Diamonds worth $50 m stolen from Brussels airport

Courtesy of The Hindu

The thieves drove through a fence at Brussels airport as the cargo was being loaded on Monday evening.

Armed men made off with a shipment of diamonds worth around $50 million as it was being loaded onto a plane at the Brussels airport late on Monday.

The diamonds stolen were worth around $50 million, Antwerp World Diamond Centre spokeswoman Caroline De Wolf said. Earlier the broadcaster VRT said, citing unnamed sources, that 10 kilograms of diamonds with a value of 350 million euros ($467 million) were stolen during the heist.

The thieves broke through a fence at the Belgian capital’s main airport with two vehicles at 7:47 pm the airport said in a statement.

“The men in the car rode to a Swiss airplane where they stole valuable goods,” it said. “There was no shooting, and no one got injured. This lasted only a few minutes, and after that, they left the airport domain through the damaged fence.” The thieves targeted a van from the Brink’s security company that was loading the diamonds on a plane bound for Zurich, media reports said.

A burned vehicle was later found on the outskirts of Brussels with police investigating whether it was one of the getaway cars, VRT reported.

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De Beers’ rough diamond sales drop 15% in 2012

Courtesy of Diamond World

Forevermark expands its reach by 40%

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De Beers noted that in 2012, there was a 16 percent drop in its total sales to US$6.1 billion, while rough diamond sales decreased by 15 percent to US$5.5 billion. The company stated that its rough diamond sales took a slide down mainly owing to the diminished demand, changing product requirements from Sightholders, and reduced availability of some goods. Sales of rough diamonds via De Beers’ auction platform decreased to US$356 million in 2012 which the company attributed to subdued buyer activity.

Also, diamond jewellery demand from US, China and Japan did see an increase, although at a slower pace than in 2011.

Rough diamond prices dropped 12 percent in the years 2012. Also as the polished prices declined especially towards the third quarter of the year and with the increased stock levels at the cutting centre stock and tightening liquidity in the midstream resulted in a rough there was a correction in the rough diamond prices in the third quarter and by the year end, the rough prices stabilized, reflecting a modest improvement in consumer demand during the holiday sales season in most major diamond jewellery markets.

The Forevermark brand of the De Beers group saw an increase in its reach, as stores licenced to retail Forevermark diamonds grew by 40 percent to more than 900 independent jewellers worldwide. It grew in core markets of China, Japan, India and the US, and was launched in two new licensee markets – Canada and the UAE.

The year’s diamond production at De Beers totalled 27.9 million carats (2011: 31.3 million carats). Also, Anglo American plc completed its acquisition of a further 40 percent interest in De Beers, bringing total shareholding to 85 percent. There was free cash flow of $697 million, down 15 percent (on y-o-y basis) and debt was reduced by 61 percent to $722 million, excluding ‎shareholder loans. ‎De Beers is maintaining an outlook of moderate growth in diamond jewellery demand in 2013, with a more positive picture emerging from China and India compared to 2012. It noted that as the diamond manufacturing ‎sector is currently holding high inventory levels, particularly in the high end goods, the challenges in liquidity continue.

Jewelry Store Sales +12%, Best Dec. Performance Since 2007

Courtesy of RAPAPORT

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RAPAPORT…

U.S. jewelry store sales in December 2012 surged 11.8 percent year on year to $6.301 billion, which was the highest monthly total since $6.5 billion in December 2007. Taking into account that consumer price inflation (CPI) for jewelry fell 2.9 percent in December, the sales increase reflected even a stronger environment.

Annual jewelry store sales in the U.S. rose 5.7 percent year on year to $30.797 billion and that was the highest value since reaching $30.82 billion in 2007. But the industry has lost many retailers since that time, so surpassing the $30 billion mark for the first time in five years was a great achievement. Furthermore, while the CPI remained at a historically high level in 2012, it did continue to cool as the year progressed to record an average increase of only 1 percent.

