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Friday, April 29, 2011

Princess Catherine’s Bridal Jewelry

Photo by Ben Stansall/Getty Images
Upon her marriage this morning to Prince William, the former Catherine Middleton now has the title of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

The new Princess’ veil was held in place by a Cartier “halo” tiara, which was lent by The Queen. The tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on her 18th birthday.

The bride’s earrings, designed and made by London boutique jeweler Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylized oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the center. Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to match the tiara. The earrings were a personal gift to the bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.

Robinson Pelham also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings for Philippa Middleton, Catherine’s sister. These earrings are more floral in nature to compliment her headpiece during the service.

A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings were designed and made for Catherine’s mother, Carole Middleton. Two gold stick pins, one with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are also worn by the father of the bride, Michael Middleton, and the Bride's brother, James Middleton.

The wedding ring for princess Middleton was designed and made by Wartski, a family owned firm of antique dealers. The ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold that was given to Prince William by The Queen shortly after the engagement was announced.

There will be only one ring, in accordance with the Couple’s wishes.

Wartski is a family jewelry business founded in 1865. Its first establishment was in Bangor and later the business moved to the seaside resort of Llandudno.

Wartski has a history with the Royal Family. It supplied the engagement and wedding rings to Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Viscount Linley when he married The Hon. Serena Stanhope in 1993. They also made the wedding rings (also of Welsh gold) for The Prince of Wales and Mrs. Camilla Parker-Bowles for their wedding in 2005.

Wartski is long-established grantees of the warrants of The Queen and The Prince of Wales.

Photos of the Royal jewelry to come when available.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jessica Alba to Star in Piaget’s Possession Collection

Piaget has tapped actress Jessica Alba as an ambassador for its new Possession jewelry collection.

The Swiss luxury jewelry and watch brand used Alba on a multi-media campaign to promote the jewelry line. To create the imagery, Piaget commissioned photographer, Patrick Demarchelier, stylist Brad Goreski, make-up artist Lauren Andersen and hair stylist, Renato Campora.

The team created six distinct looks, each showing a different side of Alba, the company said, from a chic and casual look in a soft, relaxed sweater; or looking sexy, sharp and sophisticated in a leather blazer. Piaget’s Possession jewelry provided the accent for each in layered pieces along with the mix of white, yellow and rose gold. A video of the photo shoot in New York appears on the Piaget website.

Alba is a Golden Globe nominated actress who is known for her starring roles in movies such as
“Fantastic Four,” “Sin City.” She regularly graces the covers of top fashion magazines around the world. The wife and mother also supports several causes and charities, including Baby2Baby and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

‘Singing Bird Pistols’ Could Fetch $5 Million at Christie’s Hong Kong Auction

“Singing Bird Pistols” at Christie's Hong Kong

A pair of matching gold and enamel “Singing Bird Pistols” is the highlight of Christie’s Hong Kong Important Watches Spring Sale on May 30. The matching mirror-image pistols set with diamonds, agate and pearls, attributed to world-renowned craftsman Frères Rochat, is the only publicly known pair of singing bird pistols in the world, according to international auction house, which has placed an estimate of $2.5 million to $5 million.

The auction at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre will offer 540 lots that are expected to bring in about $80 million. The sale includes 150 lots of rare enamel and pocket watches, ladies’ jewelry watches, vintage wristwatches and inspirational modern complication wristwatches.

As is typical with an auction that includes vintage watches, Patek Philippe has a strong presence. Among the top piece being offered by the famed watch brand is a Reference 2499 (left), third series in pink gold, made in 1971. In extremely fine condition, this watch is only the sixth example of the ref. 2499 third series in pink gold to ever come to the public market. Its estimate is $700,000 to $1.2 million.

Among the modern watches on sale is the Opus 6 (left), an art piece in white gold which combines stunning design with cutting-edge technical excellence. It is the result of a collaboration of famed jeweler Harry Winston and watchmaker Greubel Forsey. The unusual construction of the Double Tourbillon 30°, a signature of French-English watchmaking duo Greubel and Forsey, combines a one-minute tourbillon inclined at 30 degrees inside a four-minute tourbillon to offset any positional errors and to ensure superb chronometry. The movement provides 72 hours of power reserve, hours and minutes by co-axial discs at 3 o’clock, and small seconds disc at 11 o’clock. Limited to 6 pieces, this example is numbered 5/6, and is manufactured in 2006. Its has a presale estimate of  $300,000 to $500,000.

Of particular importance among the enamel and pocket watches being offered is a rare gold and enamel openface duplex pocket watch, circa 1815 (left), by renowned London watchmaker William Ilbery. The enamel painting on the case is executed in the manner of Jean-Louis Richard and illustrates the English watchmaker’s talent of combining high technology with the decorative arts. The presale estimate is from $60,000 to $95,000.

Among the jewelry watches featured at the sale is the Piaget Petite Galaxy, circa 1995. The case, dial and bracelet of this wristwatch in white gold, are entirely set with 221baguette-cut diamonds, weighing 21.66 cts. Its presale estimate is $60,000 to $80,000.

 The house of Audemars Piguet is represented with its geometric check-board pattern of diamonds and baguette-cut emeralds of a lady’s white gold bracelet watch, circa 2000, featuring a timeless design and high craftsmanship in gem setting. Its presale estimate is $20,000 to $30,000.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

London Restaurant to Serve a Royal Wedding Piaget Jewelry Giveaway with Champagne

The exterior of Cafe Luc in London.

No, this isn’t a restaurant review. But jewelry loving readers of this website who are in London to attend the British Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton may want to make a special pilgrimage to this London eatery.

As a way to celebrate the Royal Wedding, Café Luc in the city’s Marylebone district is offering champagne lovers the chance to win Piaget jewelry worth up to 9,000 pounds ($14,850).

