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Friday, April 26, 2013

The 206-Carat ‘Imperial Emerald’ Unveiled at Baselworld

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Luxury jewelry firm, Bayco Jewels, unveiled a 206-carat natural Colombian emerald named the “Imperial Emerald” in its showroom Thursday during the opening day of Baselworld 2013.

Owners of the company, Moris and Giacomo Hadjibay, said it is “one of the most precious gemstones to ever exist.” The brothers say that it was purchased from a private collector who owned it for 40 years. They refuse to reveal the price of the gem.

“We paid with our hearts,” a visibly emotional Moris said. In addition, its provenance is unknown. 



Giacomo Hadjibay with the Imperial Emerald. Photo credit Anthony DeMarco

The brothers say the purchase is a tribute to their father, Amir, an Iranian native who moved to Italy in 1957 and founded Bayco not long afterward. The company specializes in one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces made with exceptional gemstones. Amir, knew the previous owner of the gem and told the owner long ago that he would buy it whenever he was ready to sell.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baselworld’s ‘Opening Act’

Baselworld representatives at opening day press conference.


BASEL, Switzerland — Baselworld, the premiere event of the Swiss watch industry, on Wednesday unveiled the latest renovation to the multi-building complex that it calls home. The $454.5-million upgrade reflects the spectacular success of an industry that has defied the trials and tribulations of the worldwide economy and a product that has remained popular despite changing fashion and trends. It also is a response to an industry now dominated by a few luxury conglomerates.

The eight-day watch and jewelry fair actually opens Thursday. Wednesday was press day, where top officials discussed the tradeshow and the industry in general. The discussion of the new design was described as Baselworld’s “opening act” by Sylvie Ritter, managing director of the tradeshow.

While several buildings underwent dramatic change under the leadership of architects Herzog & de Meuron, most eyes are focused on Hall 1, now rebranded as the “Global Hall.” It is the main area for some of the most world-renowned watch and jewelry brands. This year, the area not only underwent dramatic structural change, but occupants changed as well. Several brands (mostly independent) were moved to other areas of the complex. Now brands represented by global conglomerates Swatch Group and LVMH far outnumber independent brands. These include Hublot, Tag Heuer, Breguet and Bulgari.

Independent brands that remain in Hall 1 include Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Ulysse Nardin.

René Kamm, CEO of MCH Group, which operates the Basel fairgrounds (Messe Basel), explained that the redesigned hall is reserved for “watch and jewelry brands that have a global impact and a worldwide reach.”

Speakers put on a unified front and spent a great of deal of time thanking exhibitors. However, change this dramatic does not come easy and several exhibitors who have lost their space in Hall 1 were not happy (although refusing to voice their displeasure publicly).

All of this change also came at a price. Several brand executives told me (or refused to dispute) that exhibiting in Hall 1—which includes the construction of multi-story, elaborate temporary showrooms that also have been upgraded this year—now costs upwards of $5 million.

Jacques J. Duchêne, president of the Baselworld Exhibitors’ Committee, said it is the domination of luxury conglomerates that has led to the changes at Baselworld.

“In the course of the past 15 years, the watch and jewelry industry has been through a consolidation process on a scale never witnessed before, and this has also had its effects on the challenges faced by production and marketing, which have changed radically,” Duchêne said. “Now it is a good thing to take note of changes and to adjust to them, but it is even better still to anticipate needs and to be in a position to satisfy them without delay when they arise.”

The price hike and the pressure to create more elaborate booths were also felt among exhibitors who don’t have the deep pockets of the brands in Hall 1. A few companies actually pulled out of the show. Perhaps seeing an opportunity, Hong Kong-based tradeshow and publishing company, UBM Asia, will open its first tradeshow in the European market next year in nearby Freiburg, Germany, with dates that overlap Baselworld.
 
The international press at the opening of Baselworld


But even though some are a bit disgruntled, the 1,460 companies from 40 countries exhibiting recognize the importance of being there in terms of sheer numbers, glamour and international attention. Many brands will bring international celebrities along to help present their new products. More than 3,500 journalists from 70 countries will be covering the event and approximately 100,000 people will attend.

The show is also buoyed by the amazing success of the Swiss watch industry. In 2012, the industry has produced another record year with exports totaling 21.4 billion Swiss francs ($22.6 billion), a 10.9 percent increase over 2011.

“Today, it is thanks to this excellent state of health of the industry that we are able to present the show to you in its attractive new look,” Duchêne said. 

