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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jaeger-LeCoultre at the 2013 Venice Film Festival

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso engraved 70 Mostra

Today I will be leaving for Venice to cover the About J luxury jewelry show, perhaps the most exclusive jewelry show in the world. About 30 luxury jewelry brands will be exhibiting. Then I will be covering VicenzaOro Fall, the most prestigious collection of jewelry tradeshows for Italian jewelry industry.

Actress Sarah Gadon wearing Jaeger-LeCoultre La Montre Extraordinaire La Rose  while attending the Emergency charity VFF 2013. Photo credit: Getty images

However, I am arriving a few days early and as luck would have it, it happens to be during the 70th Venice International Film Festival (August 28 – September 7. Luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, which is celebrating its 180th anniversary, is a sponsoring partner of the festival and has been hosting events and creating products for the event.

British actress, Sophie Kennedy Clark was on the red carpet with Laurent Vinay debuting the Reverso Cordonnet Duetto watch made its debut on the Red Carpet as B Sophie Kennedy Clark. The actress stars in the film, Philomena, which will premiere during the Festival.

The Swiss luxury watch brand has created a personalized Reverso watch to the winners of the Best Film (Leone d’Oro, Golden Lion Award) as well as the Best Actress and Best Actor of the year (Coppa Volpi Awards). The watches will feature a lacquered engraving depicting a lion, the symbol of Venice, handcrafted in accordance with the finest traditions, and bear the inscription “70. Mostra” (top photo).

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso engraved 70 Mostra Eemergency

For the third consecutive year Jaeger-LeCoultre will use its products and brand to support the Emergency, a non-governmental organization that helps civilian victims of wars and poverty. This includes the creation of a personalized Reverso watch with the same engravings and symbol as the official Venice Film Festival watch, with the addition of “Emergency” as part of the inscription (pictured above).

La Montre Extraordinaire La Rose

Jaeger-LeCoultre will also release a new collection called Jubliee. From the opening day to closing of the festival the company is hosting events throughout Venice. I will be attending two events during my short time at the festival going attending the jewelry shows I came to see.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Cordonnet Duetto

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

US Sales Remain Strong At Signet Jewelers While UK Sales Disappoint


Signet Jewelers, the largest specialty retail jeweler in the US and the UK, said Thursday that second-quarter year-over-year sales increased 3.1 percent to $880.2 million. Same store sales for the period increased 3.6 percent year-over-year while eCommerce sales grew 7 percent to $31.2 million.

This was offset by a 1.2 percent decline in net income to $67.4 million. During a conference call Thursday, Mike Barnes, Signet CEO, said the decline was primarily due to the costs associated with the acquisition of the Ultra outlet jewelry store chain and the conversion of many of them to Zale Outlet stores, and lower gross margins compared to other Signet holdings. Without Ultra, earnings per share were up 5.9 percent.

In the company’s US division, which now accounts for nearly 85 percent of total sales for the company, sales increased 5.6 percent to $741.1 million. Same store sales increased 4.9 percent for the period. Sales increases were driven by strength in bridal, colored diamonds and watches. Signet owns 1,449 jewelry retail stores that operate under the brand-names Kay, Jared, Kay Outlet stores, Ultra and stores and some regional brands.

Kay and Jared experienced increases in both transaction counts and average transaction value. Meanwhile, eCommerce sales increased 36 percent to $25.3 million.

In the UK division, total sales declined 8.5 percent to $139.1 million in the second quarter. Same store sales decreased 2.4 percent. The company said the sales decline was primarily due to a same store sales decrease of $3.4 million, the impact of closed stores of $5.6 million and currency fluctuation of $3.9 million. Signet owns 500 retail stores that operate under the H.Samuel and Ernest Jones names.

The company said that at Ernest Jones, the number of transactions increased driven primarily by strength in branded bridal and watches, excluding Rolex, and the average transaction value was lower, primarily due to the impact from Rolex being offered in fewer stores. In H.Samuel, the number of transactions declined, primarily due to store closures and lower traffic. This resulted in lower sales across many merchandise categories, partly offset by strength in branded bridal products. Sales in both businesses were impacted by lower bead transactions. UK eCommerce sales in the UK increased 5.4 percent to $5.9 million, which include 45 percent coming to the websites through mobile devices, Barnes said.

Barnes noted during the conference call that Signet is in the process of updating its websites and mobile presence to take advantage of the increased traffic.

Other second quarter highlights:

* Gross margin declined, falling to $309.7 million or 35.2 percent of sales, compared to $311.2 million or 36.4 percent of sales in the second quarter fiscal 2013. The includes the results for Ultra increased gross margin dollars by $5.7 million; however, it reduced the consolidated gross margin rate by 50 basis points and the US gross margin rate by 70 basis points. The Ultra gross margin is lower than the core US business due to lower Ultra store productivity and the impact of the Ultra integration.

