Diamond industry analyst Ehud Arye Laniado reflects on uncertainties and lingering questions about the direction the diamond trade is taking in the wake of BaselWorld, and wonders whether it is even appropriate to sell loose diamonds at such a high-luxury show? We have selected a few choice comments: "Business [in the diamond section] was not good. This luxury-oriented show is not a good fit for small goods or even 1-2 carat items.
Swiss watch exports were negative for the eighth consecutive month in February, with a value of $1.75 billion (1.7 billion francs) – a decline of 3.3% on the year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported in a statement. The export figures were significantly influenced by developments in the Hong Kong market. Wristwatches recorded a less pronounced fall in value, down 2.0%, but bimetallic timepieces dragged the figures down, while steel products registered an upturn.
Despite an economic slowdown, the Indian luxury market, including high-end jewelry grew by 25% last year, reaching $15 billion, and recent studies in the country provide encouraging news for the future of the Indian luxury market which has seen many global players enter it in recent years. The luxury market is seen growing by 30-35% over the next three years.
Fourth-quarter revenue for French luxury goods maker Kering SA beat analysts' estimates as the Gucci brand showed signs of a turnaround, according to a report by Bloomberg. The firm, previously known as PPR, reported an 8% rise in sales compared with a forecast by analysts of half that, with Gucci reporting its strongest results for three years. The firm reported high volumes of sales of jewelry in the quarter. Sales in Japan were strong – rising 14% last year – and compared starkly with results in Hong Kong and Macau which have been hit by lower numbers of visitors from Mainland China.
The New York Times reports French luxury group LVMH, the world's largest by sales, recorded a €6.6bn (US$7.2bn) profit last year, up 16% compared to 2014. Total sales amounted to US$38.8bn, up 6% YoY or double of what analysts estimated previously. Strong sales in the US, Europe and Japan outweighed slow business in China, where the luxury group recently closed several stores.
The holiday season has persuaded some luxury brands, including Bulgari and Montblanc, to make a strong impression on consumers by letting them interact and discover their products rather than simply pushing them, reports Luxury Daily. Consumers are saturated with advertisements and marketing in the holiday season, so laying off of products and guiding consumers to their own decisions helps consumers feel like they are avoiding the commercialization of the holidays.
China's rate of economic growth may be slipping and demand for diamonds in the world's second-largest diamond consumer declining with luxury sector sales falling, but Dior says it is still seeing strong consumer demand in the country, particularly for its most expensive categories, including jewelry, according to CEO Sidney Toledano. “We had years where we had super strong, double-digit growth,” said Toledano. “It is not double-digit now, but we are in line with our plans, and we are confident for the coming years. We have seen the top clients buying more in couture and fine jewelry.
Tiffany & Co. shares rose on Tuesday after the upscale jeweler's stock was upgraded to buy from hold by investment house Jefferies. Analysts at the firm substantially raised forecasts for Tiffany's shares – to $100 from $88. In a note to clients, the firm said there was "a rare opportunity to get a high-quality company at a discount," and that Tiffany is a "powerful" and stable luxury brand that is improving its systems and supply chain.
Business of Fashion reports that as the Swiss watch industry prepares for fourth straight year of little to no growth, big producers such as Richemont, the owner of Cartier, are trimming back investment in production while some smaller rivals look for a buyer or risk going under. The world’s biggest watch-producing country will register a 2% increase in shipments next year, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That’s the same rate of 2013 and 2014, a far cry from growth of about 20% in prior years.
With a price tag of $300,000, the 'Princess Constellation' stilettos (bought from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter shop House of Borgezie) contain over 1,290 diamonds and precious stones.
The luxury retail sales decline in Hong Kong brought on by lackluster mainland Chinese tourist numbers is set to carry on through 2016, according to a new report. The report by commercial real estate services firm CBRE called 'Hong Kong Commercial Real Estate Review & 2016 Preview' predicts that prime high street retail rents in Hong Kong will have declined by 20 percent by the end of 2015, and will drop a further 10-15 percent in 2016. As Chinese tourist numbers have dropped, luxury boutiques have been hit the hardest in an ongoing retail slump this year.
In the last ten years, China’s share of global luxury spending went through the roof, rising from 3% to 30%, leading to overly optimistic growth and consumption projections, a report by the Demand Institute says. In China, the Financial Times reports, big brands are struggling, due to the current economic slowdown combined with a government crackdown on lavish spending and changing consumer preferences.
