Richest Dog Ever? Gail Posner Just Made Her Dog a Millionaire

The following article appears courtesy of: Israeli Diamond Industry Blog

Author: Roe Kalb

The dog got richer by nearly $3 million dollars when the will of the famous heiress Gail Posner died and justifiably all were stunned, more so was her son Carl. He has filed a lawsuit contesting the contents of the will at the probate court of Miami-Dade County.

Carl has accused the domestic helps and the maids of influencing her mother in setting up of a trust on the tune of $3 million dollars and the maids get comprehensibly richer if they decide to keep taking care of the dogs and among the pampered pooches, Conchita was Gail’s favorite.

Carl had previously accused the maids of running a promotional campaign to establish Conchita as the most spoilt dog in the world; apparently Conchita is accustomed to having a full time staff and owned diamond jewelry apart from sporting different wardrobes on all the four seasons.

Posner’s last interview to the New Times in February last year had disclosed her affection for the dogs and especially with the Chihuahua named Conchita. She had also discussed her desire to launch a specialized fashion line aimed at dog lovers. The outfits will be a matching pair for the pet and its owner, she had divulged.

But it would be wrong to think that she had only thought about her pooches while the will was being made; all the household stuffs including her bodyguard as well as her aides will also be getting considerably richer and can continue to live in her mansion.

The only catch being that they will have to care for her dogs. But with that amount of greenbacks included who wouldn’t fall in love with the dogs?

Lucara Recovers 53.5 Carat Diamond

The following brief is published courtesy of IDEX online

The Letseng Legacy, mined not far from where Lucara has just recovered the 53.5 carat white diamond

Lucara Diamond recovered a 53.5 carat, white Type IIA diamond at the company’s Mothae mine in Lesotho. The find is a big surprise, as Lucara started initial production just a few days ago.

The Mothae mine goods were give a high valuation that was not based on the finding of large high value goods. The mine is located near the Letseng mine, which is known for its many large Type IIA diamonds. In recent years, Gem Diamonds mined several such diamonds weighing more than 100 carats.

Kimberlite processing, which totals just 2,000 tonnes, commenced at Mothae on Monday of this week. Production is currently in the ramp-up stage.

“Results of initial sampling work at Mothae indicated that large diamonds are present but were being broken by the limited material size which the original bulk sample plant could process,” said President and CEO William Lamb. 

“As a single stone, this diamond is more than twice the size of any previous diamond recovered from Mothae. Management views this as early confirmation of our technical assessment of Mothae’s potential and the operational approach we have taken to advance this exciting project.”

Diamonds Aren’t Just a Girl’s Best Friend: Diamonds as an Investment

The following article is published courtesy of: Israeli Diamond Industry Portal Blog

Author: Roe Kalb

Diamond giant De Beers thinks diamonds are not just the hardest material found in nature – soon they may also become the hardest material to find in nature.

The world’s biggest diamond producer recently issued a gloomy outlook on the sparkly gems, saying that world diamond sources are dwindling quickly –  too quickly – to meet long-term demand.

If the diamond miner’s assessment are true – and frankly, they should know, that means ladies may soon have to settle for smaller “bling” and gents should expect to spend a bit more when buying diamond jewelry for their female friends – after all, it’s all about supply and demand, right?

During the cold war era, the United States and the old DeBeers cartel hoarded large amounts of diamonds, but those stockpiles have long since disappeared.

Worldwide diamond supplies doubled between 1980 and 1999, as new mines such as Argyle in Australia and Diavik in Canada were found and made operational.

There is, also, the impressive amount of carats waiting in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond field, but Zimbabwe’s political turmoil and the allegations of gross human rights abuses in the area have rendered those gems “diamond non grata.”

De Beers sees diamond supply tracing an “elephant curve” over the next two decades. That means that production will resemble an elephant’s back, tailing off gradually.

