"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.
The highly anticipated auction of the largest gem-quality rough diamond in the world, the historic Type IIa 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Canadian miner Lucara Diamond Corp. in Botswana last November, failed to make auction history as it fell short of its reserve price and did not sell at Sotheby’s June 29 auction in London. The bidding opened at $50 million and was widely anticipated to sell for upwards of $80 million, but the bidding stalled at $61 million, so the diamond went unsold.
JCK's Rob Bates reports on his interview from JCK Las Vegas with vice president of Russian diamond producer Alrosa, Andrey Polyakov, who recently took over the leadership of the World Diamond Council (WDC). The main talking points are, "whether the KP will ever include human rights language and just what Alrosa thinks about synthetics", as well as the ongoing dispute between current KP chair United Arab Emirates and the civil society coalition. Concerning the latter, Polyakov said, "Both the NGOs and the KP chair are doing a great job.
In a nutshell: the Las Vegas shows met the trade’s conservative expectations, foot traffic and diamond trading were slightly slower than previous years, and jewelry sales were resilient, reports Avi Krawitz. On the plus side, the important U.S. market continues to support the global industry, but there is list of factors making the trade nervous. These include concern among diamond dealers and jewelers about slowing demand for diamond jewelry, the rise of synthetics, how to effectively market to millennials, and the impact that a contentious U.S.
Industry analyst Edahn Golan provides a rundown on last weekend's JCK show in Las Vegas, touching on traffic in the jewelry and diamond areas, the Diamond Producers Association's (DPA) marketing campaign, the hot topic of synthetic diamonds and ALROSA's strong presence in the desert. Particularly the high-end jewelers reported positive results, though much of the time the area was distinctly quiet.
Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier, who is also Chairman of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), says De Beers won't be making available the famous 'A Diamond Is Forever' slogan for the DPA's use. Its marketing team is working hard on its own strong concepts, he says.
Industry initiatives for responsible sourcing and supply chain integrity came under the spotlight at the JCK Las Vegas show, with the main issue being that people aren't aware of the big steps the industry is making in this regard. That became all too apparent as one of the “JCK Talks” panels debated whether lab-grown diamonds are a “threat or opportunity” for the natural diamond trade, writes Avi Krawitz of Rapaport. "While the lab-grown industry is marketing itself as an ethical alternative to natural diamonds, the undertone is that the natural diamond trade is not ethical."
"Real is Rare. Real is a Diamond". The Diamond Producers Association today delivered a special presentation to members of the diamond industry at the JCK Trade Show in Las Vegas to reveal the long-awaited compaign slogan and platform with which they hope to attract the generation of Millennials. The DPA's marketing campaign, intended to fill the void since De Beers ceased generic marketing, is the result of six months of development, including in-depth research into its target audience: millennial consumers.
Two Israeli diamond firms – LYE Diamonds Ltd and ESGD Diamonds Ltd belonging to Gaby and Yossi Yelizarov – have laid down a lawsuit in New York against the Rapaport Group and the GIA relating to a case of a mystery treatment that the GIA said temporarily improves a diamond’s color. The GIA said it discovered the treatment last year which it claims temporarily improves a diamond’s color. The lawsuit case relates to a case a year ago when the GIA said that it discovered around 500 diamonds that, in its view, had been treated by a previously unknown color-improving process, JCK explains.
Rob Bates of JCK writes that De Beers sightholders are likely to be relieved by the appointment of Bruce Cleaver to replace Phillippe Mellier as CEO, noting that he is already "striking a different tone than his predecessor." Bates summarizes Mellier's tumultuous five-year tenure, during which, "Oppenheimer’s family sold its shares to Anglo American, De Beers transferred sales to Botswana, the company settled its U.S. antitrust issues, and it decided to move from its longtime home on Charterhouse Street.
The Diamond Dealers Club of New York (DDC) has announced that it will launch a new initiative at the Las Vegas JCK show, by displaying DDC members’ goods in one place. The DDC has organized booths for individual trade companies at previous shows and this will mark the first ever DDC booth showcasing a wide collection of goods from its many members.