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Kering Acquires Pomellato


Tilda Swinton, brand ambassador for Pomellato.

The rumors have been swirling for some time but now they are verified.  PPR, which will soon officially change its name to Kering, has acquired Pomellato, the Italianjewelry company that has both broad and growing appeal.

Kering will hold a majority stake in the Pomellato group and its CEO, Andrea Morante, will remain in this position with the company.

Pomellato, whose 2012 revenues reached €146 million ($190 million), is one of Europe’s major jewelry groups, with a strong international position. The company’s success is based on the personality and style of its creations with a blend of colors, stones and shapes as well as their fine Italian craftsmanship. The Pomellato group is a profitable and growing Italian business with two brands, Pomellato and Dodo. The first positioned within the fine jewelry segment and the latter within the accessiblejewelry segment. Its distribution network includes 86 mono-brand stores (45 Pomellato, 41 Dodo) as well as approximately 600 independent points of sale around the world. There is plenty of room for growth for this company and Kering said its expertise and resources in real estate, distribution, media and brand management will help in that area.

With this acquisition, Kering is extending and reinforcing its portfolio of luxury brands in the high growth jewelry market.

“Synonymous with Italian style, Pomellato and Dodo rank among the most beautiful and innovative jewelry brands in the world,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering . “We have great ambitions for the Pomellato group, which, with access to our expertise and know-how, will be able to step up the pace of its growth and expand its geographic footprint while preserving the values that underpin its Italian identity.”

Andrea Morante, CEO of Pomellato, added: “Becoming global brands is no longer an option for Pomellato and Dodo; it is a necessity. With this consideration in mind, we have undertaken a lengthy review of our best strategic alternatives and reached the conclusion that joining Kering was far and away the most favorable course of action. First, we will instantly join one of the most prestigious groups in the world; second, we will have a unique opportunity to preserve and enhance the Pomellato and Dodo success stories on a global scale.”

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Wave of Innovation From Outside the Jewelry Industry with Consumer-Friendly Websites


The jewelry industry has an image problem. Younger consumers find the jewelry store environment intimidating. More importantly, these same consumers, who spend much of their time with digital media, find websites from retailers, designers and manufacturers equally imposing.

Innovation online has largely come from outside the industry, such as website Blue Nile. However, the Blue Nile model with its focus on jewelry and diamonds as a commodity seems to be losing ground as the digital landscape has again dramatically changed with the wide acceptance of social and mobile media.

To address this new reality, two websites (again founded by people outside the industry) have launched that are working to bridge the gap among e-commerce, social media and bricks-and-mortar retail: Adornia and Stone & Strand.




These well-branded projects have a lot in common. They are focused on delivering a quality experience by attempting to build a community of enthusiastic and engaged jewelry buyers. They both are using a curated approach to their business models. The founders of both sites are products of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, these founders also have a wealth of professional and personal experiences that have enhanced the vision of their projects.

Adornia co-founders Becca Aronson and Moran Amir met at Wharton and didn’t wait to leave the business school before starting their own company. Both are scheduled to graduate in May but launched Adornia in September 2012 out of their apartments. They plan to return to New York to set up a permanent home for their business. Aronson was the former Lucky accessories editor and Amir handled retail operations for Catherine Malandrino and Diesel. Their experiences are complementary with Aronson the creative person while Aronson handles much of the business. “She’s Photoshop and I’m PowerPoint,” Amir says.

The website sells affordable fine fashion jewelry at a price range from approximately $75 to $2,300. Their customer is very specific: fashion-forward, professional, urban women from the ages of 25 to 45 who have a strong sense of personal style. This site’s main customers are women who buy their own jewelry (the self-purchasing woman).

Aronson and Amir purchase all of the jewelry themselves. In addition to curating the pieces, they organize them in separate collections with names like “Heavy Metal,” “Deco After Dark” and “Darkest Jungle.” The idea is to make personal jewelry shopping easier for women who know their own style. While the site is geared for women, they say that this presentation also makes it easier for men and friends to purchase gifts. They also discuss fashion trends through their blog, “The United States of Adornia.”

The co-founders take their brand to the people, holding trunk shows from San Francisco to Shanghai, China. One of their plans is to do a cross country bus tour.

Meanwhile, Wharton grad Nadine McCarthy Kahane launched her website, Stone & Strand, April 18. A former strategy consultant, she has traveled extensively for work and pleasure and has lived in Singapore, London and Buenos Aires before settling in New York.