In other industry trade news, U.S. jewelry exports in 2012 jumped 12.4 percent to $10.2 billion, while jewelry imports declined 1.9 percent to $12.1 billion. Exports of watches and clocks plunged 14 percent to $396 million, while imports were flat at $4.8 billion. As Rapaport News reported on February 12, the net diamond account in 2012, reflecting the value of polished and rough diamonds that stayed in the country, plunged 21 percent to $3.25 billion, led by a 23 percent drop in net polished imports. Net rough imports, however, were flat at $202 million.

Diamond prices strong at Sotheby’s NY sale

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Courtesy of The National Jeweler

New York — Sotheby’s sale of Important Jewels here on Feb. 7 achieved a total of $10.5 million, marking the third consecutive record total for a February sale of jewelry for the auction house.
A platinum ring by Tiffany & Co. with a 6.46-carat, E color round diamond sold for $560,500, or $86,765 per carat, to an anonymous bidder. The piece had a pre-sale high estimate of $150,000.
A platinum and diamond ring with a 0.51-carat round fancy purplish pink diamond, also by Tiffany & Co., sold for $338,500.
A platinum and diamond bow brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels realized $332,500 after a pre-sale high estimate of $100,000.
“We are very pleased to have achieved another top result for our February sales in New York. (The) auction demonstrated the market’s continued appetite for exceptional diamonds,” said Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s jewelry department in New York.

ALROSA Recovers 145-Ct. Diamond

Courtesy of RAPAPORT

Author: Dilipp S Nag

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RAPAPORT… ALROSA recovered a diamond weighing 145.44 carats, which may be valued at $1 million if it was placed for auction, according to experts from its diamond sorting center.

The world’s largest diamond producer by volume stated that the diamond was recovered in late January by its business unit, Aikhal Mining & Concentration Mill, at its factory No. 14.

The diamond was brought to grass from the depths of the Yubileynaya Diamond Pipe and measures 35.0 x 20.0 x 26.0 mm, ALROSA noted.

The company stated that the stone is a crystal in the shape of an octahedron, its transparent with a yellow hue and contains small graphite-sulfide inclusions in its periphery. A production- induced scuff is seen on one of its peaks and one of its facets has a shallow crack, it added.

ALROSA said that through new technology it had managed to improve diamond recovery and reduce the number of damaged gems.

Company drops attempt to block Ekati sale

Courtesy of National Jeweler

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Toronto –The $500 million deal that would transfer ownership of Canada’s Ekati Diamond Mine from BHP Billiton to Harry Winston Diamond Corp. is free to proceed, Harry Winston announced Monday.

According to a news release from Toronto-based Harry Winston, C. Fipke Holdings Ltd. discontinued the lawsuit filed just a few weeks ago against Harry Winston, BHP Billiton Canada Ltd., Stuart Blusson and Archon Minerals that attempted to block the sale of the mine.

Harry Winston and BHP Billiton announced in November that BHP Billiton, which had expressed its desire to exit the diamond business, would be selling its Canadian diamond mining operations as well as its sorting and sales facilities in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Antwerp to Harry Winston in a deal worth half a billion dollars.

BHP Billiton was under contract to offer its minority joint venture partners the right of first refusal on its mining operations before selling them to Harry Winston. One of those partners, C. Fipke Holdings Ltd., objected to the sale. (Blusson and Archon Minerals are the other minority joint venture partners.)

Fipke alleged that Harry Winston’s debt financing arrangements for the acquisition interfered with its ability to arrange financing and wanted a court order prohibiting the purchase unless and until BHP Billiton gave it a revised offer.

The dropping of the lawsuit clears the way for the deal to proceed, though it still is subject to satisfaction of closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. A Harry Winston spokesperson told National Jeweler in mid-January that they expect the sale to close in two to three months’ time.

Harry Winston is a company in the midst of major changes as it transitions from being a diamond miner and retailer into solely a mining company.

In addition to its acquisition of BHP Billiton’s diamond business, the company is rumored to be a frontrunner to buy partner Rio Tinto out of the Diavik Diamond Mine. The two companies currently operate Diavik as a joint venture that is 60 percent owned by Rio Tinto, with remaining 40 percent owned by Harry Winston.

Harry Winston also recently announced a deal to sell its retail division to the Swatch Group in a $1 billion deal.