JEWELLERY EDITORIAL

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2015/07/29

The upper crust of Middle Eastern society has a well-documented appetite for luxury purchases. Travel out to the retail Mecca of Dubai and you’ll find it packed with malls of gargantuan proportions, all bursting with concept stores from the world’s biggest brands, as well as local family-run businesses stocking elaborate goods.
 

In this affluent retail culture, jewellery is a natural fit and as such the UAE is in the top five global markets for gold jewellery consumption, with the Middle East Gems and Jewellery Forum estimating that sales of gold jewels in the region are worth US$2.5 billion. The Middle East also now has a number of prominent jewellery shows including the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, which attracts the likes of Cartier and Graff, while Jewellery Arabia put US$790 million of jewels on display in November, and Vicenza Oro launched a Middle Eastern version of its show in Dubai in April.

 

A ruby and gold Egg bracelet by ethical jewellery champion Pippa Small

A ruby and gold Egg bracelet by ethical jewellery champion Pippa Small

 

And in the malls and on the city streets, jewellers enjoy showing off with outrageous precious creations, such as the solid gold replica of Dubai landmark the Burj Khalifa made from 22.65kg of 18ct gold by craftsmen at the city’s Malabar Gold & Diamonds store. Other recent oddities include a Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro laptop made with a solid 9ct gold case, temporary tattoos made from 24ct gold by Marbella Paris and sold at Dubai hotel Burj al Arab, and Halal alcohol-free sparkling wine brand Lussory Gold, which is infused with flakes of 24ct gold and sold at Bystro Dubai.

 

iKuria worked with recycled gold for its Age of Discovery Collection

iKuria worked with recycled gold for its Age of Discovery Collection

 

But in the midst of all this excess and expense, could a more ethically minded luxury consumer be emerging in the Middle East? According to research released by Chalboub Group, a consultancy that advises brands venturing into the region, only 35% of luxury shoppers in the Middle East take sustainability into account when making purchase decisions, however 83% of those asked said that they expect the companies they are buying from to be proactively engaging in sustainable practices.

 

Cred is a pioneer of the ethical jewellery industry working in gold and silver

Cred is a pioneer of the ethical jewellery industry working in gold and silver

 

And perhaps this should not come as a surprise. After all, the region is home to two of the world’s largest eco cities – the low-carbon, zero-waste Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and the Desert Rose in Dubai.

 

Chopard has created a green carpet collection of ethically created high jewellery

Chopard has created a green carpet collection of ethically created high jewellery

 

More questions being asked by luxury jewellery consumers in one of the world’s biggest jewellery markets could lead to an increase in demand for jewels made from Fairtrade Fairmined gold or set diamonds from Canada, for example, where the environmental impact from mining is reduced. While the region will no doubt hold on to its love for all things bling, any luxury jewellery brands looking to do business in the Middle East should take this into account and have answers at the ready, as well as sustainable and ethical options available for these inquisitive, socially-aware shoppers with deep pockets, because it seems they are out there.

 

Arctic Circle works exclusively with Fairtrade gold and Canadian diamonds

Arctic Circle works exclusively with Fairtrade gold and Canadian diamonds

 

Ute Decker creates unusual jewels in Fairtrade Fairmined gold

Ute Decker creates unusual jewels in Fairtrade Fairmined gold

 

 


Visit www.JewelleryNewsAsia.com for more industry news and features.

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2015/07/28

I have been asking many diamond industry leaders about the prospective threat of synthetic diamonds to the natural ones since last 7 years but most of them have failed to assess it. Now (not all of a sudden) when the global diamond industry has been facing crisis since a few years (with peak period at present) many of them blame the increasing circulation of the synthetics (as one of the reasons) for the present dire status of the industry.
 

The global diamond industry is battling poor demand of polished diamonds in key markets including the US, the Middle East, China, Hong Kong etc. High priced rough diamonds have squeezed the profit margins of traders. If we talk about the Indian industry, inventories choked with diamonds worth over Rs. 300,000 crore, financial insecurity prevailing in the industry due to many cases of defaults reaching Rs. 2,000 crore since November ’14, much narrowed bank finance, reduction in the credit period from 180 days to 60 days by the rough diamond dealers in Antwerp and the severe liquidity crisis are some of the factors leading to the present dismal status of the global industry.
 

Industry analyst Mr. Chaim Even-Zohar of Tacy Ltd. says,

“It was a record amount when the global diamond industry spent USD 80 billion on diamond jewellery last year but the manufacturers are expecting to share profit of just USD 100 million in 2015. That is half last year's total and down from $900 million in 2010. 300,000 Chinese and Indian workers have been laid off out of nearly 1 million employed in gem-cutting in these two countries, where most manufacturing is done.”

 

Critical phase for global diamond industry

Critical phase for global diamond industry

 

A report published in bbc.com says that mining companies Anglo American and Lonmin are cutting thousands of jobs as commodity prices fall. Sources from Anglo say the Company would cut 6,000 posts from office and other roles not directly related to production.
 

