Lucara Diamond Corp. continues to test and refine Clara Diamond Solutions (Clara), its digital sales platform for selling rough diamonds individually, launching its fourth test run this week. Lucara CEO Eira Thomas and Steve Lincoln, Sales and Marketing Operations Manager at Lucara and Director Sales and Marketing of Clara sat down with The Diamond Loupe to clarify a few aspects of the system and discuss their progress as they gradually expand their trial phase, which commenced in late November 2018.
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.
RapNet, a member of the Rapaport Group of Companies and the world’s largest diamond trading network, will be introducing jewelry into its global trading network, as announced yesterday in a press release. RapNet members can now upload jewelry images and data, perform detailed searches, and directly trade jewelry with each other without any fees or commissions. There are no additional fees to use this service.
The Diamond Pro, described as "an unbiased online diamond jewelry advisory website," has launched Ringo, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that helps any online diamond buyer determine the best diamond options based on their specific requirements. The "first-of-its-kind tool" is intended to enable buyers to determine if a diamond is clean to the naked eye based solely on its picture, and be assured they are making the best purchase based on certification, desired shape, setting style and precious metal type.
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.
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.
Lucara Diamond Corp. will launch Clara Diamond Solutions, its 100% owned digital sales platform, in November 2018 with a select group of large vertically-integrated jewelry houses and global diamond manufacturers, the miner announced today. Rough diamonds offered in Clara's first sale will include a selection of diamonds from Lucara's Karowe mine and additional aggregated third-party rough diamonds consisting of stones between one and fifteen carats in size in the better colors and qualities.
Zimbabwe's Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), the state-run entity overseeing the country's diamond mining and marketing operations, has announced it will introduce an electronic trading system to improve efficiency in line with international best practice. The online system will allow for the participation of international buyers who cannot physically attend an auction, as well as "do away with the excessive human interface which breeds corruption," writes The Herald. Zimbabwe’s second diamond tender of 2018 earned $28.3 million from 423,066 carats, even though the tender attrac
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.
Last week, the United States' Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing states to collect sales tax from online retailers even when a retailer has no physical presence in that state, sending shock waves and uncertainty across the retail landscape. States argued they were losing out on billions of dollars worth of online sales taxes annually as a result of the precedent set by a 1992 court decision, Quill Corp vs. North Dakota; the new Wayfair v.
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.
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.
Signet's total sales for the 9 weeks ended December 30, 2017 (“Holiday Season”) were $1,881.7 million, down $59.2 million or 3.1%, compared to $1,940.9 million in the prior year, the group announced in a press release today. Same Store Sales (SSS) decreased 5.3%. Sales declines were primarily driven by weakness in the Sterling division (Kay, Jared, R2Net and Regional brands), impacted predominantly by the credit outsourcing transition* which accounted for approximately two-thirds of the decrease. R2Net was the best performer in the division, increasing sales 38.6% to $50.6 million.
Jewelers of America (JA) released the results of their US “Fine Jewelry Industry Consumer and Retail Market Study” conducted by Provoke Insights. The study surveyed two groups, the retailers and the consumers, and Michelle Graff listed some of the key findings.
Online coupon search site and retail trend analyst CouponFollow recently released The Millennial Shopping Report, tracking the behavior of those born between 1982 and 1996, who now constitute "the largest generation in human history", with over 80 million members in the U.S. alone. CouponFollow claims that Millennials spend $600 billion annually and are, "poised to inherit $30 trillion from their Baby Boomer parents"; they already account for 28% of all daily per-person consumer spending, and it is suggested that could rise to 35% by 2030.
Online diamond and jewelry retailer Blue Nile has appointed Jason Goldberger, former chief digital officer and president of Target.com, as its new president and CEO, replacing Harvey Kanter, who will serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors and continue to play an important role in the strategic direction of the company. "Goldberger brings to Blue Nile more than 20 years of executive leadership in merchandising, digital innovation, marketing, and product management across leading online retail organizations including Target, Gilt Groupe, Hayneedle, and Amazon.
Luxury houses such as Cartier, Piaget and Chanel have launched collections on Net-a-Porter and are doing well, despite critics of the format. Cartier made a relatively risky move by placing Panthère de Cartier, a white gold diamond watch retailing for US$77,000 (HK$600,000) on the online platform Net-a-Porter. Within two weeks of the collection’s launch, the watch was sold. Of course some ‘purists’ believe that luxury products must be felt to create an emotional engagement, which is hard to replicate online.
The lastest disruptive online diamond sales platform, a "reverse auction site" startup called Legemdary, purports to serve the interests of diamond buyers and wholesalers by cutting out retailers altogether, writes Rachelle Bergstein for Forbes, introducing the company to a global audience. Legemdary calls itself the only straight to wholesale online diamond marketplace, connecting prospective engagement ring buyers directly with wholesalers who bid to supply the consumers' needs.
Debra LaBudde launched Memo, an ecommerce site that specializes in fine jewelry. The name of the brand refers to the consignment practices within the jewelry and diamond industry, wich served as the inspiration for her concept. LaBudde noticed there was an untapped market for fine jewelry, “(I saw) an interesting opportunity in the marketplace that, in my mind, hasn’t been well served, and that ultimately could create a larger market.”
Everlane’s founder, Michael Preysman, who sells classic designs over the internet by promising “radical transparency”, believes he has identified the issues Millennials have regarding provenance and price. He pledges low-cost, high-quality goods made in factories used by designer brands, thus making them more appealing to their consumers. Everlane has a studio in Soho, New York, where shoppers are encouraged to try on the products and then return home and purchase their goods online, an inventive way of combining retail and ecommerce.
