World’s Most Famous Opals

We publish courtesy of IDI blog

Author: Roe Kalb

In the middle Ages, the opal was considered a stone that could provide great luck because it was believed to possess all the virtues of each gemstone whose colors were represented in its color spectrum.

Opal

The opal was also believed to confer the possessor with the power of invisibility if wrapped in a bay leaf and held in the hand. Here are some interesting stories behind the world’s most famous opals:

Olympic Australis

The Olympic Australis is known as the largest and most valuable gem-quality opal ever found. The Olympic Australis was named in honor of the Melbourne Olympic Games and was valued at AUD$2,500,000 in 2005.  Due to the purity of the extraordinary Olympic Australis opal, upward of 7,000 carats could be cut from the rough stone. But owing to its uniqueness, this opal remained exactly as it was found.

Rough Opal

Aurora Australis

The Aurora Australis was discovered at Lightning Ridge, an old sea bed, in 1938 by Charlie Dunstan and is considered the world’s most valuable black opals. The cut and polished stone features a harlequin pattern in which red, green, and blue are the dominant colors against the stone’s black background. The Aurora Australis weighs 180 carats and measures 3 inches by 1.8 inches.

Gemstone

The Flamingo and the Black Prince

The Black Prince, originally known as Harlequin Prince, was found in 1915 at Phone Line by Tom Urwin and Snowy Brown, as were the Pride of Australia, the Empress of Australia, and the Flamingo opals. Of the four, the Flamingo was the largest – weighing over 800 carats! In 1920, Urwin and Brown sold all four stones for £2000 to Ernie Sherman, whose sister Bertha named them. This was the most money paid for black opals at the time.

Of the four Phone Line opals the Black Price could be considered the least significant – yet still weighed 181 carats. The Black Prince has a flag pattern on one side and is red on the other, and the face of the opal is marked by a sand hole. A wealthy American soldier bought the Black Prince in England and eventually donated the stone to the New York Museum of Natural History. Later, the opal joined the collection at the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Los Angeles, only to be stolen in the same theft at the Pride of Australia.

Opal Jewelry

Fire Queen

In November 1906, Charlie Dunstan found “Dunstan’s Stone” (later renamed he Fire Queen) at the Angledool Diggings. The opal weighed nearly 900 carats and at the time was the largest opal ever discovered. Dunstan traveled into Angeldool with the opal and sold it for a mere £100. According to legend, while he was in town he got drunk and lost two other large opals he was carrying. In November 1910, Dunstan was found dead in his hut from a gunshot wound to the head. The jury ruled that his death was a suicide.

The Fire Queen was resold a number of times, and each transaction proved a challenge because at the time there was little market for large black opals. But by 1928 the Fire Queen had been renamed and valued at £40,000 and was on display at the Chicago Museum. The Fire Queen was resold to John D. Rockefeller in the 1940s for £75,000 and joined the Rockefeller family’s prestigious gemstone collection.


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Shmuel Schnitzer Doesn’t See any Threat

We publish courtesy of IDI blog

Author: Roe Kalb

By Hila Weissberg & Ora Koren and, TheMarker

Like a well-directed scene in an action movie, three men accompanied by a young woman entered a diamond exhibition in Mumbai last month. Their target, it appeared, had been picked ahead of time – Dalumi Israel’s diamond booth. While the men began examining the diamonds on display, the woman quickly grabbed a box containing $1.4 million worth of diamonds and slipped it into her bag. By the time the Dalumi salespeople noticed the theft and reported it to the expo organizers, who identified the thieves on the security camera footage, it was too late. The four had vanished from the expo area and safely taken off for Hamburg via Dubai. Interpol helped stop them at the Dubai airport and return the diamonds to their owners.

Shmuel Schnitzer

This amazing story, which created no small stir in the diamond industry, did not flap Israel Diamond Exchange Honorary President Shmuel Schnitzer. “It’s not easy to steal diamonds,” he declared in an interview with Ora Koren and Hila Weissberg for TheMarker financial newspaper. “The only thefts happen at expos that are open to the general public – whether it’s Las Vegas, Hong Kong, or India. The Israeli booths are equipped with security cameras, which is exactly how the thieves were caught at the India expo – they were filmed. On the other hand, cases of diamantaires being robbed are frequent. It happens to diamond dealers operating in the US or east Asia, and it’s a problem.”

