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Even the judge says this is “A gem of a case!”

In February 2013, Thomas DePrince boarded a Starboard Cruise Services Inc. ship. While on his cruise, he went into an onboard jewellery store owned and operated by Starboard and asked about the possibility of obtaining a large loose diamond between 15 and 20 carats. The store manager, Mihai Rusan, sent an email to Starboard’s corporate office in Miami to inquire if such a stone was available. Starboard forwarded the request to one of their suppliers, Sophia Fiori, and received a reply that two stones were available. Their response described the two stones:

“1. EMERALD CUT 20.64 carats D VVS2 GIA VG Price $235,000”

“2. EMERALD CUT 20.73 carats E VVS2 GIA EX EX FNT Price $245,000”


Cruiseship jeweller makes $4.6 million error

Starboard is a luxury travel and leisure retailer.


The Miami Office emailed this information to Rusan exactly as Fiori had typed it. Rusan informed DePrince of the two available stones and quoted the prices as shown in the email. DePrince said he would think about it that evening. Discussing the deal with his travel mates, his sister Carolyn DePrince and his life partner Vernon Crawford. Both happen to be Gemmologists. They said the deal was too good to be true and he should probably pass. Instead, he returned to the store and said he wanted to purchase the 20.64 ct stone. Rusan prepared a sales agreement showing the total purchase price of $235,000 plus a $25 shipping charge. The agreement was signed; DePrince paid an initial down payment of $125,000 and returned the next day with the balance of $110,025.

But there was a slight problem. Fiori’s quote to Starboard was a PER CARAT PRICE. The actual total price should have been$4,850,400. Five days later, Starboard contacted DePrince to explain that due to the email mix up the agreement was “seriously in error.” With an offer of reduced fares for future cruises, Starboard refunded the credit card charges and backed out of the deal.

DePrince refused and demanded that the purchase go forward under the terms of the sales agreement as written. DePrince sued and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Darrin Gayles granted summary judgment in favour of Starboard based on a unilateral error significant enough to allow one party to withdraw from an otherwise enforceable contract.

DePrince appealed the decision (transcript here) DePrince's attorney, Mario Ruiz stated, "If you extend that to its logical conclusion, any vendor can set a price, enter into a contract and then five days later decide, 'That's not a good price. We're going to change it."

The appellate court reversed the lower court decision and remanded the case a trail.

Eric Isicoff, an attorney for Starboard said, "Starboard is understandably disappointed by the court's decision. Nevertheless, it will do exactly what the court has ruled, take this case to trial and present its defenses in that forum. Starboard remains confident that it will prevail at trial."


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More and more Indian jewellery lovers are now changing their priority and opting for platinum jewellery over gold. The Second Annual Retail Trade Barometer (Study Report) published by the Platinum Guild International (PGI) proves this shift in trends.

The Study Report prepared by independent platinum market experts and industry analysts, discloses the consumer retail sales data of platinum jewellery in 2014 and vital projections for 2015; reviewed and reported by StratWon Business Consulting.

The Report gives an exclusive view of platinum retail sales. Platinum jewellery is the second largest consumer of platinum in the world (35%) after the auto-catalyst market (36%). It has covered over 400 jewellery retail companies with close to 40,000 retail outlets in the four main global markets of China, India, Japan and the USA.  The research was conducted between January and February 2015.

The key-findings of the Retail Trade Barometer, made public recently by the PGI reveal that platinum has achieved global growth of +28% in weight terms in 2014. The Report says that despite a slow start in 2014 and general elections in India, growth in platinum sales have been achieved across different types of outlets. PGI’s strategic retail partners have achieved a growth of +33% during 2014 while the other outlets grew by +19%. The Report further states that strong growth in 2013 and higher gross margins in 2014 have contributed to the India market seeing a compounded annual growth of 80% during last two years.


80% compounded platinum growth in India 80% compounded platinum growth in India
80% compounded platinum growth in India Photo source: PGI Evara Jewellery



Analysing the Report, Ms. Vaishali Banerjee, Country Manager India, PGI says,

“Given the overall market conditions, first half of the year remained subdued but platinum growth for 2014 has been very positive and consistent. This growth has been achieved from continuous improvement of consumer sentiment, higher conversion at the retail stores and improving the disposition for platinum amongst our key target audience. With the launch of Platinum Evara on the back of strong consumer research at the end of the year we are looking at further accelerating growth. The initial response to this new category has been very positive.”

There has been a striking shift in the buying trend for precious metal jewellery. Consumers are now leaning more towards everyday wear and gifting which has led to an acceptance of platinum in this segment. The primary focus of retailer’s has remained bridal jewellery because of the higher price per piece. The sales contribution and higher gross margins have prompted select retailers to rethink and change their approach in promoting their in-store platinum counters.

