In his latest editorial, JCK editor-in-chief and industry expert Rob Bates makes a case for a ceasefire between the natural diamond industry and the lab-grown sector.
In recent months the mudslinging back and forth between the two "intimately connected sectors" has reached new heights, which Bates believes will be negative in the long run for the entire industry, natural and LGD alike.
In 2014, I wrote that the lab-grown diamond industry was out-promoting the natural. That is even more pronounced now. I don’t get many pitches from natural diamond companies. And some of the pitches I do get are kind of dull. By contrast, I get at least two or three pitches on lab-grown diamonds a week. My Facebook feed is inundated with ads for lab-grown companies. The man-made segment claims only a single-digit percentage of the market, but it appears to be doing an outsized percentage of the marketing ...
In what can only be described as a victory for laboratory-grown diamond producers, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dropped the word 'natural' from its definition of a diamond, essentially redefining 'diamond' to include non-mined gemstones, as part its new guides for the jewelry industry. It further gives additional leeway to existing standards regarding the description of lab-grown diamonds (and metal alloys), and has dropped 'synthetic' as an appropriate descriptor of lab-grown diamonds except under certain circumstances.
“We are not planning to change our strategy, integrate in the new market (synthetic product market) and launch our own synthetic production, or sell lab-grown diamonds. It is obvious that ALROSA as a diamond producer and one of the founders of Diamond Producers Association (DPA) hopes that this initiative will lead to differentiation of diamonds and synthetic stones, underlining the status of synthetics as a distinct low-price product.
JCK’s Rob Bates took a closer look at Amazon’s vetting process for its jewelry sellers. He spoke to Kristin Cherry Jackson, who recently joined 21C Jewelry Solutions consultancy, following her senior position at Amazon.
Brisbane-based retail jeweler Michael Hill has announced, "The complete exit of the loss-making retail operations in the US" as part of a set of strategic actions across its global retail network. The company, which "entered the U.S.
This debate shows the need for the industry to demonstrate the value of its products. The link between a diamond and love is clear and well-established. But while consumers don’t think twice about buying $300 sneakers, or $1,000 handbags, they regularly balk at spending a few thousand dollars on engagement rings. And yet, it takes a lot of painstaking craft to make a ring (of the non-$25 variety). It also takes a lot of effort and money to get diamonds out of the ground. Plus, consumers are buying a product that is intended to hold its value and truly last forever ...
Brilliant Earth, the online diamond jewelry company whose USP is socially and environmentally responsible sourcing and complete chain of custody transparency, has resolved its defamation suit against Jacob Avital, reports JCK's Rob Bates. The videos have been removed from YouTube. Last summer, Avital published two widely-viewed videos on YouTube of his hidden-camera 'exposure' of Brilliant Earth as a scam, whose practices do not match its claims to transparency of origin for their diamond supply chain.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
JCK's Rob Bates conducted an in-depth and personal interview with Cecilia Gardner, who recently stepped down after 18 years as president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to compliance with laws pertaining to the jewelry industry.
Award-winning journalist Rob Bates raises some highly relevant issues in the wake of the announcement by Ashley Orbach - U.S. Department of State’s special advisor for conflict diamonds for the last three years - that she will be leaving the agency and her role as advisor. There was always going to be a sense of uncertainty concerning the U.S. stance toward the Kimberley Process and human rights in the mining industry under the unpredictable new administration, and the loss of continuity signalled by Orbach's departure may well add to it.
"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.
While it is early days for an already turbulent and unpredictable Trump administration, news that the White House has floated the idea of introducing a border tax on imports from Mexico is likely causing anxiety among retailers that rely on such imports.
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.
"As a leading member of the U.S. Jewelry industry, we are writing to express our support for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the corresponding Securities and Exchange Commission’s Conflict Minerals Rule.
Signet Jewelers, the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry, reports its same store sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 (ended October 29) fell 2.0%, while total sales fell $30.2 million to $1.2 billion, a 2.5% decline. Nonetheless, the results outstripped the company’s own guidance of a 3 to 5 percent decline. As Mark Light, Chief Executive Officer of Signet Jewelers said, “We expected challenging market conditions to result in a sales decline.