"It’s a blue streak," writes JCK's Rob Bates, reporting on yet another exceptional blue diamond - this time the 24.8-carat Cullinan Dream - that will be hitting Christie's Magnificent Jewels auction block in New York on June 9, 2016. "Extracted from the legendary Cullinan mine in South Africa in 2014, the Cullinan Dream is the largest Fancy Intense Blue diamond ever to be offered at auction," reads Christie's announcenent.
Award-winning news director of JCK Rob Bates, in his opinion piece "Why the NGOs and Dubai Still Can’t Get Along", addresses the persistent conflict between Kimberley Process (KP) chair UAE and the KP civil society coalition - the group of 11 human rights groups that participate in the KP - that is threatening to turn the upcoming KP interessional meetings into a failure: "the recent turn of events looks like we are in for another year of stagnation and animosity, and the scheme will once again fail to make needed improvements, despite the UAE’s promises last year of a fruitful, pr
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and India’s Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to bolster global diamond demand. The agreement was signed by DPA Chairman Stephen Lussier and GJEPC Chairman Praveenshankar Pandya. The MOU calls for quarterly meetings between the two bodies to discuss industry challenges and opportunities, review and discuss marketing progress and share industry insights on matters of mutual interest.
The natural and lab-grown diamond industries are now openly feuding with each another, and some are calling for a ceasefire. Yet that might not be as easy as it seems. For one, there is little overlap between the companies that produce man-made diamonds and those that mine naturals. Both sectors have no obligation to help the other. To the contrary, they both have reasons for the current cold war to continue.
Last week, Martin Rapaport published an in-depth diatribe rejecting the claims of synthetic diamand producers that their product is more ethical than naturally mined diamonds, going so far as to call the way synthetic diamonds are marketed as "evil".
Reports from multiple sources are starting to detail the murky structures hiding the tremendous wealth accumulated by certain players in the diamond and gold trade that emerged through last week's release of the Panama Papers.
"This June at the JCK Las Vegas show," writes Rob Bates for JCK, "the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) will unveil an industry milestone: the first category-driving campaign for diamonds not sponsored by De Beers. The DPA’s campaign grew out of its research on millennials, including extensive surveys and focus groups conducted by its marketing firm Mother New York." Bates plans to take an in-depth look at their research between now and then, but provides a few spoilers about what they found out.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) is to launch its marketing campaign at the JCK Show Las Vegas in June, Sally Morrison, the DPA’s managing director of marketing, informed Rapaport News. The new campaign is to start slightly more than a year after the DPA was formed in May 2015 by seven leading diamond miners with an initial budget of $6 million. The DPA aims to stimulate consumer demand for precious stones.
News director of JCK Rob Bates outlines how a report in UAE newpaper The National, based on comments by Kimberley Process chair Ahmed bin Sulayem, wrongfully reported that diamond exports from the Central African Republic will soon resume thanks to, it claims, a deal brokered by Ahmed bin Sulayem.
In his latest article, "How Do We Talk About Ethical Sourcing?", Rob Bates of JCK unpacks some of the key tensions lurking underneath marketing strategies that promote the ethical or eco-friendly advantages of synthetic diamond products, and even some of their natural counterparts. Analyzing recent statements by Suzanne Miglucci, the new president and CEO of moissanite manufacturer Charles & Colvard, Bates points out how the strategy they imply could rub retailers the wrong way and even involve "certain perils" when it comes to integrating into the diamond industry as a whole.
"We received some hostile comments to our story about Stuller selling lab-grown diamonds. This puzzles me. First, Stuller already sells moissanite and other lab-created gems; this was a logical and not out-of-character move for it. And while I understand why some in the industry fear lab-grown diamonds, they are a legitimate, legal product (provided they are sold legitimately and legally), which are not going away.
JCK reports US based jewelry manufacturer Stuller has started selling loose lab-grown diamonds, in a strategy to offer customers another, lower-priced option compared to natural diamonds. According to the report Stuller keeps natural and synthetic diamonds in completely separate circuits. The jewelry manufacturer sees no harm in selling both natural and lab-grown diamonds; "The technology is here. It won’t go away.
Rob Bates of JCK tells the story behind gem explorer Yianni Melas' discovery of a new blue-green gemstone, baptized Aquaprase. "Two years ago," writes Bates, "veteran gem explorer Yianni Melas was doing some work at an African location - he doesn’t want to say where, so the area is not overrun. Geologists had dismissed the locale, convinced it held only some few stray opals.