Beginning Wednesday (today) through Saturday, customers who order a glass of Louis Roederer champagne will receive a jewelry box containing a barcode. Scan the barcode in the Piaget boutique on New Bond Street before April 6 and you could be the winner of a 9,000 pound watch, or a 3,250 pound ($5,363) necklace.the restaurant did not specify the jewelry being given away.

Café Luc is a new all-day, brasserie-style restaurant that offers French/Belgian cuisine. Belgian restaurateur Luc Van Oostende and his daughter, Julie, own the restaurant, which opened in June 2010. Below is a video promoting the contest.

Consumer Confidence Index Increases Slightly

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which decreased in March, improved in April. The Index now stands at 65.4 (1985=100), up from 63.8 in March. The Present Situation Index increased to 39.6 from 37.5. The Expectations Index rose to 82.6 from 81.3.

“Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in March, posted a modest gain in April. Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing. Inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues.”

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions, although mixed, improved in April. Those stating conditions are “good” decreased slightly to 14.8 percent from 15 percent. Those stating business conditions are “bad” also declined slightly to 36.4 percent from 36.6 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was more favorable than last month. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” declined to 41.8 percent from 44.4 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased to 5.2 percent from 4.6 percent.

Consumers’ short-term outlook, which had soured in March, improved moderately in April. While those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 18.8 percent from 20.8 percent, those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 14.2 percent from 15.5 percent. Consumers were mixed about the labor market outlook for the next six months. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 17.5 percent from 19.6 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 19.0 percent from 20.5 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 16.7 percent from 15.2 percent.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ashley Morgan, Yael Create Jewelry Collection to Benefit Sierra Leone

Earrings from the new line
San Francisco-based fine jewelry designers Ashley Morgan and Yael Designs in the first collaboration are creating a jewelry collection to benefit Sierra Leone. The Leone Collection is expected to debut in the fall of this year.

Designed by Morgan and manufactured by Yael, the Leone Collection includes rings, earrings and necklaces featuring conflict-free custom cut black diamonds set in 18k recycled blackened gold and accented with white diamonds and Japanese seed pearls. Inspired by the royal image of Sierra Leone–or Lion Mountain–the collection refashions regal images of nature found on crowns and royal architecture throughout human history.

“We wanted to create a collection that brings regal beauty to the modern age and speaks to the universal values of our world’s many cultures,” Morgan said.

“As jewelry designers, we wanted to do our part to help rebuild Sierra Leone—a country that has been so negatively impacted by the diamond trade industry,” added Yehouda Saketkhou, Yael Designs CEO.

Two percent of the profits from the Leone Collection will be donated to Schools for Salone, a Seattle-based nonprofit that helps build schools, train teachers and give scholarships in Sierra Leone. The donation from the Leone Collection will be used to help build a primary school in Lungi Village in the southern part of Sierra Leone.

The price for Leone Collection starts at $1,200. The collection will be available online at and in select stores.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pandora’s Flower-Inspired Spring Jewelry Collections

Jewelry from the Spring Pandora collection.

Danish designer jewelry company, Pandora, launched a collection of jewelry inspired by colors and flowers that will begin to appear in stores in May and be enhanced with new pieces through the early part of summer. Known for its signature charm bracelet, this jewelry launch also includes a rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pendants.

“The vibrant colors and intricate details of flowers provide us with a color and inspiration palette designed by Mother Nature,” said Angel Ilagan, Chief Marketing Officer, Pandora North America.

The Copenhagen-based company’s first 2011 launch in the U.S. offers new charms for its Moments collection in a soft, romantic color palette that adds designs with precious metals, stones and gemstones. It includes birthstones and colored zirconia set in a bloom, as well as a range of new Murano glass beads and charms that represent personal symbols, such as a babushka doll and a four-leaf clover. Also new with this launch is a macrame bracelet ($105 - $235) to wear with, or without, a Pandora clip. Each bracelet takes approximately three hours to produce, making it the most time-intensive piece in the entire Pandora collection.

New rings have been added featuring muted floral details, hand-carved roses and small hearts. Rings come in sterling silver, 14k gold or two-tone and range in price from $35 to $995.

Smokey quartz and chalcedony make an appearance in the company’s Stories jewelry sets. The new launch also includes colorful cabochon bangle bracelets in sterling silver with a variety of gemstones. To meet these different occasions, pricing ranges from $45 to $845.

The Black Crown Diamond watch line offers Swiss-made craftsmanship at affordable prices. Women have more watch bands and bezels to select from in the Imagine and Double Oblong lines. Pandora has also added the Fleur line of watches featuring leather bands and a clean, circular face. Prices for interchangeable straps and bezels start at $30, and watches run from $175 to $1,350.

Enzo Targets Underserved $10 Billion Wedding Market

Chinese jewelry retailer Enzo launched the  “All About Love” jewelry collection that targets China's vast wedding market. The collection, unveiled at Enzo's 20,000 square foot flagship store in Macau, features colored gemstones and diamond products that enable consumers to create personalized jewelry sets for engagements, weddings and anniversaries. 
(Caption: Asian celebrities Aarif Lee and Janice Man model 'AllAboutLove' collection at its unveiling)

The collection is Enzo's first comprehensive line targeted specifically at the wedding market. The retailer says it estimates total sales in China to be about $10 billion, based on an average retail price of $1,000 and 10 million weddings each year. This is just for wedding rings. The potential markets for engagement and anniversary rings are comparably large.

“Most Chinese consumers up to now have had limited choices in wedding, engagement and anniversary items at local jewelers,” said Yu Chuan Yih, chairman and CEO of Enzo's parent company, LJ International. “We think the consumer is ready for this fresh western retailing concept, and Enzo is in an ideal position to profit from it with a full range of offerings not only in wedding rings, but in engagement and anniversary jewelry as well. For these reasons we expect All About Love to be a big winner for both Enzo and the consumer.”

