Overseas flight woes trip up jewelry industry

The following article appears courtesy of: National Jewler
Author: Michelle Graff

London–A Diamond Trading Co. (DTC) sight in London, a watch auction in Geneva and a factory tour for retailers in Italy are just a few of the industry events impacted by the Icelandic ash cloud that has been disrupting air travel across Europe.

On Tuesday, Geneva-based auction house Patrizzi and Co. sent out an e-mail notice that it was postponing its April 25 auction to May 7 at the Grand Hotel Kempinski, as some of the auction’s most high-profile timepieces were grounded in Hong Kong.
“Due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption, global air traffic and European flight schedules in particular have been disrupted,” the e-mail stated. “Some important timepieces intended for Patrizzi and Co.’s April 25 auction in Geneva are currently blocked in Hong Kong.”

The rescheduled auction will start at 2 p.m., with the second session following at 4:30 p.m. A preview exhibition is scheduled for May 4 to 7 at Patrizzi’s Geneva offices and a silent sale is slated for May 4 to 8.

Auction house Christie’s also had to make minor adjustments to its “Jewels: the New York Sale with The Catherine the Great Emerald Brooch and The Emperor Maximilian Diamond” scheduled for Thursday. A Christie’s spokeswoman said the auction house has added extra phone bidders for the day of the sale for collectors unable to get to the United States due to air travel restrictions.

In London, the DTC, the rough trading arm of mining giant De Beers, plans to move forward with its five-day sight scheduled for next week but is working on a contingency plan for sightholders that are unable to make it, said DTC spokeswoman Louise Prior.

“The volcanic eruption in Iceland has caused widespread disruption to flights in and out of London,” she said in an e-mail to National Jeweler. “In order to be as flexible as we can in such unprecedented circumstances and to facilitate next week’s sight, we’ve introduced some exceptional, one-off actions at this forthcoming sight to assist our sightholders.”

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that European authorities had begun lifting the severe flight restrictions, but that a new ash cloud, reported to be spreading south from the erupting volcano in Iceland, threatened to hamper part of the effort to end Europe’s air travel woes, particularly in Britain.

Prior said while the situation is constantly changing, as of now, the DTC doesn’t anticipate that its U.S. sightholders will be able to make it London next week.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the volatile volcano has grounded most members of an Alaskan delegation that was set to travel to London to voice their opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine at mining company Anglo American’s annual shareholder meeting, which is set for Thursday. (Anglo American could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it had plans to postpone or make changes to its shareholder meeting due to all the travel restrictions in and around London.)

In addition, one Italian Trade Commission employee and two retail jewelers were unable to fly to Italy from the United States this past Saturday to attend the “Region of Marche Factory Visit/Mini Trade Fair” in Ancona, Italy, according to a National Jeweler editor attending the trip.  The event started on Monday and will continue through Thursday.


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