Instead of curating the jewelry collection like Adornia, Kahane is curating a group of jewelry designers. She opened the site with a group of 24 designers. The result is a broad jewelry collection that ranges in material from wood to high-karat gold and in price from $115 to well over $20,000. For now all of the designers reside in the U.S. (although several are from other countries) but Kahane said she will expand to include designers from around the world.

This is a site geared toward a clientele who love the search for original adornment almost as much as they love wearing the pieces. “People want things they can fall in love with,” Kahane says. It’s really nice to be able to tap into that passion.”

On this website, the focus is totally on designers. Their works and their stories are presented front and center. They provide access to designers’ studios through personal meetings and special events.

For Kahane the inspiration to start this site was personal. First, she discussed the difficulties of learning about jewelry on her own (such as style, materials and cost). Then she said she has two friends who are jewelry designers who were having difficulty finding an online home for their work.

“We in business are trained to spot opportunities and we feel jewelry is going through this transformation,” she said. “It’s been so conservative. A lot of the designers don’t sell online or they sell a very small portion of their collection online. We do see things changing quickly. We see people buying off Instagram these days. It’s all about access.”

Another thing both sites share is free shipping to U.S. and customer-friendly return policies. Of course both brands appear on all of the standard social media platforms.


Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes Website.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Technical Innovations and Aesthetic Developments of Timepieces on Display at the Frick Museum


The Portico Gallery of the Frick Collection museum where the timepiece exhibit is being held.

An exhibition that just opened at the Frick Collection museum explores the discoveries and innovations made in the field of horology from the early 16th to the 19th century. It features 16 clocks and 14 watches that chronicle the evolution over the centuries of more accurate and complex timekeepers and illustrate the aesthetic developments that reflected Europe’s latest styles. 

Mantel Clock with Study and Philosophy (circa 1785 - 1790). Made of patinated and gilt bronze, marble, enameled metal, and glass. Movement by Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau, figures after Simon-Louis Boizot. Photo credit: Michael Bodycomb

Titled, “Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches,” the exhibition is being shown in the new light-filled Portico Gallery of the stately mansion that was once the home of American industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The exhibition will run till February 2014.

Breguet Decimal Watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet and Antoine-Louis Breguet. Gold and silver double-dial desk watch showing decimal and traditional time. The traditional time subdial was added approximately 12 years after by Antoine (Circa 1795 and after 1807).

Luxury watch brand, Breguet, is a major sponsor. The exhibition concludes with three of its early timepieces—including a watch that displayed “decimal time,” a short-lived movement in 18th Century France that divided the day into ten hours and the year into ten months. 

Breguet gilt-bronze Carriage Clock by Abraham-Louis Breguet and Antoine-Louis Breguet with Calendar (1811).

The exhibition, which I attended Wednesday, examines both the mechanical innovations that increased the accuracy of the timepieces along with the elaborate ornamentation. At first, these pieces were prized for their innovation and their beauty and owned by only the wealthiest individuals as show pieces. Slowly through technical advancements that made them more portable, less expensive, more reliable and more of a necessity, they became widely available. 

Gilt-Brass and Silver Table Clock with Astronomical and Calendrical Dials (Circa 1653). Photo credit: Michael Bodycomb

The existence of mechanical clocks was made possible by an invention known as an escapement. Falling weights (and later springs) provided the energy to power the clock’s mechanism, while the escapement regulated the rate at which that energy was delivered to the oscillator (at first a simple balance and later a pendulum). The introduction of the escapement gradually caused the shift away from time-finding devices (sundials) and time-measuring devices (water clocks) to timekeepers (clocks and later watches) as advances in science and technology were made.

Gold and Enamel Pendant Watch (back view). Movement by Henry Arlaud enameling by Pierre Huaud II (circa 1685) It depicts the painting "The Toilet of Venus" by Simon Vouet. Photo credit: Michael Bodycomb

In addition to the Breuget timepieces, other notable pieces in the collection include an Augsburg Maker, gilt-brass tower table clock (circa 1580), which displays time only by the hour; a spring-driven pendulum clock on a bracket in a elaborate case made of gilt bronze, enameled metal, and glass (circa 1735); and a gold and enamel pendant watch (circa 1685) that depicts the painting The Toilet of Venus by Simon Vouet.

The Frick Collection galleries is located at 1 East 70th St.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pandora Names Allan Leighton as CEO

Allan Leighton
Pandora said Thursday that Allan Leighton, current chairman of the jewelry company, will succeed Bjørn Gulden as CEO on July 1.