Global diamond production in the next few years is expected to reach 110-130 million carat. De Beers share is expected to be between 30 and 40 million carats.

The United States is still the biggest diamond consumer in the world, but China and India keep increasing their appetite for the shiny gem – hence the reason why De Beers has decided to limit its production permanently to no more than 40 million carats.

De Beers is still the most powerful player in the diamond field and its sales arm accounts for about 40% of rough diamond sales worldwide, so this strategy should allow it to continue influencing prices.

In 2008, demand for rough diamonds was about $13.4 billion globally and 2009 saw it fall to $7.5 billion, which forced De Beers to slash its production to a mere 24 million carats, earning it a $743 million loss in the process.

Demand, however, is expected to hit $12 billion this year, so De Beers has raised its Botswana mine production to 31 million carats.

Unfortunately for investors, De Beers is no longer publicly traded. Anglo American ADR owns 45% of the diamond producer, the Oppenheimer family holds another 40% and the Botswana government holds the rest.

Meanwhile, Rio Tinto ADR owns the largest stake in the Argyle and Diavik diamond mines. But the mining giant isn’t worth buying for its diamonds alone.

Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, however, is. The jewelry power house sells fine jewelry and watches in 19 locations, and owns a 40% interest in the Diavik diamond mine. As of 2009, it had produced 56.3 million carats.

Since it is a rough diamond producer, a polished diamond buyer and a retailer of fine diamond jewelry, the company enjoys unique profits.

It also puts it in a perfect place to take advantage of increased prices for rough diamonds.

Reporting From the Rapaport Conference: What Consumers Need to Know About Gem Labs

The following article is published courtesy of LUXIST

Author: Deidre Woollard

When you buy a diamond you get hit with a lot of letters and numbers. VS, SI, F color, etc. But who determines what number goes with what diamond? With diamonds the grading for color and clarity is a major determinant in price. Unfortunately it’s also a way that the unscrupulous can capitalize on the unsuspecting. Have you ever seen an ad where the jeweler promises that the stone will appraise for more than the sale price? How can that be? In some cases, jewelers use labs that are cheaper and/or have more open standards. This issues was discussed by a group of diamond jewelers, merchants and other concerned people at the Rapaport Conference on Diamond Certification on June 6 at the JCK Las Vegas show.

One stone can get two different grades from two different labs. There is no absolute standard for diamond grading, it always comes down to the decision of the grader. The Gemological Institute of America created and determined the standard in the 1950s but any lab can grade stones using the same nomenclature and consumers may not be aware that there is any difference between the standards of grading labs. The GIA naming standards are not patented and can be used by any lab and have created a common language through which to discuss diamond quality. But it may be misleading to the consumer if labs which do not use the GIA grading standards use the GIA nomenclature.

This has led to a situation where there are price differentials in certificates. Is the same diamond worth more with a certification for a different lab? Some labs have a reputation for being more lenient. This is something that jewelers and diamond buyers know but not something that is clear to the consumer. The GIA charges more for certification and is known to be stricter.

What does this translate out to? Here’s a slide that was shown at the talk. My apologies for the blurriness but I think it’s important to show. The GIA certificates are used as the base as they are the standard and most well-regarded. As you can see there’s quite a difference.

The consumer may know what they are looking for in terms of a color and clarity grade but the ability to grade diamonds is a specific trained skill. It’s a bit of a subjective science. This may not make a much of a difference to the consumer when buying a diamond as long as they see that the stone comes with a report. But it can have a big impact later when the consumer tries to sell the same stone and the quality of the report comes into question. It could change the value that a person could receive for the stone. If a consumer is looking for a H color VS1 diamond for example, they might comparison shop from store to store. At one store a stone with that grade from one lab might be significantly higher or lower than a same sized stone with that same grade from another lab. It’s hard for the buyer to know which stone is actually the better deal. Consumers don’t generally ask what lab the certification is from and aren’t aware that this can contribute to the perceived value of the stone. Quality standards are not absolute when it comes to diamonds which is one of the reasons that they are so hard to commoditize.