Tresor Paris has selected six white diamonds to be placed inside a set of hand-crafted crackers on sale for $1.5 million through luxury launches website VeryFirstTo.com. The six diamonds chosen by Tresor Paris were selected for their distinctive different cuts, and include: 3.00ct, oval, E-VS1; 3.00ct, princess, F-VS1; 3.50ct, step-cut, F-VS1; 2.50ct, round, E-VS2; 4.00ct, marquise, D-VS2, and 3.00ct, pear, D-VVS2 type IIA. The cost of the crackers includes each diamond being set by Tresor Paris in a classic designed item of jewelry.
Luxury diamond jeweler, Graff Diamonds, is opening an expanded presence within The Fine Jewellery Room at up-scale Harrods in London in an indication of the success of its sales of expensive diamond jewelry. The new store will enable it to showcase more of its fine and rare jewels. Graff CEO Francois Graff said: “Following the resounding success since its launch last year, the Graff store in Harrods has become an important location in London for the company portfolio, increasing our brand footprint.”
A luxury website is offering what it describes as the world’s most glamorous Christmas tree and star featuring nearly 300 gems. The tree, produced by VeryFirstTo.com, is 20 cm high and 13 cm wide and weighs 130 grams. It is set with more than 280 diamonds with a total weight of over 13 carats. The central section is yellow gold plated, but the stand-out part is the star atop the tree which is a GIA-certified, five-carat D flawless diamond. The star can be removed and becomes a necklace between Christmases, the firm said. The price? Close to $950,000.
According to Bain & Company's 2015 "Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study", the overall luxury industry surpassed €1 trillion in retail sales value in 2015. Meanwhile, aided by global currency fluctuations and continued jet-setting of "borderless consumers," the personal luxury goods market, including jewelry, ballooned to €253 billion. This represents 13% growth at current exchange rates, while real growth slowed significantly to 1-2%.
The Diamond Christmas Snow Globe features genuine diamond ‘snow’ and a hand sculpted family in the likeness of your own. Leah Andrews, snow globe maker to the stars, will craft this artwork in time for Christmas. Five 0.07 carat diamonds are affixed to the inner setting and an additional five diamonds remain loose within the sealed globe, so when you tip the globe upside down you see the loose diamonds twinkle down the inner wall of glass. The price tag for this ball of Christmas happiness (as if one could put a price on Christmas happiness): $5,000.
You have a luxury high quality sector of [the diamond] industry, [but] I don't believe that sector of the industry is threatened by synthetic diamonds. There is going to be a place for synthetic diamonds but not at the top end. You're not going to see at auction houses that people are going to go crazy over a synthetic diamond.
- Charlie Rosario, senior vice president at Lazare Kaplan International, NY.
Despite the current slowdown in the Chinese economy, the country's tourist numbers are forecast to rise to 242 million by 2024, more than double last year’s number of 116 million. Meanwhile, spending by Chinese travelers will also more than double – to $422 billion by 2020 from an estimated $200 billion this year. Sales to Chinese, both in China and abroad, are a vital share of luxury brands' sales.
A survey by MasterCard shows that millennials (people aged roughly 18-29) in China are the biggest purchasers of luxury goods in Asia Pacific, followed by South Korea and Hong Kong. And they plan to spend close to double the Asia Pacific average on luxury goods in the next year. Jewelry spending come second on their purchase lists at 17 percent, with the most popular luxury items being high-end tech gadgets with 25 percent of spending.
China and India led the way in the growth of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) in the Asia-Pacific region in 2014 and their wealth is expected to grow 10% annually, according to the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2015 published by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management. The population of HNWIs, people with investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables, in the Asia-Pacific region rose by 8.5% in 2014 to 4.7 million people, an increase of one million over two years.
Strong sales in Europe and Japan helped luxury goods giant Richemont offset ongoing weakness in Asia for its jewelry and high-end watches. Among its units is Cartier. The firm reported that sales in the five months to the end of August jumped by 16%, aided by the lower value of the euro which made sales outside the eurozone worth more when converted into Richemont’s reporting currency.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang said that in spite of more poor economic data which sent stock markets lower, China will meet its 7% growth target for this year and will never start a currency war with the aim of having a devalued yuan making the country's exports more attractive. Conceding that China faces tough challenges and downward pressures, he said there is no risk of a hard landing as the government is fully capable of supporting growth.
The timepiece features 438 Brilliant cut stones set in the 18K white gold case and buckle, and 136 on the white gold dial. Meanwhile, a blue cabochon sapphire is set in the crown of the watch.
Luxury brand and other high-ticket retailers in Hong Kong suffering from slower sales, and paying among the highest retail rents in the world, are shutting down some of their outlets. Jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., Burberry Group Plc, and Kering SA are pushing landlords to lower rents on existing properties as luxury brands scale back. TAG Heuer closed its store in Russell Street last week due to high rent and falling sales.
