Beleaguered by the unprecendented challenges now dragging on for nearly a year, luxury brands have started throwing in the proverbial towel on their Russel Street shops in Hong Kong’s bustling Causeway Bay, considered the world’s most expensive shopping street. "Already struggling for survival after months of civil unrest crippled Hong Kong’s economy," writes Pearl Liu for the South China Morning Post, "the final blow for many came this year with the coronavirus pandemic, which killed off any remaining consumer sentiment."
“We assumed that it would take two to three months to recover, I think in three or four months, we will be back to normal. The present data is better than we expected.”
Kent Wong - managing director of Chow Tai Fook elaborates in an interview with JCK News Director Rob Bates on how China's largest jeweler re-emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, providing valuable lessons for the rest of the world on consumer trends and how companies can manage during and after the pandemic subsides.
Diamond jewelry retail sales in the US soared 20% after 9/11. History shows us that after large-scale disasters and economic meltdowns, there is a tendency to spend on diamond jewelry. History has shown us that it will get better after it gets worse.
- Edahn Golan, from his article, "Ruin to Resurrection, the Perpetual Path"
While the rest of the world is tightening measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese customers - constituting a whopping third of global luxury industry’s sales and the driving force of global growth in this segment in recent years - are slowly returning to the country’s luxury shopping malls as local quarantine measures are eased.
Hong Kong's leading diamond jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook unexpected released key unaudited data for the two months ended 29 February 2020, revealing that sales at all points of sale in Mainland China fell 42 percent while those in Hong Kong and Macau fell 60 percent in the first two months of 2020. The jeweler attributes the decline to the temporary shutdown of "the majority" of its stores in China and Hong Kong due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Following the temporary closure of their stores in 'affected regions' of mainland China, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has temporarily closed around 40 stores in Hong Kong and Macao in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19 or nCoV2019 (2019 novel coronavirus)) epidemic, a spokesperson said Monday. The Hong Kong-based jewelry chain operator also will shorten operating hours at its remaining stores in the two cities. These shops will close by 7 p.m. local time until further notice.
The United Kingdom has become one of a handful of nations to take proactive steps to protect diamond jewelry buyers from confusing sales labeling, thanks to a collaboration between the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) and UK Trading Standards. The NAJ has announced a guide for correctly labeling different diamond jewelry types accepted by Trading Standards to stop customers feeling duped.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has added a third ad that will run on Times Square running up to Valentine's Day, promoting their Diamond Origin Report. Launched in 2019, the GIA Diamond Origin Report uses scientific evaluation to match a polished diamond to its original rough, providing confirmation of the origin information provided by the diamond mining company and including information that helps consumers understand the positive social and economic impact that mined diamonds have for the countries and communities that produce them.
Retail sales in Hong Kong in general, and sales of luxury items and jewelry in particular, continued to fall sharply in November as local social unrest turned extremely violent, causing very severe disruptions to tourism- and consumption-related activities and further dampening consumption sentiment, writes the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
At the conclusion of the KPCS Plenary Session in New Delhi, India, the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) in a press release says the KP failed to deliver on the mission of the three-year reform cycle, noting “only insignificant changes to the scope and governance” was agreed upon by the members of the scheme.
Forevermark, the diamond brand from the De Beers Group, has launched its latest consumer campaign, #TrustForevermark, in India, aiming to help prospective buyers allay their doubts, fears and questions that arise when buying diamonds, according to a Forevermark press release. Forevermark is rolling out a multi-media campaign including events, PR, digital, print, television, radio, outdoor and social media content. The #TrustForevermark campaign the brand's largest yet in India and will be rolled out nationally over the next three months targeting nine Tier I and 41 Tier II cities.
Seattle-based online jewelry retailer Blue Nile, which cleared about $500 million in revenue last year, has place an embargo on Zimbabwean diamonds over reports of human rights abuses in the Marange district, several Zimbabwe news outlets are reporting.
Sarine Technologies earlier this year rolled out its Sarine Diamond Journey provenance tracking program - following each stage of a diamond's travels from rough stone to polished diamond - and has now announced a Partners program comprising select diamond manufacturers. The initial manufacturers selected for the program will be able to supply goods meeting the retailers' criteria for transparent sourcing.
Russian diamond miner Alrosa unveiled at JCK Las Vegas the latest contribution to the diamond tracking trend, creating a place-of-origin program that will provide consumers and traders with in-depth provenance information, complete with a personalized video. The company said it will soon launch a program in which an 'electronic passport' will accompany a diamond, providing information about the physical characteristics of the diamond as well as its age, the place and date of extraction, when and where it was cut, and the name and background of the craftsperson that fashioned the stone.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has appointed Iris Van der Veken (pictured) as its executive director, the group announced in a statement. Van der Veken is the first woman to become the organisation’s Executive Director and replaces Andrew Bone who was appointed in June 2015. Bone said last September that he was planning to step down from the post he had held for four years.
