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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Frédérique Constant, Introduces Four New Watch Collections

Peter Stas introduces new timepiece at Baselworld.

BASEL, Switzerland - Frédérique Constant used the opening day of Baselworld March 24 to officially introduce four new collections, each for a particular market. The Swiss watch brand’s compound of a pair of two-story showrooms in the back of Hall 1.0 served as the backdrop for the announcement. Peter Stas, the Swiss watch brand's managing director, introduced each new collection in a 10-minute presentation flanked by video screens.

Vintage Racing Collection
The Frédérique Constant Vintage Racing collection was created to celebrate the latest edition of “The Ultimate Driving Adventure: Peking to Paris,” a 9,000-mile long race using classic and vintage cars. More than 100 teams participated in the event. The company’s three new automatic chronographs of the collection are distinguished by a hand-polished 43 mm case in 316L stainless steel with three different dial options. Elegant versions come with a silver dial, animated by blackened steel or rose gold plated indexes and hands. The sporty version has a silver dial decorated by black chronograph counters and a black outer-ring. The Vintage Racing Automatic Chrono mechanical self-winding chronograph calibre FC-396, beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour that is visible through the transparent case-back, which shows the special rotor engraved with the Peking to Paris logo.

For each version, production is limited to 1,888 pieces. Every timepiece comes with a commemorative plate, showing the route driven by the participants of the latest Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.

Junior Ladies Collection
The company also introduced a collection for girls aged 12 to 16. The Junior Ladies collection, dedicated to girls aged 12 to 16. It is a younger version of the  Frederique Constant Delight timepiece for women. The caseback of each watch is designed to accept an engraved personal message. All models are fitted with a quartz movement and equipped with a choice of three dials for the watch: Roman numerals surrounding a guilloché natural mother-of-pearl dial center; or applied steel indexes and diamonds around a hearts guilloché pattern on a natural mother-of-pearl dial center. All versions are housed ina 26mm diameter steel case and are available with a steel bracelet or a selection of colored satin straps.

In support of the introduction of the Frédérique Constant Junior Ladies range, the brand launched an advertising campaign with 15-year-old model, Alessia Lenders.

Alpina Pilot Watches
Frederique Constant also owns Alpina, an aviation watch brand. Included in its new announcements Thursday was the Alpina Startimer Pilot collection. In the 1930s, Alpina manufactured military watches, particularly for pilots, which were precise and resistant to the shocks. All were conceived with the same technical characteristics: a resistant and antireflective glass, an antimagnetic escapement, and a dial with large luminous numerals and luminous hands for a better visibility.

Alpina revisited its past to create the new collection with four models. In addition to the black dial and large white luminous numerals, there is the red Alpina triangle on the second hand. It is housed in a 44mm-diamater stainless steel case. The leather strap closes on the front side of the wrist, not on the reverse or lower sides, resembling the vintage leather straps of the past. A newly designed metal bracelet also is available and fits on all versions.

Each Startimer Pilot timepiece is available in a limited edition of 8,888 pieces and is delivered with a model of the Cessna Citation Mustang in PrivatAir Livery. It is part of a three-year cross-marketing campaign with Cessna and PrivatAir.

Amour Ladies Automatic Collection
Finally, Frédérique Constant introduced the Amour Ladies Automatic collection, already covered on this website. The line for Asian self-purchasing women is designed by ShuQi, the famous Taiwanese-born movie star and personality, who has been the company’s brand ambassador for Greater China since 2008. Through the advertising campaign for Ladies, ShuQi has actively supported Frédérique Constant charity campaigns in China with the Paint a Smile Foundation and Beijing Children’s Hospital.

Signet 2011 Sales Up 5%

Mike Barnes, Signet CEO
Signet Jewelers Ltd., the world’s largest specialty retail jeweler, said Wednesday that same store sales rose 6.7 percent for fiscal 2011, ended Jan. 29. Total sales for the year rose 5 percent to $3.4 billion.

Income before taxes for the year increased 30.3 percent to $300.4 million. Adjusted income before taxes rose 51 percent to $347.9 million.

The Bermuda-based, New York Stock Exchange-listed company operates approximately 1,857 specialty retail jewelry stores in the U.S. and the U.K. Sales for its U.S. business (which accounts for nearly 80 percent of total revenues) increased 8 percent for the year to $2.74 billion, with same-store sales up nearly 9 percent.

In the U.K., it was a different story as sales fell 5.5 percent to less than $693.2 million, the company said. Same store sales fell 1.4 percent for the year.

“Fiscal 2011 was an outstanding year for Signet, said Mike Barnes, Signet CEO. “We believe that Signet is well positioned to gain profitable market share and improve operating margins as a result of our competitive strengths in the bridal category, the further development of brands that differentiate us from our competitors, our long term focus on best in class customer service, and traffic generating marketing campaigns that leverage our leading share of voice.”

This was Barnes first earnings report statement as Signet CEO. The former executive with accessories company Fossil took the helm at Signet at the end of January, following the retirement of Terry Burman, who headed the company for 10 years.

Fiscal 2012 is off to a strong start, particularly in the U.S., the company said. Same store sales in the first seven weeks are up by 8.5 percent, compared with the comparable period last year. The U.S. division increased by 11.4 percent and the U.K. division was down by 4.6 percent.

Signet operates approximately 1,317 stores in the U.S., where its store brands include Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry and a number of regional names. Signet also operated 540 stores in the U.K., where its store brands are H.Samuel, Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gemfields Emerald Auction Fetches $9.9 Million

Prices for lower-quality rough emeralds nearly tripled during the past year, according to Gemfields Plc., which recently held an auction of the precious gem from its Kagem mine in Zambia.

The mining giant’s auction of low quality emeralds from its wholly owned on March 10-14 in Jaipur, India, (where it owns a cutting and polishing facility) took in 77 cents per carat, a 148 percent increase from 31 cents per carat received in a similar auction in March 2010.

“This provides a clear indication of robust growth in both prices and demand for emeralds in general, and Gemfields’ ethical emeralds in particular, across all regions and all sectors,” the company said in a statement.

Of the 48 companies invited to attend the auction, 44 placed bids for the material on offer, Gemfields said. The auction saw 16.83 million carats placed on offer, with 12.98 million carats being sold, generating record lower quality auction sales of $9.9 million.

The three auctions held in the current financial year yielded $37 million in aggregate revenues, while all six auctions held since July 2009 have generated $55.7 million in combined revenue for Gemfields.

London-based Gemfields is the only mining company in the world that has incorporated a mine-to-market strategy for the emerald industry. Under the plan, emeralds would come from a single source (the Kagem mine) so the origin of each stone can be traced from the mine to the retail jeweler. In addition, the company is trying to produce emeralds in a way that adheres to fair-trade practices and in accordance with environmental, social and safety standards.

“Gemfields is naturally very pleased with the results in Jaipur,” said Ian Harebottle, Gemfields chief executive . “The overwhelming interest in attending Gemfields' auctions provides sound evidence of an increase in demand for our products across all grades and all markets.”

The Jaipur auction was also used as a platform to test the levels of demand for rough amethyst derived from Gemfields' 50 percent owned Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia. Gemfields said the results were encouraging and it expects to sell significant quantities of the gem.

Gemfields' next auction of predominantly higher quality rough emeralds is scheduled for July 2011.

The last of these, held in Johannesburg in early December 2010, achieved revenue of $19.6 million, exceeding the $18.7 million generated from the three previous emerald auctions held during the current 2009/10 financial year.

Target Signs on to the ‘No Dirty Gold’ Campaign

Target, the third-largest retail chain in the U.S., has pledged to shun gold from irresponsible mining and seek cleaner sources of gold and precious metals.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. becomes the 73rd signer of "Golden Rules," a set of social, human rights, and environmental criteria for more responsible mining of precious metals from the No Dirty Gold campaign. Target ranks No. 10 among U.S. jewelry retailers with 2009 sales of about $450 million. The Golden Rules have now been signed by eight of the top 10 jewelry sellers in the country, with combined annual sales of more than $13.5 billion, about a quarter of the total U.S. jewelry market.

"Target is proud to be part of the No Dirty Gold campaign," said Tim Mantel, president, Target Sourcing Services. "Our approach to sourcing products throughout the world is grounded in our heritage of strong business ethics."

Earthworks, an international mining reform organization, spearheads the No Dirty Gold campaign. Target joins companies ranging from luxury brands such as Tiffany and Cartier to retail chains such as Sears/Kmart and JCPenney, who have signed onto the campaign.

“Target's commitment brings us one step closer to the day when gold and other precious metals are no longer tarnished by environmental harm or human rights abuses,” said Payal Sampat, Earthworks international campaign director.

The production of one gold ring generates an average of 20 tons of mine waste, Earthworks says. Gold mining has been linked to human rights violations, forest destruction, toxic pollution, and loss of lands and livelihoods.
More than 100,000 individuals have signed on to the No Dirty Gold consumer pledge, Earthworks says. Thousands of these No Dirty Gold members, and over 20,000 members of, the world's fastest growing platform for social change, have called on retailers and mining companies to provide alternatives to dirty gold.

GIA to Hold Classes in Botswana

The Gemological Institute of America will offer Diamond Grading Lab classes in Gaborone, Botswana, in April and September 2011. The classes will offer a practical, hands-on approach to learning, and are designed to help Botswana increase local employment and enhance career development within its diamond production industry.

The classes teach students to grade diamonds in the D-Z color range, including how to detect synthetics, treatments, simulants and fracture-filled diamonds. Students also learn how to use the GIA International Diamond Grading System and the 4Cs (Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat weight).

The classes are five days in length and will be offered at the GIA Botswana campus in Gaborone. Students can choose from four sessions: April 11-15, April 18-22, Sept. 12-16 and Sept. 19-23.

GIA Education programs offered in Botswana are accredited by the Government of Botswana. The education reimbursement initiative was determined by the Botswana Training Authority, a regulatory body of the government that coordinates and monitors training provided by vocational training institutions.

Paula Garces is the New Face of Donna Distefano Jewelry

Paula Garces wearing Donna Distefano "Banquet" earrings and "Belle Epoque" necklace in 18k gold with Japanese Akoya pearls. Distefano said the photo pays homage to Elizabeth Taylor.

Actress and producer Paula Garces will appear in the 2011-2012 fall and winter advertising campaign of Donna Distefano Ltd.

Garces is best-known for her role as Maria, the romantic love interest in the Harold and Kumar films, and appears on the style television show, The Look, which airs on the mun2 network. Her television credits include CSI: Miami, Law and Order: SVU, Warehouse 13, The Goodwife and Breakout Kings.

Garces is appearing with Donna Distefano at the New York Weddings Event on Wednesday at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 125 W 18th St in New York City.

Distefano is a goldsmith whose original jewelry designs are hand-wrought in her New York City jewelry atelier where she combines sustainable metals with fair trade gems and conflict free diamonds.

Garces who has supported the brand for several years will be the face of a new advertising and marketing campaign, Distefano said. The photo shoot, styled and directed by Distefano, depict Garces as a classic Hollywood film star with a 1940's-1950's feel. Distefano says the images pay homage to the late Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor.

In addition, Distefano recently designed a necklace for Aluna (pictured left), the comic book persona of Garces that made her debut in the gaming world as a new hero in the online game, Heroes of Newerth. Aluna is the brainchild of producers Paula Garces and Antonio Hernandez. With dynamic power and beauty rivaled by none, Aluna, carries the power of the moon in a mystical gem she wears around her neck at all times. 

The necklace (pictured above) appears throughout the comic and HoN. Five limited edition Aluna gem necklaces, each signed by Distefano, will be given away to winners announced monthly after the official Aluna launch. Each necklace features a fair trade 90-ct. uvarovite drusy garnet and is created with a South American inspiration reminiscent of what Aluna wears in both the comic book and as a hero in HoN. It is handcrafted in sustainable sterling silver and micron-electroplated in 24k gold.

The Donna Distefano Jewelry Atelier is located at 37 West 20th St., Suite 1106 between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Consumer Confidence Index Down 8.6% in March

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in February, declined in March. The Index now stands at 63.4 (1985=100), down from 72 in February. The Present Situation Index improved to 36.9 from 33.8. The Expectations Index decreased to 81.1 from 97.5 last month.

“The sharp decline in confidence was prompted by a sharp decline in expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ inflation expectations rose significantly in March and their income expectations soured, a combination that will likely impact spending decisions. On the other hand, consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, indicating that while the short-term future may be uncertain, the economy continues to expand.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in March. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 15.1 percent from 12.4 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 37 percent from 39.3 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market, however, was slightly less favorable than in February. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 44.6 percent from 44.4 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” dipped to 4.4 percent from 4.9 percent.

Consumers’ short-term outlook was considerably less favorable than in February. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 20.6 percent from 25.2 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen increased to 16.2 percent from 10.3 percent. Consumers were also more downbeat about the labor market. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 19.9 percent from 21.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose to 20.7 percent from 15 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 15.3 percent from 17.4 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company. The cutoff date for March’s preliminary results was March 16.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seiko Officials Address the Crisis in Japan

Seiko officials during press conference at Baselworld.

BASEL, Switzerland - Seiko Holdings Corp. officials said Thursday that one of its factories has been closed and that production has been significantly reduced due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Some of the production has been slowed and a factory has been stopped because of a lack of electricity and gasoline, said Shinji Hattori, chief executive officer of the watch unit, during a press conference at Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry tradeshow.

The company was introducing a number of new products to celebrate its 130-year anniversary. Afterward, company officials responded briefly to reporters’ questions about the ongoing crisis.

Hattori, the grandson of the company’s founder, said that the closed facility should reopen in about a week. He did say that production will be reduced, although he didn’t speculate by how much or for how long. The company’s production facilities did not sustain any damages because they located are away from the devastated area and all of the company’s employees are safe and accounted for.

"You do not need to worry about it," he said.

More on the new products to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thomas Prescher’s Personal Touch

Thomas Prescher's Mysterious double-axis toubillon

BASEL, Switzerland - I had the pleasure to meet independent watchmaker Thomas Prescher and view his entire stock of beautiful and extremely complicated timepieces Thursday at Baselworld, the world's largest watch and jewelry fair. Prescher and one other person produce all of their products from their headquarters in Twann, Switzerland. “We don’t have a factory, we have a workshop,” he stresses.

I first wrote about the brand when the company introduced its triple-axis toubillon. Their watches retail from $22,000 to $415,000 and are becoming a favorite with serious watch collectors, he said. Lately, he’s been focusing on building custom timepieces for collectors. “The larger companies can’t provide this type of service,” he says. They would typically start at $415,000 but are still a value when compared to similar models from comparable large, established watch brands.

In addition, he recently introduced lower priced watches as a way to adjust to the realities of the current economy. The complications are similar to the six-figure models but he replaced the platinum and gold housings with a steel that has the look of platinum.

On of my favorite pieces is the “Mysterious” double-action toubillon. Only the time, toubillon calendar and oscillating weight are visible. The automatic movement is hidden in the left and right part of the case behind the bezel of the largely transparent watch.

There are few watch companies that are aligned so tightly with its maker. The timepieces can be ordered through a retailer or directly through the company. Since opening in 2002, Prescher, saw the value of marketing and communicating through the Internet. He is highly accessible online for consultation before, during and after buying one of his watches. In other words, his innovative approach to watchmaking doesn’t end at the workshop.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baselworld App

No tradeshow is complete these days without its own smartphone application. Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry show, isn’t any different. The free app, for the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and other smart phones, simplifies the orientation and navigation through the multi-building Messe Basel complex by providing essential information regarding this year's show, being held March 24 – 31.

The app includes visitor information, all of the 2,000 exhibitors with a brief company description, product pictures and contact details. The exhibitors can be marked as a favorite and shown on the interactive 3D map. The index of products allows users to search exhibitors by product category. In addition, those using the app will receive a digital version of the Baselworld Show Daily.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Report: Kimberley Process Allows Zimbabwe to Sell Marange Field Diamonds

Mathieu Yamba,  Kimberley Process chairperson. Photo credit:

The chairman of the Kimberley Process is allowing Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from the controversial Marange Fields, according to a report from Rapaport News.

The diamond publication said it has obtained a copy of the letter written by Mathieu Yamba, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and letter sent to Kimberley Process participants and observers. It reads in part: “With immediate effect, Zimbabwe is hereby authorized to resume exports from the compliant mining operations of Mbada and Canadile (Marange Resources).”

The exports will include the stockpile of diamonds held from the two concessions as well current production, according to the online publication. He did not authorize exports of diamonds mined between 2007 and 2009, held by various other sources.

The publication also reports that the United States and European Union has objected to the decision. U.S. officials reportedly sent word to KP authorities in India and the United Arab Emirates stating that it would view any shipments proceeding as a result of the decision as non-compliant.

The U.S. also warned that it would publish the names of companies taking delivery of these goods on the State Department website to ensure that U.S. companies are aware of potential non-compliant goods that may be in their supplier’s stocks, and ask the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers U.S. sanctions, to look more closely at the issue of these transactions, the publication reports.

To read more on this ongoing story, please go to the search engine of the blog and type the words "Kimberley Process" or "Zimbabwe."

Tiffany Q4 Sales up 12%, Full-Year Sales up 31%

Tiffany & Co. said Monday fourth quarter worldwide net sales increased 12 percent to $1.1 billion due to growth in all geographic regions. Net earnings from continuing operations for the period rose 31 percent to $181.2 million. For the full year, net sales rose 14 percent to $3.1 billion and net earnings from continuing operations increased 39 percent to $368.4 million. Management also reduced its outlook for the first quarter of 2011 because of the crisis in Japan, where nearly a quarter of its stores are located.

“These strong fourth quarter sales, which were better than the holiday results we had previously reported, were the culmination of an excellent year of strong earnings growth for Tiffany,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO. “Our broad-based success reflected healthy comparable store sales growth and successful new store openings in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, and highly successful new product introductions including our extraordinary yellow diamond collection.”

Net sales highlights by segment for the fourth-quarter and year-end period ended January 31:

* In the Americas region, which includes the U.S., Canada and Latin/South America, sales in the fourth quarter increased 10 percent to $577.1 million and in the full year rose 12 percent to $1.575 billion (representing 51 percent of worldwide sales). On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales increased 10 percent in the quarter and 11 percent in the full year and comparable store sales increased 8 percent and 8 percent (comparable Americas' branch store sales increased 9 percent and 8 percent and sales in the New York flagship store rose 2 percent and 6 percent). Combined Internet and catalog sales in the Americas increased 8 percent in both the quarter and full year.

* In Asia-Pacific, sales increased 25 percent to $188.3 million in the fourth quarter and 29 percent in the full year to $549.2 million (representing 18 percent of worldwide sales). On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales rose 21 percent in the fourth quarter, due to strong growth in most countries, and rose 23 percent in the full year; on that basis, comparable store sales rose 16 percent and 14 percent.

* In Japan, sales increased 11 percent to $182.6 million in the fourth quarter and rose 7 percent in the full year to $546.5 million (representing 18 percent of worldwide sales). On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales increased 2 percent in the quarter and declined 1 percent in the full year; on that basis, comparable retail store sales rose 1 percent and declined 4 percent.

* In Europe, sales increased 14 percent to $137.9 million in the fourth quarter and rose 18 percent in the full year to $360.8 million (representing 12 percent of worldwide sales). On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales rose 21 percent in the quarter, due to strong growth in the U.K. and most of continental Europe, and increased 23 percent in the full year; on that basis, comparable store sales rose 16 percent and 18 percent.

* The luxury jeweler opened nine branded stores in the fourth quarter, and opened 15 in the full year including five stores in the Americas (Baltimore, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles and Santa Monica), two in Europe (Barcelona and London), seven stores in Asia-Pacific (four in China: Beijing, Shanghai (2) and Kunming; and one each in Seoul, Singapore and Taipei) and one in Japan. The company also closed two locations in Japan. The Company operated 233 stores as of January 31 (96 in the Americas, 56 in Japan, 52 in Asia-Pacific and 29 in Europe).

* Other sales declined 30 percent to $15.3 million in the fourth quarter and increased 2 percent to $54.2 million in the year (2 percent of worldwide sales).  Declines in wholesale sales of rough diamonds were partly offset in the quarter and entirely offset in the year by increased wholesale sales of finished goods to independent distributors within emerging markets.

Gross margin (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) rose to 60.9 percent in the fourth quarter from 58.7 percent in the prior year, with the increase primarily reflecting the recapture of higher product costs through retail price increases, as well as manufacturing efficiencies and sales leverage on fixed costs, the company said. Gross margin in the full year rose to 59.1 percent from 56.5 percent in the prior year due to similar factors.

Kowalski said that the company plans to open 21 stores across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific in 2011 and will introduce new products and expand marketing communications efforts.

Japan Crises
Kowalski made the following statement about Japan and how it may affect sales and earnings in 2011:

“We are saddened by the tragic events in Japan. Our thoughts are with our more than 700 Tiffany colleagues and with all the people of Japan. Tiffany stores located in the Kanto and Tohoku regions, which generate somewhat more than half of sales in Japan, were closed or operating on reduced hours after the earthquake and tsunami, with physical damage limited to a few stores. Most stores have re-opened over the past weekend. Our stores in the southwestern Kansai region have remained open.

In preparing our financial expectations for 2011, we have assumed some continued periodic store closings or limited store hours in Japan through the end of the first quarter, resulting in worldwide sales growth of 11 percent in the first quarter, with total Japan sales declining 15 percent. This leads us to now expect that earnings in the first quarter will be reduced by approximately $0.05 per diluted share from our initial expectation of $0.62 per diluted share to a new expectation of approximately $0.57 per diluted share (versus the prior year of $0.48). We cannot provide meaningful forecasts about sales in Japan beyond the first quarter and, therefore, have not adjusted our sales or earnings plan for the remaining quarters of 2011.”

Outlook for 2011
Tiffany said it expects worldwide net sales growth of 12 percent – 14 percent for the full year of 2011 (ending Jan. 31, 2012), adding that it was on track to exceed that expectation in the first quarter prior to March 11, when the crises in Japan begun. This figure is based on the following assumptions:

* A low-double-digit percentage increase in the Americas;

* A 20 percent increase in Asia-Pacific;

* A mid-single-digit percentage sales decline in Japan;

* Sales increasing more than 20 percent in Europe; and

* Other sales are expected to increase more than 30 percent.

Net earnings are expected to increase 14 percent to 18 percent for 2011.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Patek, Rolex and Erotic Watches to Headline Antiquorum’s Geneva Auction

Patek Philippe Ref 3939

More than 550 vintage timepieces will be up for auction at Antiquorum’s “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” auction to be held March 27 at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva.

The top lot is a Patek Philippe Ref 3939 HP minute-repeating platinum watch with one-minute tourbillion regulator and enamel Breguet dial (pictured above). The timepiece may be only the fifth example of this reference to appear at auction, Antiquorum said. It’s estimated to sell for CHF $444,000 – 555,000. The sale also includes a collection of 30 erotic watches and objects that were the property of a European collector.

Other sale highlights (all estimates U.S. dollar) include:

A Patek Philippe Ref. 2524/1, retailed by Gübelin Lucerne. This minute-repeating 18k yellow gold wristwatch with subsidiary seconds dial was made in 1954, with only eight pieces manufactured (auction estimate, $333,000 – 444,000).

A Rolex "Oyster Perpetual" Ref. 6284, 14K yellow gold wristwatch with a cloisonné enamel dial, by Marguerite Koch, representing the map of the two americas (estimate, $144,300 - $210,900).

Another Rolex on the block is the "Cosmograph Daytona", Ref. 6239 “Paul Newman,” made circa 1963 with an auction estimate of $44,300 - $55,500.

A Vacheron & Constantin Ref. 4582 pocket watch sold to H. Thommeu on Feb. 7, 1950. This large 20k yellow gold keyless dress watch with single hand and special champleve enamel and diamond-set dial is the only watch with single-hand ever made by Vacheron & Constantin (estimate, $12,000 to $16,600).

 The highlight of the erotic watch collection is the repeating musical watch with four actions and concealed erotic automaton "Musique d'Amour," made circa 1810. This watch is the work of Genevan watchmaker Henry Capt and is one of the very few known examples with two automaton scenes, Antiquorum said. It has three animations on the dial instead of the usual two—musicians and birds automaton scene on the dial plate and concealed erotic automaton scene, playing at will. The arm of each musician moves and a scene of two billing doves in an arbor, one dove appears when the music starts and disappears at the end of the tune. The enamel erotic scene is of very high quality depicting an aristocratic interior, of particular note is the pillar in the scene which is very cleverly enameled, with flecks of gold dust to accurately simulate lapis lazuli (estimate, $77,760 - $100,000).

Diamond in the Rough Launches Engagement Ring Online Boutique

Diamond in the Rough, the precious jewelry collection specializing in natural rough diamond designs, has launched an e-commerce bridal boutique on its website.

The bridal boutique is featured on the web site's home page ( as a section with a selection of original solitaire natural rough diamond ring designs. Each ring features a natural rough diamond center stone with micro pave diamond accents. Micro pave diamond bands in 18k yellow and pink gold and platinum. Natural rough diamond bands are available to complement engagement rings or celebrate anniversaries. On average, the collection ranges from $3,500-$10,000 retail, with special pieces more than $10,000. Bands start at $2,000 retail.

Diamond in the Rough launched its bridal collection o the fall of 2009. It has an assortment of shades—such as champagne, rose, cognac, white and black in shiny to more opaque textures. Each ring is hand-crafted and designed around a natural rough diamond.

The e-commerce bridal website launched March 14.

Pandora Sales up Nearly 93%

Everyone’s favorite jewelry company, Pandora, reported a 92.6 percent sales increase to 6.67 billion Danish krones ($1.26 billion) for 2010. Net profit rose 86.2 percent to 1.87 billion Danish krones ($355.6 million) for the year.

By region, the Danish company that specializes in affordable charms reported stunningly strong sales growth. Its business in the Americas, its strongest market with 43.7 percent of total sales, grew by 87 percent. Europe, its second largest market with 43 percent of total sales, had the strongest growth for the year at 137 percent. Sales in the Asia Pacific grew by 28.3 percent and constituted 13.4 percent of total sales

Revenue from charms grew by 82.5 percent for the year and silver and gold charm bracelets revenue grew 50.3 percent. This past year the company was trying to strengthen sales in its rings and other jewelry and it has shown some good results. Ring sales grew by 281.8 percent and other jewelry grew by 185.2 percent. Together these two product groups represented 18.7 percent of revenue in 2010—up from 11.6 percent in 2009.

Gross margin was 70.9 percent, slightly below the gross margin of 71.4 percent in 2009, primarily due to increase in commodity prices not being entirely offset by price increases, the company said.

“2010 was a remarkable year in Pandora’s history, and I am both proud and very satisfied with the achievements we have accomplished together with our partners,” said Mikkel Vendelin Olesen, Pandora’s CEO. “While entering new markets that will contribute to our long-term development, we experienced strong growth in our existing markets and across all product categories. We increased branded sales and strengthened the awareness and perception of the Pandora brand among our target audience. And we successfully integrated new businesses into the group as well as new systems and procedures to prepare our organization for future growth. At the same time we listed the company on the stock exchange without losing momentum in our daily operations.”

For 2011, Pandora said it expects a revenue increase of no less than 25 percent.

At the end of 2010, PANDORA employed 4,985 people worldwide and sold its jewelry and other branded products through 10,618 points of sale in more than 55 countries on six continents.

Japanese Pearl Industry Update During Disaster

Crown quality Japanese Akoya pearls shown by Imperial-Deltah pearl company during AGTA GemFair.

Obviously, the ongoing life and death situation from the tri-level tragedy in Japan are dominating the concerns of the Japanese people right now so there isn’t a lot to report regarding the country’s vitally important pearl industry. However, some news has trickled out and so far it seems that the pearl industry and more importantly those who work in the industry are largely unscathed.

First, Mikimoto, the largest and most famous pearl company in Japan, reports on its website that it has “confirmed the safety of all Mikimoto employees in Japan. Mikimoto stores, buildings, factories and facilities, including our pearl farm, have not sustained major damage.”

Meanwhile, Terry Shepherd, president of The Pearl Outlet, Woodland, Wash., gave a rundown on the situation on the Pearl-Guide message board, and again the news is largely as good as can be, considering the circumstances. The post includes the following note:

Cultivation areas: no major damages in initial reports

*Shima region: minor damage to rafts by tsunami
*Ehime: mostly OK
*Nagasaki & Kumamoto: mostly OK

As Mikimoto noted, Google has set up a crisis response website for this disaster at

Saturday, March 19, 2011

AMEX, FT and IHT Luxury Summits

Ed Kelly, president and CEO, American Express Publishing addressing attendees of the 2010 American Express Publishing Luxury Summit.
A handful of publishing companies have been successful at creating conferences that focus on current issues in the luxury industry. These events attract an international audience of professionals who deal with the creation and marketing of luxury products and brands—from jewelry to space travel—and result in unparallel networking opportunities. 

In the past few years, these conferences have changed from a celebration of the expansion of the good life to dealing with the turmoil from events that have unfolded in recent years—from the worldwide economic collapse to the democracy movement in the Middle East to the tragedy in Japan. This has given these conferences an increased importance in today’s worldwide marketplace. Below is quick rundown of three of the more successful luxury summits that will be hosting their events this year.

American Express Publishing Luxury Summit
Since 1999, this event, held exclusively in the U.S., has attracted top marketers from the world’s leading purveyors of luxury goods and services to analyze critical issues and trends, share best practices, and examine the evolving needs of the affluent consumer, as well as the effects of the current economic, social, and political climate on today’s luxury companies.

This year’s summit, being held April 10-12 at Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah, will focus on current issues and international news professionals are among the speakers. Christopher Dickey, Newsweek Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor, will discuss, “How a Global Youthquake is Turning The World (and Luxury) Upside Down.” Chrystia Freeland, Reuters global editor at large, will speak on the topic, “The Rise of the Global Super Elite.”

Other areas of interest will be the rise of digital technology in the luxury world, emerging economies, design and advertising. And, of course, the editing staffs of American Express Publishing, which produce the magazines Food + Wine, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Executive Travel and Black Ink, will be featured throughout the summit.

For more information or to register, visit the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit Website

2010 Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit Black Tie Reception at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

FT Business of Luxury Summit
In its seventh year, this summit, hosted by the Financial Times, brings together senior luxury executives, corporate decision makers and financiers from around the world. Held at locations throughout the world, this year’s summit will be held June 5-7 at the Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland. More details will be announced in the coming months, however, speakers and contributors who are confirmed include:

* Thierry Andretta, CEO, Lanvin
* Bernd Beetz, CEO, Coty Inc
* Jean-Claude Biver, CEO, Hublot SA
* Lionel Breton, chairman & CEO, Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouėt
* Gian Giacomo Ferraris, chief executive, Gianni Versace SpA
* Bill Glenn, president, Global Merchant Services, American Express
* Isabelle Guichot, president & CEO, Balenciaga
* Peter Kriemler, global president, Akris
* Frederick Lukoff, president & CEO, Stella McCartney
* Philippe Léopold-Metzger, CEO, Piaget SA
* Jim O'Neill, chairman, asset management & former chief economist, Goldman Sachs
* Marc Puig, chairman & CEO, Puig
* Martin Wolf, CBE, chief economics commentator, Financial Times

For more information or to register, visit the FT Business of Luxury Summit Website.

International Herald Tribune's Luxury Business Conference
“Hot Luxury” is the theme of this year’s conference, being held November 10-11 at Hotel Unique, São Paulo, Brazil. Since 2001, the conference has served as a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas for the fashion and luxury industry. It is hosted each year by Suzy Menkes, IHT's fashion editor. The conference attracts keynote speakers from the commercial and creative sides of the business, and an annual international audience of more than 450 delegates from more than 35 countries.

The program is still being developed. However, the keynote speaker is renowned fashion photographer, Mario Testino.

For more information or to register visit the International Herald Tribune's Luxury Business Conference.

Jewelers of the Hudson Valley at Forbes Galleries

Lapis Wave Bracelet by Tom Herman, lapis lazuli,18k gold, platinum, enamel and diamonds.  Photo credit: Allen Bryan

Living within the immediate vicinity of the New Paltz area in upstate New York are a number of important studio jewelry artists whose work will be the focus of an exhibition at The Forbes Galleries in New York, April 9 – June 25.

Jewelers of the Hudson Valley, will feature the work of seven prominent jewelry artists: Jennifer Trask, Tom Herman, Pat Flynn, Jamie Bennett, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Arthur Hash and Sergey Jivetin. In addition, there will be pieces from the collection of the Samuel Dorsky Museum, State University of New York/New Paltz on display and selected works by students and graduates of the metals’ program at SUNY/New Paltz.

The guest curator is Elyse Zorn Karlin, co-director of the Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts, Post Chester, N.Y., which is sponsoring the exhibition.

The Forbes Galleries are located within the lobby of Forbes magazine headquarters in New York, 62 Fifth Ave. The Galleries are open free to the public 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

A curator’s tour of the exhibition is schedules for June 18 at 2 p.m. for anyone interested in signing up or one can be booked for groups of 10 or more by contacting Elyse Karlin at There is no charge for a tour.

The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts, LLC is dedicated to the advancement of jewelry studies by individuals and in schools, museums, and institutions of higher learning. AJSRA publishes Adornment Magazine, a weekly newsletter, runs an annual fall event, numerous additional special events, and offers a number of other benefits.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jewelry Camp Moves to Tarrytown

The Antique Jewelry & Art Conference, better known as “Jewelry Camp,” is moving to a new location. This year’s event will be held at the Tarrytown House Estate, in Tarrytown, New York, July 15 -17.

In its 34th year, the annual educational event is for professionals and enthusiasts who want to advance their knowledge of the antique and estate jewelry market. As in prior years, Jewelry Camp will provide access to experts for in-depth information on buying, selling, appraising and collecting. Among the speakers, are:

Elizabeth Irvine Bray, G.G., formerly a jewelry specialist with Christie's auction house for more than seven years. She is currently a consultant and appraiser based in Los Angeles, as well author of Paul Flato: Jeweler to the Stars.

Paula Bixel, CEO of Gilt Vintage and Artisan Jewelry in Portland, Ore.

Cathy Calhoun, CGA, owner of Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, Pa., and current president of the American Gem Society’s Board of Directors.

For more information on Jewelry Camp or to register, visit the website; call Sandy or Ed Lewand, 631-471-1922; or e-mail

Koivula to Present Gemstone Lecture at Bowers Museum

John Koivula
If you live in Southern California or if you will be in the area tomorrow there is a lecture on gemstone inclusions that may be of interest.

John Koivula, the Gemological Institute of America chief gemologist will present “Macro and Micro: Inclusions and Gem Formation,” on March 19 at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. The presentation will be followed by a reception.

The event, part of GIA’s Distinguished Lecture Series, gives attendees the opportunity to gain first-hand insight from Koivula, whose decades of gemstone experience began with a childhood interest in the science of inclusions in gems and minerals. His career not only includes extensive work in inclusion research and microscopy, but also the development of several useful illumination techniques applicable to gemology. He introduced fiber optic illumination and discovered many of the micro-characteristics routinely used in the separation of treated stones from natural gems.

The author or co-author of more than 800 articles on gemstone inclusions and related topics, Koivula also worked with the late Edward J. Gübelin to create all three volumes of Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones. Koivula’s book, The MicroWorld of Diamonds, covers the microscopic world of natural diamonds, synthetics, simulants and enhancements. He has been a contributor to several other books, including the Glossary of Geology, the fifth edition of Robert Webster's Gems: Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification, GIA’s Diamond Dictionary and Geologica: Earth’s Dynamic Forces.

Koivula, who has earned numerous awards and distinctions, was also instrumental in the development of the “MacGyver” television series for Paramount Studios and ABC, and worked as the scientific and technical advisor on the show.

The lecture will begin at 1:30 p.m. on March 19. Tickets, which include admission to the lecture, reception and all-day access to the museum, can be purchased in advance for $25 from Lesley Ann Hamilton at, or by phone at (714) 567-3602. Lecture-only tickets are $15 ($12 for Bowers members) and can be purchased on the museum website.

Bowers Museum is located at 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, Calif.

French Museum Exhibit Celebrates the Country’s Horological Contributions

Leroy 01, the museum’s masterpiece. With its 24 complications, it was considered one of the most sophisticated horological pieces that was produced in the early part of the 20th Century.

On a clear day you can look east from the French city of Besançon and see Switzerland. This proximity to the watch capital of the world has helped the city and surrounding Doubs region to become the watch and clock capital of France. There’s even a museum dedicated to the industry in the city, the Musée du Temps (Time Museum) that a current exhibit showcases the museum’s entire antique watch collection for the first time to the public.

The exhibition, Montres et Merveilles (Watches and Wonders), contains 200 pieces of horology, including watches, cases, enameled plates, horological tools and iconographic documents.

The exhibit is set up in four parts in chronological order. The first section is dedicated to watches from the early sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Their accuracy is fairly uncertain, but they are, in most cases, authentic pieces of jewelry, crafted from the precious materials, with elaborate decorations. The technical evolution of watch craftsmanship leads up to the eighteenth century, with new inventions and techniques being progressively introduced. Visitors can observe the clocks’ workings and therefore understand their mechanical principles—such as plate movements with elaborate struts and balance-cocks as well as fuse chains and springs.

A second section covers the turning point of 18th and the 19th century watchmaking, marking technical and aesthetic innovations. The shapes become more refined, the clockwork more precise, prompted by the search for maritime chronometers. This section contains the Lépine watch collection, acquired by the Museum in 1998 as well as pieces by Breguet, Berthoud and Leroy.

The third part is dedicated to the nineteenth and early twentieth century watch industry, characterized by the introduction of mass production. This part is devoted to production in the city of Besançon. Through the display of pieces produced in Besançon’s manufacturing plants up to those of the early twentieth century, the exhibition aims at showing the importance of the city as the capital of French watch and clock craftsmanship in that period.

Apart from watches, this section gives visitors an opportunity to see lesser known parts of the museum’s collections, but which relate closely to Besancon’s productive sector, such as watch cases and enameled plates that remind the visitor that a large part of the city’s activity was not the production of clock workings, but rather the assembly of clock workings within watch cases.

Finally, the last section is dedicated to watch craftsmanship in the early 20th Century, focusing on the Leroy 01, the museum’s masterpiece. With its 24 complications, is considered one of the most sophisticated horological pieces that was produced in the early part of the century. “Manufactured in Besançon, the 01 is the perfect expression of the excellence of the skills developed by local watchmakers of that time,” the museum said in a statement.

The exhibit runs through May 29. It is sponsored by the Richemont Group and the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. For more information:

Musée du Temps
Palais Granvelle,
96 Grande Rue
25 000 Besançon
Téléphone : 03 81 87 81 50
Télécopie : 03 81 87 81 60

Steve Forbes, Rick Harrison, Red Envelope Founder to Speak at GIA Symposium

The Gemological Institute of America Symposium 2011 will include keynotes and lectures from those in business, the jewelry trade and of course, scientists and gemologists, as it tries to tackle the most pressing issues that impact the global gem and jewelry industry.

The trade only international conference of gem industry business leaders and research scientists, being held May 29-30 at GIA’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, will include Steve Forbes, Rick Harrison and Scott Galloway.

Steve Forbes
Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, will deliver the keynote address for Symposium 2011: “Advancing the Science and Business of Gems.”

Forbes has launched a variety of new publications and businesses, including: ForbesLife, the dedicated luxury lifestyle and culture magazine; ForbesWoman, providing Forbes’ community of executive women with luxury lifestyle content; Forbes Asia; and Forbes licensee editions published in China, Croatia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkey. The company also publishes a number of investment newsletters. Another division of the company is Forbes Investors Advisory Institute. attracts 18 million unique visitors a month and has become the leading destination site for senior business decision-makers and investors.

A widely respected economic prognosticator, Forbes is the only writer to have won the highly prestigious Crystal Owl Award for accurate economic forecasting four times. In addition, he has authored multiple books on leadership, economics and capitalism.

Forbes campaigned for the American presidency in 1996 and 2000. President Ronald Reagan named him chairman of the bi-partisan Board for International Broadcasting, where Forbes served from 1985 until 1993.

GIA Symposium’s Business Track Sessions are divided into two categories: “Advancing the Business of Gems” and “Advances in Gemological Research.”

Rick Harrison
Harrison of History’s reality television series Pawn Stars, will participate on the “Everything Old is New Again – The Appeal of Auctions, Estate & Vintage Markets” panel.

Pawn Stars chronicles the daily activities at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop located on the Las Vegas strip, a third-generation family business operated by Harrison, and his father and son. Harrison, trained in the pawn business from the age of 13, has showed signs of being a hustler from birth and is known as the “The Spotter” on the show because he easily picks out fake or stolen pieces—especially big-ticket items. Interesting items featured on the show included a 15th-century samurai sword, a Super Bowl ring, a Picasso painting, and a 17th-century stay of execution.

The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was awarded the “Pawnbroker of the Year” award by the National Pawnbroker’s Association for bringing the industry greater recognition and a better image through the TV show.

Other panel and lecture topics include consumer behavior, luxury marketing, design trends, social media, advances in gemstone treatments and technology, new gem localities and the social, political and ethical issues of the production and distribution of gems and jewelry.

Scott Galloway
Galloway, founder of Red Envelope, the online gift giving company, and clinical associate professor for New York University’s Stern School of Business, will present, “The New Rules of Engagement – Finding and Keeping Customers in the Digital Age.” Other speakers include:

* Dilip Mehta, CEO of the Rosy Blue Group,
* Douglas Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association,
* Wallace Chan, world-renowned jewelry designer,
* Stuart Robertson, a leading gemstone research and pricing expert,
* Ken Royal, senior client service manager of Gallup,
* Gary Schuler, senior vice president for Sotheby’s and head of the company’s Jewelry Department since 2002.

“Symposium 2011 brings together an impressive and inspiring combination of thought leaders from the world of business,” said Kathryn Kimmel, GIA vice president and chief marketing officer, who is co-chair of the business track for Symposium. “These experts will explore important topics from a wide range of perspectives, providing attendees with a unique opportunity to gain insight into the most important business advancements shaping the gem and jewelry industry.”

GIA Symposium 2011 will commemorate the 80th anniversary of GIA with events that celebrate the Institute’s commitment to serving the public and trade through research, education, gemological laboratory services and instrument development.

For more information or to register, visit the Symposium website or e-mail