5 Things Rocking the Industry: September–October 2018



SHOWS

In July, the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, became the latest company to say it no longer had time to exhibit at Baselworld, the preeminent, century-old watch fair. It’s the latest blow for the Swiss-based event, which in 2018 attracted just 600 exhibitors, half its 2017 number. On CNBC, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek called fair management “a little bit arrogant, a little bit snobby.” Baselworld owner MCH Group admitted the defection was a “setback”—but just how much of one was illustrated five days after Swatch’s announcement, when CEO René Kamm abruptly resigned after nearly 20 years of service.

(Above) Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer in 42 mm stainless steel case with rubber strap; $4,750; Omega; 201-272-1400; omegawatches.com

 

Forevermark tribute collection diamond hoopsRETAIL

Forevermark is becoming the latest brand to go retail. In November, the De Beers diamond line will open its first U.S. brick-and-mortar store in Walnut Creek, Calif., owned and operated by Padis Jewelry, a longtime Forevermark partner. If the under-500-square-foot store clicks, there may be more, says Forevermark US president Charles Stanley, though the company wants to keep its partner retailers running them. “We’ll see what we learn from this,” he says. “Then we’ll see where it leads.”

Tribute collection diamond hoop earrings in 18k yellow gold; price on request; Forevermark; 203-388-3544; forevermark.com

 

Marie Antoinette pearl necklaceAUCTIONS

Lovers of historic jewelry lost their heads over Sotheby’s announcement that it would auction pieces once owned by Marie Antoinette in Geneva on Nov. 12. In 1791, as the French Revolution raged, the queen—whose love of jewelry partly caused her overthrow (see the “affair of the diamond necklace”)—shipped some jewels to Belgium, then ruled by her sister. They were passed down through generations of European royalty before coming to Sotheby’s. The top item—a diamond necklace holding a 26 mm by 18 mm natural pearl—carries a $1.2 million estimate. That’s a whole lot of cake.

The former French queen’s pearl and diamond necklace is estimated to sell for $200,000–$300,000.

 

Featherstone Wonder Woman cuffMETALS

Rock stars showing off their platinum albums may want to swap them for some golds, as the white metal is having some pretty gray days. In July, its spot price hit $810, a 14-year low. At press time, it had recovered to $835, but still lagged gold by nearly $400. In fact, platinum has now trailed gold for the past two years, the longest such run since the 18th century. More surprising, platinum had also fallen $100 behind its younger sibling palladium. Analysts blamed the decline on falling sales of diesel cars, which use platinum in their catalytic converters.

Featherstone Fine Jewelry’s 2018 AGTA Spectrum–winning platinum Wonder Woman cuff with aquamarines, tanzanites, blue zircons, lavender spinels, tourmalines, and diamonds

 

Brilliant Earth ceylon sapphire ringBRANDS

The Supreme Court has spoken—and most jewelers liked what it had to say. In June, the court ruled 5–4 in South Dakota v. ­Wayfair Inc. that states could require e-tailers to collect sales tax from consumers in states where sellers don’t have a physical presence. The reaction was immediate: At press time, e-tailer Blue Nile was charging sales tax in 11 states (previously it charged in only three). And Brilliant Earth put up a notice that because of the decision, its tax collection policies may soon change.

Brilliant Earth’s 2017 JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award–winning ethically sourced Ceylon sapphire ring

Necklace: Courtesy of Sotheby’s