiding the price tag of their recent purchases.
According to industry insight data published today by De Beers Group, the shifting dynamic of women’s expanding roles in society and changing perceptions of femininity are creating new motivations of diamond jewelry acquisition. Social and economic changes have expanded the symbolism of diamond jewelry, women are now more empowered which has led to record levels of self-purchase, as well as the establishment of a new consumer type.
Alrosa’s President, Sergey Ivanov, has joined the board of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the Russian miner announced on Monday. Ivanov will replace the position vacated by the former Alrosa VP, Andrey Polyakov, before he left the company.
Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published an in-depth article on the current state of lab-created diamonds and where the industry goes from here. Reprinted from Paul Zimnisky Diamond Analytics, courtesy of Paul Zimnisky.
An increase in wholesale sales of diamonds, strong growth in e-commerce sales and new store openings help Tiffany & Co. beat earnings estimates despite the fact that same-store sales declined for the seventh straight quarter. For the second quarter (ended July 31, 2017), the renowned luxury retailer reported a 9% rise in net income to $115 million, up from $105.7 million during the same period a year earlier, on net sales of $960 million. Analysts had expected the company to earn revenue of $930.3 million.
Signet's total sales for the Second Quarter of fiscal 2018 were $1.4 billion, up $26.2 million or 1.9%, compared to a decrease of 2.6% in the 13 weeks ended July 30, 2016 (Q2 2017). However, the jeweler’s first-half sales fell 5% to $2.8 billion, with profit sliding 25% to $171.9 million. The company also announced that it has agreed to acquire R2Net for $328 million in an all cash transaction.
Driven by strong increases in exports to Hong Kong and China, and even modest 1.4% growth for the U.S., July marked the third straight month of growth for Swiss watch industry exports, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH.
Signet Jewelers Limited has been recognized for its corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts by being named as a component of the FTSE4Good US and Global Indices in 2017. Signet joins this group of other publicly traded companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. “Signet is proud of our commitment to reducing our energy consumption and raising our efficiency levels across our business.
From the India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) in Mumbai, GemKonnect reports on the formation of the International Diamond Monitoring Committee (IDMC), an initiative intended to ensure the separation of natural diamonds from synthetics as they pass through the diamond pipeline to the retail counter.
Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published an in-depth article on the current state of the diamond industry as it heads into the second half of 2017. Reprinted from Paul Zimnisky Diamond Analytics, courtesy of Paul Zimnisky.
Statistics from the jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) show that the trend of increasing of business closures in the North American jewelry industry continued in the second quarter of 2017, but at a slower pace than previously, reports JCK's Rob Bates. In fact, there were 48% fewer closures in Q2 2017 than Q2 2016, from 475 to to 245 closures in the period. As Bates clarifes though, "the consolidation trend hasn’t totally reversed itself: The number of jewelry companies is still shrinking. In June, the JBT recorded 27,706 businesses.
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.