UpFront

CSO RAISES & LOWERS PRICES ON ROUGH

De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation announced an overall 3% increase in rough diamond prices in July. The action ranges from big increases for big diamonds to actual reductions for smaller, lower-quality stones.

The increases average 7% for 1-ct. rough and rise along with the size (anything over the top size category of 10.8 cts. is negotiated individually). Prices fell for some smaller rough (beginning with 11 points, according to some sources). The CSO declines to offer details about the decreases.

The price changes reflect an overall strong demand for better-quality diamonds in the retail market, according to CSO sources. They acknowledge that some analysts believe the “rebalancing” of prices for small goods is a move against Australia’s Argyle mine, which recently broke from the CSO network. But they say the decrease reflects an oversupply of many types of small goods. They add that some De Beers mines produce smaller goods that also are affected by the decrease.

One top executive who works closely with the CSO does believe Argyle’s break is a factor. “Argyle issued a direct challenge, and the CSO is not going to sit back and allow them to take a large chunk of the small goods market,” he says. However, he agrees that many categories of small diamonds were already trading at discounts because of oversupply. “This decision reflects the fact the CSO has less control over the small-goods market than the larger-stone market,” he says. “The CSO price actions exacerbate this situation.”

Supplies of larger, better qualities have been extremely tight this year. In fact, some categories of rough from the CSO are trading at premiums of 10%-15%. CSO sources say the shortages are market-driven, not created to boost prices.

The CSO’s sight allocation in July contained huge reductions of smaller goods. The total sight was an estimated $400 million — 20% to 25% below previous sights this year. Allocations to India (which typically accounts for a lot of smaller goods) were down 25% across the board.

GREDINGER LEAVES IJO

The Independent Jewelers Organization got an early and unexpected surprise for its 25th anniversary in July: The resignation of Jack Gredinger, its energetic president and chief executive officer. IJO, based in Westport, Conn., is the world’s largest buying group of retail jewelers, with close to 1,000 members in the U.S., England, Canada and Australia.

Bill Roberts, the founder, owner and chairman of IJO, had groomed Gredinger to be his successor and planned to announce his own retirement at the group’s July show in Toronto. Instead, he was expected to temporarily assume the title of president and CEO. His son Jeff Roberts, IJO’s executive vice president and a 16-year veteran who directs its buying operations, will handle Gredinger’s day-to-day duties. If he does them well, Bill Roberts told JCK, he could be named president by January.

Gredinger resigned June 28 after about a month’s deliberation. He planned to start a business consulting firm in Trumball, Conn., to help jewelry retailers and manufacturers “develop and execute success strategies.”

His departure “is no reflection on IJO,” Gredinger said. “I’ve spent 20 years there, and I wish everyone there well and all good things.” He said the change enables him to do more for those in the jewelry industry than he could within the confines of an organization.

No other reasons were given for the resignation. However, Roberts, who launched the group in 1976, planned to sell his ownership of IJO in connection with his retirement and had several potential buyers. Gredinger was one. But Roberts also was “seriously considering” an offer from Jeff Roberts and some backers. In early July, the elder Roberts said the sale was “on the back burner” for the moment.

DIAMOND JEWELRY SALES INCREASE 8% IN 1995

Sales of diamond jewelry in U.S. retail outlets grew 8% to $16.8 billion in 1995, says the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency on behalf of De Beers. That represents the fifth year of steady growth.

The bulk of this increase was in women’s diamond jewelry other than bridal pieces. “The U.S. market continues to see overall momentum in diamond jewelry sales,” says Derek Palmer, De Beers’ regional director for the Americas. “We expect this trend to continue based on the recent performance of the economy and leading economic indicators.”

One reason for this optimism is steady consumer confidence and increasing sentiment for diamonds — especially larger stones, says JWT. To tap into that sentiment, De Beers has launched a new advertising campaign for solitaire necklaces. “Thus far we have 80 manufacturers who have signed on to create the necklaces, and many retailers will feature them in catalogs they mail this Christmas,” says Jim Haag, managing director of the De Beers account for JWT.