Gulden is stepping down to join sports brand, Puma, as its new CEO. Pandora’s board of directors will recommend that Gulden remain part of the company as a board member.

Marcello Bottoli, who is currently deputy chairman, will succeed Leighton as board chairman.


Bjørn Gulden
“Pandora is a great business which is performing well, but the sports industry has always been a major part of my life, and my role at PUMA will also allow my family to remain in Germany,” Gulden, a former professional soccer player said in a statement.

Leighton added: “Bjørn, Marcello, the management team and I have worked very closely on delivering on the company strategy and the board believes that continuity in that execution and understanding of the business is key to our continued success.”

The Danish manufacturer, marketer, distributor and retailer of fine jewelry is still recovering from a very difficult 2011, which saw a sudden 70 percent drop in its stock price following a less than glowing second quarter report that year. Prior to that drop the company, which designs its popular charm bracelets and silver jewelry in Copenhagen and manufacturers them in Thailand, was the darling of jewelry retailers and the investment community as it experienced spectacular growth. The company’s IPO in 2010 raised $2.1 billion.

Gulden began at Pandora in March of 2012 and by November 2012 the company, working off a stock rebalancing program, returned to profitability in the third quarter reporting a revenue increase of 14.3 percent, year-over-year, and net profit increase of 11.4 percent. However, it wasn’t enough to save the year as revenue for 2012 was essentially flat while net profit fell 41 percent.


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

74-Carat Diamond Fetches A Record $14.1 Million


A 74.79-carat, pear-shaped diamond sold for more than $14.1 million at Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday, setting a new auction record for any white diamond sold in the Americas and surpassing its $12 million high estimate.

The unnamed gem is one of very few pear-shaped diamonds of D color over 50 carats to be auctioned in recent decades, Sotheby’s said.

“The truly exceptional 74.79 carat stone was a thrill to auction, and exemplifies the strength of the market for white diamonds over the last decade,” said Lisa Hubbard, chairman, North & South America, Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. “It was acquired by the present owner in 2001 for $4.3 million, and today sold for a record $14.2 million.”

The Magnificent Jewels sale brought in nearly $53.5 million, marking a new record sum for a spring auction of jewelry at Sotheby’s New York, with more than 82.4 percent sold by lot.

A group of six jewels from the family of financier and railroad magnate Jay Gould sold for a combined $7.9 million, more than double its high estimate of $3 million. The group was led by an emerald and diamond brooch centered by a 22.48-carat Colombian emerald that sold for $2.9 million– nearly five times its high estimate of $600,000.

Cartier’s ‘Tutti-Frutti’ bracelet (circa 1930), made of platinum, carved rubies and emeralds, diamonds and pearls, which closed the sale, sold for $1.4 million, nearly three times its high estimate of $500,000.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Princie Diamond Sells for a Record Breaking $39.3 Million

The 34..65-carat Princie Diamond

Update: A 34.65-carat fancy intense pink cushion-cut diamond sold for more than $39.3 million at Christie’s New York Spring Magnificent Jewels auction Tuesday.The sale price represents a new record for any jewel sold at Christie’s, surpassing the previous house record of $24.3 million set in December 2008 with the sale of the Wittelsbach Diamond.

Known as the Princie Diamond, its origins can be traced back to the ancient diamond mines of Golconda in South Central India. It was first recorded among the holdings of the Royal family of Hyderabad, rulers of one of the wealthiest provinces of the Mughal Empire.

The sale price, which comes out to more than $1.1 million per carat, also set a record for being the most valuable diamond to ever come out of the famed mine, according to the auction house. It was purchased by an anonymous collector bidding by phone.

“A major event took place in the global auction industry with the record breaking sale of The Princie Diamond at Christie’s New York,” said Rahul Kadakia, Head of Jewelry, Christie’s Americas and Switzerland.

The Type IIa diamond, considered the most chemically pure and often having exceptional optical transparency, was first offered at auction in 1960 as “Property of a Gentleman,” who was later revealed to be the Nizam of Hyderabad himself. The diamond was purchased by the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels for £46,000. The diamond’s unique name was bestowed at a party at the firm’s Paris store, where it was christened the “Princie” in honor of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, who attended the party with his mother Maharani Sita. 

 The total sale of over 290 jewels realized a combined total of more than $81.35 million, "marking the highest various owner jewelry sale total in the United States," according to the auction house.

"Aside from Christie’s sale of the legendary Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, this was the most successful jewelry auction ever held in the United States,”
Kadakia said.