* Gross margin dollars in the US increased by $1.3 million compared to second quarter of fiscal 2013, reflecting higher sales offset by a gross margin decrease of 180 basis points. The company said the lower gross margin was primarily attributed to a gross merchandise margin decrease by 50 basis points, attributed to Ultra; and store occupancy and operating costs deleveraged by 70 basis points, of which 40 basis points was due to Ultra. The remaining 30 basis point change was due to the increase of new store openings.

* The US net bad debt ratio increased to 4.9 percent of sales compared to 4.5 percent of sales in prior year second quarter. The increase in the ratio was primarily due to the growth in the outstanding receivable balance. In addition, the US division experienced a “slight decline in collection efficiency” and a change in the credit mix. In the UK, gross margin dollars decreased $2.8 million, primarily reflecting the impact of decreased sales and currency fluctuation offset by a gross margin rate increase of 40 basis points.
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* Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 4.2 percent to $250.5 million. As a percentage of sales, SGA increased by 40 basis points to 28.5 percent. This includes the results for Ultra, which increased SGA by $13.5 million and increased the consolidated SGA rate by 70 basis points. The company said Ultra’s SGA is expected to decline as the final steps of the integration are completed.

* Operating income fell 4.9 percent to $105.5 million. Operating margin declined 100 basis points to 12 percent.

* The US division’s operating income including Ultra declined 4.9 percent to $111.5.

* Operating margin for the US division including Ultra was 15 percent, compared with 16.7 percent in fiscal 2013, down 170 basis points. Excluding Ultra, the US division’s operating income was $119.3 or 16.8 percent of sales, up 10 basis points.

In its guidance, the company said it expects same store sales to rise in the low-single digit for the third quarter.


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sandra Bullock Wears Martin Katz Jewels for 'Gravity' Premiere at Venice Film Festival

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sandra Bullock was one of the star attractions during the Wednesday night opening of the Venice Film Festival. On the red carpet she wore a pair of 23.58-carat black spinel briolette earrings and an 18k white gold clip-on bangle bracelet by Beverly Hills jewelry designer, Martin Katz.

The earrings are set in 18k gold and micro set with 184 diamonds weighing .86 carats on lever back tops (retail price, $9,500). The bracelet was accented with three emerald cut diamonds weighing 1.01 carats, two round diamonds weighing 0.26 carats, and microset with 96 black diamonds weighing 2.26 carats (retail price, $14,500). The pieces were designed to complement her red J. Mendel gown. 

Photo credit: Getty Images

The 49-year-old actress was at the festival to promote the film, “Gravity,” which she stars with George Clooney. The film opened the film festival Wednesday.

Katz and Bullock have enjoyed a close relationship since the jewelry designer to the stars first started his business in 1988. 

The Martin Katz bracelet worn by Sandra Bullock.

“Sandra is one of my favorite Actresses whose humor and lightheartedness are the perfect complement to her grace and elegance,” Katz said, “Her style and sophistication embody the spirit of our brand."

Martin Katz jewels are available exclusively at his Beverly Hills salon on Brighton Way and at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. 

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

19.51-Carat Harry Winston Diamond Ring May Fetch $1.8 Million


A Harry Winston platinum ring centered with an emerald-cut 19.51-carat diamond will be one of the top items being offered at Sotheby’s New York Important Jewels auction on September 24.

The ring, flanked by two triangle-shaped diamonds weighing 2.92 carats, has a pre-auction estimate of $1.2 - $1.8 million. It is from the family of George Rothman, the successful real estate developer and philanthropist who created the Rothman Foundation. It is the top lot among a collection of jewelry the family has put on sale that include pieces by Bulgari, David Webb and Van Cleef & Arpels.

The Harry Winston ring is one of three such rings that have high estimates of more than $1 million at the upcoming sale. The others are:

* A pear-shaped diamond weighing 15.10 carats, flanked by two smaller pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2 carats will also appear in the sale with an estimate of $1.25 million - $1.75 million. The ownership is identified by the auction house as being from a New York estate.

* A 9.77-carat, cut-cornered rectangular step-cut diamond accented by small round diamonds weighing approximately 0.70 carat, and mounted on platinum. The ring, which is identified as the property of a lady from Texas, has an estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million. 



Fancy colored diamonds have made their mark in recent years on the auction market and Sotheby’s leader in this category for the upcoming auction is a 1.08-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond (pictured above), on a platinum mounting accented by round near colorless diamonds. This item has an estimate of $450,000 - $650,000.

