Last week, Tiffany & Co. found itself at the center of a social media firestorm after posting an image on Twitter of a woman covering one eye with her hand, leading to accusations that the jeweller supports the Hong Kong protesters and prompting Tiffany's to remove the post. Angry Chinese consumers believed it deliberately evoked a symbolic pose adopted by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators after a woman was shot in the eye with what protesters say was a police beanbag round during violent clashes with police. Her image later popped up in many posters and memes.
Beginning this month, De Beers' lab-grown diamond brand Lightbox Jewelry will be available at two select Bloomingdale’s department stores (one in N.Y., one in San Francisco) and 30 Reeds Jewelers stores in a trial run to see whether their product and value proposal perform in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail environments, reports Forbes magazine. Until now, the only way to purchase Lightbox fashion jewelry was through its website or through an occasional pop-up promotion.
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.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group (CTF) has reported higher sales and continuing expansion of their POS (points of sale) during Q1 FY 2020 (three months ended 30 June 2019), as sales in mainland China stores continued to grow at a strong rate while those in Hong Kong and Macau declined for the second time in the past three quarters. Retail sales grew by 24% in mainland China during the period, with same-store sales (SSS) improving by 11%, the jeweler reported. Retail revenues in Hong Kong and Macau fell by 6%, while SSS dropped further, down 11%.
The impact from the Hong Kong protests is spreading to global luxury retailers, with jewelry - including Swiss watches - taking a hit as shoppers and big-spending travelers stay away. Unrest has forced many stores to close and sparked widespread social disruption. Luxury brand Richemont - which owns several of the world's leading luxury goods companies including Cartier, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels and Jaeger-LeCoultre - is the latest firm to say its business is being impacted by the ongoing protests.
Hong Kong’s retail sales are expected to decline by 5 percent to HK$460 billion (US$59 billion) for the full year, dragged down by economic uncertainty, social unrest and a decline in mainland Chinese tourists, according to international advisory firm PriceWaterCoopers (PwC). The estimate is a downgrade from its earlier forecast of a 3 percent drop in sales, reflecting a weaker outlook, as government statistics showed first-quarter retail sales falling 2 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019 report,
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.
The global personal luxury goods market grew by 6% in 2018, reaching €260 billion (more than $290 billion) in 2018, with similar growth forecasted for 2019, reports leading consultancy Bain & Co. in its “Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, Spring 2019”. The strong growth, equivalent to that in 2017, was driven primarily by the acceleration in domestic spending of mainland Chinese consumers and an increase in European tourism. Bain & Co.
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.
Hong Kong based jewelry retail and bellwether for the Chinese market Chow Tai Fook Group (CTF) has announced that its sales grew 13% to $8.5 billion (HK$66,661 million) for the year ending March 31 (FY2019), citing increased purchases of gold jewelry and an expansion of the company’s retail network in China. Retail sales in Mainland China rose by 8% to $3.88 billion, while revenue from Hong Kong and Macau increased 12% to $2.94 billion.
Signet Jewelers reported a decline in revenue during the first quarter of fiscal 2020 (ended May 4), as sales fell at all their banner stores except for Piercing Pagoda - the ear piercing and gold and sterling silver shop with roughly 780 kiosks in shopping malls across the United States and Puerto Rico - which gained 13.5%. Ecommerce sales also increased 5.3% year over year to $154.3 million.
Is the goal of Lightbox to lower the price of lab-growns?
No ... the strategic aim is to position the category of product in a sustainable, value-adding way, which is different than a natural diamond’s value proposition. As a result, prices have come down. It’s just the laws of economics. As Chinese production [of LGDs] builds, and you have a technology curve that drops the price, every time you double production, the prices will come down, and they are already dropping pretty rapidly. This should be a cost-plus business, not a rarity business. The price declines are not an end in themselves, but they are what the price should be if you are going to be honest and fair to consumers.
- Steven Lussier, Chair of De Beers consumer products division & DPA, interview with JCK's Rob Bates
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.
Luxury group Richemont, owner of the Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry brands, recorded a 10% rise in jewelry and watch sales for the year ended 31 March 2019. Jewelry sales saw progression in all regions and in all channels, with double digit increases in Asia Pacific - particularly in China - and the Americas, while watch sales increased in most regions with double-digit growth in retail, reflecting strong client demand. Jewelry and watches represent Richemont's two largest product lines at 36% and 35% of group sales, respectively.