JCK devotes an extensive article on tips and tricks for jewelers to maximize the power of Instagram, “social media’s most jewelry friendly marketing tool”. More than any other social media platform, Instagram is focused on visuals, and thus a perfect match with jewelry items. But Martha C. White argues Instagram requires a very different approach compared to traditional ads and sums up the essentials on using instagram successfully, such as using pictures and background styling that help to tell a story that goes beyond the jewelry item itself.
JCK News Director Rob Bates discusses the implications of Jewellery group Signet's announcement that it will start implementing a Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds, requiring its suppliers to provide diamonds from identified sources, from mine to finger, so to speak. The initiative, which received support from diamond industry organisations such as the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the Diamond Development Initiative, will be a work in progress, Signet stated, continuously improving.
"Throughout the diamond pipeline, the time has come to "expose" rather than quietly "acquiesce". If a jeweler did something wrong, let the courts decide. If someone committed a fraud, let him go to jail. Consumers will have far more confidence in those jewelers that prove their trust and integrity by standing up - rather than "giving in." In many instances, the retailer is a victim of his or her diamond supplier. Let them become accountable as well."
Chaim Even-Zohar, industry expert - Diamond Intelligence Briefing
Rob Bates of JCK has published an open letter to Leonardo DiCaprio, of Blood Diamond fame, urging him to reconsider his support for new synthetic diamond producer Diamond Foundry, and to remember the social realities that once moved him. "Back in 2006, you seemed profoundly impacted by your meeting with one of the great figures of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela.
JCK reports that six more people have been arrested by the Indian authorities in the investigation into unauthorized access (hacking) of the GIA database, according to an Institute announcement. GIA declined to release their names. GIA previously identified the submitting companies, who are no longer permitted to submit stones to its lab pending an investigation.
In his latest opinion piece, award winning JCK News Director Rob Bates expresses his concern over the latest example of so-called "activist investors" nudging their way into companies.
JCK's Rob Bates reports that, "Tiffany is slashing staff after holiday sales were hurt by the strong dollar and tough worldwide economic climate," though he noted that Tiffany's provide little detail on the specifics outside of 'staff and occupancy reductions'. He notes that they did comment to the Wall Street Journal that the reductions would not impact the number of stores. Bates further reports that, "The company’s comps for the November–December holiday period fell 5%, and worldwide net sales fell 6% to $961 million.
For the last few years, the [jewelry] industry has posted small but steady growth - usually in the single digits. This holiday looks to continue this pattern. Sales grew, but not by a huge amount ... At the Forevermark cocktail party on Jan. 11, De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier said his stats showed sales for both the holiday season and the year rose 7% at Forevermark jewelers ... Concerning the diamond business in general, the overall (but certainly not absolute) consensus is that it is starting to bottom out, and we should see a turnaround by this summer.
Rob Bates of JCK reports that their survey of jewelers from across the U.S. revealed that strong diamond sales formed the backbone of a solid holiday season. Designer lines, gemstones and silver also did well, and, "As usual, jewelers griped that the weather hurt sales - but this year the problem was good weather, as unseasonably warm temperatures dampened the holiday mood." A selection from the jewelers' comments: “The month of December was up by 16 percent. Just the month of December, though. The year is even.… People were less hesitant about purchasing.
In her "Style 360" blog, Jennifer Heebner has lit the fuse on 2016 with JCK's fifth annual jewelry predictions and buying guidelines "based on red carpet jewelry trends, runway fashions, and industry-specific jewelry and gemstone offerings." Chiaroscuro drama and fanciful creations are expected to make an appearance, and certain trends from 2015 will remain while new ones emerge. She predicts the styles, colors, materials, shapes and sources that will steal the show in 2016. It would be thoughtless of us to give them away here ...
In a brief essay worthy of a read by anyone interested in the diamond industry, Rob Bates has succinctly summarized how the natural diamond industry could turn the nomenclature of non-natural diamonds in its favor. "Last year," he writes, "I argued that the best term for lab-grown diamonds may be non-mined. That is scientifically accurate and also gets across the stones’ main selling point.