The French luxury group Kering reported a strong first quarter, with group revenue rising by 31% y-o-y basis to $3.89 billion. Sales from its luxury activities for the same period totaled $2.63 billion, up by a steep 34%. The sales growth in the group’s directly operated store network increased significantly to 36.6%, as a direct result of the remarkable performance in Western Europe and the Asia Pacific area, which reported sales increases of 49.9% and 46.7% respectively.
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.
With 850 million active users monthly, western luxury brands have been quick to embrace China’s “most important platform for luxury brands”, WeChat. Local and international brands have realised the potential of the platform to make them key players in China’s $103 billion jewelry market. Western companies have used it for flash sales as well as marketing and customer interaction. While these flash events have spurred sales, China’s online sales remain limited, says Antoine Pin, managing director of Bulgari in greater China.
R2Net, which owns JamesAllen.com, the fastest growing online diamond retailer, obtained a $140M growth equity investment from Francisco Partners to further accelerate the company’s rapid expansion, the company announced in a press release. “Anyone who has ever bought a diamond or an engagement ring appreciates how intimidating the process can be for the consumer,” said Matt Spetzler, Partner at Francisco Partners.
77 Diamonds, a small independent London company, has caused quite a stir in the shopping environment for jewelry by making bespoke jewelry in the UK and selling it online. The business was developed to cater to the change in consumer behavior of a generation that is more likely to meet their potential match by swiping right, than in person.
Two professional jewelers are seeking to fill a market need by launching an app for the industry, Jewellery Trader, which gives members of the trade a new tool for sourcing and showcasing jewelry, watches and antiques. It also enables traders to advertise items for sale to consumers. The Jewellery Trader app was designed in an effort to provide an “innovative, cost effective selling tool in an easy to use and manage platform”.
179-year-old Tiffany & Co. has made headlines recently, launching a new ad campaign featuring Lady Gaga - who rocked the Super Bowl halftime show - and quietly dropping CEO Frederic Cumenal. Cumenal was let go due to his inability to turn around the dropping sales figures since taking over in April 2015.
U.S. retailers are under threat of having no option but to close their stores and move their business to the Internet, write Lindsey Rupp and Molly Smith for BloombergMarkets. In the last 18 months, over 5,000 stores have closed their doors, with an additional 10% of all U.S. retail spaces being forced to repurpose or close down altogether. Although consumer spending this holiday season (Nov-Dec) increased overall by 4% to $658.3 billion, ending slightly higher than earlier projections, this can be attributed to deep discounts and online purchases.
The Seattle-based online jeweler Blue Nile has partnered with online diamond buyback company Mondiamo to create what it calls a transparent process for those looking to sell their diamond jewelry, writes The Seattle Times. The service works like this: Customers enter details of their stone’s grading report on the site and receive a minimum guaranteed cash offer. (For non-GIA reports, the price is adjusted based on a proprietary algorithm.) If there is no report, no offer is given.
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.
Announcing the results of a disappointing Holiday Season (the nine weeks ended December 31, 2016), Signet Jewelers Limited, the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry said its same store sales had decreased 4.6% during the crucial period, compared to an increase of 5.1% during the corresponding period a year earlier. Total sales at $1,940.9 million were down by $104.2 million or 5.1% as compared to an increase of 5.3% in the prior year, the retailer noted, adding that the decline was driven principally by underperformance in its Sterling division e-commerce business.
National Jeweler’s Editor-in-chief Michelle Graff made 3 Predictions regarding the retail market for 2017 based on current market trends and the way consumer demand is changing with the times. Retailers, including larger chains, will continue the 2016 trend of closing down. Women’s clothing retailer The Limited announced that they were closing all their stores and operating strictly online.
The ‘Clicks and Bricks’ retail sales model for jewelry combines the strengths of online shopping and the bricks and mortar business model, a successful and growing formula that is providing great returns for companies like Ritani, writes Better Diamond Initiative (BDI). "Ritani, which was a wholesaler earlier, has transformed into an USD 50M online jewelry company. It is the 40th Most Promising Company of America according to the Forbes’s list", and the main reason is the combination of online and physical retailing.
Consumer confidence climbed in December to the highest level since August 2001 as Americans were more upbeat about the outlook than at any time in the last 13 years, writes Bloomberg based on a report from the Conference Board, a New-York based independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased considerably in November, posted another gain in December: the Index now stands at 113.7 (1985=100), up
Black Friday's online sales beat estimates as shoppers moved online for the shopping holiday, with mobile devices driving more purchases than ever, writes Adobe Digital Insights. ADI adds that this year's online sales shattered 2015's record as the convenience of mobile likely spurred more shoppers to make purchases remotely, rather than navigating crowded brick-and-mortar locations. ADI reported total online sales for the period Nov. 1-30 at $43.9B, with total online sales growth at 7.4%. Thanksgiving Day alone saw $1.15B of online sales for y-o-y growth of 13.6%.
In response to Walmart selling their $18,000 Diamond Watch on walmart.com, Cartier issued a statement clarifying that Walmart is not authorized to sell its products. Walmart has more than tripled its online offering of products over the past year, and made headlines last week when the Wall Street Journal reported that a third-party vendor, New York-based Jewelry Unlimited, was selling a $18,000 diamond watch by Cartier on walmart.com on Black Friday. Cartier took aim at Walmart on Monday, saying it could not vouch for the authenticity of the watches sold via walmart.com.
In her recent article for Bloomberg, "Happy Couples Don't Buy Diamonds Online the Way They Used To," Polly Mosendz analyzes the changing landscape for diamond engagement rings - and in particular the online sales thereof. She notes firstly the trend for diamond rings to change hands online in way they never did previously, resulting in tremendous growth in the second-hand market.