The upcoming auction will also feature several pieces from the collection of Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt, featuring custom-designed and period pieces by French jewelers such as Schlumberger, Suzanne Belperron and René Boivin. Items of note from the Lewyt collection include:



* A platinum, palladium and diamond triple-band cuff-bracelet by Belperron (pictured above). It was worn by Elisabeth Lewyt on her wedding day. The bracelet has three tapered rows set with 75 old mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 16.95 carats. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. 


* An 18k yellow gold reclining Labrador retriever brooch by René Boivin (pictured above). The torso, ears, paws and tail of the dog are set with numerous round and single-cut diamonds of near colorless, brown and yellow hues weighing approximately 28.95 carats. The collar is set with 19 buff-topped rubies. The eyes are made of two cabochon citrines and the nose and pads on the back paws are accented by a blackened gold. Its estimate is $70,000 - $90,000.

* A platinum and diamond double-clip pendant-brooch by Schlumberger, set with marquise-shaped diamonds weighing 5.22 and 5.28 carats, both E color, VS1 clarity; estimate $200,00 - $300,000.


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

Zale Q4 Comps Up 5.6%, Revenue Loss Narrows to $8 Million

Comps at Zales Jewelers (pictured) and Zales Outlet increased 8.1%.

Fine jewelry retailer Zale Corp. said Wednesday that year-over-year revenues for the fourth quarter increased 2.4 percent to $417 million. Comparable store sales for the period increased 5.6 percent. This increase follows an 8.3 percent rise in the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, comparable store sales increased 5.8 percent.

Net loss in the fourth quarter for the company, which owns retail jewelry chains in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, narrowed to $8 million, or 25 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $20 million, or 61 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012.

Other fourth quarter highlights include:

* Zales branded stores, Zales Jewelers and Zales Outlet, posted a comparable store sales increase of 8.1 percent. This follows a 12.3 percent rise in the same period last year.

* U.S. fine jewelry brands, including Zales branded stores and regional brand, Gordon’s Jewelers, posted a comparable store sales increase of 7.2 percent. This follows an 11.2 percent rise in the same period last year.

* Peoples branded stores posted a comparable store sales increase of 5.6 percent. This follows a 4.7 percent rise in the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, comparable store sales increased 7 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, following an increase of 9.9 percent in the same period last year.

* Canadian fine jewelry brands, Peoples Jewellers and Mappins Jewellers, posted a comparable store sales increase of 3.3 percent. This follows a 2 percent rise in the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, comparable store sales increased 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, following an increase of 7.1 percent in the same period last year.

* Piercing Pagoda, Zale’s kiosk jewelry business, posted a comparable store sales increase of 0.3 percent. In the same period last year, comparable store sales rose 2.7 percent.

Gross margin on sales rose sharply to $222 million, or 53.1 percent, compared to $210 million, or 51.6 percent, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. Operating margin increased 120 basis points.

Operating loss was $3 million, or 0.7 percent of revenues, compared to an operating loss of $8 million, or 1.9 percent of revenues, in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

For the 2013 fiscal year, the company reported a six-year high in net earnings of $10 million, or $0.24 diluted earnings per share, up $37 million, or $1.09 per share. The company said this is a six-year high.

Comparable store sales rose 3.3 percent for the year with Zales branded stores up 4.7 percent and Peoples branded stores up 4.8 percent at constant exchange rates. Gross margin was up 60 basis points to 52.1 percent and operating margin increased 90 basis points to 1.9 percent.

“For the year we achieved a significant milestone by delivering our highest net income in six years,” Theo Killion, Zale Corp. CEO, said in a statement.


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tiffany Q2 Earnings Up 16%, Global Sales Up 4%


Exceptional growth in China along with improvements in operating margins led to a better-than-expected 16 percent net earnings increase to $107 million, or $0.83 per diluted share, in the second quarter for Tiffany & Co.

Worldwide net sales for the New York-based luxury jeweler rose 4 percent to $926 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales rose 8 percent, and comparable store sales rose 5 percent due to sales growth in most regions.

As a result, the company raised its year-end outlook to $3.50-$3.60 per diluted share, from $3.43-$3.53 per diluted share in its first quarter outlook. It also plans to continue its worldwide expansion of stores unabated.

In addition to regional growth, product categories also performed well, according to Tiffany’s second-quarter earnings report released Tuesday. The results were dampened a bit by lower-than-expected sales growth in the US and the drastic decline of the Japanese Yen.

Mark L. Aaron, Tiffany VP-Investor Relations, said in a conference call Tuesday that growth in fine jewelry and statement jewelry were extremely strong and outperformed modest growth in fashion jewelry. He added that diamond jewelry, led by colored diamonds, did well particularly well for the period.

Gross margin (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) increased to 57.5 percent in the second quarter from 56.3 percent a year ago. Aaron said this was the result of diminishing product cost pressure and price increases taken earlier in the year. This help lead to a “better-than-expected” improvement in operating margin.