Leading Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook is expanding in North America, this week announcing the establishment of a "business hub" in Boston to supply products and services - jewelry and technology - on a wholesale basis to US retailers. Chow Tai Fook North America (CTFNA) says it "will offer customized, specialty collections in the diamond and fine jewelry segments, as well as private label offerings, to address the evolving needs of jewelry consumers." CTFNA, which owns diamond jewelry brands Hearts on Fire and Mémoire, recently moved Hearts On Fire President Caryl Capeci into the role of
The Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) last week signed strategic cooperation agreements with China’s major laboratory-grown diamond suppliers, designer associations and other partners to jointly develop and promote LGDs, with a particular focus on design and fashion. The GZDE held a forum entitled “Discover the Magic of Lab-Grown Diamonds” during the 2019 China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shenzhen (Shenzhen Jewellery Fair), with a view to finding greater commercial application.
The Watches & Jewelry business group of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton recorded revenue growth in the first quarter of 2019, driven by the performance of its jewelry, though the group lagged behind other product categories. Bvlgari is said to have "made strong progress" in its own stores.
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.
Signet Jewelers, North America's largest retail chain for diamond jewelry, endured an uninspiring fourth quarter as weak holiday sales weighed down revenues, sending the jewelry group to a combined 6% loss in Q4 and a 0.1% loss on Fiscal Year 2019. Signet's total Q4 sales (in the 13 weeks ended February 2, 2019) were $2.15 billion, down $138.4 million or 6.0% on a reported basis and 5.4% on a constant currency basis.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has launched a new e-learning program for diamond retailers, entitled “Behind the Brilliance of Diamonds.” Developed to help all US retailers, the hour-long program - split into 3 informative modules – offers educational material and quizzes, going beyond the 4Cs to highlight the intangible value of natural diamonds.
After a small rise in January, export growth in the watch industry gained momentum in February, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The industry exported goods worth the equivalent of CHF 1.8 billion francs ($1.8 billion), up 3.4% from February 2018. However, a 58 percent surge in shipments to the U.K. in February accounted for 80% of the increase worldwide and is explained by stockpiling ahead of Brexit. In the first two months of the year, the U.K. imported 242 million Swiss francs ($242 million) of timepieces from Switzerland.
Hong Kong’s retail sales of jewelry, watches and other valuables in January 2019 were up 4.7% year-on-year after falling by 5% in December, according to statistics released by the HK government, as increased tourism from the Mainland and early Lunar New Year shopping lifted overall retail sales. The Hong Kong Tourism Board reported that January tourist arrivals rose to 6.78 million, up 27% from January last year, with the number of visitors from the Mainland - good for more than 80% of the total visitors - increasing by 35%.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and Signet Jewelers have published the first results of their ASSURE Program to independently and objectively test the performance of laboratory-grown diamond detectors (Diamond Verification Instruments). The program intends to eventually test and identify each machine on the market concerning how well they detected or referred man-made stones, including the rate at which they gave false positives.
Signet Jewelers, which claims to be "the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry," is asking its employees in Akron, Ohio and Dallas, Texas to apply for "voluntary buyouts". The buyout program was communicated to all Akron employees (2,600) and 780 in Dallas in a series of staff memos issued a week ago. The announcement came as Signet, which operates more than 3,500 stores including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Piercing Pagoda, tries to cut costs as part of its “Path to Brilliance” business plan, spokesman David Bouffard said.
BV Schmuck & Uhren (BVSU) has become the first German jewelry trade association to become a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). The association, which was founded in 1947 and represents nearly 170 medium-sized companies at the national, European and international levels, announced its decision at the recently concluded Inhorgenta Munich show.
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.
The average expenditure on an engagement ring in the U.S. stayed flat in 2018 at $3,388, fitting the new pattern of economizing on the big day and a slight shift away from including an engagement ring, according to a survey from The Wedding Report. The survey concluded that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. declined by 4%, from $25,764 in 2017 to $24,723 in 2018.
Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year despite a years-long decrease in the percentage of people celebrating the holiday, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Of the estimated $20.7 billion the NRF expects US consumers to spend on the holiday, almost $4 billion will be on jewelry, putting it at the top of the list, despite the fact that only 18% of people surveyed are planning to gift jewelry (26% men, 9% women).
Gübelin Gem Lab in Switzerland has launched the first colored gemstone blockchain which will track the provenance of gemstones at every step along the supply chain. Called the Provenance Proof Blockchain, its purpose is to provide the industry with a tool that enables genuine transparency concerning the origin and movement of gemstones. A gemstone’s journey begins at the mine, which is where the blockchain ideally starts.