The consumer is protected to some extent because if a retailer sells a stone with a report a particular quality stated then they are liable to deliver a stone of that quality. The current reasonable assumption is that because grading is subjective a variance of one grade in either direction is understandable. There is no government standard attached to diamond grading in the U.S. and the jewelers in the audience at this conference seemed divided as to whether government intervention would be beneficial. Some lamented the fact that reports are even necessary, wishing that a level of trust existed between jeweler and buyer. The problem is that there are always bad actors in any industry and fakes, frauds and mistakes abound. The certificate provides the consumer with the idea of some protection but this talk definitely showed that the level of security afforded certainly varies. 

JCK Las Vegas: Colored Stone Market Is Holding Up

The following report is published courtesy of: JCKonline

Overall, the colored stone market has “held up” considering the economy. The top and low ends have maintained their integrity, but the middle sector has felt a crunch, according to Richard Drucker, president of GemWorld International.

During his Top Colored Gemstones seminar, Drucker qualified his market observations: “Many colored stone prices are holding, they’re just not selling, especially in the middle market. Price points that are selling well are under $1,200 and over $5,000 to $6,000.”

Topping Drucker’s best-buy list is blue sapphire. Prices for heated stones of good and top quality have held. Commercial-quality goods, however, have softened in price by 5 to 10 percent, while prices for large stones are strong, up 10 to 15 percent over last year.

Emeralds have been making a comeback over the last six to eight years, and production is good in Colombia and Zambia. Controversies over polymer fillers such as Permasafe linger, but many dealers disbelieve claims and assume that most emeralds are treated with oil, Drucker said.

Tourmaline is another good buy, and Drucker noted that Nigerian rubellite is plentiful. This affordable red tourmaline has become a hot seller because of higher clarity. Blue zircon, a less-expensive alternative to blue sapphire, is another strong seller. Zircon overall remains popular with retailers.

Spinel also is popular with retailers, and most colors, except red, are plentiful. Because it’s still largely unknown, many consumers believe spinel is a new product.

Many retail buyers have been exploring unusual pearl products such as petal, wing, soufflé, and baroque pearls. But “beadless” pearls, which recently entered the market, have sparked nomenclature issues. Chinese-freshwater-pearl producers are using small pearls as nucleus inserts, which makes the pearls appear natural. As a result, labs have difficulty labeling the product.

Supplies of various qualities of Tahitian pearls will soon enter the market. A quasi-government group that exported only finer goods was disbanded. The group’s export policies forced many Tahitian pearl farms to close, hurting production.

In other pearl news the University of Florida is producing cultured conch pearls.

Drucker said demand for pink sapphire has dropped 30 to 35 percent. Yellow sapphire demand has also waned, but not in India. “There’s big demand in India for yellow sapphires—even beryllium-treated material,” Drucker said.

Ruby is the subject of major controversies, including the ongoing storm over lead-glass-filled ruby; bloody anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok, Thailand, that have all but stopped gem trading there; and the ban on Burma rubies, which will be intact for the “foreseeable future” according to Drucker.

Because of the Burma ban, China is emerging as a source for ruby. Mozambique and Madagascar remain strong sources, but ruby production has stopped in Tanzania (Winza).

Drucker concluded with a discussion of the future of gem treatments. Many coatings are being used to improve the appearance and color depth of tanzanite. Diamond coatings are also being widely used. Minnesota-based Azotic has over 2,000 coating colors, and California-based Serenity is also producing coatings.

Drucker also discussed the growing number of synthetics, new treatments, and improved older treatments such as HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) and oiling, which are growing more sophisticated. He called the situation an epidemic in the industry. “The future is happening now,” he said. “We have to deal with this as an industry moving forward.”

