European Union finance ministers have agreed to add 10 countries to a blacklist of alleged tax havens, including the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, the agreement means the list will now have 15 jurisdictions, triple the number of what it had before the review. It comes just over a year after the EU agreed to “name and shame” a small number of nations as part of its efforts to fight opaque practices that facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals and individuals.
From June 19 to 22, Antwerp was the host city for the Kimberley Process (KP) Intersessional meeting. This year, the European Union occupied the KP Chair, under the lead of Hilde Hardeman (pictured). The global diamond community - consisting of diamond-producing and trading countries, the diamond industry and civil society - gathered together to assess the current state of affairs and look forward to the future of the KP.
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.
As the calendar turned on the new year, the European Union took over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, aimed to ensure sustainable and conflict-free trade in diamonds. Under the leadership of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, the EU will head this international initiative to stem the trade in conflict diamonds during 2018. The EU emphasized that its tenure would be guided by the principles of sustainability, inclusiveness, responsibility and dialogue.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, announced sales had jumped during the April-to-August period as a result of Asia's strong performance.
The European Parliament last week approved a draft regulation intended to prevent the minerals trade from funding conflict and human rights violations in Africa. If adopted, this “conflict minerals” law will oblige all but the smallest EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores from conflict and high-risk areas to do "due diligence" checks on their suppliers, and big manufacturers will also have to disclose how they plan to monitor their sources to comply with the rules. Authorities in EU member states will be responsible for ensuring compliance by companies.
Tiffany & Co. today (March 17) reported its financial results for the full year and the three months (fourth quarter) ended January 31, 2017, which were consistent with its previously issued guidance for the 2016 fiscal year. Worldwide net sales declined 3% in the year and rose 1% in the fourth quarter, while in both periods higher gross margins countered growth in operating expenses. Net earnings per diluted share declined 1% in the full year and 2% in the fourth quarter. The company generated more than $700 million of cash flow from operating activities in the full year.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, just shared their trading update for the third quarter ended December 31 2016, reporting an overall 5% uptick at constant exchange rates to $3,292.5 million and a 6% rise at actual exchange rates. In Europe, sales increased by 3% in the third quarter, in contrast with the 17% decline registered in the first six months of the year. The report suggests the increase was primarily due to local sales and tourist purchases in the United Kingdom as well as strong jewelry sales across the region.
Today proves our determination to strengthen our efforts to prevent armed groups around the world from using trade in minerals to finance their activities and propagate conflict. This regulation will put into practice the EU's commitments to this effect. At the same time, no additional red tape for European companies that trade respecting the rules, while EU citizens can be assured that their purchases do not affect human rights in conflict-ridden countries."
The Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary held in UAE this week concluded with the announcement that that it has appointed the European Union as its Chair for 2018. The EU will assume responsibility as KP Vice Chair in 2017 with Australia as Chair, and India will be the Vice Chair in 2018 when EU becomes the organisation’s Chair. Consequently, in 2019 India will become the KP Chair.
As the 2016 Kimberley Process Plenary comes to a close, the World Diamond Council (WDC) and its president Andrey Polyakov applaud the positive steps taken in 2016, the initiatives undertaken by KP Chair UAE during the plenary itself, and look forward to the continued success of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme under the leadership of the new KP Chair, Australia.
The VicenzaOro show, organized by Fiera di Vicenza, began on Saturday, continuing to September 7. The organizers said 1,300 brands from 35 different countries were taking part. The main theme of the show is 'The Golden Touch', with sub-themes including product excellence, national and international products, Corporate Social Responsibility, distribution, new trends in the industry and the marketplace, international aspects and communication.
Gold is heading for the first monthly decline since May as investors price in the prospect of higher U.S. borrowing costs by the end of the year and slowing purchases of bullion-backed exchange-traded funds. Bullion for immediate delivery is at around $1,315 an ounce but dropped to $1,309 on Tuesday, the lowest level since June 28, and is down 2.7 percent this month, Bloomberg reported.
Tiffany & Co. reported that revenue for the second quarter was $932 million versus the consensus estimate of $934.74 million, as it recorded falling sales on the year in the quarter and first half of this year compared to the year-earlier periods. In the Americas, total sales of $434 million in the second quarter and $837 million in the first half were both 9% below last year, with declines of 9% and 10%, respectively, in comparable store sales.
Shares in Pandora have slipped after the maker and retailer of popular jewelry reported a sales and profit miss. The firm is known for raising forecasts due to the ongoing strength of sales. Revenue for the second-quarter rose 20 percent to $645 million, but that was less than the average analyst estimate and the first such miss in more than two years. A 23-percent jump in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was also less than expected, and that led its stock to fall by almost 7 percent on the Copenhagen exchange.