Specifying India’s outlook, the Report says that platinum demand in India would further grow by 23% in 2015. PGI has successfully launched Platinum Evara during December 2014 in India which targets the Indian Bridal jewellery market. According to PGI, the initial response for Evara has been positive and it should contribute to strong growth figures for 2015, over and above the 23%. PGI Retail partners are optimistic about 2015 with all types of jewellery, especially platinum and diamond jewellery.

Ms. Banerjee further says,

“The outlook for 2015 is strong given that platinum resonates with young India. Platinum Love Bands are getting embedded in the Indian culture and now with the successful launch and roll out of Evara, platinum offers an opportunity for retailers to bring in new consumers to grow their business while delivering a superior consumer experience.”


Huw Daniel, CEO of PGI says,

“Sustained growth in the platinum jewellery market is significant, as the jewellery category represents 35% of all global demand for platinum.  2015 is expected to achieve higher growth.  India is very exciting and PGI is bullish about the platinum prospects in the country, particularly in the light of the launch of the new bridal segment, Platinum Evara.”


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While leaving work for the day an employee of a jewellery store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniawas abducted, beaten and hit with a stun gun while the assailants unsuccessfully demanded the alarm codes and combination to the safe at the store where she works. Full story here.

Safety is your number one priorty

Once again, this is a reminder that we are in a very dangerous business. People assume that anyone working in a jewellery store, from the owner to the person that sweeps the floor, has access to valuable goods. It is easy to be complacent but we must always be conscious of safety. This is a good time to review your plans and procedures for keeping you, your employees and your family safe.

Safety in numbers

The most dangerous time is opening and closing. You need to be extra vigilant. Ideally, all the staff should arrive near the same time and wait in their cars until there are at least two or three people before going into the store together. At closing everyone should leave as a group. At both times at least one person, preferably more, should have a cell phone out and have the local emergency number (911 in the US) punched in and ready so that a quick press of the send button will summon the police.

Escort staff and salesmen

Anytime a staff member or jewellery salesman enters or leaves your store, they should be watched or escorted. Have them give a quick call before they come in so someone can stand outside and watch. Again, have a pre-dialed cell phone at the ready. When they leave they need to be watched or escorted until they are safely in their car. I knew of one store owner that had an extremely well-trained guard dog that would follow people to their car.

Keep your home life private

Family is our greatest pride and joy but also our greatest weakness. We will do anything for them. As much as we want to brag about our kids and their accomplishments, keep all references to their identity away from your store. Pictures of your family displayed in the showroom give criminals a positive identification of your loved ones. Photos of your kids receiving awards at school posted on social media or even in the local newspaper tell the bad guys where to look for them. Never, ever, publish your home address anywhere.

Don’t be too social

It is easy to get caught up with constantly updating your daily activities on social media. But if everyone knows where you are or will be all the times; you are at risk. Rather than posting about where you are going or the restaurant you are at now, try posting about where you have just been instead. It’s just as much fun but considerably safer.

You are never completely off duty

The jewellery business is rewarding but it comes with a price. We simply can never let our guard down. It only takes a moment of inattention, anywhere or anytime, for something to happen. We need to be cautious and suspicious of everyone and everything that is out of the ordinary. Our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of our associates depend on it.


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Outside of high jewellery, which I previously wrote about, the pieces from the designer jewellery brands at Baselworld were equally impressive. Coloured gems were certainly prevalent throughout the show as well as refined designs and individual creativity. Yellow, rose and white gold were abundant among the collections I viewed.

Colourful gems in pastel colours cover this ring from Brumani’s Baobab collection

Colourful gems in pastel colours cover this ring from Brumani’s Baobab collection

The Brazilian brand, Brumani, known for colourful pieces, impressed this year with tranquil, pastels hues, primarily pink and blues, in a variety of styles. Its Baobab collection is inspired by the African tree was brought to Brazilian shores by African slaves during the eighteenth century. The source of inspiration for this collection, this tree, gained worldwide notoriety for having inspired the plot and watercolours by the French writer Saint-Exupery, author of the novel "The Little Prince". The newest lines in the Baobab collection is composed of cabochons of aquamarine and ruby, Brazilian pink tourmaline, "brown" diamonds and yellow gold. The Baobab Rosé Collection, with diamonds, pink quartz and Brazilian pink tourmaline, all embedded in pink gold.

Pink pearls with pink gold and diamonds for this bracelet by Yoko London

Pink pearls with pink gold and diamonds for this bracelet by Yoko London

Yoko London, which specializes in pearl jewellery, showed off its colour with a variety of designs, styles and price points—from high jewellery to fashion—using various shades of pink, yellow, white and of course, black Tahitian pearls mixed with a breadth of precious metals and gemstones.