Threats

As if the [global financial] crisis weren’t enough, in recent years diamond dealers are facing a new, unexpected threat: handmade (synthetic) diamonds. These are diamonds created in laboratory conditions that look like the real thing – to the naked eye, certainly – and cost much less. According to estimates published on the Israel Diamond Institute website in 2008, 500 million carats of handmade diamonds are being produced every year, at prices lower by double digits than prices for real natural diamonds.

Diamond Ring

Again, Schnitzer seeks to calm the panic. “People aren’t threatened at all. These are diamonds made in a laboratory, and that’s the difference,” he stresses. “When a woman is given a diamond, she doesn’t want an imitation, but the real thing. An expert can spot the difference in a second. So we don’t feel competition, and we didn’t feel any drop-off in sales. Handmade diamonds bit into a different market sector – I don’t want to say ‘gemstones’ so as not to put them down – but it could be said that handmade diamonds come at the price of other jewelry.”

Even so, this is a niche that is intended to deceive

“Correct, that’s why there’s a law that requires full disclosure, and people take care to do so – they don’t want to be sued.”

Only one option – go into the business

After two difficult years, 2010 began with a more optimistic mood: diamond exports woke up, and if everything goes as planned, Schnitzer believes that within two years exports will return to their record levels of 2008 – over $6 billion worth of polished diamonds and $3.3 billion in rough diamonds. The US was and remains the main market for Israeli diamond exports, and its place at the vortex of the crisis had a severe effect on the Israeli Diamond Industry. If in 2007 the US accounted for 65% of all diamond exports, today it represents 35-40%, with China, Hong Kong, and India slowly taking its place.

Diamonds

Schnitzer, 61, has breathed diamond dust since he was born. His father, the late Moshe Schnitzer, was one of the founders of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange, and like many sons who grew up in the lap of diamonds Shmuel eventually found his way into the family business. It didn’t end there. Like his father, who served as president of the Israel Diamond Exchange for 26 consecutive years, Schnitzer was drawn into diamond politics. After three terms and six years as president of the bourse and after serving as president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, Schnitzer was named honorary president of the IDI and WFDB for life.

“I grew up in a home where there was one business in the world – diamonds,” Schnitzer says. “There were no other possibilities, like my children have. There was one option – go into the business. It was as clear as day. My father was president of the bourse for many years, so the politics were also always at home. Fortunately, I liked it and enjoyed it. I got the passion for diamonds from my father.”

“This exhibit will interest everyone”

An exhibit of gemstones carved into animals and flowers called “And Thou Shalt Breathe Life Into a Gem” opened last month at the Diamond Museum at the Ramat Gan bourse, and will run through the end of December. The gems were designed by artisans from the German city Idar-Oberstein, one of Europe’s diamond and gemstone centers. The exhibit, which is being held under the auspices of German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Harald Kindermann, will feature over 140 items, worth tens of millions of dollars.

Shmuel Schnitzer, honorary president of the Israel Diamond Exchange and chairman of the directorship of the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum, explains that this is the most important exhibit the museum has held since the Kremlin jewels were put on display in the 1980s. “This is art that has never been displayed in Israel, because there usually isn’t a lot of willingness in the world to bring art treasures here,” he says.

“The Israel Diamond Exchange has excellent relations with the Idar-Oberstein bourse, and the exhibition reflects that. Our industry is relatively weak in the European market, because the Antwerp diamond center is closer, geographically. So strengthening the ties with German diamantaires will strengthen the entire Israeli industry’s connection with Europe.”

Schnitzer notes that the museum expects some 3,000 visitors a month. “The museum is the face of the industry,” he explains. “And so especially after the economically challenging period we weathered it’s important to highlight the artistic side and appeal to a broad public.”

 

China a threat to India’s diamond ambitions

We publish courtesy of Mineweb

Author: Shivom Seth

MUMBAI – China is emerging as a major threat to the Indian gems and jewellery industry,  according to Chaim Even-Zohar, chairman of Tacy Diamond Consultants, which is a specialty strategic consultancy house serving the stakeholders in the international diamond industry.

