Tanzanite, 50 Years Later

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Tanzanite brooch, Tiffany & Co. (Photo: Tanzanite Foundation)

From: The New York Times

By Melanie Abrams

May 10, 2018

When Tiffany & Company introduced tanzanite in 1968, the company was sure the semiprecious stone would be successful. (“Tanzanite is the first transparent deep blue gemstone to be discovered in more than 2,000 years,” a Tiffany vice president told a Times reporter the next year.)

But no one anticipated the creativity that it would still be inspiring.

Named for Tanzania, where the only mine still operates, tanzanite’s allure lies in its colors, including green, red, purple and blue, “depending on which angle you look at it,” said Melvyn Kirtley, Tiffany’s chief gemologist and vice president for global category management including high jewelry.

The new gemstone had an enormous effect on the house’s design style in the ’60s, Mr. Kirtley said, turning it from simple gold jewelry to colorful designs with large stones. Cases in point: Donald Claflin’s ornate 1968 diamond floral brooch with an 84-carat tanzanite and, in 1969, Jean Schlumberger’s fantastical winged-bird pin with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, a cabochon emerald and a large tanzanite as its stomach.

For the stone’s 50th anniversary with Tiffany, Reed Krakoff, the house’s chief artistic officer, has showcased it in two new Paper Flower collections introduced in the United States this month and at Harrods in London on June 21, then across Britain in July. The high jewelry earrings echo the colors of an iris with tanzanites ranging from soft blue to violet and blue sapphires; in fine jewelry, tanzanites accentuate abstract blossom designs.

Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival this week, Chopard’s latest Red Carpet collection includes a multistone choker with six tiers of tanzanite beads and a blue titanium-edged pink ceramic disc with a 12.4-carat pear-shaped aquamarine that “give a modern twist,” Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s artistic director and co-president, said in an email.

[…]

The color also is an important element for Alice Cicolini, a jeweler based in London, who said she played “with the idea of tanzanite as a color pop.” She placed tanzanite beads on either side of the orange lacquered sphere in her multistone Candy Kimono Nibble necklace “to bring attention to the center of the necklace.”

She also added a tanzanite briolette to her blue topaz, sapphire and lapis lazuli chandelier earrings. “It adds movement between the flowers,” Ms. Cicolini said, “and that extra layer of articulation, and because the thing that is articulating has such a vibrant color, hopefully it catches the eye more.”

Annoushka Ducas, creative director of her namesake brand, has included tanzanite and diamond earrings and rings in her new Imperial collection, inspired by the Russian kokoshnik headdress. “I use it quite a lot with brown diamonds as I like the not-so-bling look and the softness of the brown and the blue working together,” she said. “If you set tanzanite with brilliant white diamonds, it has a colder more ostentatious effect, whereas with brown it’s more low-key and everyday.”

The Brazilian designer Yael Sonia captured a tanzanite gem in the black rhodium-plated openwork cage of her Perpetual Motion series. “The black rhodium cube makes the tanzanite edgy, and the tanzanite softens the black rhodium,” she said.

More literal uses of the stone’s blue tones have been made by the Canadian jeweler Holly Dyment, who created the iris in her evil eye ringswith tanzanite. And Wendy Yue, a Hong Kong designer, adorned a snake’s head with a triangular tanzanite for her new necklace, which has a matching ring.

Although tanzanites can be worn in everyday jewelry, they are not as hard as diamonds or rubies, so designers use various methods to protect the stones. After Mimi So, a New York jewelry designer, had 120 tanzanite beads threaded individually to create the tassel for a necklace, she strategically placed 18-karat gold flowers accented with diamonds or emeralds at the top of the grouping, helping them to move freely. The Taiwanese designer Anna Hu set a 102.15-carat tanzanite on her multistone pendant brooch with invisible bezel prongs — a secure yet delicate way to set the stone — so “all you can see are the vibrant colors,” she said.

Wallace Chan, a Hong Kong jeweler known for his innovation, creates extra-soft tools for his work with tanzanite. They include a polishing wheel made with leather from a sheep’s belly for the 15.90-carat tanzanite adorning his multistone Bridging Dreams ring, “to buff out the micro scratches on the gemstone to perfect its finish,” he said in an email.