The Company, which has some 150,000 employees globally, said employee numbers would be reduced by 35% after the job-cuts, which would also be accompanied by asset sales. Anglo posted a pre-tax loss of

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.9bn for the six months to 30 June.
 

Industry sources in India say,

“Rough diamond prices have swelled by 65% during last three years, while on the other hand, the polished diamond prices have either remained stagnant or reduced by 15 to 20%.”


It may be because of the same reason that about 65% of the rough were rejected by De Beers’ sightholders at the Company’s July 2015 sight. One of the sightholders said that even if De Beers offers the same goods at 5% reduced price, it will not be affordable to them.
 

What worsens the situation further is that the global diamond manufacturers and dealers are at mercy of just a handful of miners, which control most of the world's diamond production. So they don’t have any choice but to pass on high costs further down the supply chain. No major diamond mine has been discovered during last two decades. The miners say they have to invest heavily to keep supplies coming. According to an estimate, production in 2013 was down by 26% since 2005. Now it has risen but very slightly.
 

Coming back to India, space booking date for the ambitious project of Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) has been postponed for the third time in a row recently because of the prevailing ‘poor’ conditions over the industry. According to SDB Committee, some 12,000 players had shown interest a month ago to book an office space there but none of them turned up on the booking date last week to book a space, a Times of India report says.
 

So, it’s not the only issue of synthetics being mixed with the natural ones, there is a gamut of issues (mentioned above) which has ‘rotten’ the entire supply chain of the global diamond industry. Of course, doyens know well the worsening condition of the industry, but it would not be easy for a few leaders make it healthy again. The need of the hour today is that the global industry leaders should come together on a one common platform urgently to introduce some short as well as long term measures to address these issues, because it is not problem only of India, Israel, Belgium, Botswana or South Africa, it is a problem of the entire global diamond industry.

 

 


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2015/07/27

The first edition of Mineral & Gem Asia concluded on a positive note at AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong on 30 June 2015, with over 4,600 local and overseas visitors attending the fair. Organiser UBM Asia expressed that more than 1,900 of the total number of visitors were trade buyers including exhibitors and visitors from June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.
 


“The launch of Mineral & Gem Asia was an important milestone in UBM Asia’s fair history. We were glad that the fair had received great support from the industry. Over 100 exhibitors showcased the world’s rare and invaluable minerals & fossils as well as decorative gemstone products. It gave global buyers a platform to source effectively from suppliers from around the world without having to travel to many overseas shows,”
 

said Mr Wolfram Diener, Senior Vice President, UBM Asia. He excited the extraordinary exhibits featured in the fair.

 “It was a privilege for UBM Asia to have been given the opportunity to showcase rare and well-preserved fossils at our show, thanks to the Stephen Hui Geological Museum of The University of Hong Kong. Among these exhibits were the Permian invertebrate fossils and Jurassic and Tertiary plant fossils unearthed from Lantau Island and Dong Ping Chau in Hong Kong,” Mr Diener continued.

The fair featured 103 exhibitors from 27 countries & regions while the visitors came from 55 countries and regions in Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, Oceania, Middle East, Central, North & South America. Mineral & Gem Asia is recommended by The Munich Show.
 

"As the world's No 1 hub for gems and jewellery Hong Kong is the perfect place to establish an international mineral show. UBM did a great job in organizing this first edition of "Mineral & Gem Asia". With its modern venue, a high quality exhibitor list and the attracting special exhibition this was an excellent start with the potential to become Asia's leading mineral show,"
 

said by Mr Christoph Keilmann, CEO of Mineralientage München Fachmesse GmbH, the fair organiser of The Munich Show.

Hong Kong-based visitors totalled 2,981. The largest group of visitors from outside Hong Kong came from mainland China, the number recorded being 835. The mainland was followed by Taiwan, with 126; India, with 83; Thailand, with 82; Japan, with 62 and Australia, with 41.

Dino World
Apart from the spectacular display of rare mineral specimens, the showcase of three dinosaurs – Tyrannosaurus rex-King Kong, the Allosaurus and the Suuwassea – was also well-received by the visitors as they were being displayed to the public for the first time in Asia. A three-dimensional model of the Thermopolis Archaeopteryx and an Archaeopteryx fossil were also very popular among the visitors.
 



Panel of Experts
Seminars conducted by prominent speakers from around the world were popular among the attendees.  Six seminars discussed a variety of topics, including minerals, gemstones and gold specimen collecting.  Among the speakers were Mr Bryan Lees, Miss Monica Kitt, Mr Dougal Pitt, Mr Wayne Leicht, Mr Mark Mauthner and Dr Edward Liu.  
 

      
The fair will be renamed Mineral, Gem & Fossil Asia and will be held from 24 to 27 June 2016 at AsiaWorld-Expo.   The June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, meanwhile, will be held from 23 to 26 June 2016 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.  This special arrangement will enable gemstone exhibitors at the June Fair to attend the Mineral, Gem & Fossil Asia.  In addition, an enhanced advertising and promotion campaign will be executed to attract more trade buyers to the fair.