Speaking at the International Diamond Conference in Mumbai, on Tuesday, Even-Zohar said that even as India plays catch up to China in other industries, the Chinese have announced their arrival by ruthlessly  conquering huge African mines. China, Africa’s biggest emerging market partner, has been investing in the continent’s mining and energy sectors.

The Asian major was keen on  conquering Africa as it becomes the preferred trading partner. Reports have indicated that Beijing is buying up Africa’s abundant natural resources and providing it with needed cash and cheaply produced consumer goods in return.

“Though the Chinese have been keen to invest in the processing of minerals in the country (a key priority of South Africa’s government, which hopes to extract as much value from its mines as possible and boost job creation), one has to understand who it is playing catch up to,” said the Tacy chairman.

“In 2008, China imported $26 million carats and exported $23 million carats. China is making heavy inroads into Africa, buying up huge mines. This should make Indian manufacturers sit up and take stock,” he added.

Underscoring the push by China, Gareth Penny, former CEO of the De Beers Group and keynote speaker said the market share of India and China globally was at 7% and 6%, respectively in 2009. “This is  expected to jump to 10% and 11%, respectively by 2016. But, as you can see, it is neck to neck,” he told a stunned gathering.
At an earlier press conference in the city, Rajiv Jain, chairman of the GJEPC said India was trying to establish itself as a centre for the global gem and jewellery trade. “In manufacturing, we are already the leaders.  It is time we realise the potential of India as a ‘Global Brand’,” he said.

Net imports of cutable diamonds into India were $110million carats of the total world production of $165 million in 2008. However, consumer demand reduced by 9.7% in India in 2009, due to the global recessionary trend, which affected the Indian gem sector.
Tacy’s chairman also spoke on recession and said that speculative pricing had added to their woes. “Russia is the only country to not curtail production during the recession and has ensured that its workers are not affected,” he said.

Penny elaborated that luxury products, including diamonds, were not  immune from the effect of the unprecedented global economic downturn.  “However, we believe that diamonds are uniquely positioned to withstand the effects of the downturn. Our research also shows that in uncertain times, consumers gravitate towards quality, though they buy fewer and better things. Diamonds clearly fulfill this need.”

He added that it was time to promote diamonds as something other than a luxury item. “Diamonds do have to compete with other luxury goods. A significant part of the proposed International Diamond Board’s mission is to create and sustain strong consumer demand for diamonds worldwide. This would be achieved through effective category marketing that generates the best-sustained return for the entire industry and brings direct benefits to members,” he added.

Pranay Narvekar, strategy consultant at Rosy Blue said India is the largest exporter of polished diamonds. “Currently, $12 billion worth of stock is still in the pipeline. The borrowing for the sector is pegged 1.5 times year-on-year. The country’s debt:equity ratio for 2008 was more than 2, which dropped in 2009, due to the global recession.

To which Penny added: “I do believe, and hope, that going forward, the industry will be more prudent in its borrowing and also in the efficiency of the diamond pipeline,” he said.
Forevermark, a diamond brand from the De Beers family of companies is to be launched in India in December this year, a top company official said. “India will be the third major market into which Forevermark will launch in December — after China and Japan,” Diamond Trading Company (DTC) Managing Director, Varda Shine, said at the International Diamond Conference-Mines to Market 2010. Over the next few months, Forevermark will be looking to identify the right retail partners to expand into Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, Shine added.

As with many sectors in the Indian industry, the Indian gems and jewellery sector too is worried over the threat from China. Yet in gems, India might have an opportunity that more than makes up for any threat.


Love & Diamonds

We publish courtesy of: National Jeweler

Author: Michelle Graff

The American consumer who shows up at your jewelry counter will look a little different this holiday season.

With values changed by the recession—and perhaps permanently so, as some experts predict—shoppers will be more focused on family and experiences, so those diamond drop earrings or that tennis bracelet they may buy will create a memorable moment and express love—not serve as a prop to flash in front of friends and neighbors.

Yet, regardless of the emotion behind the purchase, in this economy, the price of a piece of jewelry will surely play some part in the buying process for the vast majority of consumers. But jewelers need not let price dominate the discussion.

The five companies whose sales and marketing techniques are described below have done an outstanding job of subtly reminding their customers that they buy jewelry for one reason alone: It is the ultimate expression of love.