Experts disagree on how soon the world’s supply of tanzanite will be exhausted, with some saying it is almost mined out. But some designers are still discovering the gemstone — “to keep a step ahead,” said Ana Khouri, a New York-based designer who was adding tanzanites to her ear pieces, including a new white-gold-and-diamond ear crawler with pink, green and blue tanzanites.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page S4 in The International New York Times.
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Diamond Portraits: Sotirio Voulgaris

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Source: Ehud Arye Laniado

The diamond industry has always lent itself to well-told stories. The beauty, wealth, even power associated with this fantastic creation of earth easily captures the imagination. Those involved in the trade of diamonds and creation of jewelry were often unusual people, who thanks to their tendency to do things in their own unique way succeeded in their endeavors. Of the many people whose stories have been told here over the past year or so, Sotirio Voulgaris holds a unique place. His name is virtually unknown, although his eponymous brand is well known, his geographic origin is different than other central players in the industry, and the route he took was uniquely his, leaving a sublime legacy behind him.

Sotirio Voulgaris was born in a small village in the Pindhos mountain range in Epirus, Greece on March 18, 1857. His chances of surviving childhood or even infancy were very slim. He was one of 11 children born to his parents, all ten of his siblings died, leaving him as the sole survivor. The area where he was born and raised has a history of jewelry making and is known for its silversmith art. Traditionally, since ancient times, jewelry design, making, knowledge, and skills were passed down from father to son. Sotirio’s father, Giorgio, was no different, passing to his son generations of accumulated understanding of how to turn the hard, cold metal into wonderful creations of desire.

The Voulgaris family specialized in unique silver earrings, belt buckles, and sword sheaths. And in this same tradition, Voulgaris was trained in his ancestors’ craft. His grandfather used to sell his jewelry as a street vendor, but Sotirio and his father Giorgio decided to open a small store in their village.

During that period, the region was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, and the decades old hatred between Greeks and Turks had many ugly manifestations. One was a series of fires set by Turks that targeted Greek establishments, aimed to hurt them financially. In 1873, one of the stores set on fire was that owned by the Voulgaris family, when a decision was made to burn down their home village of Paramythia in order to rebuild it from the ground up. The security and safety of the local Greeks did not improve, and in 1876 Sotirio was a victim of an attempted robbery.

Those events led Sotirio’s father Giorgio to the decision to immigrate. With a desire for safety and a more peaceful life, the family left its ancestral land and moved to the beautiful Greek island of Corfu in 1877. There they opened a small jewelry store. A few years later, Sotirio met Demetrios Kremos, a Macedonian silversmith. They became good friends, and decided to try and reach further with their dreams. They left Corfu and sailed to Brindisi and then travelled to Naples, where they opened a small gold jewelry shop together in Piazza dei Martiri in 1880. Sotirio may have immigrated to distance himself from violence and crime, but at times, that bad luck kept following him around. Not long after they opened their store, it was looted. Naples suffered from a serious crime wave, and their store was broken into and robbed several more times. The two partners decide to try their luck in another place, and left Naples for Rome in 1881.

A Greek merchant who lived in Rome offered Sotirio and Demetrios the opportunity to display their jewelry in his store, making room in one of the store’s windows. Rome was going through a modernization and growth spurt, and the two jewelry makers did well. However, disagreements between them developed to the point that they decided to part ways.

Honing and perfecting his innate silversmith skills, Sotirio Voulgaris set up his first shop on his own in 1884 at 85 Via Sistina, just down the street from his previous location. As he was getting ready to open the store, he made an important business decision: to Italianize his name. He changed his name to Bulgari, the phonetic version of his Greek name, and adopted Bulgari as his company name.

