JEWELLERY EDITORIAL

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2015/04/01

The jewellery industry has been captivated by colour recently, and consumers too have fallen in love with bright rainbows of gems. While we tend to focus on semi-precious gemstones when delivering colour due to pricing, diamonds too can offer iridescent hues for those with deeper pockets, and with rocketing values they are also proving a savvy investment.
 

For the first time, coloured diamonds have been added to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, which tracks investable luxury assets, and the firm has released new research in its annual publication The Wealth Report 2015 that suggests the prices of coloured diamonds rose 167% between January 2005 and October 2014. 
 

The most dramatic price hike, according to The Wealth Report 2015, has been for blue diamonds, which over the same period have risen 360%. Pink diamonds meanwhile rose in value by 161% and yellow diamonds by 56%, according to the report.
 

Out in the auction houses of the world, exceptional coloured diamonds have certainly been in rude health, achieving record-breaking prices. At Sotheby’s New York in November, a 9.75ct fancy vivid blue diamond pendant set in platinum smashed its already substantial top pre-sale estimate of US$15 million to achieve a final hammer price of US$32.65 million. The sale set two new world records – the highest price ever paid at auction for a blue diamond, and also the highest price per carat for any diamond at auction.

 

Mellon Blue Diamond

Mellon Blue Diamond – This 9.75ct fancy vivid blue diamond pendant
sold at Sotheby’s in November for US$32.65 million. 

 

But this wasn’t a sole phenomenon. Earlier on in the year, at Sotheby’s Geneva in May, one of the largest fancy vivid yellow diamonds in the world came under the gavel – the 100.09ct cushion-cut Graff Vivid Yellow – selling for US$16.3 million, making it the most expensive yellow diamond ever sold at auction.

 

Graff Vivid Yellow

Graff Vivid Yellow – The Graff Vivid Yellow broke the world auction record
for a yellow diamond when it sold in May for US$16.3 million. 

 

Coloured diamonds have also been popping up on the red carpet. At The Oscars this year French actress Marion Cotillard wore a ring set with a 6.23ct yellow diamond from Chopard’s High Jewellery collection while The Theory of Everything star Felicity Jones wore a pair of Dans les Etoiles earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels set with yellow diamonds.

 

Van Cleef

Dans les Etoiles earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels set with yellow diamonds. 

 

For those of us who don’t have millions at the ready to drop on an exceptional coloured diamond, there is a new option – lab-grown diamonds. Last month a new company called Anata entered this market, offering gems grown in a lab under conditions designed to mimic the natural forces that create diamonds underground, just at a much faster rate. And for a personal twist you can supply them with a piece of personal carbon, such as a lock of hair or the ashes of a loved one, which will be used to grow the diamond. These stones also have the benefit of being conflict free, fully traceable and eco-friendly.

 

Anata

Anata – A yellow-orange lab-grown diamond created by Anata. 

 

While the investment potential of these man-made diamonds is yet to be determined, Earth-mined coloured diamonds, as Anata would refer to them, have a solid investment track record and when you couple that with strong demand and a Hollywood stamp of approval, now is a sparkling time for these bright and bold gems.

 

 

 

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2015/04/01

One of the biggest complaints I hear from jewellery store owners is the amount of time it takes to actively pursue a social media presence. Yet another common complaint is employees that are glued to their smartphones during work hours. Why not solve both problems at the same time? Let your employees be brand ambassadors for your store on social media with your business accounts as well as their own accounts.
 

First of all you need to establish guidelines. These should be spelled out in your employee handbook. Have rules for how they use each account. Make it clear that live, in the store customers come first and posting should only happen during breaks or slow times. There is nothing worse than a customer seeing your entire staff pecking away at their phones.
 

On your business account, provide a clear brand message and point of view that promotes your goals and identity. Make sure that religion, politics and other controversial topics never appear on your business account. You want your account to be friendly, open and positive.

Your store, your employees, and social media

Have limitations on what may or may not be posted. Selfies on the showroom floor, photos of happy customers with their new jewellery, exciting new acquisitions, a video of your benchman performing a difficult repair, or a rendering of your newest CAD design are all wonderful things to post on social media. Your messy office, photos of your safe or other security features must be forbidden. If you are in a tourist area, photos and information about interesting places to visit can help establish you as a local expert.
 

Encourage employees to use their own accounts to help promote your store. People like to shop with friends and this could add to their sales and commissions if used properly. Full disclosure is a must! If they promote or recommend your store they need to add a statement of their relationship to the business. If they post a strong opinion that may be taken as your store’s viewpoint, they need to include a disclaimer stating that it is their own opinion and not the opinion of the store. You want full honesty and transparency. If they are going to use their own social accounts to promote your store you will need to come to an agreement, in writing, to “friend” you and allow you to be able to view their posts.
 

But in general, let your employees use their own common sense without interference or need to get approval for every post. You want it to be fun and enjoyable. After all, it is SOCIAL media and you want them to be sociable.
 