 

 

1. Pay it forward

Bridal couple

Photo Above: Joe and Angela Rotella of Three Bridges, N.J., were the winners of the first “Roman Jewelers Wedding” contest. The couple outdid other finalists with a fundraising plan that yielded more than $33,000 for Special Olympics New Jersey. Photo: Transposure.com

Roman Jewelers, based in New Jersey, was celebrating its 30th year in business by reaching out to both local charities and bridal consumers when it came up with a concept that one marketing expert describes as sheer “genius.”

“The Roman Jewelers Wedding,” now in its second year, is a contest that has 10 couples battling it out for one grand prize: a $100,000 wedding, which is fully paid for by Roman Jewelers and a host of other local wedding vendors that the jeweler recruited to be part of the contest.

The Roman Jewelers bridal competition is not quite like others that the jewelry industry has, of late, tested out. Couples do not go on a scavenger hunt through New Jersey neighborhoods in search of a diamond ring, nor do they coast to victory by having the best “How We Met” story. In order to win, a couple must put their heads together and develop a plan that will help out a local charitable organization.

“We are all about love and romance, and our way to bring the couple’s love and romance together is to give them an opportunity to do something good for charity,” says Sophie Shor, who co-owns Roman Jewelers with husband Roman.

The contest requires already-engaged couples to audition by telling a panel of judges how they met or how the groom-to-be popped the question. No American Idol-like banter takes place at these try-outs, and it is the judges who end up in tears.

“I had a box of tissues with me, and I think I used it all up,” Shor says of this year’s audition.

Based on both the couples’ stories and their ability and willingness to help a charity, the panel selects 10 pairs to vie for the grand prize.

Next, each couple pulls the name of a charity out of a hat, learns about its mission and is charged with creating a “Good Deed Plan,” to raise funds.

Six weeks later, another panel of judges picks the winning couple, based upon the creativity and success of their plan, Shor says. Last year’s winners raised more than $33,000 for Special Olympics New Jersey.

One added bonus of the contest: Thanks to word-of-mouth marketing among the contest’s participants and their friends, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of young men visiting Roman Jewelers’ Flemington and Bridgewater, N.J., locations to shop for engagement rings and wedding bands.

To many in New Jersey, Roman Jewelers has become synonymous with one very romantic word: wedding.

“Things like ‘come,’ ‘buy,’ ‘price,’ I don’t think that works any longer,” Shor says. “I think you need to find a subtle way of getting people to come into your store.”

Expert’s take: Donna Jolly, founder of Interact Social Media in Los Angeles, says emotional branding is about building a trusted relationship, making customers regard their jeweler in the same way they would their family doctor.

“I can’t help think about how this is going to make these couples think about Roman Jewelers, how they’re building a relationship [with these couples],” she says. “They’re doing some very subtle relationship-building. It’s very genius.”

Jolly advises jewelers crafting their own unique events to take advantage of all the free publicity they can get. Contact the local newspaper, television and radio stations to see if they’ll pick up the story. And don’t forget social media: Put the contest details and photos on Facebook and provide updates on the store’s Twitter account.

“If there’s a contest going on like this, this is real news,” Jolly says.

 

 

2. Calling all Romeos

Love Story

Photo Above: When it revamped its Love-Story Diamonds program in 2000, buying group Leading Jewelers Guild decided to include a mini-book of love stories with the purchase of each diamond engagement ring.

The Leading Jewelers Guild’s (LJG) trademarked, branded Love-Story Diamonds have been around since 1958, but the mission of the collection of engagement rings and other diamond pieces remains the same.

“We try to take the conversation away from the Four Cs and talk about why the guy is in the store,” says LJG Executive Director James “Jimmy” West.

The Love-Story line is comprised of five collections, each of which is connected in both design and spirit to one of five iconic couples who are the stuff of romantic legends: Romeo and Juliet, the Duke of Picardy and Claire de Lune, Orpheus and Eurydice, Tristan and Isolde, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Love-Story engagement ring purchasers receive a tiny book containing condensed versions of all five love stories along with a leather-bound book housing a certificate of authenticity for the stone and a note from the hopeful groom to his beloved.

West says customers can either personalize an already-drafted note or pen their own. “It forms the basis of creating a customer for life,” West says. “Obviously the people on the store level have to do their part … but we’ve given them all the tools to do it.”