Enamored with the history of ancient Rome, Bulgari developed a jewelry design style that incorporated the symbolism of the city into his designs, which were no longer limited to silver, adopting gold as his metal of choice. His designs were bold, large, incorporated semi-precious gems, and characterized by long soft lines that added grace to the large jewelry items. As further tribute to Roman history, Bulgari replaced the ‘U’ in his store name to ‘V’V, the Latin letter for U. Sotirio knew that great design would serve him well, and he trusted his workmanship to construct high-quality jewelry as well, but to really succeed, he needed a little more. In 1894, he moved the store to a new location, 28 Via Dei Condotti. Street traffic was good, and his business continued to grow, but when he found out that he could clench a store up the street at number 10 Via Dei Condotti, just by Piazza di Spagna, he grabbed the opportunity.

In 1905, Bulgari opened the second store with the help of his two sons, Costantino and Giorgio. Bulgari wanted to attract British and American tourists heading to the Spanish Stairs Fontana della Barcaccia, famous tourist destinations. This location later became the Bulgari flagship store of today.

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Russia may start mining diamonds in Venezuela

Source: Rough & Polished

According to Venezuela’s Ecological Mining Minister Victor Cano, the Russian and Venezuelan delegations attending the meeting of the Intergovernmental Joint Commission held in Caracas discussed the possibility of giving Russia a chance to mine diamonds, gold and other minerals in Venezuela, TASS says in a report distributed on Wednesday.

“We have discussed the possibility that they [Russian companies] will mine minerals here – diamonds and gold in the first place. It is very important for the development of technologies as well as for the Russian industry. Besides, we have talked over the provision of equipment necessary for mining. In Russia, there are companies that produce such technological means,” said Venezuela’s minister as quoted by TASS.
Russia’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Oleg Ryazantsev and Venezuela’s Sectoral Vice President of Economy Castro Soteldo participated in the negotiations in Caracas.
In 2017, Venezuela signed an agreement with South Africa to create a joint venture to mine diamonds in the Orinoco area in South Venezuela. According to some data, the target area covers 10,000 hectares of land and contains about 40 mn carats of diamonds.

 

Stitched Panorama

Orinoco Mining Belt, Venezuela                                                                          Image credit: AirPano

The Peace Diamond

The Peace Diamond

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The Peace Diamond is a 709 carat rough diamond discovered by a team of five artisanal diggers near the village of Koryardu in Sierra Leone on March 13, 2017. It is the world’s 14th largest diamond.

Pastor Emanuel Momoh, the manager and financial supporter of the digger team is the legal owner of the diamond and a leader in the village and community where the diamond was found. In spite of offers to smuggle the diamond, he insisted that the diamond be sold through official government channels so that the financial benefits of this diamond would be properly shared with his village, district and the people of Sierra Leone.

Pastor Momoh immediately took the diamond to Paramount Chief of the Kono District Paul Ngaba Saquee V and together they personally delivered the diamond to the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The president committed to ensuring a transparent and competitive auction process and a local Sierra Leone auction for the diamond was held in May 11, 2017. Unfortunately the highest
bid at the auction in Sierra Leone was only US $7.777 million and the bid was rejected. The government and Pastor Momoh then decided that the diamond should be sold in an international auction that would make the diamond available to more buyers and ensure a fair market value price for the people of Sierra Leone.

The government of Sierra Leone appointed the Rapaport Group as the marketing and sales agent for the Peace diamond on October 2, 2017. Instructions were given that the diamond was to be sold in a transparent and competitive auction process that will ensure fair market value. Due to the significant benefit the Peace Diamond will bring to the people of Sierra Leone and to encourage legitimate artisanal diamond distribution channels, the Rapaport Group has agreed to provide our marketing and auction services for the Peace Diamond free of all charges.

The Peace Diamond represents all that is good in the diamond industry. Over 50% of the sales value of the diamond will directly benefit the people of Sierra Leone. The Peace Diamond will make a huge difference in the lives of the poorest people in world. It will provide villages with clean water, electricity, health care, schools, vital bridges and roads. It will create opportunities for sustainable economic
development and jobs. The buyer of the 709 carat rough Peace Diamond will have an opportunity to brand the resultant polished diamonds as Peace Diamonds. These diamonds are the best diamonds because they have helped create a better life for tens of thousands of people.