According to figures recently relased by the Kimberley Process, 2015 global rough diamond production fell 4.2% in value to $13.88 billion even as the volume of output increased 2.1% to 127.4 million carats. Accordingly, the average value of production fell 6.2% from $116.17 to $108.96 per carat. Russia widened its lead over Botswana as the largest producer of rough diamonds in terms of volume and value. Russia’s increased its 2015 production 9.4% to 41.9 million carats, good for a 14% increase in value to $4.24 billion.
Representatives of the European Union (EU) and India participating in the KP Intersessional which took place in Dubai from May 23-26 presented a co-ordinated proposal under which the EU will be KP Vice-Chair in 2017 and KP Chair in 2018, while India will become KP Vice-Chair in 2018 and assume the position of KP Chair in 2019.
Further evidence of the slowdown in high-end jewelry sales has been provided after luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co reported its biggest drop in quarterly sales since the peak of the global financial crisis, with the strength of the dollar deterring tourists in the United States from buying its jewelry and denting revenue from markets outside the jeweler's home country. Net sales dropped 7.4 percent to $891.3 million – the biggest fall since mid-2009 – missing the average analyst estimate of $915.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters, while profits dropped 16.6 percent to $87.5 million.
Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. is aiming to boost sales of wristwatches due to a slowdown in the jewelry market. Tiffany-made watches could account for 10 percent of the company’s sales within a decade, according to Nicola Andreatta, head of the firm's timepiece business, from just 1 percent last year. If it succeeds in hitting that target, it would likely make Tiffany one of the world’s top 10 watch brands, he told Bloomberg.
In a strong indication that jewelry demand worldwide is growing strongly, Pandora reported soaring revenues and profits for the first quarter. Consequently, it raised its revenue guidance as sales soared in Europe and Asia Pacific. Revenue surged 34 percent to $725 million while profit rocketed more than threefold to almost $200 million. Pandora expects revenue in excess of $3 billion this year which would be a 19-percent increase on 2015 from a year ago.
Bridal jewelry, traditionally a solid source of income for jewelers, could come under a long-term threat after new figures in Britain showed a sharp drop in the number of people getting married. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported the number of people getting married for the first time has fallen to a record low, with just 2.5% of single women in England and Wales marrying in 2013. In addition, the number of weddings also dropped for the first time since 2009.
When it comes to buying luxury goods, including diamond jewelry, Chinese shoppers prefer to buy abroad rather than at home for simple reasons: they are cheaper overseas and the likelihood of them being just a good imitation is close to zero. But Premier Xi Jinping’s government wants to create a consumer-driven economy, with shoppers buying at home. To achieve this aim, writes Avi Krawitz in Rapaport, the administration raised taxes on jewelry and watches bought from online overseas websites. Meanwhile, such items bought at home come with sharp tariffs attached.
US consumers purchased a record annual level of $39 billion of diamond jewelry in 2015, according to industry data published by De Beers. However, the global market saw a 2% decline in diamond jewelry sales last year to $79 billion from a record $81 billion in 2014. The figure for the US market was a 5% rise on 2014 with De Beers attributing it to sustained economic recovery, higher levels of job creation and wage growth. The US remains the world’s largest market for diamond jewelry sales and increased its share of global polished diamond demand to 45% last year from 42% in 2014.
The decline in Swiss watch exports that started in July 2015 gathered pace in March, with exports to Hong Kong, the United States and China hit hard. Overall watch exports plunged 16.1% on the year in March with a value of just 1.5 billion francs ($1.53 billion), making them the lowest March figures since 2011. The biggest declines were seen for watches costing 200-500 francs, with a 27.1% drop in both value and volume terms.
LVMH jewelry brand Bulgari sees a rise in sales in the second half of this year after sales were hit as a result of the terror attacks in Paris in November."If we keep that traction through the summer, the second half could indeed be much stronger in terms of growth rate," Chief Executive Jean-Christophe Babin told Reuters in an interview. He added that the jeweler aims to grow sales by more than 10% this year. Bulgari is the world's third largest watch and jewelry maker behind Cartier and Tiffany, generating annual revenue estimated at $1.7 billion-2.25 billion.
Luxury products group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton posted an increase in revenue on the year before of 4% to 8.6 billion euros for the first quarter 2016. "The U.S. market is strong and Europe remains well oriented except for France which is affected by a fall in tourism," the firm said in a statement. "Asian markets are varied, but Japan continues to progress." The company's Watches & Jewelry unit recorded organic revenue growth of 7% in the first quarter of 2016, outperforming the market, it reported.
China is raising charges on packages ordered from abroad and cracking down on smugglers who carry in suitcases full of luxury goods, in a move to encourage shopping at home and diminish a grey market that shoppers use to avoid tax, according to a Reuters report. Whereas Chinese shoppers account for a third of global sales of luxury goods, sales that actually take place in mainland China account for only a fifth.