One retailer who has enthusiastically embraced those tools is Julie Sather-Browne of Sather’s Leading Jewelers in Fort Collins, Colo., the No. 1 retailer in Love-Story units sold per store.

“The whole concept is brilliant,” she says. “We focus on the fact that love has been a driving force since Romeo and Juliet, since all these great love stories.”

The collection’s tagline also speaks volumes to customers, serving as a simple, eight-word reminder of why they’re buying an engagement ring: “For the one great love of your life.”

“That says it all,” Sather-Browne says. “What would you do? Don’t you want it to be romantic? [Or] do you want to open the box from FedEx and say, ‘Here, marry me?’ You don’t.”

She says her success with Love-Story and other bridal brands begins with her staff, who are trained to insist that diamonds should not be treated as a commodity and who, therefore, do not flinch when customers whip out Internet printouts of diamonds.

Instead, they listen to customers’ style and pricing preferences and walk them through the brands best suited to their needs, whether that means Hearts on Fire, Tacori or one of the five collections of Love-Story diamonds.

The stance at Sather’s: If customers really liked what they saw on the Internet, they wouldn’t be at the counter.

“We don’t really allow the conversation to go there,” Sather-Browne says. “If people felt that what they found on the Internet was so great, they wouldn’t be standing in front of you. They want a relationship.”

Expert’s take: “There’s such a history and romance with diamonds,” Jolly says. “This is a very clever idea that they came up with. It gives the salesperson an opportunity to have a conversation with [the customer]. They get to have a little more interaction than just talking cold, hard facts.”

The downside to this program: Love-Story Diamonds are only available to LJG members, so it’s not something every retailer can embrace.

Jolly, however, says that any time a retailer can connect their brand to a theme that elicits emotion, it will strike a chord with consumers. She recommends that retailers peruse advertisements from diamond suppliers in industry trade publications and consumer magazines and look for spots that appeal to their own romantic sensibilities and provoke a response. Search for themes that are universally understood, such as passion and enduring love.

“If it appeals to you, it may well appeal to your customers, too,” Jolly says.

 

 

3. Taking a slogan digital

Helzberg logo

Photo Above: Helzberg Diamonds’ “I Am Loved” buttons have been a staple at the store since 1967. Today, the retailer has brought the slogan and the buttons into the 21st century by using the phrase on Twitter.

Anyone who has entered a Helzberg Diamonds store over the last four decades probably walked out with at least one item and didn’t pay a thing for it. Talk about turning the conversation away from price.

Since 1967, Helzberg has been known for handing out its iconic “I Am Loved” pins in store, a trend started by third-generation company President Barnett Helzberg Jr. As Helzberg lore goes, he hatched the tagline after his then-girlfriend thrilled him by saying “yes” when he popped the question, causing him to have an emotional epiphany: he was loved. It was a perfect message to introduce at a jewelry store.

Forty years later, “I Am Loved” is no longer limited to being an in-store novelty. The slogan has found its way onto one very hip medium: Twitter.

Todd Chandler, Helzberg’s divisional vice president of learning and performance, says when the chain was looking for a fun way to engage customers online, the team saw no need to stray from this longtime catchphrase. The store’s Twitter page picture is an “I Am Loved” button, which encourages people to type “#iamloved” in Tweets about how they are loved.

Twitter hash tags are similar to other Web tags in that they help to add tweets to a category, gathering them all into the same place. By clicking on any “#iamloved” Helzberg can see other hash-tagged tweets that have used the phrase, whether they’re referencing Helzberg or something else.

Chandler says if the tweet is appropriate, Helzberg will re-tweet it, sometimes adding a personal message for that user. It’s hard to say if the practice has earned the retailer more customers, but with social media, it’s not all about making sales.

“We just think it’s a fun and engaging thing to do and we know any noise you make out there can be helpful,” he says.

Expert’s take: “It not only builds emotional equity but it’s proprietary,” Bill Daddi, president of Daddi Brand Communications, says of the campaign. “It’s unique to Helzberg.”

Another strong aspect of the effort is the integrity and sincerity of the story behind “I Am Loved,” which Helzberg is certain to share with customers. “There’s something very genuine about the back-story, which they’ve made an effort to communicate,” he says.

So every retailer with a long-standing, successful tagline should take it to Twitter, right? Not so fast, Daddi says.