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma – “I thank the local chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond out of the country, and the owners should get what is due to them and it should also benefit the country as a whole. The Government remains committed to ensuring a transparent and competitive auction process that will ensure fair market value for Sierra Leone’s diamonds. We call on the worldwide
diamond industry to bid generously for the Peace Diamond as it will bring vital infrastructure and benefit to thousands of Sierra Leone’s artisanal diggers.”

Pastor Momoh: “The Peace Diamond will greatly improve the lives of our people as it will bring clean water, electricity, schools, medical facilities, bridges and roads to our villages and the Kono District. This diamond represents our hope for a better future as the resources of Sierra Leone fund growth, development and jobs”

Martin Rapaport: “I believe in the positive energy of the Peace Diamond and the great good it will do for the people of Sierra Leone. The lucky buyers of the Peace Diamond and the resultant polished Peace Diamonds can take pride in knowing that they have created a better life for tens of thousands of people. This is a diamond that makes the world a better place. This is a diamond with spiritual sparkle.”

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Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond

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by Raul Sapora

From a scientific perspective, a synthetic diamond has the same chemical composition, the same crystal structure, the same optical and physical properties of a natural diamond. As synthetic diamonds are conceptually identical to natural diamonds, they need to be analyzed and spotted by a gemological laboratory. Synthetic diamond screening is nowadays a major concern of the Jewelry Industry.

Unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned, Ada Diamonds[i], a synthetic diamond distributor, after discovering a few natural diamonds mixed in a synthetic diamonds melee lot, has implemented enhanced screening procedures to further inspect all parcels of melee diamonds to ensure that all diamonds sold are in fact synthetic, not mined and therefore not illicit mined diamonds. Despite it is based on the same principle (synthetic vs natural diamond screening), a whole new and extremely dangerous variable has been imported into the Diamond Trade: protecting synthetic from natural. I believe most of you who read this will smile at this – I did too at a first glance – but it is also easy to realize that a new powerful weapon has been forged and consigned to marketing experts, and if the synthetic diamond industry will have consumers perceive that synthetic diamonds are a better alternative, people will buy them.

The situation is becoming more and more complex. Retailers are in a constant state of great distress: they are uncertain whether they should sell synthetic diamonds or not. On the other end, mining companies are addressing the problem with considerable delay and most probably caught inside the conceptual circle of the same marketing campaign which had decreed their triumph in the past. When Martin Rapaport in his world renowned educated reprimand[ii] to Leonardo di Caprio says that ‘false claims and misleading marketing surrounding the sale of synthetics is having an impact’, I am afraid he forgets to say that diamond itself owes its success to the unrivalled advertising slogan created by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1948 ‘a Diamond is Forever’, and that claim is disingenuous anyway. De Beers was successful in making diamonds appear rarer than they are, by aggressively restricting the supply of diamonds on the market, and moreover nothing is going to be forever, not even diamonds.

I am a gemologist and Responsible Sourcing Auditor, and those who know me quite well are prepared to hear me pronounce the sentence: “The ethical nature of a gemstone has today as much to do with its social context and its environmental provenance as it has with its optical and chemical properties.” In fact, in my opinion, gemology without Responsible Sourcing is merely a scientific understanding of gemstones, and the world needs much more than this. Gemology, as a matter of fact, is evolving through ethics. Therefore, as a gemologist I have to protect truth, even if truth sometimes can be multifaceted.

Diamond Foundry, a Synthetic Diamond producer who raised a capital of over $100 million from 12 billionaires[iii], including Twitter founder Evan Williams and actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, was launched in late 2015, after two years of research and development.” A diamond is a diamond,” says Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry’s founder. “Scientifically it is a tetrahedral carbon allotrope, and it is the same thing whether mined or man-made.”

“Proud to invest in Diamond Foundry, a Company reducing human & environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds,” Leonardo di Caprio tweeted.

Apparently, the arguments embraced by synthetic (or lab grown as they like to say) diamonds manufacturers are mainly ethical: to some consumers they seem to be conflict free and socially responsible. That is because synthetic diamond marketers are touting their product to be “conflict-free”, which misleadingly associates all real diamonds with conflict diamonds.