Earrings made of 37 carts of rubies and 5 carats of diamond set in 18k rose gold by Sutra

Earrings made of 37 carts of rubies and 5 carats of diamond set in 18k rose gold by Sutra

Sutra, with its rich sources of coloured gems throughout the world, created a number of strong, colourful pieces. Typical of the strengths of the many designs were jagged styled earrings with 37 carts of rubies and 5 carats of diamond set in 18k rose gold.

A beautiful setting for the hand-made gold designs of Carrera y Carrera

A beautiful setting for the hand-made gold designs of Carrera y Carrera

Carrera y Carrera—which specializes in delicate, hand-made high-karat yellow gold items—outdid itself with its 130th anniversary collection with a delicate collection of gold pieces with touches of diamonds, rubies and emeralds.

A Dew Drop pendant necklace paved in Gemfiels rubies by Gerog Jensen

A Dew Drop pendant necklace paved in Gemfiels rubies by Gerog Jensen

Georg Jensen and its managing director of jewellery, Meeling Wong, created several collections of refined jewellery that provide a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional designs of the famed silversmith brand. Among the items that stood out was a collection of pieces in collaboration with coloured gemstone mining company, Gemfields.

Three bracelets using simulated coloured diamonds by the brand Dani by Daniel K

Three bracelets using simulated coloured diamonds by the brand Dani by Daniel K

Dani by Daniel K, is a simulated diamond jewellery brand by Daniel Koren, who for two decades specialized in precious diamond jewellery. This collection is set in sterling silver, using simulated diamonds. Koren said the brand was established to fill an untapped space within the industry focused on the design and creation of luxury jewellery appropriate to be worn both day and night. This spring, the brand will be making its retail debut in the U.A.E with the launch of its first stand-alone boutique in Dubai, while expanding distribution throughout Europe, Russia, and the United States.


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Forevermark, the premier diamond brand of De beers has drawn an ambitious growth plan for near future. At present the brand which is available in 1,600 showrooms world-wide would be made available in 4000 stores by 2020. As far as India is concerned, reach of the brand will be extended to 200 stores from present 160.

Senior officials Mr. Philippe Mellier, CEO, De Beers Group and Mr. Stephen Lussier, CEO of Forevermark were in India recently to launch the International Institute of Diamond Grading and Research (IIDGR) in Surat. De Beers has invested about USD 10 million to set up the Surat facility which is said to be equipped with the latest technology developed by Forevermark. Its primary purpose is to select and inscribe Forevermark diamonds with a unique serial number which symbolizes Forevermark’s promise of quality. IIDGR Surat has a capacity to process USD 500 million worth of diamonds annually and it is the only second such facility after the one in Antwerp.

Mr. Phillippe Mellier and Mr. Stephen Lussier at the launch of Surat facility

Mr. Phillippe Mellier and Mr. Stephen Lussier at the launch of Surat facility

Mr. Lussier says,

"At full capacity, the Surat facility will process 500,000 diamonds worth USD 500 million per annum. This would be 25% more than our existing Antwerp facility. We wish to start with 100,000 diamonds initially and double the volume annually to achieve full capacity in 2-3 years. While the facility at Surat will initially focus on Forevermark grading, we would also concentrate on the potential to widen its service in future. We can now foresee a future where polished diamonds from around the world come to Surat to benefit from this world-leading and state-of-art facility.”

The Surat laboratory provides employment to about 95 people today, who are mainly local people. De Beers expects to generate employment for 100 more people in the next one or two years.

The Surat facility offers superior technology for inscription and grading here. IIDGR’s presence in Surat, a world-class diamond cutting and polishing centre has stressed and enhanced importance of the city in global diamond market. Mr. Mellier says,

"This strategic investment would prove to be an important resource for the Indian diamond trade and would cement Surat’s position at the heart of our industry."

The Group operates business-to-business (B2B) and sources diamonds from the dealers. After due scrutiny of the diamond, it rejects the unfit ones, and selects the rest for grading and inscription.

The launch of the stat-of-art Institute comes at a time De Beers is changing the way it sells most of its diamonds. The plan by The De Beers Group with sales of USD 6.7 billion in 2014, wishes to expand its retail chain in future. The plan marks a shift in strategy to invest more in promoting and building its own brands. The Group wishes to create strong diamond brands that can compete with themselves. This basic strategy had been aligned since 2004-05 to promote its brand.

De Beers may also open a rough diamond auction-cum-sales office in Mumbai once India puts in place enabling guidelines for duty-free zones, according to Mr. Mellier. “India’s prevailing export and import duty structure is not suitable for us. So we need duty-free atmosphere to start the diamond auction here. The Company has begun formal talks with the Indian government’s officials to start an auction centre in Mumbai. If required, we will meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he added.


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