Charles Wyndham wonders about the sense of jewelry retailers in Antwerp, London, New York and many other places offering huge discounts which makes the products, touted as the ultimate luxury goods, "look exceedingly grubby". "I have never understood why so many, if not the vast majority, of retailers selling diamond jewelry insist on stuffing their windows as if it were a butchers shop. Just as the industry itself has in essence changed so little over the past however long, so retailing of diamonds has hardly progressed, and indeed in many ways regressed."
Moving on, Wyndham welcomes De Beers' announcement last week that it will be launching a recycled diamonds purchasing operation in New York. "This certainly has more chance of success in supporting diamonds than their ill-fated move into retail with De Beers LV," he writes. "However welcome this move is, and I certainly do, it in a way is missing the point, though not a point that De Beers is any longer in a position to influence in a way that it might have done when it was king of the castle."
He also writes about the "inexplicable" rise in rough sales in the first months of this year given the level of polished demand and says it is understandable in terms of it "being driven by the behemoths of cutting factories in India. I find it very difficult to believe that this is sustainable, especially when I read about how Standard Chartered is effectively off loading its position by insisting that its clients take out, at considerable cost, insurance through AIG. Not only that in itself, and the more general point that we all know that banking liquidity is getting less not more. There was no better reminder of this fact than to see a very large ‘Te Koop’ [For Sale] sign outside the Antwerp Diamond Bank.
"Finally, just as the Swiss watch industry seems to have found out, only when it has crashed into a brick wall, that you ignore consumer changes at your peril; so with diamonds, it appears that the younger generation are much less interested in diamonds than previous generations, which if no one tells them why they should be interested is hardly surprising."