Accusations of exploitation and inhumane working conditions in mines cast a dark shadow over the diamond industry. Mining is also said to be devastating to the environment, due to the amount of energy it requires, the potential for chemical leaks, and the harmful effects that removing large amounts of earth has on local ecosystems[iv]. Some of those arguments are highly deceptive: the world of diamonds, gemstones and jewellery is changing. The legislative landscape, consumer awareness of the problems in the jewellery supply chain and broader civil society groups demanding transparency and disclosure have impacted dramatically on this scenario: nowadays, thanks to Kimberley Process, Responsible Jewelry Council and other initiatives, just a very small fraction of diamonds production is being used to finance wars. Also, it is extremely important to understand that the diamond industry employs an estimated 10 million people around the world directly and indirectly, and also has become the almost entire economy of some specific, otherwise isolated locations, like Botswana and Northern Canada[v]. Another commonly repeated misconception is that diamond mining harms local ecosystems and wildlife. However, diamond mining is perhaps one of the least environmentally destructive forms of mining there is today. Diamond mining uses very few, if any, chemicals, and diamond mines leave a small footprint on local environments compared to other forms of mineral extraction. Most people are unaware of the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people in the countries around the world where diamonds are sourced. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.

A few facts:

·        An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.

·        Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.

·        An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

·        The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings.

·        Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.

·        The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

·        An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.

It is quite evident that synthetic diamonds pose a firm and serious threat to this huge network, while so much has been done and is being done to eradicate unethical implications from the complex jewelry world. As I said already, reactions have been slightly late and perhaps, at least in the early stage, not commensurate to the actual danger.

After almost one century and a half after diamond discovery in South Africa – happened in 1867, when fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs found the Eureka diamond on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Orange River – and after the end of the De Beers monopoly, seven of the world’s leading diamond companies (De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds, Gem Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto Diamonds), founded in May 2015, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA): its mission is ‘to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the diamond industry[vi].

DPA launched an advertising campaign called “Real is Rare,” that adopts a new verbiage on diamond marketing, in which the abracadabra claim “A Diamond is Forever” has been replaced by a narrative that is totally different from the past. The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced at the JCK, Las Vegas a few days ago that their 2017 marketing budget will total US$ 57 million. DPA’s Chairman Stephen Lussier commented: “The Board’s decision is a major turning point for the Diamond Producers Association and the diamond industry. All Board Members are aligned behind the goals and plans of the DPA, which is now fully equipped to fulfil its mission of communicating to next generation consumers about the timeless beauty and emotional value of diamonds. We look forward to working closely with the diamond and jewellery trade and with other industry organisations to build a stronger future for our sector” [vii].

The words pronounced from Lussier sound so far away from the place and time in which De Beers was the guardian of the trade and could steadily increase the price of diamonds, thus ensuring that diamonds were a good investment over time.

Is such a potentially huge advertising campaign enough to react to synthetic diamonds? In my opinion the necessary game changer in this dangerous situation are ethics and Responsible Sourcing practices. The only way is ethics, quoting Stacey Hailes’s speech at Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is of paramount importance for consumers to consider what the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, the Responsible Jewelry Council, the Signet Responsible Sourcing Program are among others doing. Although we are all working towards the full enforcement of these practices, they already had a significant impact on illicit trade in rough diamonds.

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[i] As reported in ‘Is This Lab-Grown Diamond Company Trolling the Trade?’ by Rob Bates, on JCKonline (June 1, 2017)

[ii] Rapaport, ‘Synthetic Diamond Scam’ April 2016

[iii] ‘Why Leonardo DiCaprio is backing man-made diamonds’ by Sophie Morlin-Yron, CNN money ( August 30, 2016)

[iv] ‘A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever’, by Chavie Lieber (June 14, 2016)

[v] ‘The History of Lab Grown Diamonds: Value Proposition’, by Ehud Arye Laniado (June 14, 2017)

[vi] Diamond Producers Association mission statement (www.diamondproducers.com)

[vii] DPA ups its Marketing Budget for 2017 – Allocates US$ 57 Million for the Purpose, TJM (June 6, 2017)

 

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.

JEWELRY RETAIL SALES BREAK RECORDS

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