“Sure, jewelers should take a look at that, if that works for them in their market and with their customers,” he says.

Daddi, however, cautions against applying money and resources in a blanket manner to a campaign just because it worked for another company. If a retailer starts a Twitter campaign only to find its ability to follow through is lacking, it could damage the store brand.

“Before you undertake something like this, you really have to have a good analysis of what your resources are,” he says.

 

 

4. Open Hearts do not miss a beat

Open Hearts

Photo Above: The story behind Sterling Jewelers’ “Open Hearts by Jane Seymour” collection was so compelling that is spawned a story-sharing Web site, KeepAnOpenHeart.com, and an Open Hearts Facebook page for Seymour. This Open Hearts pendant featuring 1 carat total weight of diamonds retails for $1,449.

It would be difficult to get into a discussion about equating jewelry with love without mentioning what one expert cites as the industry’s most emotional endeavors of all time: Sterling Jewelers’ “Open Hearts by Jane Seymour” collection, available at Kay Jewelers stores nationwide.

Sterling spokesman David Bouffard says the collection got its start in the fall of 2007 when Chief Executive Officer Mark Light ran into actress and artist Jane Seymour at an event and noticed she was wearing a necklace with a very unique design. Seymour explained that the open-heart motif was inspired by a piece of now-famous advice her mother used to give: Always keep your heart open, because that’s the only way to give and receive love.

Light was immediately sold.

“That was the beginning of the Open Hearts message: If your heart is open, love will always find its way in,” Bouffard says. “There were these underpinnings to the message that we thought would resonate with consumers.”

The Sterling team’s instincts were right. The Open Hearts collection debuted at Kay in holiday 2008 and has been on a well-documented roll ever since.

“We believe it’s been the most successful program not just for the company but perhaps the industry in terms of customer response to that message,” Bouffard says.

Expert’s take: “It’s probably the best example of [equating jewelry with love] that I’ve ever seen,” says Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Senior Industry Analyst Russell Shor. “It is brilliant.”

One reason: Seymour is very relatable in the widely broadcast television commercials for Open Hearts, which debuted alongside the collection in late 2008, he says.

“She comes off as very natural and sincere and reaches you,” Shor says. “Every time that commercial came on, I liked watching it. Those inspirational stories, there’s a huge market for them.”

Independents looking to inspire their customers are unlikely to snag a celebrity like Seymour to lend their artistic talents and name to a line of jewelry. What they can do, though, is figure out how to touch customers in their market, Shor says.

“It costs money to get a Jane Seymour but you can get people just talking about their lives,” he says. “Jane Seymour talks about her life and mentions Open Hearts but she’s not saying ‘Go to the store and buy this.’ If [retailers] have an imagination, they can try to put these things on a local level.”

 

 

5. Unforgettable

Do you remember your first school dance, your first date or your first kiss? Hot Diamonds hopes so. This fall, the London-based diamond jewelry brand aims to jog customers’ memories—and hopefully pry open their pocketbooks—via its new marketing campaign, “Do You Remember the First Time?”

The edgy advertising venture launched worldwide, offering Hot Diamonds-carrying retailers co-op advertising materials and a brilliant way to suggest additional occasions for giving a piece of diamond jewelry from Hot Diamonds, such as first dates, kisses and the first time someone said, “I love you.”

Hot Diamonds’ Peter Bur Andersen, who created the campaign via his Copenhagen, Denmark-based marketing agency, Bur Retail Intelligence, says all the images used in the campaign are designed to elicit emotions as people recall past experiences.

To wit: one ad shows an attractive young man securing a sterling silver bracelet around the wrist of his equally attractive girlfriend in a bucolic setting. Viewers get the sense that they are getting an intimate peek as a “first” takes place between this lovely young couple—presumably, the first exchange of a gift of jewelry–and it propels their minds back in time.

“All the first times we have in our life, we should celebrate them,” Andersen says. “You want to create emotion around it.”

Expert’s take: Daddi says the Hot Diamonds campaign motivates consumers to focus on the emotional value of their purchase as well as the emotional significance jewelry can play in one’s life.

“That’s a good thing. We want the consumer to reflect upon their lives,” he says.

The challenge to jewelers is to figure out how to participate in the campaign beyond just hanging up co-op signage in their store. They need to “make it come alive, make it tangible,” Daddi says.