Author: Paul Holewa

Ruby and Sapphire Markets Transformed

The following report is published courtesy of Diamond World

Adapted by Russell Shor, GIA senior industry analyst

The Gemological Institute of America has furnished an article on the progressive changes observed in the adaptation of rubies and sapphires into the gem and jewelry industry, as follows:

Ruby and sapphire are among history’s most coveted gems, with fashioned stones dating back to ancient Greece, India, and Asia. Traditionally, they have been scarce and expensive. The past 25 years, however, have brought radical changes in the market for rubies and sapphires, stimulated by huge increases in supply. Today, they are much more readily available in a full range of prices. This is because of the discovery of large deposits around the globe and the development of treatments that could consistently transform unattractive material into beautifully colored gems. By 2009, ruby and sapphire accounted for about one-third of all colored stone and pearl sales worldwide.

The lead article in the Winter 2009 issue of Gems & Gemology, Russell Shor and Robert Weldon’s “Ruby and Sapphire Production and Distribution: A Quarter Century of Change,” chronicles these new sources and treatment methods and how they coincided with new sales outlets, such as television and online shopping. It also examines how corundum supplies and prices have been buffeted in recent years by political events and social concerns.

Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been at the center of the ruby story for centuries. The ancient Mogok deposits, the traditional source of the world’s finest material, have continued to produce, while a new discovery, Mong Hsu, began to yield large quantities of commercial material during the mid-1990s. By the early 2000s, the country was supplying an estimated 90 percent of the world’s rubies.

Other sources—Kenya, Vietnam, and Madagascar—also began to supply the market, and ruby became fairly plentiful during the 1990s and early 2000s. Most recently, in 2007, fine stones began to emerge from a new locality in Winza, Tanzania. Prices for medium- and commercial-quality material eased considerably, and with larger supplies available at attractive prices, designers began to turn out lines of mass-market ruby jewelry.

Changes in the sapphire market have been even more profound. While traditional sources such as Kashmir, Thailand, and Cambodia were becoming mined out, new production from Sri Lanka, Australia, Madagascar, and (briefly) the U.S. state of Montana poured into the market.

In earlier times, much of this material would not have been mined because it was either too pale (Sri Lanka) or too dark (Australia), or had a less-commercial color (Madagascar). But gem dealers, primarily in Thailand, perfected heat-treatment processes that could consistently improve the colors of these goods. Thus, millions of carats of previously unusable sapphire were transformed into attractive gems.

The treatments, while a boon to the gem market, were also controversial, primarily because many dealers failed to disclose them to buyers. In time, the trade generally accepted straight heat treatment—subjecting ruby and sapphire to high temperatures under controlled atmospheric conditions. But in 2001, treaters took that process one step further, creating a furor that resounds today.

That year, an abundance of pinkish orange “padparadscha” sapphires entered the market. Because such sapphires are normally quite rare, the sheer quantity of these stones prompted gemologists and dealers to suspect a new form of treatment. Eventually they discovered that beryllium was being diffused into the stone during the heating process, radically altering the perceived color. Beryllium diffusion was subsequently used to modify blue and other colors of sapphire, as well as ruby, expanding the controversy and attracting a spate of negative press reports.

Also impacting the market were the large quantities of attractive ruby that began to show up in the early 2000s. Much of the material, it was quickly discovered, had been filled with lead glass to conceal abundant fissures in cloudy pink sapphires that were otherwise unsuitable for gem use. Fortunately, this treated material is easily identified with magnification.

International politics also affected the ruby and sapphire trade. To censure Myanmar for human rights abuses, the U.S. Congress enacted the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act in 2003, which banned trade in gems and other products from that country. But the ban left a huge loophole that allowed the import of gemstones if they had been cut in a third country. The vast majority of Burmese gems were cut in neighboring Thailand, so the ban had little real effect.