“We were pleased with the results of our efforts to improve gross margin which, combined with well-controlled expenses, yielded a solid increase in operating margin,” added Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO.

Sales by region are as follows:

* In the Americas, total sales increased 2 percent to $444 million in the second quarter. Comparable store sales were unchanged in the quarter, led by growth in Tiffany’s New York flagship store sales. Aaron noted that sales in the US were lower than expected and were mixed throughout the country with no discernible pattern.

* Total sales in the Asia-Pacific region rose 20 percent to $208 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales also rose 20 percent and comparable store sales increased 13 percent, “led by especially strong sales growth in Greater China,” the company said in its report.

* Aaron focused a great deal of time on Japan where the company operates 54 stores. The negative translation effect from a substantially weaker yen caused total sales to decline 14 percent to $136 million in the second quarter. However, he noted that on a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales increased 7 percent in the second quarter, due to comparable store sales growth of 8 percent with strong growth in engagement and higher-end jewelry categories.

* Total sales in Europe rose 11 percent to $111 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 10 percent and comparable store sales rose 7 percent due to sales growth in the United Kingdom and most of continental Europe.

* Sales classified as “Other” sales increased 33 percent to $26 million in the second quarter, primarily reflecting the conversion in July 2012 of five Tiffany & Co. stores in the United Arab Emirates from independently-operated to company-operated. The company said it expected to increase its presence in the Middle East.

Tiffany opened three stores in the second quarter, including its ninth in Hong Kong store. Other openings were in, in Verona, Italy and in Villahermosa, Mexico. The company closed a store in Tokyo, due to the mall the store was in closing for long-term renovations, Aaron said.

The company in the second quarter operated 277 stores (116 in the Americas, 67 in Asia-Pacific, 54 in Japan, 35 in Europe and five in the U.A.E.), versus 260 stores (106 in the Americas, 61 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan and 33 in Europe and five in the U.A.E.) a year ago.


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Monday, August 26, 2013

10.6-Carat Fancy Blue Diamond Has an Asking Price of $9.8 Million

The "Royal Blue" diamond

A 10.6-carat fancy blue diamond known as the “Royal Blue” is available through M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans. The asking price is $9.8 million.
 

Blue diamonds are among the rarest in the world so it seems unusual that this cut-corned, modified brilliant cut gem is the second significant blue diamond to appear on sale in August. A week earlier, Sotheby’s Hong Kong announced that it is offering a 7.59-carat round fancy vivid blue diamond that is estimated to fetch $19 million.

This stone has a VVS1 clarity grade, notable for having “very, very slight” inclusions, according to the report from the Gemological Institute of America. It is one step away from being graded as “internally flawless” under the GIA scale. The chemical that creates the blue in diamonds is boron, which this gem has.

The diamond is set on a platinum and rose gold ring surrounded by vivid pink and colorless diamonds.

Fewer than 0.3 percent of all colored diamonds graded by GIA were predominately blue. Gem expert and dealer Robert Procop, also the co-designer of Style of Jolie jewels with Angelina Jolie, knows as much as anyone when it comes to the rarity and historical significance of these gems.

“Blue diamonds are rarely discovered and only a few have been found over centuries of mining, making it one of the rarest gems of the world,” he said. “(They) have also been the most gifted by royalty and historical figures making them the most mysterious and precious of jewels. I rarely see a blue diamond that I do not admire.”

Large fancy blue diamonds have been sold for record-breaking figures at auctions and other sales, several have had illustrious provenance through its mine origins and ownership throughout centuries. The most famous blue is the Hope Diamond, last purchased by famed luxury jeweler, Harry Winston, who donated it to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in 1958.

The asking price for the “Royal Blue” ring is more than $924,500 per carat, which seems a bit steep, particularly since it has no known provenance. However, it is only about half of the per-carat price of a 5.30 blue diamond purchased by another famed jeweler, Laurence Graff, at a Bonhams auction in London in April 2013. The final price was $9.6 million or $1.8 million per carat.


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lev Leviev Wants His Jewelry Returned

Platinum necklace with 41 square emerald cut diamonds, 73.64 ctw. Photo credit; Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

Images of several luxury jewelry pieces stolen from a Cannes hotel are now available for view. The items were taken July 28 in a brazen daylight robbery at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, the center of life in the luxury resort city. The value of the jewelry stolen, first estimated at $53 million, was upgraded to $136 million, making it the largest jewelry theft in France and one of the largest in the world. 