 

Elements one through four of this story first appeared in the September 2010 print issue of National Jeweler. The fifth element, “Unforgettable,” is an online-only addition to the story.


Tourmaline: Fashion’s Tour de Force

We publish courtesy of Jewelry Fashion

 

Author: Lorraine DePasque

 

From pretty in pink to gorgeous in green, suddenly everyone’s “talkin’ tourmaline”! This awesome gem—which, along with opal, happens to be one of October’s birthstones—comes in a spectrum of hues, but its tourmaline’s pinks and greens that are in the fashion spotlight, particularly the pastels.

As for the pastel pinks, some call them blush, while a few describe their color as cake-frost. With the greens, mint orseafoam is what your jeweler will probably call them. Either way, they are soothing, calming shades of tourmaline, which, perhaps not ironically, speak to tourmaline’s many legends that refer to it as a stone that often reduces stress, anxiety, and confusion. Repeatedly in folklore, both pink and green tourmalines are also referred to as gems associated with the joy of life.

That said, it isn’t surprising that, going forward, pink and green tourmaline jewelry is definitely an accessory favorite. (Translation: one of your wardrobe must-haves). Spring/summer 2011 colors are all about joy and escapism, says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. In the Pantone top colors for women’s collections for spring and summer, “Honeysuckle” pink takes the top spot while “Peapod” green is number five. We’re all looking for colors that give us a lift, says Eiseman, the feel-good colors that are flirtatious and have a playful attitude. Ditto, according to New York-based trend analyst Meredith Smith, who says, “Next year’s spring and summer colors are about fantasy, romance, and dreams—a movement toward mirth.”

All that joy—can it get any better? Well, when it comes to tourmaline, yes. There is much more to smile about because some of America ‘s best jewelry designers are so excited about the beautiful colors and cuts available in pink and green tourmaline that many are featuring them in their newest collections. That means there will be many different styles to choose from. Also many different price ranges–part of the beauty of tourmaline is that it is a gem that’s available from affordable to more expensive. So, whatever your taste and pocketbook, there’s likely a selection in tourmaline. Also, it’s one of those gemstones that can either be faceted or cabochoned (curved on top, giving the stone a more translucent look)—so, again, it offers a variety of style and price options.

Add to all of this, with a hardness of 7-to-7.5 (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest), you can buy tourmaline rings and bracelets and not be overly concerned about them sometimes hitting a surface.

So what’s the take-away? Quite simply: It’s tourmaline time—be happy!

From Gems & Gemology: Fall Issue Features Retrospective of the 2000s

We publish courtesy of GIA’s Gems & Gemology GIA Insider

Every decade promises change, and the first decade of the millennium did not disappoint. The Fall 2010 issue of Gems & Gemology, which mails Oct. 22, looks back on 10 eventful years in the gem and jewelry industry. Building on retrospectives from the Spring 1990 and Winter 2000 issues, this special volume provides an overview of the major developments in marketing and distribution, gem localities, treatments, and analytical techniques.
De Beers’s abandonment of its single-channel distribution role. The rise of online retail. Confronting the issue of “blood” diamonds. These are just a few of the decade’s developments that changed the way diamonds, colored stones, and pearls are bought and sold. Russell Shor and Robert Weldon review the impact of these market forces in the lead article.
Next, Dr. James Shigley and coauthors summarize the new diamond, colored stone, and pearl sources of the 2000s, as well as known localities that remained active. The article includes a stylish wall chart of major world gem-producing regions, a comprehensive table of colored stone localities, and supplemental resources in the online G&G Data Depository.
A decade that began with high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) color enhancement of diamonds also witnessed the beryllium diffusion of sapphire and many other challenging and controversial processes. Shane McClure heads a report on the sophisticated new gem treatments of the 2000s and methods of identifying them.
The final article, by Dr. Christopher M. Breeding and coauthors, examines the technological innovations that have shaped gemology in recent years. These include chemical microanalysis techniques, real-time fluorescence and X-ray imaging, and nanoscale analysis.
“These four retrospective articles deliver timely knowledge for every gem and jewelry professional,” said G&G editor-in-chief Alice Keller. “In chronicling the past decade, they offer essential insight on the state of the industry today.”
In addition, a retrospective article on synthetics and simulants will appear in the Winter 2010 issue of G&G.
To purchase the Fall 2010 G&G or to subscribe, visit the GIA Store, contact Circulation Coordinator Martha Rivera at martha.rivera@gia.edu or call toll-free (800) 421-7250, ext. 7142. From outside the U.S. and Canada, call (760) 603-4000, ext. 7142.

