As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
Tiffany & Co. announced on Thursday Dec. 26 that its overall global sales during the holiday shopping season (from November 1 through Christmas Eve) rose about 1% to 3% compared with the same period last year, with the largest contribution coming from China, Europe and a recovery in the Americas. Mainland China drove the business during the holiday period, with Tiffany seeing a double-digit sales increase there, offset by declines in Hong Kong.
Alrosa, Tencent and Everledger are launching a new WeChat Mini Program e-commerce solution for Chinese retailers. The pilot will employ blockchain technology to enable full traceability of diamonds from mine to consumer, providing full transparency of their origin, characteristics and ownership history.
A significant decline in Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong in October put a dent in the otherwise positive month, as several of the leading markets recorded strong growth. According to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Swiss watch exports passed the 2 billion francs (CHF2.03 billion/USD$2.04 billion) representing 1.5% growth compared to the same month last year.
Former CEO and now chairman emeritus of Rosy Blue Alliance, Dilip Mehta, has announced a new venture into synthetic diamonds, partnering with his sons to launch a business in Surat. Mehta is just the latest of many diamond veterans to test the synthetic-diamond waters. Speaking to the Times of India, Mehta made clear that the venture was fully independent of Rosy Blue. "This one is our own venture and nothing to do with Rosy Blue," he is quoted as saying.
The 4th International Jewelry & Diamond Conference 2019 – Guangzhou, jointly held by the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange and the Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange (GDGJE) will take place on November 21-22. The conference will be held in Panyu, Guangzhou, the major cluster of the diamond and jewelry industry of China, and will welcome industry representatives, associations from around the world and delegates from local governments.
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.
Tiffany & Co. earlier this month announced plans to enter the India market, and recently said they would be increasing their presence in China following a quarter in which they saw double-digit growth with local customers in Mainland China, together with a decline in tourist purchases which impacted their Q2 results.
Tiffany & Co. reported a decline in sales in the Americas and globally in the second quarter, with the company pointing to weak spending among tourists and locals in the Americas and Asia Pacific spurred by unrest in Hong Kong. Net sales in the second quarter tailed off by 3% to $1.05 billion in the three months ended July 31, in part due to a strong performance in the same quarter a year ago when they earned $1.08 billion. Worldwide same-stores sales were down 4 percent, the jeweler announced, while net income of $136.3m in the second quarter was down 6% from a year ago.
The Legislative Assembly of Macau, or officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, recently passed a government-initiated bill which will enable Macau to implement the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). This will allow the city to formally engage in the international trade in rough diamonds in line with international standards. The bill will take effect on October 1 and aims to help Macau develop a rough diamond trade sector. Its outline was passed during a plenary session of the legislature in April.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the U.S. is putting 10% tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, effective Sept. 1. This means that starting at the beginning of next month, every single good coming into the U.S. from China, except those with exemptions, will be subject to an import tax. Called the 'tranche four' tariffs, the list includes rough and polished diamonds (whether or not worked), loose 'synthetic ...
For months now, the news emerging from across the diamond industry has been colored various shades of sombre, with each analysis referring to some version of the same list of issues ailing the trade: falling polished prices combined with excessive polished inventories, a financing squeeze on Indian manufacturers and a lack of profitablity, low demand for rough, economic uncertainty generated by an unstable geopolitical climate ... take your pick. The question Paul Zimnisky examines is whether this all adds up to a 'crisis'.
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%.
Retailers and importers across the US - including those in the diamond and jewelry trade - breathed a collective sigh of relief this past weekend following the announcement of a temporary trade truce between the US and China, and an agreement to reopen negotiations. This past weekend at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, U.S. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to a ceasefire that will forestall another punishing round of of $300 billion in tariffs Mr.
The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair last week (20-23 June) provided a snapshot of a cautious diamond industry in the midst of a period of weak sentiment and even weaker demand, according to several traders we spoke with this week. And they do not see any quick fixes on the horizon. While it may not be the largest diamond show of the year, Hong-Kong June is the most important mid-year jewelry sourcing event in Asia, and as such provides us the opportunity to take the pulse of the polished diamond trade. The consensus? Sentiment is poor.
‘Wait and see’
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.
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.
Global demand for gold jewelry rose 1% in Q1 2019 to 530.3 tonnes, driven by the Indian market, writes World Gold Council (WGC). A lower local rupee gold price in late February and early March coincided with the wedding season, which is the traditional time for significant gold purchases, lifting jewelry demand in India 5% higher than the same period last year. The 125.4 tonnes purchased makes last Q1 2019 the highest Q1 since 2015.
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.
