This Just In: Jewelry Retail Sales Are Improving

Image Courtesy of Edahn Golan

Image Courtesy of Edahn Golan

Author: Edahn Golan

The most pressing fundamental issue for the global diamond industry today is the decline in consumer demand. Hopefully, this is changing, as US retail sales of fine jewelry have posted several consecutive rises recently, signaling a turn for the better.

In August of this year, fine jewelry sales increased 2.4% year-over-year, the fourth consecutive month of increases. Fine jewelry sales totaled an estimated $4.9 billion and overall jewelry and watch sales an estimated $5.5 billion.


This level of sales is significant in a number of ways: first, because it is already a clear trend. When sales increased year-over-year in May for the first time in five months, it might have been a fluke. When trade figures are first published, they are preliminary and tend to be later revised. However, unless there is a major revision that updates figures a few years back, these figures are final and very solid.

Another reason these figures are significant is the month-over-month trend. It is in sync with buying trends of past years showing that even if the figures are revised a little up or down, they are still in line with consumer behavior.

Read more at: Edahn Golan

Auction house Bonhams sparkles as rare gemstone is expected to fetch around £200k




Auction house Bonhams is hoping to tap into the resurgence of coloured stones with the sale of a rare £200,000 gemstone that has not been put up for auction in a century.

The 50.13 carats octagonal-cut stone the size of a small plum is called the Hope Spinel and was part of the collection owned by wealthy merchant banker Henry Philip Hope.

Expert Tobias Kormind, managing director at 77 Diamonds, said: ‘As the number of ultra-wealthy are on the rise, investors and collectors are looking further afield than the obvious white diamond to the rare spectrum of coloured diamonds and gemstones including lesser known ones like spinel.’

Gemfields extends transparency efforts in new emerald operation



Colored-gemstone miner Gemfields has announced its controlling interests in two emerald projects located in Colombia.

Gemfields sources many of the precious gemstones used in high jewelry, with brands such as Graff Diamonds and Bulgari as clients. Recently, due to the environmental impact of and social risks involved in mining, Gemfields has pledged transparency and has consistently used its social media accounts to share brand happenings and projects.

The first project Gemfields has acquired interest of, at 70 percent, is the Coscuez Emerald Mine. In operation for more than 25 years, the Coscuez Emerald Mine has produced some of the country’s finest emeralds.

Gemfields also shared the preliminary geological due diligence studies that were conducted between October 2013 and August 2014 for the Coscuez Emerald Mine. Sharing this information furthers Gemfields’ openness in its operations and the mines it supports.

Gemfields’ second project is an exploration prospect currently held by Isam Europa S.L. The acquisition agreement of 75 percent and 70 percent interests in two Colombian companies with mining rights has been approved and issued. The contract covers approximately 20,000 hectares where minor mining operations have been conducted amid the greenery.

Both of the Gemfields projects are located in the Boyacá state of Colombia.

On its social media accounts, Gemfields also shared a word from its CEO, Ian Harebottle. In his statement, Mr. Harebottle said, “Gemfields is delighted to announce its entry into Colombia, home to some of history’s most legendary emerald mines and a country with tremendous potential. The proposed acquisitions will require further work and additional exploration before any meaningful production commences but they are clearly in line with our strategy of expanding Gemfields’ global footprint in a considered yet cautious fashion.

“Transparency, responsibility, marketing, collaboration and teamwork have been key tenets of what Gemfields has been able to deliver within the Zambian emerald sector and more recently with our ruby deposit in Mozambique.”

In another message of transparency Gemfields shared details of its operation of sapphire mines in Sri Lanka, rounding out its sources of the gemstone industry’s “big three”.



The ancient Romans theorized that moonstone, with its unearthly shimmer, was formed from frozen moonlight. This appealing gem variety does shine with a cool lunar light but it is the mineral feldspar, quite terrestrial in origin. The shimmer, which is called schiller or adularescence, is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar, with different refractive indexes.
Moonstones come in a variety of colors. The body color can range from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green, or pink. The clarity ranges from transparent to translucent. The best moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity, and a colorless body color.
Sometimes moonstone will have an eye as well as sheen. Another related feldspar variety is known as rainbow moonstone. In this variety of labradorite feldspar, the sheen is a variety of rainbow hues, from pink to yellow, to peach, purple, and blue. Sometimes one gem will show all these colors.
Fine moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer. It is mined in Sri Lanka and Southern India. The rainbow variety can be found in India and Madagascar.
Moonstones are usually cut in a smooth-domed oval cabochon shape to maximize the effect. Sometimes they are carved to show a man-in-the-moon face.
Moonstone has a hardness of 6 to 6.5. It should not be stored in contact with your other gemstones to prevent scratching. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

Laurence Graff awarded an OBE for his services to jewellery


Source: The Jewellery Editor
Author: Maria Doulton

Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to receive an OBE for his services to jewellery as he celebrates his 60th anniversary in the jewellery industry.

Graff, who began his career at age 15 as a jeweller’s apprentice in Hatton Garden, says: “From humble beginnings and a lifetime working in the industry, I am extremely proud to receive such an honour.”