Industry Analysis: Rough Market Stays Hot, Polished Diamonds Lukewarm

We publish courtesy of Gems & Gemology’s G&G GIA Insider

Author: Russell Shor, Senior Industry Analyst

The rough diamond market continues to run much hotter than the polished market. The Diamond Trading Company’s Oct. 4-8 sight, initially estimated at $425 million, increased to nearly $500 million as clients requested additional allocations.
The DTC held the line on prices, but rough sold at tender auctions from other producers and the DTC subsidiary Diamdel was reportedly up 10% or more from the previous month.
Alrosa, the world’s second-largest producer, announced rough sales of $2.53 billion for the first nine months of the year, an increase of nearly 50% over 2008 (the last “normal” year). However, price increases accounted for more than half that figure. The company expects its 2010 rough sales to total $3.3 billion (compared to DTC’s estimated $5.8 billion). Alrosa’s production was mined in Russia, except for about $450 million worth from Angola’s Catoca mine.
At odds with the continued high demand for rough is a very cautious polished market worldwide. As noted in last month’s Insider, buyers at the Hong Kong show were walking away from high polished prices that attempted to recoup up to half the rough increases. In the U.S., retailers are downgrading qualities and sizes to keep costs down.
U.S. retail jewelry sales have been running an estimated 3% ahead of 2009 levels, less than the 4% to 5% forecasted earlier this year.
Deloitte and the International Council of Shopping Centers predict that holiday retail sales overall will hover around 2% to 3% over last year, with jewelry falling within that range.
ZIMBABWE: Kimberley Process delegates will meet next month to determine whether to certify exports of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange deposit. Zimbabwe’s government recently auctioned 1.3 million carats under KP supervision. The prices realized, coupled with reports from the area, indicate that the proportion of gem-quality diamonds is more than double the initial KP estimate of 5%. And the amount of near-gem material (destined for India) is reportedly 35%, which rivals Argyle. This means that as much as half the Marange production could be cuttable.
The huge size of the deposit, spread over hundreds of square miles, makes it difficult to properly survey — one reason Marange took the diamond world by surprise. Some estimates claim it could produce 40 million carats annually, which would make it the world’s most productive diamond area.
Ongoing concern over Zimbabwe’s human rights record and the fact the KP approved the rough diamond exports despite a U.S. ban on trade with that nation, is prompting talk of a two-tiered Kimberley Process system.
Proponents of this plan, which the U.S. State Department will reportedly promote at the November KP meeting, say the current system is too narrowly focused on “conflict” diamonds — diamonds sold by rebel groups to fund wars — and does not take into account human rights abuses by recognized governments of producing nations (i.e., Zimbabwe). They are also frustrated with the KP requirement of a unanimous vote by its members before it can initiate any action.
Opponents argue that a two-tiered KP system would create a “favored” diamond track for large producers such as De Beers and Rio Tinto and for branded Canadian diamonds, while casting unwarranted suspicion on diamonds from smaller producers.
MACRO: Spending Pulse noted that through the first nine months of 2010, online retail sales for all merchandise categories posted a 7.8% year-over-year growth. Online jewelry sales for September, however, fell 5.9% against the previous year. The luxury market research group also noted that September was the only month this year to record negative growth for the online jewelry category. Blue Nile, the largest online jewelry seller, reported a year-on-year sales increase of 9.7% for the second quarter (ending July 4) but has noted slower third-quarter sales (not yet announced).
The world’s two fastest-growing economies, China and India, are also increasingly important diamond markets. Both are on target for economic growth of about 10% this year, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report.
The IMF’s latest World Economic Report says the Chinese economy will grow 10.5% in 2010 and 9.6% in 2011, driven by domestic demand. India’s gross domestic product will expand 9.7% in 2010 and 8.4% in 2011, as a result of strong industrial production.

The IMF noted that mature Western economies, continuing their slow recovery from the economic downturn, are forecast to grow 2.7% this year and 2.2% in 2011.