55.38-carat flawless emerald-cut diamond ring flanked by two tapered baguette diamonds mounted on platinum. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

The photographs of the 30 jewelry items are now available on Forbes.com
 
The diamonds used to create this necklace include: A 6.52-carat pear shaped radiant drop, 15 radiant-cut fancy, vivid yellow diamonds (12.38ctw), with oval, pear-shaped and marquises (37.73ctw), accented with 12 baguettes (0.23ctw) mounted on platinum and yellow gold. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

SW Associates, a Paris-based loss adjuster and risk manager working for Lloyd's of London, is offering a million-euro reward ($1.34 million) “to the first person who provides information which leads to recovery of the goods." 

Earrings featuring 14 oval sapphires (18.01ctw), eight marquise-shaped diamonds (4.64ctw), carre-cut diamonds (3.81ctw), round brilliant diamonds (3.90ctw) on platinum and 18k white gold. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

Pictures of the jewelry were released publicly Tuesday on the Roskin Gem News Report, a blog owned and operated by gemologist and gem writer, Gary Roskin. It is accompanied by story written by veteran jewelry and watch writer, William George Shuster. The photographs were originally posted on the Jewelers' Security Alliance website. 

11.4-carat fancy, intense, blue, oval diamond on a ring surrounded by pink and colorless melee set on platinum and 18k rose gold. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates
 
All of the jewelry belonged to the Leviev diamond company, owned by billionaire diamond merchant, Lev Leviev. The hotel was showcasing a temporary exhibit of Leviev jewelry. 


Necklace with a 3.27 Trapezoid-shaped diamond, a 1.02-carat vivid yellow trapezoid diamond and a 1.59-shield-shaped diamond with emerald and diamond beads throughout (110.00ctw). Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates
 
The photographs of up to 36 of the jewelry pieces stolen will soon be available on this page as well. The jewelry in the photographs includes many high-karat, internally flawless colorless diamonds along with large pink and yellow diamonds, and emeralds and sapphires, set in platinum and 18k gold. 

6.17-carat oval-shaped light-pink diamond on a ring surrounded by diamond melee and set on 18k pink gold and platinum. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

Reports estimate that 72 pieces (including rings, pendants and earrings) were stolen, with 34 items considered “exceptional.” The thief lost some of the jewelry while fleeing. 

23 pear-shaped diamonds (14.18ctw) 128 round brilliant diamonds (28.65ctw) set in platinum.
29.04-carat sapphire on a ring accented with round brilliant-cut diamonds (2.08ctw).
Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

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

13.22-carat fancy deep brownish, greenish, yellow diamond ring flanked by two bullet-cut diamonds and set in 18k yellow gold and platinum. Photo credit: Jewelers' Security Alliance and SW Associates

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rare 7.59-Carat Round Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond to be Auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong

The Premier Blue Photo credit: AFP/Getty

Sotheby’s Hong Kong is offering the Premier Blue, a 7.59-carat round fancy vivid blue diamond, as one of the top lots in its Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Autumn Sale scheduled for October 7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

This brilliant-cut internally flawless gem is the largest round fancy vivid blue diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America. The estimate is available upon request. However, a 6.01-carat fancy vivid blue diamond sold in 2011 at Sotheby's Hong Kong for more than $1.68 million, an auction record for the per-carat price of a fancy vivid blue diamond. The Premier Blue is expected to sell for far more, according to reports.

Sotheby’s said the round brilliant cut is rarely used in colored diamonds due to the high waste involved in the cutting process. “No significant round fancy vivid blue diamond has ever appeared at auction worldwide thus making the Premier Blue a rare and exceptional gem,” the auction house said.

The Premier Blue will be previewed throughout Asia as well as in Geneva, London, New York and Doha at before the auction in Hong Kong.

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

Coffee Table Book Celebrates ‘Jewelry’s Shining Stars’


Veteran fine jewelry consultant and writer, Beth Bernstein, is the author of a new book about jewelry designers who as individuals carved a unique vision for themselves and as a group are shaping the future of jewelry design. Titled, Jewelry’s Shining Stars, it is scheduled to be released in September.

Bernstein describes the book as a “celebration of the generation of independent jewelers who have learned the rules in order to bend them, creating a unique and distinctive imprint on contemporary jewelry.”

Published by Fine Points Publishing, the full-color, coffee-table book features designs, quotes, personal anecdotes and inspirations as told by 38 designers. It includes photographs of jewelry ranging from the exotic gemstone pieces of Coomi, to the high-karat gold pieces from master goldsmith Donna Distefano, to the artistic creations made of raw diamonds and recyclable gold from Todd Reed.

The book also includes a foreword written by internationally renowned jewelry designer, Stephen Webster.

Bernstein says that she chose these designers because they “have crossed the boundaries of art, function and wearability and formed distinctive identities while bringing out the collector in a new age of women … Most importantly, they are shaping jewelry’s future.”


The book can be preordered through Amazon.com.