“I came from a background where diamonds meant something because so many Jewish people came out of East Europe and suffered and lived off their diamonds,” says the man behind the sparkle of some of the most fabulous diamonds of our times. From a family of Russian immigrants, he arrived in London’s East End with little more than a keen eye for business and a love of valuable things.
His first insight into business came from his childhood Sunday visits to the jewellers in Black Lion’s Yard in Whitechapel, East London. “They were small people doing small business, thinking they were big business, out there in the market, counting out the cash. That was all I knew,” recalls Graff in an earlier interview.

Following a jewellery apprenticeship, in 1962 Graff opened “La Petite Bijouterie” Ltd in London’s Lancaster Gate. Today, Graff Diamonds purchases around 60% of the world supply of yellow diamonds, which are highly visible in his Bond Street shop window. He is also known for his interest in larger diamonds, which would explain why the typical price for a Graff jewel is in the six-figure range.

Everyone knows Graff as he is one of a handful of buyers of big stones in the world. It is often said that he has handled more diamonds of notable rarity and beauty than any other jeweller, including the Wittelsbach- Graff, the Idol’s Eye, the Imperial Blue, the Blue Ice, the Magnificence, the Graff Pink, the Delaire Sunrise, the Graff Constellation, the Flame and the Graff Sweethearts.

A fully integrated operation, Graff Diamonds is involved in all the processes, from rough stone to final ring, employs 700 people around the world and owns 20 boutiques. Safdico, based in Johannesburg, is the house’s cutting and polishing company, and the first stop for rough diamonds, where 300 craftsmen sort, cut and polish 10,000 carats a year. The stones will then either be used by Graff Diamonds or sent to Antwerp, New York or Mauritius. Depending on the size and colour, they will be cut, polished and made into jewellery or simply sold on.

With 95% of all its works exported, Graff Diamonds has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise four times, most recently in 2006. All Graff jewels are made by 70 jewellers in the workrooms below Graff’s office on Albermarle Street in Mayfair, London.

The Growth Of The Colored Stone Market


Source: Forbes

Author: Katherine Palmiter

It’s not everyday that the unofficial “king of diamonds” buys the same ruby at auction for the second time in a row. That was the case last month when jeweler Laurence Graff paid $8.6 million at auction in Geneva for a Burmese ruby he had originally purchased for $3.6 million in 2006. The recent record sale is indicative of a shift in the jewelry market over the past few years. With large diamonds’ increasing popularity in investment portfolios, rubies and sapphires offer a colorful alternative.

For one, the colored stone market is much more nuanced when it comes to pricing than the customary set of rules that dictate diamond grading. The standard “four C’s” diamond pricing guide tends to be a rigid assessment of cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. However, colored stones pose an exciting opportunity for new buyers and experienced collectors alike. Compared to the narrow margins of the diamond trade, the colored stone market is like the Wild West, a less trafficked terrain where buyers can discover rare treasures that are sure to appreciate. Elizabeth Taylor was an early colored stone connoisseur; starting with the cabochon sapphire engagement ring she received from Michael Wilding, she developed a storied predilection for emeralds and sapphires.
Although the process of assessing colored stones requires an aesthetically-driven kind of expertise, it doesn’t mean all gemstones are equal. Rubies, sapphires, and emeralds sourced from historically significant regions are still more desirable and continue to fetch higher prices. For centuries esteemed mines in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, and Burma have produced highly sought after corundum, the extremely durable mineral that forms rubies and sapphires. These mines are known for producing stones with deep color saturation, like prized “pigeon blood” rubies and “velvet” blue sapphires. Even though they are found on every continent, a vanishingly small percentage of colored stones on the market stand apart. Over 98% of the stones available today have been heated in an attempt to improve their natural color. Connoisseurs should look for telltale signs that the mined material remains authentic and untouched by human meddling. At first glance a high quality stone should have three things: a deep color tone, few visible inclusions, and a symmetrical faceted cut.
While it’s important to trust your eye, especially in respect to coloration and cut, due to the proliferation of synthetic stones and the frequency in which mined stones have been altered, sometimes a loupe may not be enough. When trusting your eye is not an option, accompanying paperwork including receipts, appraisals, and certificates may be your best bet. Luckily, laboratory evaluations by organizations like GIA and Gubelin are another option for buyers seeking additional assurance.
Despite the explosive growth at the high end of the market, vintage pieces provide an accessible and trustworthy entrance to the world of colored stones. Timeless Edwardian rings from the early 20th century often feature deep blue sapphires set on rectangular plates surrounded by intricate diamond millegraining. Framing colored stones in a halo of pearls or diamonds first became popular during the Art Deco period, but the halo setting remains the style of choice for those looking to showcase a dazzling colored stone. Back in 2010 the Edwardian halo made headlines after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with the 18-carat sapphire ring Prince Charles had originally bestowed Princess Diana.
As the market grows pink sapphires have proven more and more popular, recognized for their brilliance and color intensity. With pink sapphires as with blue sapphires and rubies, the fact remains that unaltered colored stones are increasingly hard to find. Mary-Kate Olsen’s Cartier ring is perhaps the most noteworthy vintage piece of late, boasting a halo of 16 sapphires. Olsen’s beau Olivier Sarkozy hit the nail on the head with the purchase. As it goes to show, vintage jewelry is a surefire way to invest in quality without compromising elegance.