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.
Leading jewelry industry magazine JCK held two jewelry design competitions at this year's Las Vegas show: the annual Luxury Design Awards and JCK Design Center Editor’s Choice Awards (click "Read the full article" to see the designs).
Brands need to be concerned about over-sentimentalizing peoples’ relationships with diamonds as a representation of love. The American middle class is much weaker today than it was when De Beers came out with their famous ‘Diamonds are forever’ campaign. And with diminished purchasing power, consumers are more willing to look into alternative choices for rings, making lab-grown diamonds and gemstones more attractive.
‘Conservation’, the first Diamonds Do Good video in the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F)’s new Real Stories, Real Diamonds, Real Impact campaign targeting Millennials, has apparently hit its mark. The one-minute video earned 11 million impressions in the first month alone, including 7 million views of at least :30 seconds, and 5 million views of the entire video.
Many women (and men) dream of the moment their partner will get down on one knee and ask the big question with the little box – but what if it’s not the ring you’ve been dreaming of? Helzberg Diamonds just thought of the perfect solution, the Will You? ring—a $50 “ring before the ring” that marks the proposal, but not the actual engagement.
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.
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.
The JCK Industry Fund, established in 1997 to enhance the image of the jewelry industry and to foster development and research of programs that would benefit the industry, will provide a $100,000 grant to the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) in support of its Diamonds Do Good Initiative, a consumer-facing initiative designed to highlight to consumers the collective good works of the diamond and jewelry industry. Research shows 75% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase a diamond after reading positive stories about how the industry gives back.
"The [jewelry] industry has seen 20 smash-and-grab robberies in jewelry stores since October, as a troubling trend that began in the Midwest has now spread to other areas of the country", writes Rob Bates of JCK. According to Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) president John Kennedy, “The frequency and the number of these crimes are growing and growing. We think it’s very dangerous.
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.
The Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) raised over $1,060,000 to provide scholarships and assistance to empower young people globally at a special ‘Diamonds Do Good’ Awards Gala held in Las Vegas on the eve of the opening of the JCK trade show. Anna Martin, D.E.F President and V.P Global Develompent and Beneficiation, GIA, said: “This event symbolizes the collective good the diamond and jewelry industry continues to do in communities around the world where they do business.
In their recent addition to the Diamond Insight reports focusing on diamond jewelry demand and emerging trends, De Beers said it expected single women's acquisitions and spend to increase in 2017, leading to an increase in self-purchasing in non-bridal, discretionary jewelry categories, driving incremental demand above and beyond the fundamental driver of demand, namely, bridal diamond jewelry.
“To me, synthetic diamonds are not diamonds. It is a different product. We don’t know what their value is now or how this is going to evolve. So we are not financing lab-grown at the moment, but we may consider it over time, when it is a more mature product."
- Erik Jens, when asked by moderator Rob Bates (JCK) if ABN AMRO is currently financing lab-grown diamond companies during SRK panel debate with Paul Rowley (De Beers) and Tom Moses (GIA) at JCK Las Vegas
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced on Sunday at the JCK Las Vegas show that their 2017 full-year marketing investment will increase to $57 million from approximately $12 million following the success of the 2016 campaign. This will enable the diamond marketing body to expand its multichannel advertising, PR and digital campaigns as well as continue rolling out the campaign to India.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) launched a new service which tracks the origin of a selection of polished diamonds, which offers retailers a new method of being able to uncover a stone’s history. Since the project is only two years in development, GIA's M2M™ (Mine to Market) program is restricted and is not yet able to provide a complete solution to determining a diamond’s provenance. “If you just gave me any polished diamond, I can’t tell you what mine it came from,” says Matt Crimmin, GIA’s vice president of laboratory operations.
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.
Continuing the published opinions on whether or not the Kimberley Process (KP) is "bullshit" - in the words of Martin Rapaport - JCK's Rob Bates invited Ian Smillie, chaair of the Diamond Development Initiative, president of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development and formerly one of the key architects of the Kimberley Process, to respond to Brad Brooks-Rubin's response to Rapaport's original
“It is time for the international community and the diamond industry to put the process into the Kimberley Process and enable the initiative to move into a new chapter. Or it will really become ‘bull—,’” said Brad Brooks-Rubin of the Enough Project.
Jewelry designers have anxiously waited for the results of JCK’s annual Jewelers’ Choice Awards. The coveted spot not only leaves one designer as a winner, but also international exposure as the winning piece is featured on the March-April issue of JCK’s magazine. Although many introduced a design for the competition, there could be only one winner; Shy Creation, an LA-based brand founded by chief designer Shy Dayan.
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.
A major U.S. jewelry manufacturer and retailer Stuller and Dominion Diamond Corp. have partnered to bring CanadaMark melee diamonds to the U.S. market, writes Logan Sachon for JCK.
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 Emili Vesilind digs into Cassandra's SHOP Report, which its website describes as, "A deep dive into young consumers' habits and attitudes around the future of retail, shopping, and spending," and aims to provide, "a comprehensive portrait of the evolving ways Gen Y (also known as Millennials) and Gen Z are approaching the purchasing process and the dynamic role that brands are playing in the lives of these influential young consumers." Vesilind writes, "Emily Anatole, Cassandra’s associate insights director,
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.
The dates of the JCK and LUXURY shows will be moved in 2017 due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot which is observed by several hundred of JCK's and LUXURY's customers. LUXURY will now open on Friday, June 2 and continue through the weekend as JCK opens on Monday, June 5 and closes on Thursday, June 8 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. These dates are a shift to the traditional day pattern of the past.
Shouldn't we be telling consumers the back-story about how the jewelry they are being offered was created, asks the JCK's Rob Bates. "Craftsmanship is basic to an item. It’s how it gets its value. It’s what makes it beautiful. And yet many don’t know all the intricate, painstaking work that goes into making a piece of jewelry. But it’s a great story. And it could be one of our industry’s best selling points.
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.