Current KP Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem wasn’t the first to contemplate the possibility of integrating blockchain technology in the diamond industry, when he addressed the KP members during the Intersessional meeting last summer. In recent months, the term “blockchain” has been popping up more and more in conversations within the industry, especially on how the technology could increase transparancy, which in turn can for example, optimize operations or enhance a company's bankability.
In his latest article, JCK news director Rob Bates looks at the impact of GIA reporting the discovery of the biggest ever undisclosed CVD synthetic diamond at its Hong Kong lab. Bates argues that even though most cases of undisclosed synthetic diamonds occur in India and China, this latest discovery demonstrates synthetics pose a real and present threat to the entire industry, including the retail segment.
JCK's Rob Bates reports that De Beers is introducing a significant change to the 'take it or leave it' policy of its traditional sight system, as they will be, "experimenting with offering sightholders boxes made to order for their needs. Traditionally," writes Bates, "De Beers has separated its product into 120 standard assortments. And while that continues, it is also working with certain clients to create tailored mixes." He then explains that, "This represents a significant break from how things have generally worked in the century-old sight system.
JCK's award-winning news director Rob Bates sat down for a chat with Internet radio program "The Daily Beat" on Breakthru Radio (BTR) to talk all things diamonds, and in particular the Kimberley Process and diamonds in American culture.
BTR: What effect did the movie Blood Diamonds (2006) and reports after that have on the diamond industry?
"We have come a long way from Henry Ford famously paying his workers a living wage so they could afford to buy his cars. Today, there is a huge disconnect between those at the top and the people they employ. Then those same executives go on earnings calls and scratch their heads about where all the shoppers went." So concludes JCK's Rob Bates his pointed analysis of the sluggish state of jewelry retail and the failure of high-level executives to understand why the middle-class are not spending; or perhaps more accurately, that the middle class is disappearing.
Citing a Morgan Stanley & Co. International research report, JCK's Rob Bates writes that synthetic diamonds pose a threat to the diamond industry, in particular to the prices of small 'melee' diamonds, and could turn out to be, “a serious potential disruptor” to the established diamond market.
These messages can be sobering for the industry, but they serve as something of an impromptu focus group of how young people view our business and provide some insight on its current challenges. We are caught in a demographic vice: Boomers are retiring/dying, Gen X-ers have money but no numbers, while millennials have numbers but no money (and are fickle, regardless). When you add in e-commerce, heavy debt, income inequality, the aftereffects of the fiscal crisis, and an unstable world, it’s not surprising this industry—and the rest of retail—is feeling challenged.
JCK's Rob Bates reports on the latest round of infighting among the directors at synthetic diamond manufacturer Scio Diamond, as former director James Korn charges in his resignation letter that current chair Bernard McPheely has “led to Scio to insolvency” and the company “operates on life support.” Addressing his letter to Chairman of the Board Bernard M.
The highly anticipated auction of the largest gem-quality rough diamond in the world, the historic Type IIa 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Canadian miner Lucara Diamond Corp. in Botswana last November, failed to make auction history as it fell short of its reserve price and did not sell at Sotheby’s June 29 auction in London. The bidding opened at $50 million and was widely anticipated to sell for upwards of $80 million, but the bidding stalled at $61 million, so the diamond went unsold.
JCK's Rob Bates reports on his interview from JCK Las Vegas with vice president of Russian diamond producer Alrosa, Andrey Polyakov, who recently took over the leadership of the World Diamond Council (WDC). The main talking points are, "whether the KP will ever include human rights language and just what Alrosa thinks about synthetics", as well as the ongoing dispute between current KP chair United Arab Emirates and the civil society coalition. Concerning the latter, Polyakov said, "Both the NGOs and the KP chair are doing a great job.