 

 


Please visit www.JewelleryNewsAsia.com for more industry news and features.

 

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2015/07/24

There’s a lot of talk in the US jewellery industry about the changing market environment. Fuelled by the dire predictions of market research analysts, they talk about a world where the newest generation to enter the market, millennials, no longer want jewellery, especially diamond jewellery.
 

Industry professionals, retailers and manufacturers, worry that these young shoppers are distracted by other things in the marketplace, such as smart phones. That they look at jewellery as something older people wear. They are also concerned about the ethical problems with mining and distributing jewellery and gems, particularly with diamonds. People also worry these new shoppers have very little money. The list of anxieties goes on and on and on.
 

These are all excuses. It’s the job of those in the jewellery industry to make their products appealing to all people. The fact that people in the US may be less motivated to buy jewellery is the fault of the jewellery industry in the US to create an environment that will engage people. It’s also a failure of the worldwide jewellery industry to create appealing products.

 

The Glory of Dawn by Shanghai Kimberlite Diamond Co Ltd

The Glory of Dawn by Shanghai Kimberlite Diamond Co Ltd

 

There are plenty of things the jewellery industry doesn’t control, such as the cost of materials, changing economies, geopolitical issues and changing tastes. However, there are things the industry does control. The two most important things the industry has control over are what jewellery to sell and how to market it.
 

I spend a lot of my time writing about high jewellery. I know its popularity and appeal is worldwide and includes people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. My social media platforms have people clamouring to see beautiful pieces of jewellery.
 

My argument is that the materials, the technology and skill (through machinery or by hand) is available to create well-design, well-constructed jewellery at any price point. Just because it’s inexpensive, it doesn’t mean it should be cheaply designed and made. Currently, there isn’t enough diversity in the jewellery being sold in the mass market.
 

There’s something else missing: an appealing reason to buy jewellery. Outside of a celebrity partnership, the marketing of jewels is underwhelming. There’s all this talk about emotional appeal of jewellery but the techniques being used are for a 20th century world. The story and the emotional appeal have to attract a 21st clientele.
 

My last column dealt with the skill at which high jewellery brands are able to tell their stories and produce pieces that back up those stories. There’s no reason why other market segments can’t do the same thing.
 

One more thing, people in the US are still buying jewellery at strong rates. This includes the baby boomer generation, which has more money than ever, the millennials, and all the generations in between.
 

People still want to buy jewellery. Anyone who says that isn’t the case is wrong.

 

 


Please visit www.JewelleryNewsAsia.com for more industry news and features.

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2015/07/22

I recently had lunch with a company that creates lab-grown diamonds. I have come across such products before, but I have to admit that I knew little about them and there were some surprising things to emerge from the table that day.
 

The company that I met with is called Anata, and over lunch in the wonderful surrounds of the Kensington Roof Gardens on one of the sunniest afternoons of the year in London, they told me all about how they had a strong foothold in the memorial market – making diamonds from carbon loved ones’ ashes – but were now taking the same principles and pushing into the celebratory market by using carbon from living loved ones, such as locks of a baby’s hair or the mane of a horse.

 

Red round-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

Red round-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

 

White diamonds are hard to make

The most interesting fact I discovered was that white is the hardest colour of diamond to create artificially. This struck me as particularly ironic, as in nature white is the most common colour. The advantages to this, Anata said, are that it can focus on creating some of the more rare colours of diamonds – reds, oranges, yellows, blues – for a fraction of the price you would have to pay for one dug out of the ground.

 

Lab-grown diamonds have inclusions

My preconception of lab-grown diamonds is that they would be completely perfect, with no inclusions – they are made to order in a lab after all. But no, lab-grown diamonds do have flaws, some pretty major ones judging by the samples I put to the loupe at lunch. Anata UK operations manager Anita Bolton told me of one diamond she was taking to a client – she hand delivers all the diamonds grown for customers in the UK – and how she feared the worst when the diamond, which had been grown from the ashes of her client’s deceased husband, presented a huge, black inclusion. However, the story had a happy ending when the client chose to see the inclusion as her late husband making his presence known.

 

Yellow-orange square-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

Yellow-orange square-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

 

Two weeks from carbon to diamond

Another preconception I had of lab-grown diamonds is that they take months and months to grow, but Anata’s team in St Petersburg can grow a diamond in just two weeks by crystalising carbon in a high-pressure, high-temperature machine. This depends on size and colour, of course, with larger diamonds taking longer to grow, and also white diamonds – or as close to white as they can get – taking longer.

 

A cup of carbon

One of the questions I asked at lunch was – how much carbon do you need to grow a diamond? The general answer is that it takes about half a cup of whatever carbon source you choose. This means that if you do choose to celebrate the birth of a baby by making a diamond from its hair, you would need to shave the baby’s whole head (and then some). However, you can actually mix different sources of carbon together so you could always have some of baby’s hair, some of mum’s and some of dad’s.

 

Light blue round-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

Light blue round-cut lab-grown diamond by Anata

 

 


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