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

Bill Clinton to Speak at Centurion Jewelry Show

Former president Bill Clinton

Former US President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Centurion Jewelry Show. He is scheduled to speak Feb. 4, 2014. The annual invitation-only luxury jewelry tradeshow will be held Feb. 2 – 4, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

During his eight years as president, Clinton led the U.S. to the longest economic expansion in American history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs.

After leaving the White House, he established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. Today the Foundation has staff and volunteers around the world working to improve lives through several initiatives, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is helping 4.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS to access lifesaving drugs.

So far, more than 2,100 Clinton Global Initiative commitments have improved the lives of 400 million people in 180 nations.


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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gold Jewelry Is Back as Global Demand Surges to 5-Year High

18k Picasso Gold brooch, Tiffany & Co.

Demand for gold jewelry in the second quarter surged to its highest level in five years due to a sharp drop in the price of the precious metal, the World Gold Council said Thursday.

Gold jewelry demand by volume increased 37 percent to 575.5 tons, according to the WGC’s Gold Demand Trend report for the second quarter of 2013. The demand for gold was so great that it far outweighed a decline in the average gold price as the demand in terms of value rose 20 percent to nearly $26.2 billion, the fourth highest on record.

The price of gold for the second quarter fell by more than $400 an ounce or 12 percent, according to the WGC, the marketing development organization for the gold industry.

“Although jewelry demand is influenced by a wide set of factors, including economic growth, consumer sentiment and disposable income, to name a few, all were eclipsed by the effect of the drop in the gold price,” the WGC said in its report.

The upward trend was “almost universal,” the WGC said, with the most notable year-over-year improvements in India, China, the Middle East and smaller Asian countries. Demand included an increase of higher-carat jewelry. Europe was the only region where jewelry demand failed to rise.

The US reported its second consecutive quarter of growth. Demand remained the healthiest at the higher end of the market, however, the WGC noted that the middle market is beginning to shift from lower- to higher-carat gold. The WGC also said the lower prices provided an opportunity for wholesalers to stock early for the Christmas holiday season.

India and China, again, generated the largest volume increase—almost 120 tons of the 155-ton increase in demand was from these two countries, according to the report. Hong Kong generated the strongest percentage growth in demand (approximately 65%), surging to a record 12.1 tons. In fact, double-digit growth was commonplace throughout the Asian markets, with the exception of Japan, which was unchanged. In Indonesia, demand of 7.8 tons was the strongest second quarter since Q2 2009.

In Turkey, a gold jewelry manufacturing center, demand hit a record high in terms of local currency value, led by consumer bargain hunting (concentrated in 22k market for investment) and trade inventory building. Growth across the Middle Eastern region was almost purely price-related, the WGC said.

The improvement in the US market was not replicated in the western European market, “where negative economic conditions overwhelmed the positive impact of lower prices,” the WGC said. In Italy, another major jewelry manufacturing center, demand fell by nearly 10 percent and in the UK demand dropped by more than 20 percent.

Jewelry demand in Russia “continued to normalize towards pre-crisis levels,” the report states, with demand concentrated on the high and low ends of the market.

The Gold Demand Trends report also tracks demand in gold for investment and technology purposes. In the second quarter, overall gold demand fell by 12 percent to 856.3 tons due to the drastic drop in the price of the precious metal. This translated to a 23 percent drop in value to $39 billion—its lowest level in more than five years.

“Record quarterly investment in gold bars and coins was countered by sizeable outflows from ETFs as western investors reacted to a seemingly more positive outlook for the US economy and an eventual tapering of quantitative easing,” the WGC said.

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jane Austen’s Ring Attracts the Attention of Kelly Clarkson, An English Museum and the British Government

A gold and turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen and purchased by Kelly Clarkson. Photo credit: Sotheby's

In July, 2012, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson successfully bided for a gold and turquoise ring once owned by the famed novelist Jane Austen at Sotheby’s London auction. She paid dearly for the ring, spending 152,450 pounds ($235,654), approximately five times the high estimate of approximately $45,000. The sale seemed legal and binding but then the British government swooped in, suddenly declaring it a national treasure and refusing to release the ring until the Jane Austen's House museum can raise enough money to match Clarkson’s winning bid, according to the Associated Press.

The museum at Austen's former home in Chawton, southern England, said Monday it has raised 103,200 pounds ($160,000), nearly all of it from one anonymous benefactor. It has until December to raise the remaining funds, according to the AP. Clarkson has agreed to sell the ring if the museum raises the funds. The museum did try to purchase the ring at the Sotheby’s auction but lost to the singer.

