According to industry insiders, some 120 people were arrested last week, as Chinese authorities carried out a raid in several cities in a case of diamond smuggling. Idex Online reports that the arrests were made at Indian-run diamond factories in China, further straining trade relations between India and China, after a couple was caught with 150 parcels of undocumented diamonds, allegedly smuggled into mainland China via Hong Kong, in Shenzhen.
Chinese retailer Luk Fook has announced a 71% drop in sales in the first fiscal quarter, with largest same-store sales declines in Hong Kong and Macau (76%). Of the company's self-operated stores, a large proportion is located in Hong Kong and Macau (60) compared to the amount of shops in Mainland China and other locations (118). Hong Kong, a popular destination for luxury shopping tourists, has been under continued restrictions, such as a compulsory 14-day quarantine, as wel as renewed outbursts of civil unrest.
In a response to The Diamond Loupe, the International Gemological Institute (IGI), says to be shocked about a media post that is circulating among diamond trading communities. The visual, a screenshot of which can be viewed here, calls on diamond traders "to boycott China" by not using IGI certificates. In 2018, Chinese conglomerate Fosun acquired an 80% stake in IGI, the Antwerp-based diamond grading lab.
As the tensions between India and China continue to rise after the military standoff at Ladakh, a fierce trade war between the two countries is looming, and imports and exports are already being affected. India Today reports that while in India, the call to boycott Chinese goods is sounding louder and louder, exporters are experiencing trouble to export goods to Hong Kong and Mainland China, as shipments are blocked by Chinese Customs. On Indian side, the article says, shipment containers from China are also being blocked by Indian Customs in Mumbai and Chennai.
News outlet Caixin reports that China will continue its severely restricted international flights policy through to at least October. Since the end of March, China has cut international flights by 90%, and has implemented the so-called "Five-One" policy, in which for each domestic airline, only one flight per week to a foreign destination is allowed to operate. Foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week and all flights are limited to 75% capacity, according to restrictions implemented by China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC).
The Hermès flagship store in Guangzhou reportedly made $2.7 million on its reopening day, boosting hopes on increased consumers' luxury shopping once quarantine measures are lifted. Many hope that the so-called "revenge spending", with people purchasing luxury goods to treat themselves after being in isolation for weeks, signals the recovery of luxury spending, although some fear it could be no more but a "one-off" shopping spree.
While the rest of the world is tightening measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese customers - constituting a whopping third of global luxury industry’s sales and the driving force of global growth in this segment in recent years - are slowly returning to the country’s luxury shopping malls as local quarantine measures are eased.
The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, India, is facing a potentially massive liquidity crisis as a result of overdue payments owed by diamond traders in China and Hong Kong in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, writes The Times of India. Industry estimates estimate the value of those overdue payments at Rs5,000 crore, about $670 million, in the past month alone.
Following the temporary closure of their stores in 'affected regions' of mainland China, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has temporarily closed around 40 stores in Hong Kong and Macao in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19 or nCoV2019 (2019 novel coronavirus)) epidemic, a spokesperson said Monday. The Hong Kong-based jewelry chain operator also will shorten operating hours at its remaining stores in the two cities. These shops will close by 7 p.m. local time until further notice.
Concern about the impact of the coronavirus on the diamond and jewelry trade is growing, not only in China, but also in the markets that supply China, like Hong Kong and India. Events have been concelled, retail sales have plummeted and the outbreak of the virus in China has already had a ripple effect on diamond supply chains as the death toll passes 1,000. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
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