Have weekly contests with a prize for the best post. Choose an item or service that you want to promote and offer a bonus to the employee that generates the most sales from their social media efforts.
 

You need to be on social media and your employees are already there, so this can be a win-win for you and your team.

 

 


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2015/03/31

Many attendees and press representatives at Baselworld this year said there were fewer people than in years past. I didn’t notice it that much. Hall 1 seemed typically busy to me but the crowds seemed to arrive later. There was a more moderate pace at Hall 2, which showcases primarily jewellery companies, but I didn’t find that unusual compared to past years. Some jewellery company said things were quieter than normal but other jewellery and watch brands were exceptionally busy.

I spent all of my time at Hall 1 and 2 but reports were that the remaining halls were slower than normal.

 

What most were saying turned out to be true as the eight-day trade fair closed with a 3 percent to 150,000 from more than 100 countries. There were about 1,500 exhibitors, which is similar to last year’s numbers. It remains by far the world’s largest watch and jewellery fair. 
 

Where the show did grow was in media representation, which increased by 7.5 percent to 4,300 from more than 70 countries—an all-time record. The livestream of the opening press conference was followed by some 3,000 journalists from all over the world. One thing I noticed compared with last year’s fair was that there seemed to be fewer press members from Asia. There were so many Asian press representatives last year that the press room provided noodle soup and Congee. Not this year.
 

It remains unclear whether the two competing shows— Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe in Freiburg, Germany, and The Diamond Show in Basel—had an effect on overall traffic at Baselworld. Final attendance numbers haven’t been released yet for either event. I was unable to attend the fairs and relied on reports from other reporters, attendees and in even show organisers.


Attendees in Hall 1.0 - Baselworld 2015. Photo credit: BaselWorld 2015

Basel World 2015 Press Conference | Photo credit: Anthoyn DeMarco

 

Opening day at JGF – Europe was much stronger at JGF this year than its inaugural show last year, according to attendees and show officials. However, subsequent days were slow, according to attendees. Those attending The Diamond Show report that the event was slow through the duration. 
 

Part of the decline (however slight) at Baselworld certainly has to do with its transformation to a full luxury event along with an increase in the cost of booth space, forcing some exhibitors to exhibit at the other shows. 
 

Part of drop also has to do with various geopolitical and economic issues throughout the world. 
 

Sylvie Ritter, Baselworld managing director, alluded to this specifically pointing to the crisis in Russia and Ukraine. Hot spots are in the Middle East as well. The robust growth in China has slowed to a more normal pace. Perhaps most concerning is the struggling Euro.
 

Despite it all Baselworld still shines (if not quite as bright) in a more competitive environment.

 

 


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2015/03/30

Hong Kong has remained one of prime foreign markets for India’s gem & jewellery industry. This can be authenticated with help of the figures provided by India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) which indicate that total exports of gem and jewellery from India were US$36.2bn, for the period January – November 2014. Hong Kong is the second-largest export market for Indian jewellery and gem  with exports reaching US$11.5bn.

Mr. Vipul Shah, Chairman of the GJEPC, says,

"India has remained the world’s largest manufacturer for cut and polished diamonds for many years. Indian diamond polishing factories are on par with the world’s best, offering cutting edge technology. Added to this is the fact that exports from India have benefitted owing to the strong financial base of the industry. 

The trade shows being organized in Hong Kong every year have always provided apt platforms to showcase India’s capabilities to the world."

Stressing the importance of Hong Kong market, Mr. Pankaj Parekh, Vice Chairman of the GJEPC says, 

"Hong Kong is widely considered as the gateway to China. For the Indian Gems and Jewellery industry, the trade shows organised in Hong Kong are perfect platforms to showcase its products to the attendees based from the region. In 2014, the export of gems and jewellery to Hong Kong accounted for US$ 11,091.17 million contributing to 31% of the total exports from India."

As Hong Kong is one of the major trading hubs in the world, India’s presence at Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Show is an opportunity to boost its exports. Moreover, Hong Kong’s free-trade policy contributes to a business-friendly environment. No duties or restrictions are imposed on precious jewellery products or materials.

 

Hong Kong Night Time Scenery

Hong Kong provides a perfect platform to India’s jewellery and gem industry
Photo Source: Shutterstock

 

Talking about Indian jewellers’ and diamond traders’ credibility in foreign markets, Mr. Parekh says,

"The Indian industry is popular among the foreign traders for its talented craftsmanship, its superior practices in cutting and polishing fine diamonds and precious stones, and its cost-efficiencies."

"The Indian traders are well equipped to meet any demands of the foreign markets with industry friendly policies. Moreover, the industry adheres to strict quality control and complies with International business and quality standards including Best Practice Principles (BPP) and Business Excellence Model (BEM). On the ethical business practices, the industry is committed to adhere to the Kimberley Process Certification System for Conflict free diamonds, and comply with the protocol of no child labor or forced labor. Also the industry complies with OECD guidelines for responsible sourcing of gold. "

Mr. Parekh further says,

" In response to the requirements for transparency in their business model and for compliance of dealers of precious metals and precious stones in the backdrop of legislative and administrative framework of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and in order to enable both financial as well as the industry at large to be able to have access to information about clients, The Council is also in process of developing the MYKYCBANK model for a “Know Your Customer” interface."