Holiday retail sales in the U.S. during 2018 grew a lower-than-expected 2.9 percent over the same period in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), falling short of their forecast that holiday sales would grow between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent. From November 1 through December 31 reached $707.5 billion, according to figures from the Commerce Department, whose results were delayed by nearly a month because of the recent government shutdown.
Monday afternoon in Brussels at the opening of the Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary session, World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler urged the delegation to support the strengthening the KP by expanding the definition of conflict diamonds (Read full speech). The expanded definition proposed by the Canadian government includes diamonds associated with widespread and systematic violence.
The world's two largest diamond miners are joining forces to provide enhanced assurance for consumers and trade participants about the provenance and authenticity of their diamonds, as ALROSA has joined De Beers' blockchain pilot program - Tracr.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has announced that Andrew Bone will be stepping down as its Executive Director, effective 27 March 2019. Andrew Bone has been Executive Director since the spring of 2015. Under his leadership, RJC membership doubled and the organization laid the foundations for sustainable growth in the future, the RJC said in a statement.
The Millennial and Gen Z generations combined accounted for two-thirds of global diamond jewelry sales in 2017, as diamond jewelry demand reached a new record high of US$82 billion, according to data published today by De Beers Group in its latest Diamond Insight Report.
The Diamond Producers Association recently released a statement addressing the controversial changes the US's FTC has adopted regarding the definition and description of diamonds, among other issues.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has announced that Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) is participating in the Institute’s M2M (Mine to Market) program, a digital platform tracks rough diamonds through to the resulting polished gem. As part of a pilot initiative, a selection of ODC rough diamonds GIA has evaluated for its M2M program will be offered at the ODC July 2018 Spot Auction. The GIA's new service offers retailers a new method of being able to uncover a stone’s history.
Last week at the Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting in Antwerp, during the Special Forum, "Innovation and Technology: State-of-the-art in the rough diamond trade", Daniel Nyfeler, Managing Director at Gübelin Gem Lab gave a presentation on the company's 'Emerald Paternity Test'.
Signet Jewelers, called "the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry" and owns Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared, will become the first retailer to join De Beers' diamond blockchain pilot program for tracking a diamond’s journey digitally from mine to retail. Launched in January 2018 following a successful proof-of-concept trial, the platform, called Tracr, is billed a comprehensive mine-to-customer traceability solution for the entire diamond industry. The pilot project involves a small group of industry participants - five leading diamond manufacturers
The world's most recognized diamond grading institution, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is launching a pilot program together with leading jewerly retailer, Chow Tai Fook which will use blockchain technology to deliver secure, digital diamond grading reports to consumers for the first time.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has conducted a survey of 2,011 US adults about their attitude toward synthetic diamonds, finding a clear majority of Americans do not consider diamonds created in a factory ('synthetic' or 'laboratory-grown') as 'real' diamonds (see the full survey results here).
Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the diamond marketing organization Diamond Producers Association (DPA), spoke with Melissa Smet of De Belgische Diamantnijverheid, the quarterly magazine of the Syndicate of the Belgian Diamond Industry (SBD), about the mission, current progress and future plans of the DPA, as well as some key industry issues. The DPA set up shop and was launched in 2016, but their first real year of investment was 2017, and they invested about $57 million on generic marketing.
ALROSA has introduced its long anticipated commercial detector for identifying natural and synthetic polished diamonds - the ALROSA Diamond Inspector, first introduced in 2016. The Company expects that its relatively low price ($9,900) and high accuracy will allow the detector to be in demand in Russia as well as abroad. "It will help fight unscrupulous suppliers who mix synthetic stones grown in the laboratory with diamonds of natural origin", the companys says.
Nine of the leading diamond industry organizations and jewelry associations have jointly released the Diamond Terminology Guideline, containing recommendations for describing diamonds and synthetic diamonds, announced the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and CIBJO the World Jewellery Confederation in a press release. The Guideline, based on ISO standards and the CIBJO Diamond Blue Book, is intended to set the universal standard for communicating about diamonds and their laboratory-grown counterparts.
The Belgian Embassy in Tokyo was the setting for the launch of a new initiative to bring certified, Antwerp-sourced diamonds to the Japanese retail market under the quality label: "Diamonds & Antwerp" (DnA).
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.
Diamond tracker and blockchain startup Everledger has partnered with Gübelin Gem Lab to create the Provenance Proof Blockchain for colored gemstones, reports International Business Times. Gübelin Gem Lab is a renowned gemological laboratory and creator of the Provenance Proof initiative, for which the Gübelin Gem Lab is developing technologies to further drive transparency in the gemstone industry.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA has become a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) by achieving certification against its Code of Practices through meeting the highest ethical, human rights, social and environmental standards as established by the RJC, the two organizations communicated this morning. A large independent audit company has been undertaken to assess ALROSA’s compliance with RJC’s Code of Practices.
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.
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.
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.
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.