All About Love provides a selection of colored gemstones and a collection of diamond products that, together, make up a comprehensive wedding collection. Customers can mix and match a full range of engagement, wedding and anniversary jewelry pieces to create their personalized wedding jewelry sets of engagement rings and wedding bands made of colored gemstones and diamonds.

LJ International Inc. is engaged in the designing, branding, marketing and distribution of a full range of jewelry. It has built its global business on a vertical integration strategy. As a wholesaler, it distributes to fine jewelers, department stores, national jewelry chains and electronic and specialty retailers throughout North America and Western Europe. Its product lines incorporate all major categories, including earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings and bracelets.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Giant Natural Pearl Sells for $254,500 at Christie’s Dubai

A baroque drop-shaped natural pearl weighing 239.7 grains (59.92 carats) sold for $254,500 at Christie’s Dubai sale of Important Jewels on Wednesday. The pearl, set on a diamond foliate surmount with a spectacle-set diamond chain 42 cm. long, is the largest saltwater pearl ever recorded, according to the international auction house.

It was once part of the collection of Valda Virginia Vaughn Scott, the daughter of an English diplomat and a member of the Alessi family. Her grandfather and great-grandfather served in the Royal Malta Regiment and the Malta Crown Advocate, and they were in turn descended from the Maltese nobleman, the Marquis di Taflia.

The pearl’s provenance along with its size speaks to its value, said David Warren, International Director of Christie’s Jewellery department and Head of Jewellery Middle East.

“Natural pearls of this size are rarely seen on the jewelry market and when offered they attract international interest,” he said. “The buyer is from the region, a traditional hot spot of the finest natural pearl enthusiasts. To date this is the largest natural pearl we have offered in Dubai.”

The auction of diamonds, gemstones, natural pearls, contemporary and signed jewelry, held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, took in more than $3.9 million.

A diamond and colored diamond jewelry suite fetched $542,500, the highest sales of the event. In addition to the quality of the materials and design, this jewelry suite is distinguished by the way it coverts from a dual necklace to a tiara with ear clips.

The front of the necklace, designed as a detachable swag, has five graduated diamond flowerheads, three flowerheads mounted with a brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamond of 3.57, 3.11 and 3 cts. each, surrounded by a diamond cluster center to the similarly-set diamond petals. These are alternated by two similarly-set diamond flowerheads, each mounted with a brilliant-cut diamond weighing 2.02 and 2.01 cts. to the marquise-cut diamond petals, interspersed by connecting links of pear-shaped fancy vivid and fancy intense diamonds of yellow and orange hues and diamonds of foliate motif. The back of the necklace accented by brilliant-cut yellow diamond spacers, converts to form a tiara; with ear clips en suite composed of two brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamonds weighing 3.52 and 3.49 cts. each, with diamond-set leather fitted cases.

The suite is accompanied by 27 Gemological Institute of America reports stating that quality and characteristics of the various diamonds.

A ring centered by a 25.01-ct. fancy brownish greenish yellow diamond flanked by two shield-shaped diamonds weighing a total of 2.40 cts. was sold for $410,500, well-above its pre-auction high estimate of 350,000.

A diamond jewelry suite consisting of necklace, ring and earrings all with a heart-shape theme sold for $266,500—above its high estimate of $260,000. 

The suite is composed of a detachable pendant mounted with two graduated heart-shaped diamond collets weighing 5.77 and 4.01 cts. each to the similarly-set graduated heart-shaped diamond neck chain; Matching ear pendants, each suspending a heart-shaped diamond drop weighing 3.49 and 3.42 carats to the diamond surmount weighing 2.19 and 2.11 cts. each; Ring mounted with a heart-shaped diamond weighing 2 carats to the tapered baguette-cut diamond shoulders with plain hoop.

It is accompanied by seven reports from the Gemological Institute of America the Antwerp Diamond High Council.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

11-ct. Fancy Pink Diamond Up for Auction at Sotheby’s Geneva

Sotheby’s Geneva will offer a 10.99-ct. pink diamond at its Magnificent & Noble Jewels sale on May 17. It is being offered for sale from a private collection and has not appeared on the market for more than 30 years. It has a pre-auction estimate of $9 to $16 million.

The diamond features a classic emerald cut, normally associated with white diamonds. This type of cut is highly sought-after when found in rare colors such as pink and blue, Sotheby’s said. This gem, mounted as a ring, has been graded “fancy intense pink,” natural color and VS1 clarity. It’s further assessed to be type IIa, meaning it is almost or entirely devoid of impurities with extraordinary optical transparency. Fewer than 2 percent of all diamonds in the world are given this grade of purity and most of those diamonds are white.

Colored diamonds are very desirable on the auction market right now. In November 2010, Sotheby’s Geneva set a world auction record for any diamond and any jewel when it sold the 24.78-ct. Graff Pink for $46.15 million.

“I do not remember the market for colored diamonds to have ever been as strong as it is today,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department for Europe and the Middle East.

Jeffrey Cohen Named President of Citizen

The Citizen Watch Company of America, Inc. has promoted Jeffrey A. Cohen to president, effectively immediately. He will have ultimate responsibility for the sales, marketing, product development, distribution and finance in the United States, Caribbean, Canada and the United Kingdom. He succeeds Laurence Grunstein, whose retirement after 26 years with the company was announced last month.

Prior to joining Lyndhurst, N.J.-based watch company, Cohen was worldwide president of the Movado watch brand, where he was instrumental in growing the company to become one of the leading brands in the luxury timepiece market. He joined Citizen as executive vice president in June 2010, bringing almost thirty years of watch experience to the position. He has been active in the watch industry, serving as a member of the 24 Karat Club, JCK Advisory Board and Jewelry Information Center.