Hong Kong is a perfect global platform for the Indian jewellery and gem industry to cater a wide range of markets in the Hong Kong city and the neighboring regions.
 

When we compare the export figures of last 6 years made available by the GJEPC, the exports of gems and jewellery increased from to US$ 5,781.00 million in 2009 to US$ 11,091.17 million in 2014. In terms of percentage, there has been an impressive increase of 8% in total exports from 2009 to 2014. So it is needless to say that, the Hong Kong remains an important market to the Indian jewellery and gem industry.

 

 

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2015/03/25

Curried egg sandwich in hand, I enjoyed a pleasurable breakfast meeting this month at the glamorous St James’s Court in London learning about the historic Indian jewels that will star in the V&A Museum’s upcoming jewellery exhibition Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection.
 

The exhibition will open in London in November this year as a celebration of jewels from or inspired by the Indian subcontinent, with about 100 objects lined up to appear.
 

As well as the spectacular historic artefacts you would expect – a Golconda diamond given to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot in 1767 and a jewelled gold tiger’s head finial from the throne of the Tipu Sultan of Mysore, to name but two – there will a section titled Contemporary Masters to highlight the continuing influence of traditional Indian jewellery.

 

Armita Singh

New York-based designer Armita Singh creates fashion jewellery
inspired by traditional Indian designs, such as this South Fork necklace.

 

There are two stars of this section of the show, one is Indian and one is not, perhaps perfectly demonstrating the power of India’s influence on the rest of the jewellery world, not just in terms of design but also techniques such as enamel work and kundan, a method of setting gemstones in gold.

 

JAR Silver Mountain
This emerald brooch by JAR was inspired by Mughal architecture and will be part of Bejewelled Treasures at The V&A in London. This long knuckle ring by Silver Mountain covers your whole finger, in which it contains diamonds, sterling silver and emerald

 

The non-Indian jeweller is JAR – American Joel Arthur Rosenthal who bases himself in Paris. The V&A will display a brooch created by the jeweller in 2002 that references Mughal architecture with a central emerald stone held in place between two sheets of rock crystal with a white agate background and a diamond- and ruby-set frame.

 

Viren Bhagat Arihant Star
It took Viren Bhagat 10 years to collect
the 24 Burmese cabochon rubies set
in this ruby, pearl and diamond necklace.
Natural Fancy Yellow-Green and
Brown Pink Diamond Pendant by Arihant Star

 

As for the Indian superstar jeweller, that will be Viren Bhagat, who many believe to be up there competing with JAR for the title of greatest jeweller of our time, although just like JAR he is not necessarily a well-known global name. As well as having his work on display, the V&A has commissioned a special film starring Bhagat that will debut at the exhibition.

 

Cartier Gemco Designs
This emerald, sapphire and diamond brooch made by Cartier in 1922 reinterprets Indian jewels in an Art Deco style and will be on show at Bejewelled Treasures at The V&A in London. Aquamarine, diamond, .925 Sterling Silver Bangle made by Gemco Designs

 

All this discussion of traditional Indian jewels and their power of influence – even Cartier fell under the spell of Indian jewels in the 1920s, reinterpreting them in Art Deco style, a piece of which will be included in the show – led me to thinking about modern Indian jewellers and the role they play in today’s industry.
 

Indian jewellery is no longer restricted to the sort of heavy gold traditional jewels that we instinctively think of when this category is referenced. Bhagat is joined by a wealth of contemporaries who are transforming the reputation of Indian jewels, creating fresh, modern designs that use bold colour intuitively and have a spiritual depth that references the culture from which they have come. 

 

Bina Goenka Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers
Bina Goenka created this handbag for ethical gemstone miner Gemfields using gold, diamonds, tourmalines, pearls, amethyst, Zambian emeralds and rubies from Mozambique. Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers was inspired by croquembouche when designing this tiered emerald and diamond ring.

 

Exciting new names in this sector include Bina Goenka, who created an incredible gem-laden handbag for Gemfield’s major designer collaboration in 2013 and is promising a “creative reform in the jewellery industry, redefining creativity, luxury and minimalism”; Shehzad Zaveri of Minawala Jewellers, who describes himself as the “poet jeweller of India” and creates mind-blowing works such as an emerald and diamond ring inspired by the French patisserie art of croquembouche; and New York-based Armita Singh, who has been taking Indian-inspired jewels to the masses since launching her fashion jewellery and accessories brand in 2003 following stints working for Oscar de la Renta and Christian Lacroix.
 

With exciting new designers, a rich jewellery heritage to dip into and a moment in the international spotlight thanks to this much-anticipated new exhibition, it’s an exciting time for Indian jewellery. 

 


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