Other highlights of the sale, which marked the first jewelry sale of the spring season for Christie’s, included:


* A 30.32-carat rectangular-cut diamond ring (pictured above) that sold for more than $4.4 million, well above its high estimate of $4 million. The diamond set on a platinum ring is flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond.

* A 23.30-carat marquise-cut diamond, flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond, mounted in platinum sold for nearly $3.26 million.

* A necklace designed as a graduated cluster of pear and oval-cut diamonds mounted in platinum by William Goldberg sold for nearly $1.86 million.

* A ring centered with an 11.08-carat, oval-cut ruby surrounded by two rows of circular cut diamonds mounted on platinum sold for more than $1.7 million.

* A 35.60-carat cut-cornered modified rectangular-cut fancy pink-brown diamond mounted in platinum and 18k pink gold sold for more than $1.6 million. The diamond was flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond.

* A diamond necklace suspending a pendant set with a pear-shaped diamond weighing approximately 12.04 carats sold for nearly $1.4 million, well above its high estimate of $1.1 million.


* An 11.39-carat rectangular-cut diamond mounted on a platinum ring (pictured above) sold for more than $1.3 million.
 

* An emerald and diamond necklace by Harry Winston (1955) that sold for $1.2 million (pictured above). It was designed as a graduated double row of rectangular-cut emeralds, extending a pear and circular-cut diamond fringe, joined by circular and pear-shaped diamond clusters to the circular-cut diamond double row backchain, mounted on platinum.
 

* A 17.5-inch, three-strand natural pearl necklace comprising 61, 58 and 61 natural pearls, measuring from approximately 4.95 to 11.05 mm sold for $1.1 million (pictured above).

* A 37.47-carat rectangular-cut diamond, flanked on either side by an epaulette-cut diamond and mounted in platinum sold for more than $1.1 million.

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Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair Reports Strong Growth in Buyers and Exhibitors


Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair – March reported an attendance increase of 9.7 percent compared to the prior year’s edition. The event held March 4 – 7 in Halls 3, 6 & 8 of the AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong had a total of 4,255 unique visitors from 89 countries and regions.

“The fair results are certainly very encouraging,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at UBM Asia Ltd., which owns the trade fair.

The United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Taiwan region, Japan, Russian Federation, Germany and Korea were the top visitors at the show (not including mainland China and Hong Kong). The top 10 altogether accounted for 36.5 percent of the total number of visitors.

Meanwhile, the fair hosted 411 exhibitors—up 6.5 percent from last year—from 21 countries and regions. There were four group pavilions and three theme pavilions. Group pavilions from mainland China, Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan region demonstrated distinct market specialties. Three theme pavilions—“Sense Zone”, “Fashion Accessories Zone” and “Stainless Steel Jewellery Pavilion”—provided a range of on-trend fashion jewelry and accessories.

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Aaron Faber Gallery to Host ‘Dramatic Jewelry: The Five Masters’

"The Blow Shadow" by Paolo Marcolongo

The works of five international jewelry artists will be on display beginning May 9 at Aaron Faber Gallery in an exhibition titled, “Dramatic Jewelry: The Five Masters.” 

"Folded leaf with Pearl" by Michael Good

The exhibition at the gallery in New York will feature the works of Charlotte De Syllas of Great Britan; Paolo Marcolongo of Italy; Michael Good of the U.S.; and Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel and Tom and Jutta Munsteiner, all of Germany.

Ring "Play of Color by Tom and Jutta Munsteiner

The exhibition opens May 9 with a book signing hosted by Tom and Jutta Munsteiner, honoring Wilhelm Lindemann’s literary work, “Munsteiner: The Young Generation Tom + Jutta Munsteiner”. Also in attendance will be Bernd Munsteiner, the “Picasso of Gems” and father to both Tom and the optical style of the “fantasy gem cut."

Garnet Engraved Brooch 2012, set in 18k green gold and backed with gold foil by Charlotte De Syllas.

On May 18 Aaron Faber Gallery will present an “Afternoon with Michael Good,” a reception and lecture where the jeweler will discuss his life, his work and his upcoming sold-out workshop at the 92nd Street Y.

Both events are free and open to the public.
Aaron Faber Gallery is located at 666 Fifth Avenue, New York.

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Nominations Being Accepted for JNA Awards

2012 JNA award winners

Applications and nominations are now being accepted for the second annual JNA Awards, which honors and recognizes excellence and innovation in the jewelry industry with a focus on the Asian trade. Individuals or organizations interested in participating can fill out an enrollment form on the JNA Awards website. The deadline is May 15.