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company is adding smart jewelry coverage to its list of insurance services. It says it is the first jewelry insurer to add such coverage. Jewelers Mutual covers various brands and styles of smart jewelry including products by Apple, Bulgari, Cuff, Fredrique Constant, MICA (by Intel), Ringly, Swarovski, and TAG Heuer.
The insurance coverage provides worldwide protection against theft, damage, loss and even simple disappearance of the item.
Anti-China and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year led store owners to close and mainland tour groups to cancel bookings. In addition, China's slowing economy and President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption and austerity campaigns have made Chinese shoppers reluctant to splash out.
Luxury hotels, department stores, and restaurants are always pushing the limits of grandeur to impress their customers. And what could make a hotel or restaurant look more lavish than a drink or suite package that comes with a real diamond? Even if the $10,000 martini with bling at the bottom doesn’t sell very well, it certainly generates press and adds splendor to a cocktail menu. What is the marketing advantage of these extravagant package deals?
The Guild of Storytellers (GoS), a startup company, wants to cast all of favourite personal stories in stone. Literally. Founded last December by Singaporean Jason Ho, GoS designs and makes bespoke jewellery - from rings and pendants to sceptres and even crowns - to tell a story. "Memories are precious, and I would like to use something more tangible to remember our stories," the 34-year-old founder told The Business Times.
With the economy reeling from the oil-price crash and Western economic sanctions over Ukraine, the ruble has sunk precipitously, inflation is up sharply and real wages are shrinking for the first time in years, forcing Russians — even the wealthiest — to make do with less. Independent analysts present a dark picture, with only a halting recovery, if any, expected next year. Consequently, spending habits have changed. The luxury end of the market has suffered.
Diamond producer Rio Tinto launched its Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender for 2015 with an exclusive preview at the Sydney Opera House. Called the Connoisseur’s Collection, it features a collection of 65 vivid pink and red diamonds weighing a total of 44.14 carats. The stones including four fancy red diamonds.
Research by the Luxury Institute Sales finds that sales associates have a big impact on wealthy shoppers' jewelry-buying decisions. It also revealed that most wealthy consumers do not buy luxury goods following research, although there are exceptions, such as men shopping for watches and women buying beauty products.
Pre-owned luxury fashion and accessories eCommerce has proven to be far from threadbare. As the global luxury market cools, bracing itself for slower more sustainable growth, the luxury secondhand market is heating up, evidenced by the recent significant levels of venture capital investment in leading luxury pre-owned fashion consignment platforms. Valued at about $19 billion, the global luxury pre-owned fashion resale market lands not even remotely near a shabby chic classification.
Increasing numbers of wealthy American shoppers are plumping for low-key and logo-free items. They are looking for unique, hard-to-find items rather than highly recognizable handbags from big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada. And the trend toward more discreet luxury goods is also partly a result of the political debate about income inequality which is persuading some big spenders that it is distasteful "to carry a purse that practically announces its four-figure price tag."
Companies from China and Hong Kong posted the fastest growth in luxury sales in 2013, according to the 2015 Global Powers of Luxury Goods report by global business consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd was among the top five biggest luxury brands in 2013, beating many European and US concerns.
Global Power of Luxury Goods 2015, the consulting firm's second annual such study, identifies the 100 largest luxury goods companies around the world, and finds that total net luxury goods sales of the top 100 firms stood at US$ 214.2 billion in 2013. This translates to an average of about $2.1 billion of luxury goods sales for these firms with composite year-on-year growth of 8.2% while composite net profit margin stood at 10.3% and composite return on assets stood at 8.6%.
The China crackdown shows what can occur suddenly to conspicuous consumption. Officials there no longer want to be seen wearing expensive watches or driving in flashy cars. A life of luxury will continue as usual in US and European enclaves such as Palm Beach and Monaco, but elsewhere the mood could swing.
- John Gapper, Financial Times
Johann Rupert, the billionaire founder and chairman of luxury goods group Richemont, believes tension between the rich and poor is set to escalate as robots and artificial intelligence put people out of work and the rich become even more wealthy. “We cannot have 0.1 percent of 0.1 percent taking all the spoils,” said Rupert, who has a fortune worth $7.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “It’s unfair and it is not sustainable.”
China, the world's second-largest diamond importer, has seen its annual economic growth rate fall to the lowest level seen for 25 years and is likely to fall further before turning around as a result of the government's liberalizing reforms. GDP growth fell to 7.4% last year, its weakest since 1990, and Beijing predicts around 7% growth in 2015, while the IMF recently predicted 6.8% growth this year, and 6.25% in 2016.