Searching for a means to safeguard smooth transactions in the event it ends up having US sanctions imposed on it, Russia's Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, has found a partner in its efforts to conduct trade in a currency other than the US dollar. Evgeny Agureev, Alrosa’s director of sales, told the South China Morning Post that it has enlisted one of its many Chinese customers - Chow Sang Sang Jewellery - on a long-term contract this year.
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%.
"If even a fraction of Chinese production is upgraded to jewelry-quality diamonds, it would have a very significant impact on the global supply which is only in the low-millions-of-carats," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Xinhua News journalists Wang Zichen and Shi Linjing.
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.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) this week traveled to Guangzhou, China, for a networking blitz/conference tour on the Mainland, jointly organized with the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange. Mainland China presents a massive new opportunity for growth beyond the traditional markets of Hong Kong and Shanghai, so the AWDC set off with a group of diamond traders to meet up with a delegation of Chinese jewelry manufacturers looking for polished diamond suppliers in Antwerp.
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.
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.
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.
ALROSA, the world's largest diamond mining company, has sold 'special size' rough diamonds (larger than 10.8 carats) at auction in Vladivostok, with overall revenue amounting to $12.6 million. At its latest sale of large stones, the company sold 108 gem-quality lots with total weight of 2,003 carats. 76 companies from Russia, mainland China, Hong Kong, the US, Israel, Belgium, India and UAE took part in the auction.
According to new research from Euromonitor International, India is set to overtake US as the world's second largest fine jewelry market by the end of 2018, reports Business Matters. The study shows that China remains the biggest market for fine jewelry with sales reaching US$86.3 billion by the end of 2017, which are expected to reach US$92 billion by the end of this year. The Chinese market as a whole has grown by over 21% in the last five years.
“[The $180 million in diamond sales to China last year] is still less than 5 percent of Alrosa’s global sales, but it’s just the beginning. Strengthening and developing our relationship with Chinese consumers, especially with local jewelry retailers, are among our main goals today. We will invest more in marketing and brand building.”
- ALROSA CEO Sergey Ivanov
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%.
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.
China will cut import tariffs on nearly 1,500 consumer products as from July 1, including gold jewelry set with diamonds, as well as precious stones, in a bid to boost imports as part of efforts to open up its economy. A total of 18 tax items involving jewelry categories are included in the tariff reduction, with an average tariff rate drop of 68%.
The Zimbabwean government has yielded to Chinese pressure and will restore Anjin Investment’s operating licence after finalisation of the new diamond policy, nearly three years after the entity was stopped from mining in Chiadzwa, writes the Zimbabwe Independent.
Forevermark, the diamond brand from De Beers Group, has announced the launch of Libert’aime by Forevermark, a new flagship store at HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai, the Group writes in a press release. The opening marks the 1,000th Forevermark store in China, and comes as the brand celebrates its 10-year anniversary in the country.
Global consumer demand for diamond jewelry hit a new all-time high in 2017, climbing to US$82 billion, a two percent increase on the previous year, according to industry insight data published today by De Beers Group. The US was the main driver of growth for the fourth consecutive year, De Beers writes, where positive macroeconomics and strong consumer confidence - which recently hit an 18-year high - saw demand for diamond jewelry increase four percent to $43 billion, representing more than half of total global demand.
The Guangzhou Diamond Exchange held its first ever Rough Diamond Tender from 19-25 April, selling all the parcels available for nearly $6 million. The tender included more than 230,000 cts of of industrial and gem-quality diamonds rough diamond from Africa and drew nearly 50 companies from China, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, India and Israel. The supplier of the stones, Société Anhui-Congo d’Investissement Minier, is a joint venture of Chinese enterprise and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the diamond marketing organization Diamond Producers Association (DPA), spoke with Melissa Smet of De Belgische Diamantnijverheid, the quarterly magazine of the Syndicate of the Belgian Diamond Industry (SBD), about the mission, current progress and future plans of the DPA, as well as some key industry issues. The DPA set up shop and was launched in 2016, but their first real year of investment was 2017, and they invested about $57 million on generic marketing.
Nir Matalon, Managing Director of Malca-Amit Antwerp, an international logistics, security, customs and special operations firm for the luxury goods industry and international banks, and Director of Gem Lab Services Antwerp, which specializes in diamond and precious gem transport, is moving on after 21 years with the company. Matalon has been an integral part of the many transitions and expansion of the group's activities, as he explained in an exit interview.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of De Beers Group, has announced it will launch two of its diamond education courses in Simplified Chinese, helping students in one of the largest and fastest growing markets for diamond jewellery to enhance their knowledge of the industry, De Beers announced in a press release. The online Diamond Foundation Course, which was launched last year and is the industry’s first to cover the full diamond pipeline, will be available in Simplified Chinese from 1 March, with the Polished Diamond Grading Course to be translate