The 2013 JNA Awards award categories are as follows:

* Brand of the Year Award: Retail
* Employer of the Year Award
* Innovator of the Year Award: Manufacturing - business operations
* Innovator of the Year Award: Manufacturing - Technology Application
* Manufacturer of the Year Award: colored gemstone cutting and processing
* Manufacturer of the Year Award: diamond cutting and processing
* Manufacturer of the Year Award: precious stones inlaid jewelry
* Manufacturer of the Year Award: prime precious metal jewelry
* Outstanding Contribution Award
* Outstanding Business of the Year Award: India
* Outstanding Business of the Year Award: China Mainland
* Annual retailer awards
* Annual networking platform for retailers Awards
* The annual jewelry store Excellent Interior Design Awards
* Sustainable development awards
* Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (40 years old or less)

Companies and individuals may submit entries on behalf of themselves or others from mid-March to mid-May. The first stage of the judging process will begin in mid-May and end in mid-June. On June 20 the honorees or shortlisted candidates will be announced. The honorees and recipients will be feted at a gala dinner and presentation ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong on September 12 during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2013.

Awards ceremony and dinner tickets are now available at the JNA Awards website.


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Monday, April 15, 2013

LVMH Watch and Jewelry Revenue Down 1%


LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said Monday that first quarter revenue for its Watches and Jewelry division fell 1 percent to 624 million euros ($815.6 million) due to cautious buying by multi-brand retailers. It was the only business division in the luxury goods conglomerate to show a decline in revenue for the period. In organic terms (with comparable structure and constant exchange rates), revenue grew 2 percent.

TAG Heuer’s first quarter was marked by the 50th anniversary of its Carrera line and the new partnership with McLaren which was announced at the Geneva Motor Show. Hublot and Zenith also had a good start to the year. In jewelry, Bulgari “recorded strong revenue growth in its own stores,” largely based on the success of its Serpenti line.

Other brands in the division are Hublot, Zenith, Chaumet, Fred and De Beers Diamond Jewellers.

LVMH said total revenue for the 2013 fiscal year increased 6 percent to 6.94 billion euros ($9.07 billion). Organic revenue growth was 7 percent compared to the same period in 2012, which saw a sharp rise.

The Paris-based conglomerate—whose brands also include Moët Chandon, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Sephora—said it saw “strong growth” in Asia and the United States, while Europe “demonstrates good resistance despite a challenging economic environment.”

First quarter results in its other business division are as follows:

The Wines & Spirits division recorded a revenue rise of 6 percent. Champagne sales were “notably robust” in Asia, which compensated for softer demand in Europe. Hennessy cognac had a “solid performance” in the United States and “rapid growth” in China.

The Fashion & Leather Goods division was nearly flat year-over (0.4%) Louis Vuitton “continued its progress,” the company said. Fendi “benefited from continued developments in fur and leather and pursues” and Céline “made excellent progress” in its own stores.

Perfumes & Cosmetics division experienced a 5 percent increase for the period. Christian Dior recorded “solid growth” due to the “vitality of its perfumes and, in particular, the continued strength of J’adore, Miss Dior and Dior Homme. The new lipstick Dior Addict and the premium skincare Prestige also contributed to the brand’s growth. Guerlain continued to benefit from the strong momentum of La Petite Robe Noire and the success of its high-end skincare Orchidée Impériale,” the company said.

In the Selective Retailing division showed a 16 percent increase for the period. DFS had an “excellent performance driven by the continued growth in Asian tourism.” Sephora gained market share in all its regions as it continues to expand its global store network. Online sales also experienced “rapid growth.”

“In an economic environment which remains uncertain in Europe, LVMH will continue to focus its efforts on developing its brands, will maintain a strict control over costs and will target its investments on the quality, the excellence and the innovation of its products and their distribution,” the company said. 



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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dominion Diamond Completes $553 million Acquisition of Ekati Diamond Mine

Ekati Diamond Mine

Dominion Diamond Corp., formerly known as Harry Winston Diamond Corp., said Wednesday it has completed its acquisition of the Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and related diamond sorting and sales facilities in Yellowknife, Canada, and Antwerp, Belgium. The Canadian subsidiary of mining company BHP Billiton was the majority owner of the mine and the other facilities. BHP is exiting the diamond business to concentrate on other mining activities.