The ring’s origins are somewhat mysterious, according to reports. Some Austen fans suspect it was a gift from Tom Lefroy, an Irishman who may have been romantically involved with Austen. Austen corresponded with Lefroy during the time that she wrote her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice. Some speculate — as dramatized in the 2007 film Becoming Jane – that Lefroy was the inspiration for Austen’s most memorable character, Mr. Darcy. However, at least one literature expert, Gabriel Heaton, believes that it may have been a gift from Austen’s brother Henry, who acted as her literary agent. The ring is found in a box from a jeweler in the City of London, where Henry worked as a banker.

Austen left the ring to her sister Cassandra and it remained in the family until the auction.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was one of the most widely read writers in English literature, as the author of several romantic novels revolving around Regency-era families of the lower English gentry. 


The British government’s heavy handling of this situation is reminiscent of this scene from the movie Pirate Radio


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Pandora Jewelry Q2 Revenue Up 53%

Pandora charm bracelet

Danish jewelry company, Pandora, continues its comeback that began to show promise earlier this year with a year-over-year 53 percent increase in revenue to 1.9 billion kroner ($343 million) for the second quarter of 2013. Net income rose 22 percent for the period to 431 million kroner ($76.5 million).

The company did note that comparable figures for the second quarter of 2012 were impacted by the company’s stock balancing campaign conducted in 2012, where it replaced unwanted products after demand collapsed two years ago.

The international company known for its charm jewelry and silver jewelry posted robust double-digit sales growth in all regions where it operates:

• Americas increased by 52.1 percent (54.3% increase in local currency)
• US increased 53.9 percent (55.6% increase in local currency)
• Europe increased by 59.3 percent (59.8% increase in local currency)
• Asia Pacific increased by 43.5 percent (42.4% increase in local currency)

Gross profit for the quarter increased 49 percent to 1.27 billion Danish kroner ($225 million). This corresponds to a gross margin of 66 percent, compared to 67.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012 and 65.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013. The company said the decrease in gross margin was primarily due to the expiration of the suspension of import duties on goods from Thailand (where the company manufactures its jewelry) into the U.S. “The increase in the gross margin compared to Q1 2013, was due to a decrease in commodity prices,” the company said.

EBITDA for the second quarter increased by 140.9 percent to 530 million Danish kroner ($94.1 million) resulting in an EBITDA margin of 27.4 percent, compared to 17.5 percent in the same period of the prior year. 

Pandora—which designs, manufacturers, markets and sells its jewelry wholesale and retail—said its volumes increased by 40 percent year-over-year and the average sales price increased nearly 9 percent.

On 30 July 2013, Pandora is sticking to an upgrade in its financial guidance, first announced July 30, to 8 billion kroner ($1.42 billion), compared with its previous guidance of 7.2 billion kroner and expects an EBITDA margin of approximately 27 percent, up two points from its previous guidance.

The company also plans to increase the number of its popular “concept stores” that it plans to open for the year, from 150 to 175.

“The solid performance reported for Q1 2013 has continued across all major markets in the second quarter, with strong sales from newly launched products, high replenishment rates and healthy sell-out from the concept stores,” said Allan Leighton, Pandora CEO. “Our strategy of delivering affordable luxury is becoming increasingly relevant, and although there are still many areas in which we can improve we are pleased with our progress.”


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The Famed and Mysterious ‘Cheapside Hoard’ Jewels to go on Display at Museum of London

Bloodstone carved into the form of a strawberry leaf. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The Cheapside Hoard, considered the world’s largest and finest collection of jewelry from Britain's Elizabethan and early Stuart periods, will go on display at the Museum of London, beginning October 11.

Emerald, diamond and enamel Salamander brooch. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The items were found accidentally by construction workers 101 years ago hidden in a London cellar near St. Paul’s cathedral. Even though many of the pieces have been exhibited at different times and at different venues, it will be the first time that the entire collection of 500 pieces will be placed on display.

Colombian emerald watch. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The pieces include cascading necklaces, Byzantine cameos and jeweled scent bottles. Highlights include a cabochon emerald and yellow gold salamander brooch, a watch mounted in a single large emerald with a translucent green enamel dial, and enamel and gem-set Elizabethan necklace chains decorated with floral motifs.

Gold and enamel chain with floral links. Photo Credit: Museum of London

An oval gem engraved with the heraldic badge of William Howard, the first and only Viscount Stafford, (1612-1680), was the latest datable item in the collection. This and other clues led researchers to conclude that the treasures were buried between 1640 and 1666.

Carnelian intaglio with Stafford heraldic badge. Photo Credit: Museum of London

“The Cheapside Hoard has been swathed in mystery, rich in questions that had been left unanswered for too long,” said Hazel Forsyth, exhibition curator. “The Stafford intaglio has been absolutely vital in shedding new light on the collection, providing crucial dating evidence for the deposition of the Hoard between 1640 and 1666, and making a specific link to an individual who had international connections and a penchant for collecting gems and antiquities.”