JWT points to differences in sales figures between 1994 and 1995. In 1995, consumers spent $16.8 billion for 28.6 million pieces, yielding an average price of $588 per piece. That’s considerably lower than the $713 average price reported for 1994. JWT blames underreporting in 1994 and earlier surveys. “We found that many women responding to our survey did not include jewelry containing diamonds when most of the value was in the gold or other stones,” says Stacy Styles, a senior partner and director of strategic planning at JWT.

Breaking down who acquired what, bridal and men’s diamond jewelry sales were virtually unchanged from 1994. But women’s diamond jewelry sales grew from 18.6 million to 20.8 million pieces last year, up nearly 12%. About a quarter of that was in the women’s self-purchase market, says Styles.

Within the women’s non-bridal diamond jewelry category, rings accounted for 39.8% of total pieces and 50.4% of total value; tennis bracelets, 11% of pieces and 14% of value; earrings, 19.3% of pieces and 12% of value; and necklaces, 15% of pieces and 9.1% of value. Watches and post-marital diamond engagement rings accounted for the remainder in this category.

Worldwide, the U.S. accounted for 32%-33% of all diamond jewelry sales by value, with Japan a close second at 31%-32%, Europe at 15% and East Asia at 7%. All others totaled 14%.

CALNON TO JOIN QVC AS VP OF JEWELRY

John Calnon was scheduled to step down in late July as vice president of the World Gold Council to become vice president of jewelry merchandising at QVC, the national shop-at-home TV network headquartered in West Chester.

The newly created post is part of a restructuring of QVC’s merchandising department. Calnon will be responsible for merchandising gemstones, gold, silver and watches. He also will oversee jewelry design, be responsible for QVC’s jewelry manufacturing operation and be involved in everything from sourcing to decisions on what products get on the air.

“QVC and the World Gold Council have always been colleagues in capturing the fine jewelry market and enhancing the public’s appreciation of gold,” says Darlene Daggett, executive vice president of merchandising at QVC. “That’s why I’m particularly delighted that John will be joining us. I’m confident the initiatives John helped to formulate at the WGC will create many golden opportunities for QVC, one of the world’s largest purveyors of gold jewelry.”

QVC is seen in more than 54 million U.S. households and has total annual sales of $1.5 billion.

ENVIRONMENTAL PANEL OKS CANADIAN DIAMOND MINE

A four-member environmental panel has given its go-ahead to a diamond mine proposed by BHP/Diamet Resources in the Lac de Gras region of Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The federal government is expected to follow suit, clearing the way for mining to begin.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency concluded the “environmental effects of the project are predictable and mitigable” and recommended approval. The agency’s June 21 report does recommend that the government and Aboriginal peoples in the area “work toward a quick and equitable settlement of outstanding land claims.”

The agency also recommends that BHP be required to submit annual reports of its environmental and socioeconomic programs. Specifically, the agency wants BHP to monitor air and water quality, manage tailings effectively and provide cash compensation for any loss of fish habitat (fishing is crucial to local tribespeople).

The report also calls on the government to establish procedures for diamond valuation and to put the system in place before the mine goes into full production.

The mine is expected to yield up to 3 million carats yearly once operations begin (which the company hopes is in 1998) and 5 million within five years. The diamonds are expected to come from four main kimberlite pipes.

PRECIOUS METAL WATCHES DEFY DOWNWARD TREND

U.S. imports of watches made with precious-metal cases jumped 30% to 2.6 million units in 1995 even as overall watch imports fell 9% to 218.8 million units, according to American Watch Association’s compilation of Department of Commerce statistics.

But while total import volume fell, total value rose 4% to $2.17 billion. The value of watches with precious-metal cases alone increased 27% to a five-year record high of $291 million.

The 30% increase in the number of units imported with precious-metal cases represents a clean upward break after three years of flat import figures.

Major suppliers in this category last year were China, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Japan. Units from China doubled while units from Hong Kong fell by half, evidence of a manufacturing shift from Hong Kong to mainland China. Swiss imports in this group dropped 10% while units from Japan rose slightly.

In terms of value (precious-metal cases), Swiss imports represented 83% of the total, followed by China, Hong Kong and Japan.

In terms of unit volume, quartz analog watches accounted for 57% of all U.S. imports, up from 54% in 1994. Digitals totaled 36% of all imports (down 1%), mechanicals were less than 1% and all others accounted for the rest. By value, quartz analogs accounted for 74%.

For the first time, AWA compiled and published watch export data also. Exports grew 7% to 8.7 million units and 11% to $222.7 million. Canada received the greatest number of watches, followed by Hong Kong, Japan and Switzerland. In terms of export value, Switzerland received 21%, Canada 19%, Japan 16% and Hong Kong 12%. Interestingly, 23% of all U.S. exports were pocket watches or stop watches; quartz analogs still topped the list at 39% of exports.

PEGGY WILLETT LEAVES AGTA POST

Peggy Willett has resigned as executive director of the American Gem Trade Association. She plans to stay in the jewelry industry and is studying several offers.

“This has been a bittersweet time for me because my years working for AGTA have been an absolute joy and because AGTA has always been such a big part of my life,” says Willett.

Willett won’t take credit for any of AGTA’s successes in the nine years she worked for the organization. “It has been a partnership between myself, the members, the board and the staff ,” she says. “I singly cannot take credit for any of the achievements; my job was to implement board policies.”

The AGTA board accepted Willett’s resignation with regret and formed a search committee to search for a replacement. Inquiries should be directed to AGTA’s Ron Ainsworth at (800) 972-1162 or (214) 742-4367.

WEDLO MAY FACE SALE OR LIQUIDATION

Wedlo of Birmingham, Ala. — parent of Lorch Diamond Centers — could be sold or liquidated within a year, based on a preliminary plan submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in June.

Wedlo, with 30 stores and 250 employees, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in February. The filing resulted largely from a controversial state court ruling that allowed Alabama consumers to sue credit retailers for using a state-approved formula when selling credit insurance (see JCK, March 1996, p. 18). The results were devastating for Alabama retailers, with some 2,500 suits filed over several months. A new state law overturned the ruling, but it came too late to help Wedlo.

Wedlo President Robert Keller tells JCK he doesn’t think the company will be liquidated. He wouldn’t speculate on possible buyers, but Wedlo reportedly has been in touch with several regional jewelry chains, including A.A. Friedman and Friedman Inc.

Going-out-of-business sales have started already at some Lorch stores, and the company is collecting on accounts payable.

Meanwhile, bankruptcy court gave its approval for Zale Corp. to buy the 26 leased jewelry departments that Wedlo operates in Parisian department stores in the Southeast. The departments will be added to Zale’s Diamond Park division, which operates leased departments in 188 department stores around the country.

SUPERSTORE OWNERS REVEAL SECRETS

Superstores. Big Boxes. Category killers. Power retailers.

Call them what you will, mega-stores that offer a broad variety and depth of merchandise in a single product category are unsettling to smaller independents who don’t have the space or budget to do the same. But the smaller retailer shouldn’t worry, say two jewelers who are familiar with superstores. One is Jeffrey Comment, chairman of Helzberg Diamonds, North Kansas City, Mo., which operates some Jewelry3 superstores in addition to its regular stores. The other is Robert Keller, president of Lorch Diamond Centers, Birmingham, Ala., which recently closed its successful superstore. Both men discussed the topic at a seminar during the recent JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

“You have absolutely nothing to be concerned with if a superstore opens near you — if you do your business very well,” said Keller. “How profitable you are depends on how powerful a retailer you are.”

Added Comment, “A superstore is just a piece of real estate. It’s not a matter of how big your store is. If we focus on taking care of the customer instead of focusing on the competition, our business and industry will be much better.” He said real “power retailing” involves these basics:

  • Have a mission statement. Most retailers don’t, so they and their staffs don’t understand the real mission of the business. Helzberg hangs a framed copy of its mission statement in each store for all to see.

  • Hire the right people, then train, motivate and compensate them adequately. They will respond in kind. “We listen to our people,” said Comment. “I find the best ideas come not from management but from our salespeople.”

  • Look at your merchandising strategy and your market niche. “Understand your customers, what they like and what they can afford,” he said. “Too many people try to serve everyone, and none do it well. We need to know who we are, who our customers are and then build our assortments accordingly.”

  • Have a pricing strategy that makes sense. “[Jewelers] have collectively confused the customer to the point where they say, ‘Can I trust any pricing in the jewelry category?’ If we want to grow the jewelry category, we need a pricing strategy that makes sense.”

  • Have a marketing strategy that is customer-driven. “Build relationships between customers and salespeople. It’s personal, effective and it’s cheap,” he said. “It’s one of the few things you can still do in business that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

  • Real estate.

  • Have good data systems to support the business.

“When the industry perfects this type of ‘power retailing,'” he said, “then the category of jewelry in the U.S.A. will grow and prosper.”

A different story: Lorch Diamond Centers, meanwhile, had a successful jewelry superstore in Birmingham, Ala., but closed it anyway.

Called Goodwin Jewelry, the superstore was twice the size of a typical Lorch store (5,000 vs. 2,000 sq. ft.) and had three times as much inventory. “We had breadth [of product] as well as depth,” said Keller. “We categorized and departmentalized products and grouped by themes.” One example: all Disney clocks, watches and jewelry were displayed in one section. “We did the same thing with designers, and doubled business.”

But closer review showed the success wasn’t due to the superstore concept alone, he said. A traditional Lorch store only a half mile away saw a 40% increase in sales in the same period. The reason: “great retailing skills, including developing customer relationships,” said Keller.

The review also showed the superstore didn’t generate as much return-on-investment as the traditional store. “It took more advertising and had a higher payroll,” he explained. So when the company was restructured in late 1995, the superstore was sold.

“We all want to know what the wave of the future is, and in retailing, many think it is superstores,” said Keller. “But good retailing, if well-executed — and that includes serving customers, listening to customers and making shopping pleasurable for them — is always the wave of the future.”

AGTA ANNOUNCES CUTTING EDGE WINNERS

The American Gem Trade Association announced the winners in its sixth annual Cutting Edge Gemstone Competition. The contest is open only to gemstones of natural origin that have been cut in North America by a professional lapidary artist.

Judges for this year’s contest were Arthur Lee Anderson, gem cutter, sculptor and gemologist; Alice Keller, editor of Gems & Gemology; and John S. Lizzadro Sr., owner and president of J.S. Lizzadro in Hinsdale, Ill. The trio winnowed a field of 160-plus entries down to 18 winners and 11 honorable mentions. The winning gemstones were shown at The JCK Show in Las Vegas; winners will be honored at an awards reception to be held Jan. 29 at the AGTA GemFair in Tucson.

Top winners were Mark Gronlund of The Custom Jewelry Shop in Deltona, Fla., and Glenn Lehrer of Lehrer Designs in San Rafael, Cal. Each received three honors.

The list of winners:

CATEGORY A: FACETING
First: Mark Gronlund.
Second: Richard Homer, LFA Enterprises, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Third: David A. Brackna, David A. Brackna Gemcutter, Germantown, Md.
Honorable mentions: Meg Berry, Pala International, Fallbrook, Cal., and Mark Gronlund.
CATEGORY B: CARVING
First: William Cox, William H. Cox Enterprises Inc., Provo, Utah.
Second: Cynthia Marcusson, Cynthia Renee Co., Fallbrook, Cal.
Third: Mark Herschede, Turmali & Herschede, Sanibel, Fla.
Honorable mentions: Tom Harmon, Harmon’s Agate & Silver, Crane, Mont., and Glenn Lehrer.
CATEGORY C: COMBINATION
First: R.A. “Art” Guyon, International Gem Mart, San Antonio, Tex.
Second: Larry C. Winn, AJS Enterprises Inc., Grand Junction, Colo.
Third: Glenn Lehrer.
Honorable mentions: Frank Farnsworth, Idaho Opal & Gem Corp., Pocatello, Idaho, and Kreg Scully, Peterson-Scully Studios, Virginia Beach, Va.
CATEGORY D: PAIRS AND SUITES
First: Justina De Vries, Bettenmann-De Vries, Medford, Ore.
Second: Mark Gronlund.
Third: Brant Whetstone, Gem Consultants International, Irving, Tex.
Honorable mentions: Thomas A. Trozzo, Trozzo, Apache Junction, Ariz., and Glenn Lehrer.
CATEGORY E: OBJECTS OF ART
First: Gil Roberts, North American Gem Carvers, Pilot, Va.
Second: Sherris Cottier Shank, Gemscapes, Southfield, Mich.
Third: Thomas H. Ames, Thomas Harth Ames Ltd., Lakewood, Colo.
Category F: Classic Cuts
First: Stephen H. Newberg, CCCC Co., Houston, Tex.
Second: Justina De Vries.
Third: Ai Van Pham, Gem & Gold Creations, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Honorable mentions: Paul Cory, ITECO Inc., Columbus, Ohio; Ben Kho, Kho International Ltd., Decatur, Ga.; and William H. Day, Day Co., Apache Junction, Ariz.

BULOVA SCHOOL DINNER MOVED TO OCTOBER

A dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Institute of Watchmaking and Jewelry and the Joseph Bulova School has been rescheduled from July 19 to Oct. 25 at the Plaza Hotel inNew York, N.Y.

The fund-raising dinner and awards ceremony will honor Roland Puton, chief executive of Rolex; Michael Barlerin, chief executive for the Americas, World Gold Council; and Herbert Bridge and Robert Bridge of Ben Bridge Jewelers. Dinner chairman is Simon Critchell, president and chief executive of Cartier. For more information, call Bob Weiss at (212) 843-1717.

CAREERFAIR AIMS FOR JOB-SEEKERS

CareerFair, a program designed to recruit candidates into the jewelry industry, will be held Aug. 23 at the Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, Cal.

The event, created by the Jewelers 24-Karat Club of Southern California and the Gemological Institute of America, will precede the Pacific Jewelry Show by one day. About 1,000 people are expected to attend seminars, seek counseling on jewelry industry careers and be interviewed for jobs. One of the most popular features of the event is one-on-one counseling with representatives of leading manufacturing companies, designers, retailers and associations.

Previous CareerFairs were held at the GIA campus in Santa Monica. The move to the Century Plaza will allow for more seminars, says Kathryn Kimmel of GIA, who has organized the event since its inception. Gemological Institute of America, P.O. Box 2110, Santa Monica, CA 90407; (800) 421-7250 or (310) ext. 292.

FTC GUIDES CORRECTION: THE ‘CULTURED’ ISSUE

In the July issue of JCK (Upfront p. 15 and Editorial p. 214), we reported incorrectly that the Federal Trade Commission, in its revised Guides for the Jewelry Industry, had rejected the term “cultured” as a possible description of a synthetic gemstone.The final guides actually make no reference to this term, for or against.

In explanatory notes that the FTC issued along with the revised guides, the term is discussed at some length. The FTC writes: “Although some companies have used the term ‘cultured’ to describe their [synthetic] products for some time [a footnote refers to the description ‘Ramura Cultured Ruby’], no actual evidence about consumer perceptions arising from the use of a term such as ‘cultured ruby’ was submitted.

“However, in Chatham Research Laboratories, 64 FTC at 1074, the Commission found that the phrase ‘Chatham Cultured Emeralds’ was deceptive. Further, several commenters indicated that they regarded the term ‘cultured emerald’ as deceptive. Because there currently is insufficient evidence as to consumer perceptions regarding the use of the term ‘cultured,’ the Commission has not included the term in the guides as a ‘safe harbor’ (e.g. an example of an adequate disclosure).”

Because the FTC chose not to include “cultured” as an adequate disclosure, we incorrectly inferred the FTC regarded it as inadequate. But, as noted, the final guides do not address the subject at all.

NEW DESIGNERS LAUNCH AT JA

Twelve designers made their first appearance at the summer JA International Jewelry Show in New York City. They are:

  • Stuart Adelman, who created his first piece of jewelry at age 15 and today is noted for contemporary classics with traditional gemstones set in an atypical way.

  • Mia Garman, whose MiMa collection focuses on many cultures and elements and whose work is included in the collection of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Catherine Iskiw, a former interior designer whose 18k gold and platinum designs focus on modernity and versatility.

  • Amanda Megibow, a Wharton Business School graduate who left a career in management consulting to create a collection of jewelry that combines the techniques of the ancients with modern chic.

  • Rebecca Myers, whose designs in 18k and 22k gold feature embossed patterns accented by colored gemstones such as boulder opal and multicolored tourmalines. She won this year’s American Jewelry Design Council competition.

  • Kent Raible, who specializes in granulation. He alloys his own gold and is known for his use of vividly colored gems set in granulated gold.

  • Mark Schneider, a third-generation jeweler whose designs range from linear and architectural to whimsical frogs in 18k gold and diamonds.

  • Susan Schultz, a four-time winner of De Beers’ Diamonds Today awards. She has worked as a designer for several manufacturers in New York, N.Y., and is a partner in the design firm Pazia Inc., which produces and markets her collection of sterling silver and gold designs.

  • Tess Sholom, who has pursued careers in medicine and fine arts. She first instituted a respiratory therapy program at Albert Einstein Hospital for patients with chronic pulmonary disorders. Her fine arts studies at New York University led her to costume jewelry design and then to a line of 18k gold, platinum and gemstone jewelry. Her pieces can be found in the personal collections of Lena Horne, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Arlene Francis and other notable women.

  • Alex Soldier, a native of Czechoslovakia who came to the U.S. in 1990. Soldier earned a master’s degree in engineering before turning to jewelry design. He put his engineering knowledge to work developing ways to design contemporary jewelry in 18k gold and platinum studded with diamonds, gems and pearls.

  • Kimberlee Teti, whose designs range from almost-classical rings to witty designs such as bustier-and-garter cuff links. Her wide range of jewelry includes belt buckles in sterling silver and 18k gold set with cabochon colored gems and channel-set diamonds.

  • Susan Van Gilder, who was inspired by the spectrum of ornamental styles of the buildings of New York City. She interprets the scrollwork, columns, cornices and borders in a collection in 18k yellow and white gold, with many convertible designs.

JEWELERS LEAD GROWTH IN GLOBAL PLATINUM USE

Jewelry manufacturing helped to boost worldwide demand for platinum 5% to 4.79 million oz. in 1995. Consumption was at its highest level in 16 years, says Johnson Matthey PLC, a London-based refiner that compiles global statistics on the use and supply of platinum-group metals.

The platinum jewelry market itself expanded 4% to 1.81million oz. Much of this growth came from higher sales of Platinum 1000 (a pure platinum product widely accepted in the Japanese bridal market) and greater platinum use in Europe and the U.S., says JM.

Platinum 1000 items generally contain about 30% more platinum than those made from traditional alloys. The alloy’s purity and whiteness are important selling points in Japan, where JM estimates Platinum 1000 accounts for 10% of total platinum jewelry demand. But its higher cost is expected to limit growth in other jewelry sectors.

While Platinum 1000 is popular, middle-to-lower-priced items sold to teenagers showed the fastest growth in Japan’s platinum jewelry market. Sales grew 33% at middle price ranges and 13% at lower prices — twice the rate of higher priced items. This reduced by 3% the total value of platinum jewelry sold in Japan in 1995.

U.S. platinum use is up, particularly in the bridal sector. North American demand for jewelry use increased nearly 20% last year, to 65,000 oz. U.S. demand centers on lower-to-mid-priced wedding bands, often with gold and small diamonds. The designer market for higher priced goods is growing but still in the early stages of development, says JM.

European demand for platinum was down overall last year, but demand in the jewelry and watch sectors increased thanks primarily to increased use by Italian chain makers and Swiss watch companies. In fact, platinum use in Swiss watch production increased 25%.

Chinese imports of platinum, much of it for use in jewelry, grew by 70,000 oz. to 130,000 oz.

On the supply side, new South African sources are expected to increase this year, and sales from Russia are expected to remain stable. Prices are expected to remain between $390 and $430 per ounce.

WPO MEMBERSDEBATE, FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENTS

Expectations were high at the second annual meeting of the World Cultured Pearl Organization, held in Kobe, Japan, in May. But members returned to their countries disappointed after failing to resolve any issues on the agenda.

Directors had hoped to move on initiatives set forth at the group’s first meeting in June 1995. The WPO was established to increase solidarity among members of the industry, advertise to raise awareness about cultured pearls, set quality standards and provide education to industry members. These issues were heavily debated at the May meeting, but without result.

The major topic was a universal classification system for cultured pearls. Pierre Akkelian, WPO director for Canada, says some directors feared that such standards would hurt dealers by applying set prices to grades and cutting margins. They cited commoditization of the diamond industry resulting from such a system. But other directors argued that classification would make consumers better educated and more confident about the product.

On the matter of advertising, delegates from the U.S. and Italy proposed that exporters collect a 1% levy to fund promotions. However, Japan argued that enforcing such a levy would be almost impossible.

Delegates heard plans for a proposed WPO World Pearl Centre in Kobe; the city government and WPO President Shunsaku Tasaki are working on the project. Land was recently obtained and the WPO hopes to finish the center by 2000.

Canada, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Switzerland, the U.S., Japan, Singapore, Thailand, the Pearl Cultivators Association and the Exporters Association were represented at the meeting. Indonesia sent observers. China, Hong Kong, Australia and France did not attend.

ZALE CORP. NOW TRADES ON N.Y. STOCK EXCHANGE

Zale Corp. now trades its common stock and warrants on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ZLC.” The company switched from the NASDAQ system in June.

The move symbolizes Zale’s revival under Chairman Robert DiNicola and indicates investors’ and Wall Street’s renewed confidence in the company, which exited from bankruptcy reorganization in mid-1992. NYSE accepts only companies with at least three consecutive profitable years.

CSO FIRST-HALF SALES HIT RECORD $2.75 BILLION

Sales of rough diamonds by De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation reached a record $2.75 billion in the first half of 1996, up 8.2% from the same period of 1995 and 38% from the second half of 1995.

De Beers attributes the record sales to a return of confidence in the diamond industry after it reached an understanding with Russia regarding diamond marketing in February. The understanding was designed to stem the illicit flow of rough diamonds out of Russia that had cut into CSO’s bottom line. Analysts believe the CSO is back in control now and that demand for diamonds, especially better qualities, is rising.

The higher sales figures also reflect a price increase on larger and better quality diamonds the CSO imposed in November. This is where much of the demand has been centered.

Looking ahead, analysts expect little effect on second-half sales from the recent decision by the Argyle mine in Australia to market its own diamonds (see JCK, July 1996, pp. 14-15). Few believe the CSO will restrain its sales in deference to Argyle.

U.S. WATCHIMPORTS

’91 ’92 ’93 ’94 ’95
Watches with precious-metal cases
Units (millions) 3.4 2.0 2.1 2.0 2.6
Value (millions) $199 $164 $174 $230 $291
Watches with other cases
Units (millions) 217.7 232.2 241.5 238.4 216.3
Value (millions) $1,534 $1,587 $1,750 $1,858 $1,881
Total
Units (millions) 221.2 234.2 243.6 240.4 218.9
Value (millions) $1,733 $1,751 $1,924 $2,088 $2,172
Source:U.S. Department of Commerce, American Watch Association

PLATINUM DEMAND FOR USE IN JEWELRY (oz.)

’94 ’95
Europe 100 120
Japan 1,450 1,480
North America 55 65
Rest of Western World 135 145
Source:Johnson Matthey