The purchase price was $500 million plus price adjustments of $53 million for items that include interest, tax and capital expenditures bringing the total amount paid to $553 million. On the date of closing Ekati had cash on hand of approximately $65 million and two sales cycles (10 weeks) of diamond inventory either in the process of being sorted and valued or available for sale. Dominion Diamond said the inventory will be valued against its rough diamond sales assortments.

Dominion Diamond also provided letters of credit to the Government of Canada of approximately CAD$127 million, in support of reclamation obligations for the Core Zone. The purchase price and the letters of credit were satisfied from or secured by cash on hand.

The Ekati Diamond Mine consists of the Core Zone, which includes the current operating mine and other permitted kimberlite pipes, as well as the Buffer Zone, an adjacent area hosting kimberlite pipes having both development and exploration potential.

Dominion Diamond funded the acquisition through its recent $1 billion sale of the Harry Winston luxury retail brand to Swatch Group. The company also owns a 40 percent stake in the Diavik Diamond Mine, also in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The acquisition of Ekati has made the company the largest supplier of Canadian diamonds.

Dominion Diamond is still flush with cash and the speculation is it will use the money to buy the remaining 60 percent interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine from mining company Rio Tinto, which has, like BHP, stated a desire to pull out of the diamond business to focus on other mining activities.

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Zambia Restriction on Gem Sales A Major Setback for Gemfields

Mila Kunis in a Gemfields ad.

The Zambia Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development issued a directive Friday stating that all auctioning of emeralds be held in Zambia, arguing that their sale in foreign markets contributes to capital flight. The timing of this order has dealt a major blow to the emerald ambitions of Gemfields, which operates what is believed to be the world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia.

The government in a statement said the directive is designed to promote transparency and accountability in the marketing of emeralds, stimulate local demand for emeralds, create more opportunities for small-scale miners to have access to colored gemstone markets, and increase tourism.

“Zambian gemstones have for a long time been sold on foreign markets, a situation that has contributed to capital flight and denied Zambians of the much needed benefits from the resource,” Yamfwa Mukanga, Zambia mining minister, said in the statement.

The move seemed to have come as a surprise to the London-listed company and the markets. Gemfields shares fell 16 percent Monday after the government announcement. In the past, Gemfields held its emerald auctions in other locations, including Singapore and in Jaipur, India. The next auction of its emeralds was already planned to be held in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka from April 15 - 19.

The company is in partnership with the country of Zambia, which makes this seemingly sudden announcement more difficult to understand. Gemfields owns a 75 percent stake in the Kagem emerald mine with the government owning the remaining 25 percent. In addition, the two parties own a 50-50 stake in the Kariba amethyst mine, which will also be affected by the outside selling ban.

“Not allowing Gemfields to auction abroad is going to take us out of the competition with Brazil and Colombia, which holds 30 percent each of the world's supply of emeralds,” Dev Shetty, Gemfields COO, told Reuters.

The company that wants to do for emeralds what De Beers did for diamonds in the 20th Century recently had a string of marketing successes. It signed actress Mila Kunis as its ambassador; released an emerald-specific colored gemstone jewelry line made by independent jewelry designers ranging from Theo Fennell and Stephen Webster, Shaun Leane and Alexandra Mor; and finalized the acquisition of luxury jeweler Fabergé.

Since 2007, Gemfields has been creating a mine-to-market initiative for its emeralds using the Kagem mine as a single, traceable source for its emeralds. In addition, it is working on a program to mine its emeralds in adherence to fair-trade practices and in accordance with environmental, social and safety standards.


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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Birks Unveils 16-Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond


The Birks jewelry store in Edmonton, Canada, is selling a 16.01-carat fancy intense yellow diamond set on a diamond pavé platinum ring. The natural colored, Asscher cut, VVS1 diamond was recently discovered and is conflict-free, according to the Birks jewelry chain. The ring is on sale for CAD$1.8 million ($1.7 million).

The ring will be on view and on sale at the Birks store in Manulife Place until April 16 before moving to the Birks store in the Core shopping center in Calgary.

Birks is 30-store fine jewelry retail chain in Canada. It is part of Birks & Mayors, which also operates 23 stores under the Mayors brand in Florida and Georgia, two retail locations in Calgary and Vancouver under the Brinkhaus brand, and one retail location in Orlando under the Rolex brand.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Former Harry Winston Diamond Corp. Files First Earnings Report Under New Name; Ekati Mine Acquisition Is Approved; Frédéric de Narp Reportedly Resigns

The new Dominion Diamond Corp. logo.