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 ... The fact is, the natural diamond industry made itself vulnerable to the threat of lab-growns. The industry didn’t promote its product for a decade. Everything that is happening now with lab-grown diamonds was predictable. The industry knew they were coming for decades. But the trade also failed to understand that the rest of the world wouldn’t see the two products the same way it does.
- Rob Bates, award-winning journalist at JCK, from his article, "The Lab-Grown Diamond Industry Is Still Out-Hustling the Natural"
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, recorded revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 10% over the previous year. LVMH's results have upset prevailing wisdom about the health of China’s shoppers with its latest results. The luxury bellwether, which owns some of the world’s most valuable brands including Christian Dior and Givenchy, said Tuesday that demand from Chinese consumers strengthened in the three months through December, defying analysts' expectations for a decline in luxury spending.
Signet Jewelers, the United States' largest retailer of diamond jewelry, announced its same-store sales fell 1.3% to $1.84 billion during the "Holiday Season" (the 9 weeks ended January 5, 2019) as the company failed to get enough demand from its legacy product lines and enough traffic in their stores during key weeks in December. For the current quarter ending Feb. 2, it now expects same-store sales to be down 1.6% to $2.5%.
One of the bellwether jewelry brands and the largest jeweler in China, Chow Tai Fook, has reported that same-store-sales of gem-set jewelry in Q4 2018 declined by 5% in mainland China and 8% in Hong Kong and Macau “amid an uncertain macroeconomic environment.” This marks the first quarterly decline in two years for the company despite China’s lowering of its jewelry import tax by an average of 20.7 percent last summer, which was expected to bolster sales.
Signet Jewelers' online diamond bridal jewelry retailer JamesAllen.com has officially opened its new concept retail store in Georgetown, Washington DC. The brick-and-mortar location is a first for the online retailer, and is intended to lure and engage consumers by encouraging them to interact with the product as well as their staff. The initiative launches Signet's effort to draw traffic to their digital platform while tapping into the "immersive" experiential aspect shopping, a combination favored particularly by the younger generations.
53 million Americans plan to buy a diamond between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. 21% (1-in-5) Americans plan to purchase a diamond between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, with men and millennials among the most likely to be in the market for a diamond this holiday season. 35% of millennials plan to purchase a diamond, and more than 1-in-10 plan to buy a diamond engagement ring (13%), while 27% of men plan to purchase a diamond and 11% plan to buy an engagement ring.
- Diamond Producers Association, findings from a recent survey.
Tiffany & Co's worldwide net sales increased 4% to $1.0 billion in the third quarter, with higher spending by local customers noted across the board, but a decline in purchases by Chinese tourists in the United States and Hong Kong put a dent in the jeweler’s Q3 results. The stock market took notice, as shares of Tiffany & Co. plunged 12 percent following their publication of the results, as industry analysts had been anticipating better results.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has told The Times of India (TOI) that it has no plans to lift the ban on trading synthetic diamonds in the bourse, a rule that entered into force in 2015 following a spate of undisclosed mixing of natural and synthetic goods.
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.
Jewelry maker Pandora, known for its charm bracelets, reported Tuesday that Q3 sales in the U.S. fell 12% year-over-year to $153.2 million (DKK 1 billion), while worldwide revenue decreased 3% in local currency to $765.8 million (DKK 5 billion). The "unsatisfactory" results prompted the company to reduce its sales and profit margin guidance for this year following revenue declines in consecutive quarters, and is now saying it expected sales in local currencies to increase by between 4 and 7 percent this year, compared with the 7-10 percent it previously projected.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Alibaba Group announced today that they have entered an exclusive partnership to offer Antwerp certified diamonds directly to Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s B2C marketplace, Tmall. The cooperation agreement was signed in the framework of the first China International Import Expo (CIEE), which is being held this week in Shanghai.
Richline Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, announced that it is partnering with both JCPenney and Macy’s to introduce its new jewelry brand, Grown With Love, Lab Grown Diamonds this holiday season. As JCK reports, the line will include fashion as well as bridal components. "The Macy’s line will include stones up to 3 cts., while the J.C. Penney line tops off at around 1.5 cts.
An interim order regarding the liquidations sales of 142 stores that Sears plans to close as part of its bankruptcy reorganization recognizes the ownership rights of vendors that have supplied merchandise to the retailer on memo. Those vendors, which include diamond manufacturer Rosy Blue and jewelry supplier Vijay Gold Designs, objected to Sears' plans to close the stores because the stores held goods supplied by the vendors on consignment and believed Sears would to sell their merchandise “whether they own it or not.”