Cabochon emerald ring. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The name, cheapside, was the name of the main shopping street in London during the 17th Century—cheap actually meant market. There were jewelers who worked on the street.

Byzantine amethyst cameo depicting St George and St Demetrios, 6th century AD. Photo Credit: Museum of London

There is still plenty of mystery that surrounds the Cheapside Hoard. For example, researchers are fairly certain that the hoard represents a goldsmith-jeweler’s stock-in-trade. However, no one knows who this person was and why he hid the items and never returned for them.

Onyx cameo depicting Aesop's Fable, The Dog and the Shadow. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The exhibition will consider these questions and others and will present the pieces within its historical context that will reflect the craftsmanship, taste and fashion of the period. It will also look at London’s role in the international gem trade in its age of global conquest and exploration.

Gold and enamel pendant set with two sapphires and an irregular polished spinel. Photo Credit: Museum of London

The exhibition will run till April 27, 2014. Sponsors of the event are luxury jewelry house, Fabergé, and its owner, colored gemstone miner and marketer, Gemfields.

Gild brass verge watch – the Hoard’s only signed piece, c1600. Photo Credit: Museum of London

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Gold bow pendant set with rose-cut and step-cut foil-backed rubies and table-cut diamonds. Photo Credit: Museum of London

Monday, August 12, 2013

Watch Brands Create 33 Unique Timepieces for 'Only Watch' Charity Auction

Armin Strom One Week Skeleton Water

Some of the world’s best-known watch brands have created 33 unique timepieces for men and women that will go on the auction block to finance research to combat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Backes & Strauss Victoria Princess Red Heart

Known simply as “Only Watch,” the fifth edition of this auction will be held September 28 at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monaco. Held every two years as part of the Monaco Yacht Show, it is the first and the largest charity auction for the international watch industry.
 
Bell & Ross Collector's Box of Six Unique Watches

Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophy—the promoter of Only Watch along with Antiquorum Auctioneers and the Monaco Yacht Show—to finance research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease affecting 1 in 3,500 boys, therefore 250,000 children, adolescents, and young adults around the world.

Blancpain Women, Only Watch 2013

The luxury timepieces that will be on offer cover a breadth and depth of styles and functions. Several include designs that pay tribute to the event and the Principality of Monaco, such as the Van Cleef & Arpels “Lady Arpels Une journée à Monacopanoramic view of Monaco,” with a turquoise dial that depicts a panoramic view of Monaco. Several contain tourbillons and a few are prototypes, such as the Richard Mille Tourbillon Prototype Yohan Blake, which was worn by the Jamacian Sprinter during the London Olympic Games, where he won gold and silver medals.

Breguet Classique Chronograph Openworked 5284

Beginning August 30, the Only Watch collection of timepieces will go on a world tour that will conclude with a presentation during the Monaco Yacht Show (September 25th to 28th). The dates and locations of the tour are as follows:

Chanel, Premiere Flying Tourbillon

* Tokyo, August 30, Mandarin Oriental;
* Singapore, September 6 – 7, The Hour Glass;
* Hong Kong September 9 – 10, Antiquorum;
* Shanghai, September 12 – 13, location to be announced;
* Beijing, September 14, location to be announced;
* New York, September 16 – 17, Antiquorum;
* Geneva (September 20 – 23, Antiquorum;
* Monaco, September 25 – 28, Monaco Yacht Show.


Chopard, L.U.C Tourbillon Only Watch 2013 Edition

The auction will take place on September 28 at 11 a.m. (7pm EDT) in the “Salle Belle Epoque” of the Hôtel Hermitage.

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 Pinball

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Chronoswiss, The Three Apes

Corum Ti-Bridge 3-Day Power Reserve

Cyrus Kambys Model

De Bethune Skybridge

DeLacour Red Dots

DeWitt Twenty-8-Eight High Jewellery Skeleton Tourbillon

Frederique Constant Double Heart Woman Set

Girard Perregaux Chrono Hawk Only Watch

Harry Winston Only Watch 2013 Midnight Big Date


Hublot Bright Red Ceramic "Classic Fusion"

Ikepod Horizon

Jaquet Droz 'The Loving Butterfly'

Julien Coudray 1518 'Draw Me a Happy Child' by the Children of the World

Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Only Watch

Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Regatta

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Seconde Mysterieuse

Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours for Monaco


Patek Philippe Only Watch 2013 Special Reference 5004T

Piaget Altiplano Automatic Skeleton

Richard Mille Tourbillon Prototype Yohan Blake

Roger Dubuis La Monegasque

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture Only Watch

Vacheron Contantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Heures du Monde

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Une Journee a Monaco

Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th Tribute to Felix Baumgartner, Prototype I/I