From the United States to Europe and Asia, growing numbers of women are deciding that they are not going to wait to receive jewelry from partners and husbands and are increasingly buying their own jewelry. Women today are more financially independent than ever before, and they also trust their own taste rather than that of their partner or spouse. They also want jewelry that suits their business attire, and are buying themselves jewelry as tangible evidence of their career success, Rough & Polished reports.
The number of exhibitors, buyers and visitors to the eight-day Baselworld tradeshow, which closed on March 24, declined by 3% on the 2015 show to 145,000 people from more than 100 countries, organizers said in a statement. There were also 4,400 media representatives, an increase of just over 2% from last year. Many attendees spoke of the reduced foot traffic, particularly in the halls where exhibitors of loose diamonds and gemstones were located.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Brussels on March 30 to attend the first India-European Union summit in four years. Hopes are high that the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Brussels in six years will reinvigorate EU-India ties and inject new momentum into the relationship, possibly resuming dialogue for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which hasn't materialized despite eight years of negotiations.
Diamond companies exhibiting at the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show reported satisfactory activity in the opening days, with visitor traffic stronger than at last year's fair, Rapaport reported. The show for exhibitors of precious gems, semi-precious stones and pearls opened at the AsiaWorld Expo close to Hong Kong's airport on March 1 and runs until March 5.
Total exports fell 7.9 % year on year to $1.53 billion last month, with exports to Hong Kong and the U.S., dropping precipitously. Hong Kong saw its twelfth consecutive month of steep declines, falling -33.1%, while the United States dropped for the fifth straight month – down 13.7%. Meanwhile, after two months of growth, China registered a slight downturn of 1.9%. However, there was some good cheer, with exports to Japan soaring by 35.8% and the main European markets doing well, including France which was up 4.7%.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is making preparations to remove the most valuable European banknote - the €500 note - from circulation. The bills too often serve illicit purposes, says the bank. "We are actively considering the issue and will take a decision soon," said member of the ECB board Benoît Coeuré in French newspaper Le Parisien. "The competent authorities increasingly suspect that the notes are used for illicit objectives.
Demand for gold worldwide last year was almost flat on the year at 4,212 tonnes (t), according to the World Gold Council’s latest Gold Demand Trends report. Demand bounced back in the second half of 2015 due to sustained buying from central banks and a strong second half from China and India. This was clearly seen in the retail investment sector, with strong purchases of bars and coins by China, Europe and the US, as investors took advantage of weaker prices amid a worsening economic backdrop, financial turbulence and ongoing geopolitical tension.
The British jewelry and watch sector loses around $156 million (£108 million) every year as a result of counterfeit goods being shipped into the market, new EU figures show. Overall in the EU, the manufacture of counterfeit jewelry, watches, handbags and luggage costs businesses €3.5 billion ($3.95 billion) a year.
Despite low expectations among exhibitors at the seventh edition of the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF) following reports of a slow holiday sales season for European retail jewelers and diamond distributors, the overall mood "was distinctly upbeat', said the organizers of the January 31-February 2 trade show. The three-day fair is jointly organized by the Antwerp Diamond Bourse (Beurs voor Diamanthandel), the Diamond Club of Antwerp (Diamantclub van Antwerpen) and Antwerp's Rough Diamond Bourse (Antwerpsche Diamantkring) and held in the halls of the Bourse and the Club.
The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program. Nuclear sanctions have been in place since 2006, while other sanctions stretch back decades. The announcement came after days and weeks of secret high-level diplomacy - particularly by American Secretary of State John Kerry - and the release of long-held prisoners on both sides.
Sales in the luxury brand's fiscal third quarter ending December 31 declined by 4% at constant exchange rates but rose by 3% at actual rates as the weaker euro compensated for lower tourist numbers in Europe following November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, a favored destination for luxury shoppers. Jewelry continued to enjoy growth across most regions and product categories, partly compensating weak demand for watches, the firm added. Richemont owns the Cartier jewelry brand as well as watchmakers including Piaget and IWC.
Record-breaking sales of colored diamonds at auctions earlier this month and the discovery of a 1,111-carat stone in Botswana which grabbed worldwide attention contrast sharply with sharp declines in share prices of publicly traded firms dealing with everyday diamonds, the Financial Times reports.
Rough diamond prices are undoubtedly much too high and manufacturers are struggling to sell polished as buyers are unwilling to pay, writes Vinod Kuriyan. This is mainly due to diamond miners being concerned only with their bottom lines and has weakened and destabilized the diamond production pipeline. But calls for an immediate reduction of 30 and 50 percent in rough prices is "a hasty, unthought-out and counterproductive step. It will immediately result in huge losses for the diamond processing industry running into the billions of dollars.