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.
Chow Tai Fook has announced its partnership with native New York designer Vera Wang on a fine jewelry collection launching October 19, 2018 in Mainland China. "Bringing together the foremost Chinese-American designer in the fashion industry and the renowned fine jewelry company in Greater China," the announcement reads, the new collection will "cater to the modern Chinese bride, who has begun to incorporate diamond jewelry into traditional engagements," moving beyond the traditional gold and jade usually worn by brides in China.
Amazon's filing for a trademark, "For Keeps by Amazon", makes it appear likely that the e-tail giant might be on the verge of launching a new jewelry brand. According to a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office on September 19, the patent is for “online retail sales of jewelry, namely precious metals and their alloys and goods in precious metals or coated therewith."
Farfetch (FTCH), the London-based luxury fashion e-tailer, has just pulled off one of the largest IPOs of the year.
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.
Last week, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the University of Antwerp hosted an “Innovation and Diamonds” conference at the Antwerpsche Diamantkring - the only rough diamond bourse in the world - featuring internationally-recognized experts from across the spectrum of the diamond trade, including alternative financing, the impact of digital on the luxury segment, the feasibility of small-scale ethical mining, as well as the earthquake and aftershocks of De Beers’ foray into lab-grown diamonds: LightBox.
Signet Jewelers' CEO Gina Drosos said the brand will follow consumer demand when deciding whether the company will start selling lab-grown diamonds in its stores, which currently number about 3,500 (3,000 in North America, 500 international). Industry insiders have told us they suspect decision has already been made. The CEO made the remark during a conference call about Signet's Q2 2019 results.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) last week published an article on a most curious discovery: "One Natural Melee Diamond Found in Large Batch of HPHT Synthetic Melee".
Tracr, the end-to-end diamond industry blockchain being developed by De Beers Group in collaboration with industry stakeholders, has announced the appointment of Jim Duffy as General Manager to lead the next phase of the platform’s development. Duffy assumes the new role as the platform starts to build greater scale, with more than $100 million worth of rough diamonds having been registered on the platform since the launch of the pilot in January 2018.
Tiffany & Co. announced earlier this week it would undertake a three-year renovation of its iconic flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, made famous by the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and "one of the most recognized jewelry retail spaces in the world," according to Anthony DeMarco.
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 World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has responded to the revised U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) guidelines released last week as they relate to the issue of descriptors for diamonds. The industry body regrets the "bias towards the lab-grown diamond sector", said WFDB President Ernie Blom, adding, "we do not feel that the views of the diamond sector were taken sufficiently into account", and called for the FTC to revisit their decision.
A full house at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, including stakeholders from across the spectrum of the diamond industry, greeted De Beers Group representatives Paul Rowley and Nimesh Patel as they explained the company's foray into the synthetic diamond jewelry market and reinforced its commitment to the natural diamond industry.
Bellweather jewelry group Chow Tai Fook built on its 2017 sales gains by recording a solid first fiscal quarter of 2018 (three months ended 30 June 2018), citing "impressive growth" in the Hong Kong and Macau market. Benefitting from "improving local consumer spending and an increase in visitors from Mainland China", retail sales surged by 21% in Hong Kong and Macau, while same-store sales (SSS) increased by 26%. Sales on the Mainland also fared well, increasing by 11%, with same-store sales up 4%.
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'.
Calling financial year 2018 a "year of recovery", leading jewelry retail group Chow Tai Fook, a bellweather for China's jewelry landscape, reaped the benefits of the retail market in Greater China regaining its upward momentum, leading to a vibrant performance for the group. Chow Tai Fook’s sales and profit rose during the fiscal year in the rising Chinese market, with the retail sector also noting increased tourism to Hong Kong as having a positive impact on sales.
This past Monday, the JCK Las Vegas show and jewelry week surrounding it came to its conclusion with steady trading reflecting a confident US market, despite a significant dip in the number of exhibitors and foot traffic at the various shows. The exhibitors and organizers acknowledged the decline of visitors, but were adamant that those attending the events headed out to the desert with a greater sense of purpose than in prior years, as buyers were looking for specific goods and exhibitors were maintaining existing relationships.
Signet Jewelers recorded a $77.2 million (5.5%) increase in overall sales during the 13 weeks ended May 5, 2018 (Q1 fiscal 2019), yet profits tumbled as the retail group reported a net loss of $496.6 million in the quarter, compared with a profit of $78.5 million in the year-earlier period due to a non-cash impairment related to the credit-outsourcing transition and restructuring charges.