As repression in Myanmar increased, however, the European Union enacted its own ban on Burmese gems, followed in 2008 by a tightening of the U.S. measure that effectively banned all Burmese ruby and jadeite imports regardless of where they were cut. As a result, more than 50 ruby mines closed down in Myanmar, while buying by foreign dealers reportedly fell by more than half in the latter part of 2008.

The need to identify which rubies were Burmese highlighted another issue: country of origin. Colored stones from certain localities, such as Mogok ruby and Kashmir sapphire, have traditionally commanded the highest premiums. Although many feel that gemstones should be judged by individual beauty rather than source, recent technological advances have given laboratories the tools needed to make more accurate country-of-origin determinations.

As Burmese rubies were being removed from the market, Madagascar, the world’s largest sapphire producer in the mid-2000s, abruptly banned export of all rough gem materials in early 2008. A Thai delegation visited the country to negotiate an end to the embargo, but failed to secure an agreement. The ban was lifted in mid-2009 after a coup toppled the president. By then, however, the number of miners working the vast Ilakaka sapphire deposits had shrunk to one-fourth its peak.

Despite these challenges, demand for ruby and sapphire grew strongly during the 1990s and into the 21st century. One 2009 study reported that they accounted for almost one-third of the $10.3 billion worldwide retail market for colored stones and pearls. A second 2009 study, by mining company True North Gems, broke the numbers down further: ruby accounted for $2.1 billion, sapphire $800 million (with $58 million of that pink sapphire). Note that sales figures for sapphire are lower because of the vast quantities of inexpensive lesser-quality and diffusion-treated material in the market. By comparison, emerald sales totaled $1.4 billion.

Looking to the future, the colored stone trade is moving to address growing consumer demand for fair trade goods that meet standards of safe working conditions, fair economic returns to miners and their communities, and environmentally sustainable practices. A number of industry organizations are working with mining operations and gem dealers to hasten progress toward these goals.

The future of the corundum market depends on finding new, economic ruby and sapphire deposits. But the trade’s understanding of treatments and willingness to disclose them will grow ever more important in maintaining consumer confidence, as will awareness of consumers’ desire to own beautiful products that embody positive social, ethical, and environmental values.

Courtesy: GIA

Tiffany launches iPhone app for engagement rings

The following article is published courtesy of National Jeweler Network

The Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder allows iPhone users to browse the selection and "try on" Tiffany diamond engagement rings.

New York: Tiffany and Co. is taking its engagement ring business straight to Apple iPhone users, with the introduction of a mobile phone application–or “app,” in Apple parlance–that will allow users to shop, on the go, for the retailer’s engagement rings.

The Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder, the retail jeweler’s first iPhone application, was created in response to a growing customer desire for mobile and interactive shopping, the company said in a news release issued Monday. The app offers users the tools for selecting a Tiffany diamond engagement ring, “from viewing the range of styles to learning about the superior qualities of Tiffany diamonds,” the release said.

The app includes an accurate Ring Sizer,  which Tiffany touts as being the first tool of its kind offered by a jeweler, that lets users determine their ring size by placing an actual ring directly on the screen and aligning it with the correct circle in the guide, the release said.

Browsing the collection according to shape, setting, metal or design is equally simple for users. The rings are shown true-to-size and each style may be viewed with diamonds of six different carat sizes.

Users may zoom in on a ring’s details, pair the rings with wedding bands, and save or share their favorites with friends and family via e-mail, or through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, app users can use the tool to make an appointment for a diamond consultation via phone or e-mail. The app will be available in English (in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia) and in Japanese, with prices in local currency. Prices will not appear in the Chinese version of the application or in the international English version that is available to all other countries.

Tiffany is not the only watch and jewelry brand using the iPhone as a marketing platform.

Last summer, jewelry supply giant Stuller introduced its Live Diamond Try-On application, which sends consumers to partner retailers.

To access the Tiffany and Co. engagement ring finder, visit  http://itunes.com/tiffanyco/ringfinder