10 Things Rocking the Industry, July–August 2016



SHOWS

For years, attendees of jewelry market week in Las Vegas have had to sacrifice Memorial Day to travel. Next year, however, they’ll be free to enjoy the holiday. The invite-only LUXURY show will start Friday, June 2, and run through Sunday, June 4. LUXURY opens to all JCK badge holders on the same day that JCK kicks off, Monday, June 5; both shows conclude Thursday, June 8. “We recognize and are sensitive to the several hundred companies across LUXURY and JCK that observe these holidays,” explains Reed Jewelry Group senior vice president Yancy Weinrich. Be sure to check the schedule for other jewelry events happening during 2017 market week.

Elemental Designs earrings in blackened sterling silver with yellow, black, and orange Sonora stone and black and brown diamonds; price on request; GuitaM, NYC; 917-496-6072; guitam.com

 

DESIGNERS

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In June, John Hardy, the latest brand to “go retail,” said it would open stores in Houston and New York City this fall. CEO Robert Hanson tells JCK that the company is not “focusing on becoming a big retailer,” but plans a third store next year and—if all goes according to plan—three or four more in the next few years. The stores endeavor to “bring the brand to life,” he says—similar to what people experience when they visit the John Hardy workshop in Bali. “A lot of luxury brands are very formal in how they deal with their clients,” Hanson says. “We want the experience to be warm, informal, and immersive.”

Modern Chain 18k gold diamond clasp and diamond bracelets; $13,000–$19,500; John Hardy, NYC; 888-838-3022; johnhardy.com

 

AWARDS

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Sunday, June 12, was a historic night for the Tony Awards: All four winners in the musical performance categories were actors of color; the telecast had its highest ratings in 15 years; and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber broke out a tambourine. What’s more, there were no major fashion disasters, for which Vogue editor—and self–proclaimed “mistress of the wardrobe”—Anna Wintour can likely take credit. In a very subtle (and surely unintentional) nod to The Devil Wears Prada, spring florals were everywhere, from the gowns on nominees including Lupita Nyong’o, Sophie Okonedo, and Laura Benanti to the red-carpet backdrop, a wall filled with 70,000 Colombian roses. Amid all the blossoms, the jewels were classy and understated…sometimes a bit too understated (ahem, Jessica Lange!). Perhaps Wintour can bring in a mistress of the gems next June? Anna, we’re here for you.

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Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks—nominated for The Color Purple—dazzled in blue, including this sapphire paraiba tourmaline diamond ring by Oscar Heyman ($34,000).

 

DIAMONDS

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The diamond industry wants to find this century’s “A Diamond Is Forever” (even though that catchphrase is still being used by its owner, De Beers). At a packed breakfast meeting at JCK Las Vegas, the Diamond Producers Association unveiled its new category-marketing platform: “Real is rare. Rare is a diamond.” While many assumed the slogan takes aim at synthetics, the DPA’s CEO, Jean-Marc Lieberherr, says that’s incorrect—for the most part: “?‘Real is rare’ [gets to the] essence of what makes diamonds the unique product they are. If you get to that unique essence, it is not surprising that people would look at it and say that is anti-synthetic.”

 

COLORS

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The secondary market is having a blue streak. In recent years, the Blue Moon, the Oppenheimer Blue, and the Shirley Temple Blue have all hit the auction block. And on June 9, Christie’s sold the 24.18 ct. fancy vivid Cullinan Dream for $25.4 million (a little more than $1 million a carat), setting a record for a fancy intense blue diamond sold at auction. The stone is notable for its provenance: It is one of four blues cut from a 122.52 ct. blue rough discovered in 2014 at the Cullinan mine in South Africa.

The 24.18 ct. cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut fancy intense blue diamond is flanked by 2.36 cts. t.w. tapered baguette-cut diamonds.

 

MAJORS

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In June, Signet’s stock should have been riding high, especially after announcing on May 26 that comp sales had risen 2.4 percent when most public retailers have been struggling. Instead, shares had a mini-crash—from $108.37 post-results to $85.90 on June 7—as the company was besieged by inquiries about credit policies and a series of BuzzFeed articles (re-posted all over the Internet) detailing allegedly botched repairs, including several instances where customers said their diamonds were switched for simulants. Signet said the questions stemmed from an “organized campaign” by short sellers, adding that more than 99 percent of its 4 million repairs per year are completed without incident. The company hired Goldman Sachs to review its credit policies.

 

DISCOVERIES

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Archaeologists confirmed that a gold-filled shipwreck discovered by geologists in 2008 was the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), a ship that disappeared en route from Lisbon, Portugal, to India in 1533. Geologists were excavating a potential mining site off the Namibian coast for the Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint operation between the government of Namibia and De Beers, when the wreck was found. The treasure on board, including $13 million in gold coins from Portugal, Spain, and the former Italian city-states of Florence and Venice, will go to Namibia.

 

BANKS

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Yet another bank has fled the diamond and jewelry business: Standard Chartered, generally considered the industry’s second-largest lender with a reported $2 billion portfolio, is shutting its 6-year-old diamond division. The news wasn’t exactly a shock: Managing director Anna Martin left two years ago to join GIA, the bank recently announced it was tightening up diamond lending criteria, and it was caught up in the 2013 default of Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery. But the closing is another blow to an industry already reeling from the twin defections of Bank Leumi and JPMorgan Chase as well as the 2014 closure of Antwerp Diamond Bank.

Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai

 

AUCTIONS

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In November 2013, the Pink Star sold at Sotheby’s New York for $83 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a diamond. Until a few months later, that is, when the buyer backed out, and the auction house had to take the stone back into inventory. Now, with colored diamonds garnering record prices (if not $83 million), Sotheby’s announced it had found two partners for the 59.6 ct. stone—Mellen Inc. and Diacore, the stone’s original cutter. The trio said they were confident the fancy vivid internally flawless stone would find a buyer. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sotheby’s calls the Pink Star “one of the World’s Great Natural Treasures.”

 

STATS

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While lab-grown diamond sales remain a minor part of the overall jewelry market, their adoption rate has tripled, says market research firm The NPD Group, which now offers statistics about the industry. “The adoption rate is tiny, but it is growing,” says Chris Casey, managing director of diamonds for NPD. “Does it matter now? Not really. But it’s something to pay attention to.” He adds that jewelers that do sell synthetics are mostly selling bread-and-butter goods—in particular, rounds from 0.7 ct. to 1.49 cts. “There has always been discussion: Do they go small? Do they go big?” Casey says. “They seem to be going for the volume play rather than the fringe play.”

 

(Hands: Brostock/Thinkstock; Brooks: Bruce Glikas; Signet: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy)