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Monday, June 27, 2011

Watches by Frédérique Constant for Land and Alpina for Sea

The Frédérique Constant Manufacture Tourbillon Grand Feu.

The Swiss watch brand Frédérique Constant and its subsidiary Alpina have been awfully busy lately producing new models of timepieces.

Among the new releases for Frédérique Constant is its Manufacture Tourbillon Grand Feu featuring a hand-enameled dial. The company says that genuine enamel dials are rare and only made by watch manufacturers with rich traditions.

Enameling is an ancient technique where finely powdered colored glass is applied to a metal plate. The metal plate with the glass powder is then baked in an oven, hot enough to melt the glass. This enameling process produces a deep, shiny surface.

Only few of the plates will survive the 900-plus degree Celsius (1652 degrees Fahrenheit) fire in the oven and produce an even surface. The slightest imperfection in the mixed powder, the supporting metal plate or a dust speckle will ruin the dial and the enameller has to start all over again.

Frédérique Constant developed its tourbillon for the watch in-house. A silicon escapement wheel, which is lighter, uses no lubricant and has better friction properties, than similar wheels. It has a 48-hour power reserve.

The 18k rose gold, round-shape, three-piece case has a 42mm diameter, and a thickness of 11 mm. The strap is made of alligator leather with water-resistant lining with an additional folding buckle.

Meanwhile, Alpina, known as an aviator watch, has taken to the sea with the launch of a new Sailing Collection, in a partnership with the Italian Extreme 40 Catamaran team, Niceforyou.

Yacht Timer caliber AL-880

Emphasizing its strong commitment to the Extreme Sailing Series, an international in-shore racing series that uses 40-foot catamarans, Alpina developed the automatic Yacht Timer caliber AL-880 in-house. The caliber is encapsulated in a stainless steel 30 ATM water-resistant case.

Alpina traces its roots to the 1930s as a manufacturer of military watches, particularly for pilots. The shape of this new seafaring watch resembles Alpina case designs from the past. The new model with sailing countdown function is available either with a white or a black dial. In addition to the new Yacht Timer version, Alpina introduces a lower-priced version, the Alpina Sailing Automatic with 3 hands and a date window and with a similar case and dial design. All Alpina Sailing timepieces are available on rubber strap, metal bracelet or metal mesh bracelet, for absolute comfort and security in the most extreme situations.


Alpina Sailing timepieces will be offered in limited editions and come in special packaging alongside a miniature reproduction of the Extreme 40 Catamaran.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Noor Collection from Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry

Oversized cocktail rings encasing large black onyx gem inside lacy white-gold cages is the cornerstone of the Noor collection.

In a private suite at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas on a floor dominated by the private suites of the Swiss luxury watch companies, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry showcased the Noor collection, as part of Las Vegas Jewelry Week.

Black onyx pendant with 18k white gold and diamonds on silk cord.

The Noor collection, unveiled for the event held during the first week of June, is a line of art-deco style jewels inspired by the sensual transparency of vintage lace, the play of light through its delicate pattern, and the intricate ornamentation of the mosaic and arabesque patterns in Byzantine architecture. The name of the collection is derived from the Arabic word that means “light.”

Mother of pearl with rock crystal overlay center stone with diamonds and black enamel.

The jewelry highlights geometric motifs through the use of enamel, onyx, pearls and white agate with diamonds serving as the foundation of the collection. The materials are set in 18k white or yellow gold.

South Seas pearl cocktail ring with black enamel and diamond scrollwork.
 

Trump said she began the design process for this collection in 2010 while traveling to Morocco, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Oversized cocktail rings encasing large black onyx gems inside lacy white-gold cages, where the stones are visible through the pattern, were a cornerstone of the design aesthetic.

Rock crystal cocktail ring with diamonds and black enamel in 18k gold.


The Ivanka Trump Noor Collection ranges from $1,200 to $50,000 retail prices, with a special one-of-a-kind necklace featuring over 3,000 diamonds valued at $150,000.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Second update 6/25/11: Kimberley Process Allows Zimbabwe to Sell Diamonds from Marange, Or Did it?

Miners at the Marange diamond fields.

The Kimberley Process ended its ban of Zimbabwe diamonds from the controversial Manage diamond fields— which has been the source of murders, human rights abuses and diamond smuggling—according to media reports.It is also the source of what is believed by many to be the largest deposit of diamonds in the world.

Update, 6/24/11, 6:30 p.m. EDT: Apparently these reports may have been issued too soon. After several Twitter exchanges with jewelry industry reporters Michelle Graff of National Jeweler and Rob Bates of JCK, apparently this may not the case. Please read on.

Zimbabwe authorities say the violence and smuggling no longer exists. Human rights group say violence and smuggling continue under the country's military, which is tied to the Zimbabwe ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union, Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe.

Mathieu Yamba, the current Kimberley Process chairman told reporters of the decision following a closed-meeting of the organization Thursday in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Update, 6/24/11, 6:30 p.m. EDT: Yamba did say that the Kimberley Process approved mining in the Mbada and Kanadai mines in the Marange region and that exports from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields will be monitored by two representatives of the Kimberley Process until the organization’s next meeting, as confirmed by media reports. However, as he has done in the past, Yamba gave the approval without the consensus of Kimberley Process members that is needed to approve such a measure.

The Kimberley Process is made up of diamond industry representatives, government officials from 75 countries and non-governmental organizations. The Kimberley Process is charged with preventing trade in illicit diamonds—commonly called “blood” or “conflict” diamonds, depending on whether you have a vested interest in the diamond industry. Illicit diamonds under the organization’s mandate are the result of diamonds being used to fund brutal civil wars where innocent people are being killed and mutilated by those involved in these conflicts.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free.”

Update, 6/24/11, 6:30 p.m. EDT: The U.S. Department of State issued a statement saying that there is no consensus among members on the Zimbabwe issue.

"Contrary to some reporting, the Kinshasa Intersessional did not reach a consensus text. The Chair has circulated a text to participants which did not attract consensus," the statement read. "We believe that work toward a solution must continue, and that until consensus is reached, exports from Marange should not proceed."

As reported Thursday, the civil society coalition, which includes Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, reportedly walked out of the meeting charging that the KPCS is not meeting its most basic commitments to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations, and to provide guarantees to consumers that they are buying clean diamonds.

For its part, Zimbabwe has said it will sell diamonds from Marange with or without KP approval and countries, including China and South Africa, said they will accept their diamonds. There are several other countries willing to do the same.

So regardless of what the KP does, Zimbabwe will sell its diamonds and countries will accept them while NGOs and other countries will protest. So after two days of meetings, nothing has changed.

Here are links to reports on the issue from National Jeweler and JCK.

Update 6/25/11, 6:10 p.m.: Here is a link to a Voice of America story that attempts to explain further what happened at the closed-door meeting.  VOC has consistently provided the most impressive coverage of this long-running issue.

Di Modolo’s Triadra Argento Collection

Triadra necklace With faceted onyx from the Icon collection.

When one considers Di Modolo jewelry, thoughts often turn to a tradition of Italian design and hand craftsmanship. It is also known for its gold jewelry. Not anymore. In an acceptance of the economic realities facing much of the western world, the Milan-based company has introduced a line of silver jewelry based on its signature design and using the same demanding techniques.

Triadra cluster rings with pavé diamonds shown with faceted purple Quartz, pearls and faceted blue quartz.

Known as Triadra Argento Collection, it is based on the same iconic design element of its gold collection, the Triadra, a slice of precious metal shaped like a curvaceous triangle with open spaces. The shape is based on what the company calls the “mystical symbolism” of the numbers three and four.

Cuff With blue topaz and openable hinge from the medallion collection.

Besides the distinctive shape, these small jewelry pieces are linked together in a technique that makes the links look invisible and makes the entire piece appear fluid (the first two photos best exemplify this technique). They also appear with a range of colorful gems that include diamonds, onyx and topaz. The company produced several lines of jewelry based on this shape, technique and use of materials. I got my first look at the new collections during  Las Vegas jewelry week in early June.

Bubble earrings with blue topaz.


Necklaces with diamonds shown with black onyx, white onyx and black diamonds with white onyx from the Spirit collection.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eva Peron’s Stolen Jewelry Recovered in Italy

Police show recovered stolen jewelry once belonging to Eva Perón.

Approximately $8.5 million of jewelry once owned by the famed first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, has been recovered in Italy.

Italian Carabinieri, working with Spanish police, said Wednesday they found the diamond tiara, diamond earrings and rings in a hotel room on the outskirts of Milan, according to media reports.

Police say the jewels were stolen from a shop in Valencia, Spain, in December 2009, according to reports. A man was arrested for the theft last year in Milan.

Eva Perón was the second wife of Argentinean president Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the first lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is known by many all over the world, simply as Evita. Her life was the inspiration of the Broadway musical production of Evita, which played all over the world and was followed by a movie of the same name starring Madonna.

The Collapse of the Kimberley Process Appears Imminent

A Kimberley Process certificate, which ensures that diamonds are conflict-free. Photo credit: De Beers

The Kimberley Process, which has been in a stalemate during the past two years over whether to allow Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from its controversial Marange diamond field, now appears to be breaking apart, according to published reports.

The civil society coalition, one of the three pillars of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, walked out of a meeting of KP members in the Democratic Republic of Congo Thursday saying negotiations with Zimbabwe were harming the scheme’s credibility, according to a report on the Rapaport website, Diamonds.net.

The coalition, which includes Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, reportedly said that the KPCS is not meeting its most basic commitments to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations, and to provide guarantees to consumers that they are buying clean diamonds.

The latest proposal to allow exports from two Marange concessions operated by Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources while other concessions would be subject to a Kimberley Process monitoring team until the next plenary meeting in November, was rejected by the U.S., Canada and Israel at the meeting in Kinshasa, the DOC’s largest city, Diamonds.net reports.

The Kimberley Process requires full consensus from all members to pass a resolution, Diamonds.net reports. Civil society, and the World Diamond Council, which represents the diamond industry, have observer status in the meeting.

Of course, according to the reports I’ve been reading, the KP meeting is being held behind closed doors, typical of how the organization operates even though it exists to ensure consumers that the diamonds they buy have been mined through legal means and without human rights abuses. The public portion of its website hasn’t been updated since February 18.

On Wednesday, Voice of America reported that Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu divided Kimberley Process members saying that his country will keep selling diamonds from the Marange field with or without the Kimberley Process. In speech that was described as a “diatribe” by some KP members, accussed “racist” Western nations of trying to obstruct Zimbabwe from realizing its diamond revenues.

Mpofu also boycotted an earlier meeting of a working group on Zimbabwe, VOA reports. Also in its report, it notes that Anjin, a Chinese firm, is developing parts of Marange in a joint venture with the Zimbabwean government. Mpofu reportedly said Anjin will soon begin to export rough diamonds from Marange.

Zimbabwe is a founding member of the Kimberley Process, an international organization made up of diamond industry representatives, government officials from 75 countries and non-governmental organizations. It is charged with preventing trade in illicit diamonds—commonly called “blood” or “conflict” diamonds, depending on whether you have a vested interested in the diamond industry. Illicit diamonds under the organization’s mandate are the result of diamonds being used to fund brutal civil wars where innocent people are being killed and mutilated by those involved in these conflicts.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free.”

The Marange diamond field, which many say contain the largest deposit of diamonds in the world, has been the scene of murders and other human rights abuses by Robert Mugabe’s government and its military, as well as illegal smuggling of diamonds. The Zimbabwe government insist those abuses have stopped but human rights advocates say they continue; that money from mines is being used to finance the ruling party’s operations, including upcoming elections; and diamond smuggling continues.

To learn more use the search option on this site and plug in the keyword terms "Kimberley Process,"  "Zimbabwe," or "Marange."

Tiffany Names Pat McGuiness CFO and Jim Fernandez as COO


Tiffany & Co. made two changes among its executive officers, effective immediately.

Patrick F. McGuiness, 45, was appointed senior vice president and chief financial officer. McGuiness joined Tiffany in 1990 and has held a variety of management positions within the finance and merchandising divisions. He was promoted to senior vice president - finance in 2007, responsible for Tiffany's worldwide financial functions. With this appointment, he will continue to be responsible for accounting, treasury, financial planning and financial services and will now also be responsible for the company's investor relations program.

James N. Fernandez, 55, was named to the newly-created role of chief operating officer. Fernandez has served as the company's chief financial officer since 1989 and was promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer in 1998. Over the years he added other responsibilities including diamond operations, real estate operations, distribution, manufacturing, customer service and security. He joined Tiffany in 1983.

“These two executives have both developed first-class finance and operations functions, and I consider this to be a natural progression consistent with the Company's continuing organizational development,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO.

Fernandez will continue to report to Kowalski and McGuiness will report to Fernandez, the luxury jeweler said.

Tiffany & Co., based in New York, operates jewelry stores and manufactures products through its subsidiary corporations. Its principal subsidiary is Tiffany and Company, which operates Tiffany & Co.. retail stores and boutiques in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Japan and Europe and engages in direct selling through Internet, catalog and business gift operations.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There's an App for the Jewelry News Network

The Jewelry News Network is steadily growing its digital footprint. It has now gone mobile through an application for Android phones.

The new app is easy to use and is constantly updated so you can quickly learn about the latest news, products and trends in the jewelry  industry anywhere your phone goes. The best part is the app is free. Click on an image for a larger view.

There is advertising on the app but I am assured by Notice Software, an Austin, Texas-based company supplying the service, that it is not intrusive. There will be an iphone version of the app as early as July. I encourage everyone with Android phones to download the application and let me know how you like it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Supersized Fancy Colored Diamond Rings from Jacob & Co.

A 30.11-ct. natural fancy blue gray cushion-cut diamond mounted on a platinum setting. The VVS2 clarity diamond is surrounded with 414 diamonds in a micro-pave setting (3.48 cts.). It retails for $20 million.

As I mentioned previously, I visited the Jacob & Co. showroom at Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry show, and saw so much sparkle from the high-carat diamond jewelry on display that it took me a few minutes to adjust my eyes to normal light afterward.

A 12.38-ct. fancy blue radiant cut diamond mounted on a platinum and 18k rose gold ring. The IF clarity diamond is surrounded by 1.01 cts. of fancy pink diamonds and 1.25 cts. of white diamonds in a micro-pave setting. It retails for $12.25 million.

Jacob Arabo, founder and owner of the company known for its celebrity clientele and over-the-top bling appeal, really out-did himself this time. Included in this jewelry display were three fancy colored diamond rings ranging in price from $10 million to $20 million. The folks at Jacob & Co. were kind enough to give me images of these statement rings so I can share them with you. All of the diamonds come with Gemological Institute of America reports that speak to their authenticity.

A 12.95-ct. fancy purple-pink radiant cut diamond engagement ring. The IF clarity diamond is mounted on a platinum and 18k rose gold splint shank setting that's mounted with 87 white diamonds (1.17 cts.) and 124 pink diamonds (0.31 cts.) in a micro-pave setting It retails for $11.6 million.

These are rings that would even impress Kim Kardashian.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chopard Unveils its Winter Collection

Xtravaganza pendants

Chopard, the Geneva-based luxury watch and jewelry company, recently released several new jewelry and watch items as part of its Winter collection for women.

Ice Cube Rings
The company’s iconic Ice Cube linehas been expanded to include mini gold and diamond cubes that can be worn as wedding bands or as tokens of love. A single row of cubes that wind around the finger is the focal point of this geometric yet gentle design. The new line is available in three colors of gold; and in polished, gem-set or partially gem-set versions. The rings are also stackable.

 Happy Sport 'La Vie En Rose'
The latest addition to Chopard’s Happy Sport collection, the “La Vie En Rose” radiates glamour and femininity, while remaining true to the essence of Happy Sport watches: a sports chic piece accentuated by the timeless presence of Chopard mobile diamonds. This romantic piece is pink right through to the smallest details. From the pink sapphires on the bezel to the rosé mother-of-pearl dial and matching satin strap. Adding to the charm and refinement of this precious timepiece, a delicately contoured rose appears on the dial with mobile diamonds and pink sapphires dancing across its petals. It is available with a gem-set or non-set bezel.

Xtravaganza Watches and Pendants
The dial of the new Xtravaganza watch evokes a shining star or a dazzling firework display. It is available in finely guilloché rose or white gold dial paved with a burst of diamonds. The case is secured by golden lugs to a black alligator leather strap. The watch comes in two sizes with gem-set or non-set bezel and attachments. Matching the radiance of the watches are Xtravaganza luminous pendants (top photo). They are available in white gold and rose gold and are suspended on a slender double-link chain.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hublot Auction for Young Victims of the Catastrophe in Japan

In support of the Kids Earth Fund in Japan, the Swiss luxury watch brand Hublot began an online auction for its Manchester United King Power Red Devil engraved 000/500 timepiece.

Auction registration is now active on the Hublot website.

All funds from the sale of this rare timepiece made for the Manchester United English soccer team (one of the most popular and successful teams in any sport in the world) will go to the Kids Earth Fund directly benefiting the children suffering from the catastrophe in Japan.

All potential bidders must register on the Hublot website by June 22 at 2 p.m. GMT. The live auction will begin on June 23 at 2 p.m. GMT. The highest bid will win the watch.

And if I may say the 48 mm timepiece is quite a beauty. The hour markers of the sapphire dial are made from grass off the “sacred” turf of Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. The date window is at 4 o'clock and the Manchester United Red Devil logo at 3 o'clock.

The bezel and case is made of black ceramic and it has an adjustable black rubber strap. The movement is the HUB 4245 skeleton chronograph.

“When you are sitting halfway around the world watching events like this unfold on a television screen, you cannot imagine the suffering, but you can try and help,” said Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot CEO and board member. “It is impossible for us to stop events like this happening but we owe it to our friends in Japan to help where ever and in whatever way that we can. That is why we cannot simply stop now. We must continue to help and send a very clear message to the people suffering from the fall out of the tsunami. We are here and we will not give up on you.”

World Gold Council Drafts Conflict-Free Gold Standards

Gold doré

The World Gold Council said Friday that it is developing a system similar to the Kimberley Process for diamonds to ensure that gold is coming from conflict-free sources.

The WGC, which serves as the marketing development organization for the gold industry, said it has drafted a framework of two standards designed to track gold from the mine to the end of the refining process. They are a “chain of custody” standard and a “conflict-free gold” standard. Under the proposal, both standards will be subject to independent audit. Additional standards on audit, certification and the handling of recycled gold are in development, WGC said.

The WGC said the proposed standards are being “stress tested” in practice by gold mining companies and refiners.

The Conflict-Free draft standard has a “conflict,” a “company,” and a “commodity” assessment proponent, WGC said. It contains a framework of benchmarks and prompts through which companies must assess the adequacy of their systems and analyze their impacts upon those around them. Their conclusions must be auditable. The standard contains principles that assesses a companies’ commitment to respect human rights; ensure that payments are not made, directly or indirectly, to armed groups; be transparent about their payments to governments; only accept gold from conforming sources; and to establish a credible and accessible grievance mechanism.

The chain of custody standard provides the infrastructure for identifying that a consignment of gold doré has been mined according to the conflict-free standard, has not been tampered with during its transport between the mine and the refinery—which may involve it passing through the hands of shipping agents, security, customs and airlines—or during the refining process. The process is based upon a chain of warranties which will be auditable, for example, by insurers or customers. Gold doré is bars of melted gold containing up to 90 percent gold that needs additional refining to become 999.9 parts per thousand pure gold. It's about the size of a loaf of bread and weighs about 60 pounds.

You can download the full text pdfs of the proposals on the WGC website.

Brumani Boasts Brazilian Artistry and European Roots

Earrings from Brumani's Baobab collection in 18K yellow gold with brown diamonds, aquamarine, ruby and pink tourmaline.
It’s all the things you would expect from Brazilian jewelry: lots of gemstones, bright colors and an optimism that comes from being one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, what separates Brumani from its peers is the sheer intensity of the joy, vibrancy and emotion that its jewelry projects.

Another thing that distinguishes the São Paulo-based company is its European roots. The C.R. BRÜNER Group, which started the Brumani brand in 2005, is owned and operated by Eduardo and Emerson Brüner. The brothers are the great-grandsons of Italian and German immigrants who founded the company and brings with them the techniques that give its jewelry integrity.

Then you have to account for the sheer volume that this company of 100 employees produces. At the recently concluded Couture jewelry show in Las Vegas, Brumani showcased no fewer than six full collections.

Even though the company is fairly young, it has more than 300 points of sale in the U.S. and is the choice of many celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry and Selena Gomez.

Balalaika Collection
The Balalaika is a traditional stringed instrument used extensively in Russian folklore and music. In this collection, Brumani uses angular, asymmetric shapes of the Balalaika to give form to the topazes, citrines and smoky quartz. Pictured: Rings in 18K yellow and white gold with round diamonds, smokey quartz, morganite topaz and citrine.

Baobab Collection
This collection (also pictured above) of cabochon cuts of aquamarine and ruby, rose tourmaline, brown diamonds and yellow gold takes its inspiration from the exotic Baobab tree, transplanted to the Brazilian landscape from Africa. The tree can reach 80 feet in height with a trunk diameter that grow up to 23 feet. The trees are known for their enormous capacity to store water. Pictured: Rings in 18K white and pink gold with round diamondsand white moonstone from Baobob Casual collection.

Flamboyant Collection
This collection takes its cue from a popular ornamental tree in Brazil that produces brightly colored flowers known as paradise flowers. Yellow, gold and orange moonstone represent the flower's orange-red petals. Pictured: Earrings in 18k yellow gold with round diamonds and orange moonstone.

Heritage Couture Collection
Ring in 18K yellow and white gold with round diamonds, blue sapphire, pink tourmaline, rubelite and peridot.

Nude Collection
This collection is a tribute to ethnic diversity, using “nude” tones from white and beige to rose, brown and black. It uses classical shapes in rose-gold and brown diamonds in combination with rose opals, faceted morganites and cabochon cut from white cachalong. There is also a causal collection that includes aged white gold with diamonds, cabochon cut from black crystal and faceted smoky quartz. Pictured: Earrings in 18K white gold with round diamonds, black crystal and smoky quartz.

Sissi Couture Collection
 Bracelet in 18k white gold with round diamonds and morganite.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Survey: Ultra-Affluent Consumers are Spending Less at Luxe Department Stores

Barneys New York flagship store

Barneys New York, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf Goodman emerged as the top three luxury department store destinations among those with annual incomes of at least $250,000, according to a recent survey by Unity Marketing. However, a look back at the previous year shows ups and downs among ultra-affluent patronage of these retailers:

* Barneys New York, which currently attracts some 22 percent of ultra-affluent consumers, has weathered two quarters in the past year when patronage dipped as low as 16 percent. 

* Nordstrom ranks as the second most popular destination, however, its share of purchase among ultra-affluents dropped by more than 5 percentage points from the fourth quarter 2010 to first quarter 2011. 

In fact, among the seven leading luxury department stores included in Unity Marketing's luxury tracking survey, only one—Saks Fifth Avenue—captured a larger share of ultra-affluent shoppers this quarter as compared with last quarter, according to the survey titled, “The Luxury Report 2011: Ultimate Guide to the Luxury Consumer Market.”

Luxe department store patronage among ultra-affluents is down after peaking in third quarter 2010. The survey from the Stevens, Pa.-based luxury market research firm defines ultra affluents as those with annual household incomes of $250,000 and above, the wealthiest 2 percent of U.S. households who spend the most in the consumer economy.

Even more striking is the decline in the percentage of ultra-affluents shopping in these luxe department stores overall, said Pam Danziger, Unity Marketing president. While the percentage of ultra-affluents shopping in luxury department stores peaked at nearly 75 percent in the third quarter 2010, it has declined since, leveling off at about 70 percent. She says that relatively small declines in patronage on a percentage basis translate into big drops across the market. Regardless of ultra-affluents' favorite luxe department stores, it is clear that nearly a third of these wealthiest Americans are not passing through any of their doors each quarter.

“These top retailers—who are known for being destinations for the wealthiest customers—can serve as both a model and a cautionary tale for others who would like to operate in this space,” Danziger said. “While the popularity of each store waxes and wanes quarter-to-quarter, the overall trend is that ultra-affluents are slowing their pace of shopping in the luxury department store sector. If the downward trend among ultra-affluents continues, each of these stores may have to rethink their approach if they are to remain a compelling and attractive destination for the wealthy.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John Hardy Bracelets for Father’s Day


Luxury jewelry company, John Hardy, has introduced two bracelets for men in time for Father’s Day.

The first is the edgy Naga Silver Dragon Head bracelet (pictured above) that Guy Bedarida, John Hardy creative director and head designer, says reflects a confident man’s personality. The all-silver bracelet retails for $1,495.

 
The second piece is the sleek Bedeg Silver Black Leather Double Wrap bracelet, which retails for $295.

The bracelets, like all John Hardy jewelry, are handmade in Bali and reflect ancient Balinese design elements and craftsmanship. It's part of a larger selection of men's jewelry in the John Hardy online boutique. The bracelets are available in large enough sizes to fit any wrist.

Bedarida says that both pieces have an understated masculine elegance that is in line with recent trends in men’s jewelry. He adds that in recent years men have been more actively involved with buying jewelry that meet their individual style.

“Men are very expressive through jewelry, more so today than ever before,” he says.

48-Ct. Diamond Ring Sold for $4.2M at Christie’s New York


Statement diamonds led the way Tuesday at Christie’s Important Jewels sale in New York.

Leading the auction was a 46.51-ct. oval-cut, E color, VVS2, diamond, flanked on either side by a pear-shaped diamond, weighing approximately 1 and 1.01 cts., mounted in platinum (top image) was sold Tuesday for $4.2, well above its presale estimate of $2.5 to $3.5 million. The two pear shaped diamonds were graded as D color, VS1 and VS2 clarity, respectively.


Also commanding a powerful price was a 10-carat, D color, internally flawless pear-shaped diamond (above) flanked on either side by a pear-shaped diamond, each weighing approximately 1.02 cts., mounted in platinum that sold for $1.3 million, well within its presale estimate. The two side diamonds are graded as D color and internally flawless.

The sale, which featured exceptional diamonds and elegant signed jewelry at the international auction house’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters, took in a total of $11.7 million with 118 of the 125 lots sold (94 percent). The auction achieved 98 percent of its value by price.

Other auction highlights include:

Ear pendants, each suspending a cut-cornered modified square-cut fancy yellow diamond, weighing approximately 17.77 and 17.80 cts., from a baguette and trapeze-cut diamond link, to the circular-cut diamond French wire, mounted in platinum and gold that sold for $722,500.

A ring set with a 19.22-ct., potentially internally flawless, square emerald-cut fancy light yellow diamond, flanked on either side by a triangular-cut diamond, mounted in platinum that sold for $458,500 ($24,000 per ct.), well above its presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

A ring signed by the Italian jewelry house, Sabbadini, set with a rectangular-cut diamond, weighing approximately 9.76 carats, with the shoulders set with modified hexagonal-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum. The ring sold for $434,500 ($45,000 per ct.), well above its $200,000 to $300,000 estimate.

A platinum ring featuring a 10.42-carat, square emerald-cut diamond with the shoulders set with circular-cut diamonds that sold for $458,500 ($41,000 per ct.).

Damiani at the Tony Awards


Actress Nikki James, who received a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Book of Mormon, accepted her award wearing the San Lorenzo ring and bracelet, and  Vulcania earrings by Damiani.

The 65th Annual Tony Awards were held Sunday night at New York City’s Beacon Theater and televised live to a national audience on CBS.

Have You Been Missing Jewelry News Network?

Jewels from Goshwara during the Luxury at JCK show in Las Vegas.

Well I'm back as I have been taking care of business and personal items as well as just getting organized and back to a schedule since returning from Las Vegas Jewelry Week. I have lots to report from the well attended jewelry shows in Vegas. Creativity was in full view throughout the shows and buyers were enthusiastic and positive with what they saw. In the coming weeks you will notice changes to Jewelry News Network. In particular you will see it even become more focused on new product, but there will still be room for business trends and important issues that effect the industry. So be patient as a flood of new stories begins. And as always, thank you for your support.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hublot Opens First Boutique in Japan

From left: Emmanuel Prat, president of Hublot Japan and LVMH Japan, Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot managing director, Sumo wrestler Sho Hakuho, Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot CEO, and Harumi Torii, founder of a non-profit organization Kids Earth Fund at the June 2 opening of Hublot boutique in Tokyo. Biver is holding the King Power Red Devil that will be auctioned off to support children suffering from the recent Tohoku earthquake.

Hublot celebrated the opening of its flagship boutique on Namiki Street in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district with a special unveiling of the FIFA Winner’s Trophy for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and efforts to help children affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The event was attended by local celebrities and top Hublot officials. It is the Swiss luxury watch brand’s first boutique in Japan.

The boutique, designed by New York architect Peter Marino, carries the same concept as the Hublot boutiques in Place Vendôme, Paris (opened in December 2010) and Madison Avenue, New York (opened in February 2011). Marino introduced materials such as bronze, natural buckskin and ebony to convey a warm yet tranquil atmosphere. The Ginza boutique is the only location in Japan to offer the Hublot Vendome Collection.
 
Guests for the celebration included Sumo wrestler Sho Hakuho, soccer goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki and Harumi Torii, founder of a non-profit organization Kids Earth Fund. Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver, attended the event with Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot managing director, and Emmanuel Prat, president of Hublot Japan and LVMH Japan.

Through a strong relationship with FIFA as the tournament’s Official Watchmaker and Official Timekeeper, Hublot was able to bring the FIFA Winner’s Trophy for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil to the event. It was the first public release of the trophy in Japan.

At a charity gala dinner to support the Kids Earth Fund, Hublot announced the donation of 10,000 sets of Swiss Caran d’Ache colored pencils for children affected by the tsunami. They are used by children in drawing workshops to help them express themselves.

As a special feature of the event, Hublot announced that the King Power Red Devil – limited number “000 of 500” timepieces will be presented for an online auction to raise funds for children in despair, beginning June 23. Registration will begin Friday (June 10) through the Hublot website, http://www.hublot.com.

Just after the chaos caused by Tohoku Earthquake on March 11, Hublot launched “Commitment for Japan, You and Hublot for Japan” campaign on its website to raise funds via Red Cross Society for support. The company soon became involved with the Kids Earth Fund, which works to help children worldwide who suffered through disasters.

Harry Winston Q1 Consolidated Sales Up 26%

Harry Winston salon in Paris

Harry Winston Diamond Corp. seems to have the best of both worlds with its businesses in diamond mining sector and as a luxury jewelry and watch retailer. Both market segments have shown strong growth over the past year and this is continuing as the Toronto-based company reported Wednesday that consolidated sales increased 26 percent for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012. The increase at constant exchange rates was 22 percent.

Luxury brand sales, through its network of salons that sell luxury jewelry and watches in key cities throughout the world, increased 26 percent to $81.9 million for the quarter, ended April 30, primarily driven by stronger high jewelry sales in the United States and higher timepiece sales. The increase at constant exchange rates was 20 percent.

In addition, Harry Winston, which supplies rough diamonds to the global market from its 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine in Northwestern Canada, said mining sales increased 27 percent to $62 million, primarily due to higher rough diamond pricing versus the comparable prior year period. Rough diamond output, for the period ended March 31, dropped to 500,000 carats compared to 600,000 carats for the same period last year.

“This quarter's results reflect improving rough diamond prices combined with increasing sales and profit for the luxury brand segment. Both sides of our diamond business are performing well as we continue to achieve premium rough diamond prices and execute our luxury brand strategy,” said Robert Gannicott, Harry Winston Chairman and CEO.

To shore up its stockpile of polished diamonds it uses for luxury jewelry lines and to maximize the continued rise in prices for what many believe is a dwindling resource; Harry Winston in May announced that it is involved in the establishment a polished diamond investment fund. The fund is being managed by Diamond Asset Advisors AG, a Zurich based advisor with a background in both the diamond and financial services sectors. The fund will be structured as a limited partnership, of up to $250 million, offering institutional investors direct exposure to the wholesale market price of polished diamonds.

“Our recently announced relationship with Diamond Asset Advisors in the creation of a polished diamond acquisition fund represents an innovative way for the company to support its luxury brand growth objectives,” Gannicott said.

Other first quarter highlights, include:

* Consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization) in the first quarter of Fiscal 2012 increased 51 percent to $25 million, showing strength in both segments of the business, the company said. In the same period, the mining segment EBITDA increased 48.5 percent to $17.6 million and the luxury brand segment EBITDA increased 57.3 percent to $7.3 million.

* Consolidated operating profit was $4.7 million or double the operating profit of $2.3 million from a year ago, with mining operating profits down $300,000 and luxury brand profits up $2.7 million versus the prior year. Operating profit benefited from higher rough diamond prices and higher high-end jewelry and timepiece sales, the company said.
 
* Consolidated net profit attributable to shareholders for the first quarter was $3.6 million or $0.04 per share compared to net profit attributable to shareholders of $2.1 million or $0.03 per share in the comparable quarter of the prior year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Miss Earth Nicole Faria is Frédérique Constant’s New Brand Ambassador


Swiss watch brand Frédérique Constant went to India to sign its newest global brand ambassador, Miss Earth Nicole Faria.

The beauty queen is more than just a pretty face. She is a strong conservationist and environmentalist actively involved with earth-related initiatives. The Geneva-based watch brand recently announced this partnership in Mumbai where it presented Faria a special Chocolate Double Heart Beat watch to commence their association.

Frédérique Constant Chocolate Double Heart Beat watch

“I was amazed to hear of the fact that Frédérique Constant is a rare brand that supports earth-related initiatives,” Faria said. “I strongly believe that this earth is a legacy that we need to pass on to future generations and the time to act is now. Similarly Frédérique Constant is a brand that one would like to pass on to Gen-Next as a legacy. From the fashionista point of view, its classical styles is exactly what the Indian customer requires today.”

Originally from Bangalore, Faria is passionate about modeling and improving the world. Some of her more memorable moments were when she won the Miss India crown in 2010 and later the Miss Earth title. Her hobbies include listening to music, dancing, reading and visiting orphanages.

“In India, we decided to do something daringly different,” said Sebastien Cretegny, International Sales Manager, Frédérique Constant, said. “When we met Miss Earth Nicole Faria, we felt that there was a sharing of passion, especially when she spoke about her conservation projects. I am proud to announce that this is the first time that Frédérique Constant has associated with a beauty pageant icon anywhere in the world and it happened in India.”