Rob Bates of JCK writes that De Beers sightholders are likely to be relieved by the appointment of Bruce Cleaver to replace Phillippe Mellier as CEO, noting that he is already "striking a different tone than his predecessor." Bates summarizes Mellier's tumultuous five-year tenure, during which, "Oppenheimer’s family sold its shares to Anglo American, De Beers transferred sales to Botswana, the company settled its U.S. antitrust issues, and it decided to move from its longtime home on Charterhouse Street.
Award-winning news director of JCK Rob Bates, in his opinion piece "Why the NGOs and Dubai Still Can’t Get Along", addresses the persistent conflict between Kimberley Process (KP) chair UAE and the KP civil society coalition - the group of 11 human rights groups that participate in the KP - that is threatening to turn the upcoming KP interessional meetings into a failure: "the recent turn of events looks like we are in for another year of stagnation and animosity, and the scheme will once again fail to make needed improvements, despite the UAE’s promises last year of a fruitful, pr
The natural and lab-grown diamond industries are now openly feuding with each another, and some are calling for a ceasefire. Yet that might not be as easy as it seems. For one, there is little overlap between the companies that produce man-made diamonds and those that mine naturals. Both sectors have no obligation to help the other. To the contrary, they both have reasons for the current cold war to continue.
Last week, Martin Rapaport published an in-depth diatribe rejecting the claims of synthetic diamand producers that their product is more ethical than naturally mined diamonds, going so far as to call the way synthetic diamonds are marketed as "evil".
"This June at the JCK Las Vegas show," writes Rob Bates for JCK, "the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) will unveil an industry milestone: the first category-driving campaign for diamonds not sponsored by De Beers. The DPA’s campaign grew out of its research on millennials, including extensive surveys and focus groups conducted by its marketing firm Mother New York." Bates plans to take an in-depth look at their research between now and then, but provides a few spoilers about what they found out.
News director of JCK Rob Bates outlines how a report in UAE newpaper The National, based on comments by Kimberley Process chair Ahmed bin Sulayem, wrongfully reported that diamond exports from the Central African Republic will soon resume thanks to, it claims, a deal brokered by Ahmed bin Sulayem.
In his latest article, "How Do We Talk About Ethical Sourcing?", Rob Bates of JCK unpacks some of the key tensions lurking underneath marketing strategies that promote the ethical or eco-friendly advantages of synthetic diamond products, and even some of their natural counterparts. Analyzing recent statements by Suzanne Miglucci, the new president and CEO of moissanite manufacturer Charles & Colvard, Bates points out how the strategy they imply could rub retailers the wrong way and even involve "certain perils" when it comes to integrating into the diamond industry as a whole.
"We received some hostile comments to our story about Stuller selling lab-grown diamonds. This puzzles me. First, Stuller already sells moissanite and other lab-created gems; this was a logical and not out-of-character move for it. And while I understand why some in the industry fear lab-grown diamonds, they are a legitimate, legal product (provided they are sold legitimately and legally), which are not going away.
Rob Bates of JCK tells the story behind gem explorer Yianni Melas' discovery of a new blue-green gemstone, baptized Aquaprase. "Two years ago," writes Bates, "veteran gem explorer Yianni Melas was doing some work at an African location - he doesn’t want to say where, so the area is not overrun. Geologists had dismissed the locale, convinced it held only some few stray opals.
JCK News Director Rob Bates discusses the implications of Jewellery group Signet's announcement that it will start implementing a Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds, requiring its suppliers to provide diamonds from identified sources, from mine to finger, so to speak. The initiative, which received support from diamond industry organisations such as the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the Diamond Development Initiative, will be a work in progress, Signet stated, continuously improving.
"Throughout the diamond pipeline, the time has come to "expose" rather than quietly "acquiesce". If a jeweler did something wrong, let the courts decide. If someone committed a fraud, let him go to jail. Consumers will have far more confidence in those jewelers that prove their trust and integrity by standing up - rather than "giving in." In many instances, the retailer is a victim of his or her diamond supplier. Let them become accountable as well."
Chaim Even-Zohar, industry expert - Diamond Intelligence Briefing