Dominion Diamond Corp., the company formerly known as Harry Winston Diamond Corp., said that consolidated sales from continuing operations increased 8 percent to $110.1 million for the fourth quarter. The increase was the result of an improved sales mix, partially offset by a 3 percent decrease in volume of carats sold during the quarter. It also cited increased demand in India, China and the United States.

Meanwhile, operating profit from continuing operations fell 12 percent in the quarter ended Jan 31 to $21 million. Consolidated EBITDA from continuing operations decreased 6 percent to $45.3 million.

Net income from continuing operations fell to $12.1 million, or 14 cents per share, from $12.7 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Since 2006, the company operated as two segments: a luxury retail jewelry and watch division under the iconic Harry Winston brand name and a diamond mining business. The company closed its sale of the luxury brand segment to the Swatch Group Ltd. on March 26 in a deal valued at $1 billion. As part of the closing of the transaction, the company changed its name to Dominion Diamond Corp. and its common shares now trade on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges under the symbol DDC.

The company now operates solely as diamond mining and marketing business and its earnings report reflects this with the results of the luxury brand segment treated as discontinued operations for accounting and reporting purposes.

Other fourth quarter highlights include:

* Rough diamond production during the fourth calendar quarter increased 19 percent to 1.9 million carats.

* The company had 500,000 carats of rough diamond inventory with an estimated current market value of approximately $65 million at January 31, of which approximately $25 million represents rough diamond inventory available for sale, with the remaining $40 million being sorted.

In related news:

* The company previously said it received regulatory approval to complete the $500 million acquisition of the Ekati diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and diamond sorting and sales facilities in Yellowknife, Canada, and Antwerp and Belgium, from mining company BHP Billiton Canada Inc. Dominion said it expects the transaction to close on or about April 10. It was speculated that the sale of the luxury retail segment was used to finance the acquisition.

* In addition, the company is reportedly interested in buying the remaining stake in Diavik diamond mine. It currently owns a 40 percent share of the mine with the remaining interest owned by mining company Rio Tinto, as Rio has stated a desire to pull out of the diamond business.

* Frédéric de Narp, president and CEO of the Harry Winston luxury segment, has resigned, according to a report in the New York Post. Nayla Hayek, a Swatch board member and daughter of the company’s founder Nicolas Hayek, has assumed de Narp’s role.

“The last year and this first quarter has been a time of great positive change for the company, including changing its very identity,” said Robert Gannicott, Dominion Diamond Corp.’s chairman and CEO. “This change reflects a focus on the production, sorting and sale of diamonds from Northern Canada, a region that we know and understand well. The acquisition of the Ekati Mine, and its operating team, is expected to close next week giving us operational control of both a producing mine and development opportunities in the large scale resources on the Ekati property. Together with our exploration acreage adjacent to the Ekati and Diavik properties, this positions us from grass-roots exploration through development opportunities. We also become the largest supplier of Canadian diamonds sold through an expert sorting and marketing chain that we have perfected through the years of Diavik production.” 


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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Style of Jolie Jewelry Collection Funds Girls School in Afghanistan

Angelina Jolie in a black spinel necklace she designed with Robert Procop.

Angelina Jolie has reportedly said that the all-girls school she is building in Afghanistan funded by her eponymous jewelry collection has opened.

The actress and philanthropist told E! News that the school located outside of Kabul educates from 200 to 300 students. It was funded by the Style of Jolie jewelry line—a collection of jewelry created by Jolie and Robert Procop, a gem expert, private jeweler and jewelry designer. She told E! that the new school will be one of many girls schools that will be built and funded through the jewelry collection.


The "Angelina Jolie Exceptional Emerald Necklace" features 44 cushion cut emeralds with a total weight of 103.48 carats, many of which have attained the exclusive gemstone classification of vivid green. The necklace is sculpted in 18K yellow gold. Photo credit: Robert Procop Exceptional Jewels

The high jewelry pieces for the Style of Jolie collection are known for using statement gemstones cut in the shape of tablet, an exclusive feature. Procop told me in an interview published in January that Jolie wanted something with an historical message and spent a great deal of time studying how a tablet is held. Together they designed the shape. 

View the Style of Jolie jewelry collection.


All proceeds from the sales are used to build schools for girls in impoverished countries through the Education Partnerships for Children of Conflicts, co-founded by Jolie.

At the time of the interview in his Beverly Hills studio Procop pointed to the ring and said: “This is a 27-carat emerald. When the stone is sold we give the money to the charity and then we build another school.”


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