In conjunction with Cohen’s promotion, Citizen named the executive promotions of Carl A. Mielke to executive VP, Sales – U.S. Market, Citizen Watch Company of America.; of J. Kevin Kaye to president, Citizen Watch Company of Canada, Ltd; and of Alan Mace to managing director, Citizen Watch United Kingdom, Ltd. They will all report directly to Cohen.

Citizen holds a leading position in the mid-priced watch market in the United States.

John Hardy and Angela Lindvall Celebrate Earth Day with New Jewelry Collection

John Hardy's Hijau Dua Recycled Silver Collection

Guy Bedarida, creative director and head designer of the John Hardy jewelry brand, has teamed up with supermodel and environmentalist, Angela Lindvall, to present the newest styles of their jewelry collaboration for Earth Day, April 22. The promotion, which began Tuesday, includes new jewelry made from recycled materials, a behind-the-scenes video of Lindvall’s recent trip to Bali and new environmentally friendly jewelry packaging.

John Hardy, based in Bali, Indonesia, started its celebration of Earth Day weeks ago by introducing a recycled silver and cotton cord charity bracelet (pictured left). Two hundred of the bracelets were donated to Christie’s Bid to Save the Earth Event on March 29, and the bracelet was just launched on the John Hardy Online Boutique, where it is sells for $65. All proceeds will benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Lindvall and Bedarida on Tuesday unveiled their Hijau (meaning "Green" in Balinese) Dua collection (top picture). The duo's sophomore collection is handcrafted out of recycled sterling silver or 18k gold and features a sliced bamboo motif. The collection is a part of the brand’s “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” program. For each piece of Hijau jewelry purchased, John Hardy will plant a certain number of bamboo seedlings to offset the carbon emissions used for its travel and advertising. (Lindvall and Bedarida planting bamboo.) 

In addition, John Hardy debuted a video diary of Lindvall’s recent trip to Bali on the official John Hardy Facebook page a few days Earth Day. In it, Lindvall explains why she is so involved in the brand’s green initiatives as she kicks off the first day of planting for the “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” program; alongside Bedarida and Damien Dernoncourt, John Hardy CEO.

In addition, John Hardy introduced a 100 percent recycled and recyclable anti-tarnish envelope to ship its goods. The packaging is expected to eliminate tons of unnecessary plastic waste and will further the company’s sustainable efforts.

“The launch of all three initiatives highlights John Hardy’s mission to be ‘Greener Every Day’ and continues the effort by the company to donate and plant a total of 600,000 bamboo seedlings for the Bali Province Government’s ‘Bali Clean and Green’ program,” the company said in a statement.

John Hardy is a luxury handmade jewelry brand, founded in Bali in 1989. The company’s collaboration between designers and local artisans modern design interpretations of traditional Balinese jewelry. In 2007, its founder and namesake, John Hardy, retired and sold the company to Dernoncourt and Bedarida. Together, they have expanded the brand worldwide with the belief that a business can prosper with respect to the people, nature and the environment.

John Hardy collections are sold in the U.S. at high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. John Hardy Collections are also available in Hong Kong (Lane Crawford), United Kingdom (Harrods and Net-a-Porter), Japan (Isetan), France (Le Bon Marche) and other countries. In December 2010, John Hardy opened its first flagship boutique in Jakarta, Indonesia at the Plaza Indonesia shopping mall.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Global Diamond Demand and Prices are Up

During the past couple weeks, diamond centers throughout the world have been reporting on exports and imports of the precious commodity and in every case the results have been strikingly positive when it comes to demand and price.

India on Tuesday was the most recent place to report its earnings. The country’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council provided results for the 2010-11 fiscal year, saying it has had the largest increase in diamond exports in the past three years. The diamond industry is critical to India, which cuts nine out of ten diamonds produced in the world, because it accounts for 16.6 percent of its total merchandise exports.

Total rough and polished diamond exports increased 46.9 percent year-over-year to $43.14 billion, according to GJEPC.

The growth in the sector was primarily driven by polished diamonds, which registered a year-over-year increase of 54.9 percent for FY 2010-11 to $28.25 billion. Polished diamonds accounted for 65.5 percent of the total exports.

The most recent year saw the United Arab Emirates emerge as the largest exporting destination with 47 percent, followed by Hong Kong with 22 percent and the U.S. with 11 percent.

“Today the industry is looking at a staggering growth … the most we have seen in the past three years. India today is looked upon as one of the leading players in the global arena and at GJEPC; we believe that this growth path will continue in the coming year as well,” said Rajiv Jain, GJEPC chairman.

The Israel Diamond Industry recently presented its first quarter results. Net polished diamond exports for the period increased 45.7 percent in value, year-over-year, to $2.1 billion, according to data by Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor’s diamond controller Shmuel Mordechai. Net rough diamond exports rose 39.6 percent in value to $1.2 billion.

Net import of polished diamonds for the January to March-period rose 24.9 percent to $1.1 billion. Net rough diamond imports increased 48.5 percent to $1.2 billion for the period.

The United States remained Israel’s largest market with 45 percent of total exports ($694 million). Hong Kong accounted for 26 percent ($506 million), Switzerland 9 percent ($351 million), Belgium 8 percent ($190 million), China 2 percent ($63 million) and the rest of the world 10 percent.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre Diamond Office, which represents the Belgian diamond industry, recently said polished diamond exports in the first quarter rose 30.1 percent in volume to 2.34 million carats, while its value jumped 30 percent to $3.43 billion.
In the January through March period, Belgium exported 34.1 million carats of rough diamonds, a slight decline of 2.1 percent, but in value there was a substantial increase of 29.1 percent to $3.52 billion.
For the same period of 2011, Belgium imported 2.43 million carats of polished diamonds, a 21.5 percent increase for the year, with a 26.2 percent rise in price to $3.20 billion.
The country imported 31 million carats of rough diamonds, a decrease of 2.2 percent on the year, but in financial terms there was an increase of 40.8 percent to $3.38 billion.

United Arab Emirates
The Dubai Diamond Exchange, a subsidiary of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority and a diamond trading platform, recently reported that total diamond trade volumes for 2010 reached 268.7 million carats, up 50 percent year-over-year, while the value of the precious gem doubled to $35.1 billion.

Polished diamond imports during the twelve months of 2010 rose 88 percent in volume to 90 million carats ($13.3billionn) and polished diamond exports rose 128% to 73.6 million carats ($14.6billionn). Dubai also recorded a 100 percent increase in the volume of total polished diamonds traded, reaching 163.8 million carats.

Rough diamond imports, rose by up to 13 percent during the year recording 50.4 million carats and exports by 3 percent at 54.7 million carats. However, by value, the increase was much more dramatic. The value of rough diamonds imports rose 83 percent to $3.3 billion and rough diamonds exported rose by 81 percent to $3.8 billion. Furthermore, In addition, Dubai’s rough diamond trade increased by 7 percent to 105 million carats, with the value up by 82 percent to $7.1 billion.

Dubai's top trading partners for the year were India, Belgium, Hong Kong and Switzerland, with growing trade emerging from new markets such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

De Beers
You may have noticed that in all of these reports there’s a constant theme of dramatic increases in diamond prices, particularly for rough. Varda Shine, CEO of the Diamond Trading Company, the marketing arm of De Beers Group, says the price reflect market conditions and prices for rough will continue to rise through 2011. De Beers, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the global diamond supply, plans to increase output by 20 percent to 38 million carats this year and raise rough diamond output further to 40 million carats, Shine said in the Business Standard newspaper in India. However, she noted that the there are no new mines ready to come on line that would help meet demand.

She told the publication that growth is and will continue to be driven by India and China. She added that the DTC expects a decline in Japan due to the March earthquake and tsunami but expects demand to increase in the U.S., which is slowly recovering from a deep recession.

Bulgari Jewelry Sales Up 29.3%

The Bulgari Group said Tuesday that first quarter 2011 sales increased 27.5 percent, year-over-year to 253.8 million euros ($394 million) led by strong demand for all of its products throughout the world, particularly in China.

“The general recovery of the economic context, together with an extremely competitive offer in all product categories, very impactful communication initiatives and a constant improvement of the shopping experience had a very positive influence on the turnover, with a significant contribution from both the directly owned stores and the wholesale channel,” the Italian luxury jewelry house said in a statement.

The Rome-based company that will soon be under the LVMH umbrella, reported that jewelry sales (the company’s core business) increased by 29.3 percent to 114 million euros ($163.4 million), watch sales rose 22 percent to 50.6 million euros ($72.5 million), accessories sales jumped 19 percent to 20.7 million euros ($29.6 million), and perfume and cosmetic sales soared 33 percent to 60.1 million euros ($86.1 million).

All the geographical areas where the company operates registered very positive sales results. However, it was Asia that led the way. By itself, the continent accounted for nearly half of all sales for the company in the first quarter at 122.3 million euros ($175.3 million), a 33.5 percent increase. Sales in China alone soared 76 percent, year-over-year for the three-month period. Sales in Japan increased 10.5 percent to 39.4 million euros ($56.4 million), despite the prolonged closure of shops following the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country March 11.

While sales growth in the rest world wasn’t as dramatic, it was still robust. In Europe, sales rose 16.5 percent to 79.5 million euros ($114 million), with sales in Italy up 7.8 percent to 25 million euros ($35.8 million). Sales in the Americas increased 20.2 percent to 32.7 million euros ($46.9 million). In the Middle East and other areas where the Rome-based jewelry operates saw a 59.8 percent increase in sales to 19.4 million euros ($27.8 million).

Bulgari is a global player in the luxury market relying on a network of stores in exclusive shopping areas around the world and on selected distributors. There are 294 Bulgari stores in the world of which 177 are directly owned. The company has a product portfolio that ranges from jewels and watches to accessories and perfumes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

LVMH Q1 Watch and Jewelry Sales Up 28%

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported that sales for its Watches & Jewelry business rose 28 percent to 261 million euros ($371.2 million) for the first quarter of 2011 supported by the “excellent performance” of its own boutiques and its multi-brand retail stores as well as its recent watch introductions.

The company’s watch-making brands revealed their innovations at Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry trade fair. TAG Heuer strengthened its iconic Carrera collection of chronographs. Zenith, which performed well for the quarter, continued the renovation of its manufacturing facility in Le Locle, Switzerland. Hublot benefited from the strong momentum of its Big Bang and King Power lines and the opening of its own boutiques, most notably Place Vendôme. Chaumet's new Bee My Love collection “was very well received.” And De Beers made “significant progress” in Asia and the United States.

The company said its acquisition of the Italian luxury jewelry house Bulgari was a key highlight of the quarter.

Jewelry and watches weren’t the only quality performers for the period. Overall, the world's leading luxury goods group reported that first quarter 2011 sales increased 17 percent to 5.24 billion euros ($7.38 billion). All of its business divisions recorded strong growth for the period. The United States, Europe and Asia all recorded positive sales increases.

The Paris-based company said that following the earthquake in Japan, an important market, local teams worked hard to bring a gradual return to normal business.

The Wines & Spirits business group posted a 20 percent increase in sales to 762 million euros ($1.08 billion) boosted by strong demand in the U.S. and Asia.

The Fashion & Leather Goods business, home to the company's most prestigious brand, Louis Vuitton, reported a 17 percent sales increase to 20.3 billion euros ($28.85 billion).

Perfumes & Cosmetics sales increased 9 percent to 803 million euros ($1.14 billion) led by traditional and new products from Christian Dior and Guerlain.

The Selective Retailing business segment sales grew 20 percent for the quarter to 1.4 billion euros ($2.02 billion) due to a rise of tourism in Asia. Sephora chain of cosmetic stores continued to do well across regions, increasing its market share.

LVMH said it will continue to focus its efforts on developing its brands and maintaining control over costs. It said it will rely on “the diversification of its businesses and the good geographical balance of its revenues to increase.”

Ralph O. Esmerian Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Former owner of Fred Leighton Jewelry, Ralph Esmerian, on February 19, 2007.  (Photo by Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)

The former owner of Fred Leighton pled guilty to bankruptcy fraud and other crimes Friday in a U.S. District Court in New York.

Ralph O. Esmerian pled guilty to a three-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud and concealment of assets before U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, according to media reports.

Fred Leighton specializes in vintage jewelry and is often referred to as the “Jeweler to the Stars,” where its museum-quality jewelry, rare artifacts and gems are often found on well-known actors and celebrities during “Red Carpet” events. Esmerian bought Fred Leighton in 2005 as a retail outlet for the inventory of his company, R. Esmerian Inc. (Left photo: Nicole Kidman in a 150-ct. 19th Century Riviere diamond necklace by Fred Leighton at the 2011 Oscars. )

Prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said in November, at the time the charges were filed, that Esmerian borrowed $210 million against the jewels to help finance his businesses. About $177 million was borrowed from Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital Inc. to buy Fred Leighton, a rare antique and vintage jewelry dealer, according to media reports.

Esmerian reportedly told Cote that the assets and jewels he had embezzled and double-pledged were worth at least $20 million, according to reports. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Massey told the judge that the government valued the assets at between $20 million to $50 million.

under a plea agreement, Esmerian faces from 97 months to ten years in prison when he is sentenced on July 22, according to reports. He could have faced 30 years in prison.

Ulysse Nardin Shocked and Saddened by Sudden Death of its CEO

Rolf W. Schnyder, CEO of the Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin, unexpectedly died on April 14 after a short illness. He was 76.

“With the passing of Rolf W. Schnyder, the watchmaking industry has lost one of its greatest visionaries, while Ulysse Nardin has lost an important source of innovation for the firm. We are profoundly moved and distraught at this sudden loss. Our full sympathies are with his wife and his three children, to whom we would like to express our sincere condolences,” said Susanne Hurni, press officer and head of media relations at Ulysse Nardin.

“Because a succession plan was already in place, the operational running of the business by the current members of management can be kept going without interruption, and continued in the spirit of Rolf W. Schnyder’s vision,” Hurni added.
Rolf W. Schnyder had acquired the family firm Ulysse Nardin in 1983, and since that time held the role of president and CEO at the helm of the manufacturer with its wealth of tradition. Under his leadership, Ulysse Nardin rose once more to the top of the mechanical watchmaking sector, with numerous innovations such as the first astronomical wrist watches.

The company is based in Le Locle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spectacular Results for Sotheby’s ‘Magnificent Jewels’ Sale

This 30.52-ct. emerald-cut diamond sold for more than $3.38 million.

Sotheby's New York on Thursday achieved more than $39.3 million in its “Magnificent Jewels” sale, representing the highest-ever total for a spring auction of jewelry at the Sotheby’s headquarters, and marking it the highest total for any jewelry sale in New York thus far this season. The auction of diamonds, colored stones and designer jewelry beat the pre-sale high estimate of $35.6 million. More than 84 items were sold by lot with 93 percent sold by value.

Leading the way for this sale were five fancy colored diamonds, one white diamond and an emerald, all exceeding the million-dollar mark with four items smashing top pre-sale estimates.

“Collectors are willing to pay a premium for diamonds with charm, and that was a hallmark of today’s sale,” said Gary Schuler, Sotheby’s director of Jewelry in New York. “Whether they feature old-world cuts or magnificent and unique colors, the opportunity to compete for these stones is exactly why buyers come to auction.”

The top item at the sale was a 30.52-ct. emerald-cut diamond (top photo) with D color, VVSI clarity, and excellent polish and symmetry that sold for more than $3.3 million, including buyers’ premium.

This was followed by a 3.18-ct. internally flawless marquise-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ring that fetched more than $3.2 million. The diamond is set within a contemporary openwork diamond mounting designed as a flower.

The international auction house said competition was especially fierce for a “Distinguished Family Collection” that included romantic diamonds and Cartier designs from the firm’s creative peak that brought in more than $7.8 million, more than double its high estimate.

“Today’s results reflect the continued appetite for well-design jewels, from period pieces by Cartier to contemporary designs by JAR and Taffin,” said Lisa Hubbard, Sotheby’s chairman, North & South America, International Jewelry Division. “Nowhere was that more evident that in the spectacular prices achieved by the Distinguished Family Collection, which featured diamonds evocative of the Belle Époque era, as well as signed pieced by two of the best designers of the period: Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier.”

A platinum and diamond pendant from the family collection, circa 1915 set with a D color, VS2 clarity, type IIa pear-shaped diamond of 20.74 carats was purchased for $2.15 million, nearly doubling its pre-auction high estimate of $1.2 million.

From the same collection, Sotheby’s said at least 10 bidders fought for a diamond Jabot Pin, circa 1920, with a Cartier and Tiffany & Co. pedigree. It features a pear-shaped D color, type IIa diamond of 15.31 cts. and VVS2 clarity before. It eventually achieved $1.98 million, more than double the pre-sale high estimate of $800,000.

A 3.64-ct. cushion-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond with VVS1 clarity sold for $1.87 million. The diamond is surrounded with small round diamonds and mounted on 18k white gold.

Comfortably nestled in among all the diamonds is a platinum, emerald and diamond ring by Harry Winston that sold for $1.87 million, more than double the pre-sale low estimate of $800,000. The property of a private collector, the 16.93-ct. square Columbian emerald is flanked by tapered baguette diamonds. It comes with a signed box and a copy of proof of purchase from Harry Winston, dated May 23, 1980.

Rounding out the top seven items was a fancy vivid yellow diamond ring designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. in 1972 with a whimsical “bee” motif mounting. The item sparked a bidding war in the morning session, leading to a $1.08 million result that was more than twice the low estimate. The ring is set with a 11.13-ct. cushion shaped diamond of fancy vivid yellow color and VS2 clarity. It came from a private collection.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jewelry Industry to Feel the Pinch as Gold is Forecasted to Rise Again

London-based GFMS, said Wednesday in its semi-annual Gold Survey report that it expects the precious metal to hit $1,600 a troy ounce due to investors’ concerns over inflation and monetary policy. This cannot be good news for the jewelry industry.

“The prospects for gold prices this year remain bright,” said Philip Klapwijk, GFMS chairman. “Investors continue to be concerned about the outlook for inflation, with governments in general showing little appetite to tighten monetary policy significantly. And, with the spotlight also shining on the state of government finances, there is every reason to believe that investors will remain focused on the gold market.”

Klapwijk went on to say that gold jewelry demand will not be negatively affected by the higher prices. “Growing price acceptance by consumers will help lift jewelry demand, while generating only a muted response from scrap.”

Needless to say, much of the jewelry industry in North America does not share this rosy outlook. The report details that worldwide global jewelry did increase year-over-year in 2010, but its strength was driven by demand in China and India.

“Even so, the report highlights that many key jewelry consuming countries remained net suppliers of gold to the international gold market,” Klapwijk said. “Notable casualties include the United States, the European Union and the Middle East with each seeing scrap supply exceed jewelry consumption in 2010.”

The statement from GFMS did not say whether the projected in gold jewelry demand will remain regionalized or whether the tough conditions in the US, EU and the Middle East will continue for 2011.

Toronto-based jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia says the industry needs to educate consumers on the value of the rising price of the precious metal.

“Rising gold price remains a concern for jewelry,” she said. “It is important for consumers to know what they are buying is worth more than what it was a year ago. It's about buying value and has to be communicated with the consumers. Consumers are conscious of how much they are willing to spend. We are looking at other metal and material alternatives to offer a more comfortable price point to our end consumers. Bridal market is still strong and couples are buying without compromise.”

Jewelry designers and manufacturers have already been substituting other metals for gold and in some cases mixing metals. In addition, some designers are creating lighter-weight gold jewelry by incorporating space into their designs.

According to the report, gold prices rose by 26 percent in 2010, which is down from the 2009 mark, but is still the second highest on record.

Musical Clock, Patek Watch are Top Sellers at Sotheby’s Auction

A rare singing bird automaton clock and a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph were among the top sellers at Sotheby’s New York Important Watches & Clocks Auction held Wednesday.

The elaborate and rare parcel-gilt bronze vase-form musical singing bird automaton clock (above) with hour and half hour striking, circa 1828, represents a collaboration between the famed firms of Piguet & Meylan and Frédéric Rochat, and is one of only a handful of vases containing singing birds known to exist. It sold for $302,500, just above the clock’s estimated value.

A 1950 Patek Philippe 18k yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch (left) with resister, tachometer and moon phases, ref. 1518, also sold for $302,500. The watch has 13 manual winding movement, 23 jewels, silver dial, applied gold Arabic numerals, feuille hands, two subsidiary dials indicating constant seconds and 30-minute register, fan-form aperture for moon-phases combined with date, apertures for day and month, outer scales calibrated for 60 units and tachometer scale, two rectangular chronograph pushers, downturned lugs, snap back case, dial and movement, and signed 18k yellow gold Patek Philippe buckle. It includes an archives extract that confirms a sale of the watch on Feb. 17, 1954.

Total sales for Sotheby’s auction were nearly 5.8 million.

NRF: March Retail Sales Up Nearly 4%

Retail sales in March increased across the board for the ninth straight month, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Shoppers last month were eager to take advantage of retailers’ spring promotions on everything from apparel to outdoor furniture,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the world's largest retail trade association. “While current indicators point to a more confident consumer, increasing gas prices and a cramped job market could hamper consumer spending during the upcoming summer months, a key time of year for retailers.”

March retail sales released Wednesday by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. 

Warmer weather helped building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers see increased sales last month, increasing 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 5.5 percent unadjusted over last year, according to NRF figures. Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales rose 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. 

Electronics and appliance stores also saw solid gains with March sales up 2.1 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 3.6 percent unadjusted over last year in those stores. Sales at grocery stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 5.1 percent unadjusted over last year. 

Also benefiting from warmer weather, furniture and home furnishing stores sales increased 3.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Diamonds Fetch Large Sums at Christie’s with a Notable Exception

A fancy vivid blue diamond that sold for $3.67 million at Christie's.

It was a mixed bag of results at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale Tuesday. A 10.09 fancy vivid purplish-pink diamond, with a pre-auction estimate of $12 to $15 million, did not sell. However, five diamonds sold for more than a million dollars. Two sapphire rings also were among the top 10 items sold by price at the auction.

“While we were disappointed that the 10-ct. purple-pink diamond did not find a buyer, top-quality white, blue, pink and yellow diamonds fared very well, with a strong price of $3.67 million, or $1.1 million per carat achieved for a fancy vivid blue diamond,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas. “In all, five top jewels exceeded the $1 million mark, with heavy competition among both trade buyers and private collectors for colorless diamonds, large gemstones, and signed jewels.”

That square emerald-cut fancy vivid blue IF blue diamond mentioned by Kadakia (top picture) had a weight of 3.25 cts.

The big winner in terms of total dollars for the evening was a 37.16-ct. cut-cornered rectangular-cut D IF diamond, which sold for nearly $4.5 million, or $120,000 per carat.

Other diamonds that did well included:

 * A 6.61-ct. rectangular-cut fancy intense pink diamond of VS2 clarity, which sold $3.5 million, or $540,000 per carat; 

 * A 50.29-ct. modified cushion-cut fancy vivid yellow VS1 diamond ring by Carvin French, which sold for more than $2.5 million  ($51,000 per carat); and

* A 16.41-ct. pear-shaped D color VS1 diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels (not shown), which sold for nearly $1.1 million ($66,000 per carat).

 The two sapphires rings that earned significant attention at the auction were a 10.06-ct. Art Deco Kashmir sapphire ring of by Tiffany & Co., circa 1920 (pictured left), which sold for $746,500 ($74,000 per carat); and a 40.66-ct. A cushion-cut Burmese sapphire and diamond ring that fetched $542,500 ($13,000 per carat).

The sale took in just under $31.8 million. A total of 224 lots were sold, amounting to 80 percent of the 281 lots offered.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Big Bold Bling of Jacob & Co.

Jacob & Co. Ladybug Cocktail Ring
BASEL, Switzerland – It took an hour for my eyes to adjust to normal light after visiting the Jacob & Co. showroom at Baselworld. The multi-carat, multi-colored diamond and gemstone jewelry was a blinding spectacle of glitter and sparkle. The following is a short and modest list of jewelry selected from the high-bling bauble parade I witnessed.

The Novelty Safari Collection
Multicolored sapphires, black Tahitian pearls, a colorful collection of South Seas pearls are among the highlights of this collection of animal-inspired gold jewelry. The colorful ladybug rings (pictured above), the rose gold snake earrings (left) and the rose gold frog cocktail ring all have these multiple flourishes and run from $11,400 to $32,250.

The Diamond Lace Collection
The Lace Pattern Full-Finger Ring with double spring shank is made with 18k rose gold melded into an intricate lace pattern paved with 4.24 carats of round-cut diamonds. Match that with a rose gold lace chandelier earrings formed into multiple round lace patterns and again topped with tiny round diamonds totaling 6.5 carats. The ring retails for $19,000 and the earrings for $21,400. 

The Leaf Collection
Black rhodium plated gold and diamond pave pendant and chandelier earrings set in a leaf-shape. The pendant comes with a two-row diamond bail and a five-strand 18-inch chain. The pendant retails for $12,900 and the earrings for $21,450.

The Titanium Collection
The lightness of the metal and delicacy of the design and unusual color are among the attributes that these earrings have. The purple titanium diamond-pave double circle pendant earrings with 12.45 carats of diamonds retail for $32,000. If you prefer earrings with length there are the blue titanium chandelier earrings with hanging diamond strands. More than 650 briolette white diamond pave adorn the hanging earrings totaling nearly 14 cts., yet it weighs only 6.45 grams ($34,000).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jacob & Co. Tourbillon and 5 Timezones Watches

BASEL, Switzerland – U.S.-based Jewelry and timepiece company, Jacob & Co., presented several watches that challenged conventional watchmaking methods in terms of design and technical advancements. Three of the watches that represent a sampling of what was shown to me at the Baselworld trade fair follow.

Cyclone Tourbillon
This unusual watch (pictured above) is receiving a great deal of play in the international press for its transparent appearance and technical qualities. The company says it is the first tourbillon in which the tourbillon system and the automatic winding system are completely visible and integrated with each other. The tourbillon carriage is mounted on the oscillating mass of the automatic winding system, moved from its normal position on the back of the watch to the dial side of the movement, offering a full view of its motion. The entire arrangement is contained in a calbre LFT 108 movement, 11.91mm in height, with a diameter of 34.60mm. The automatic winding system is bidirectional, with a power reserve of 45 hours. There is no dial in the conventional sense. Instead, the hour and minute display, small seconds display, and power reserve are incorporated directly into the upper plate of the movement, allowing free movement, as well as an unobstructed view.

Ghost 5 Collection
Part of its new G5 series of the company’s well-known Five Timezones watches, the timepieces show the day and date in five different time zones “on demand.” With the press of a button, the digital displays are illuminated. The pentagonal shape of the case is in the style of the company’s. Five Timezones watch. The watch provides a variety of choices. For example, pressing each of the crowns individually illuminates a single time display, while a longer press of the crown located at the upper right corner of the pentagon will illuminate all displays, which are able to display 32 colors including. The date alone can be displayed for each timezone and the Jacob & Co. logo in the center of the watch glows whenever the time display is activated. Each Ghost timepiece features an interchangeable bezel, available in black PVD, carbon fiber, stainless steel, or 18k rose gold, with white or black diamond set bezels also available.

Grand 5 Collection
This watch collection is similar to Jacob & Co.’s original Five Timezones watch in displaying the local time, as well as the time in four referenced world class cities around the globe. However, the pentagon-shaped watch shows the local time on a dial of the same dimensions as the other timezones. Its central focus is a “turbine” accent that anchors the design and is reminiscent of the air intake of the jet engines. The company says it evokes the adventurous spirit of the 1960s when air travel when the term “jet setter” was coined. Aerodynamically styled bezel elements further accentuate that link. Finishes include 18k rose gold, stainless steel, and stainless steel finished in black PVD (one model receives the full black PVD treatment.) All Grand timepieces are powered by Swiss precision quartz movements, and come with black rubber straps with folding clasps.

Tomorrow, Jacob & Co.'s new jewelry collections from Baselworld.