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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fourth Quarter Dampens Strong Year for Sotheby's

Sotheby's New York headquarters.

Sotheby's said Wednesday that fourth quarter net income declined 25.7 percent, year-over-year, to $71.5 million, largely due to an 11 percent decline in auction and related revenue to $274.9 million.

Auction sales fell 5 percent to $85.2 million during the period, ended Dec. 31, 2011, primarily due to a 5 percent decline in net auction sales over the period resulting from a $171 million, or 46%, decrease in single-owner sales during the quarter, as well as a significant decrease in auction commission margin.

For the year, the international auction house said it had the best financial results in its 268-year history, with the exception of its record year in 2007.

The New York-based company’s strong financial performance was driven by a $57.5 million, or 7 percent, increase in revenues attributable to growth in both auction and private sale commission revenues, the company said. Offsetting the growth in revenues was a higher level of operating expenses due in part to increased staff levels and their associated compensation costs, a higher level of direct costs of services consistent with the volume and composition of auction sales and the cost of investments in Sotheby's strategic initiatives, principally related to the growth of its business in China and enhancing its information technology and online offerings.

Full year results were favorably impacted by a tax benefit of $13.6 million, recognized in 2011 associated with the reversal of a valuation allowance against certain of Sotheby's deferred tax assets, and a pre-tax $7.6 million decrease in net interest expense. Including these factors, net income for 2011 is $171.4 million, a $10.5 million, or 7 percent.

“Sotheby's had great success last year, handling masterpieces, innovating in new markets and building trust based relationships with clients globally and our 2011 financial results reflected those efforts” said Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby’s president and CEO. “Consolidated sales in 2011 were an excellent $5.8 billion, as healthy bidding continued around the world for great works of art. Private sales, an increasingly important part of Sotheby's business, totaled a record $814.6 million, a 65 percent increase.

Ruprecht went on to say that it is continuing with its expansion in its high-growth China business.

“For the first time ever, Sotheby's consolidated sales in Asia reached $1 billion in 2011,” he said. “We have now reached the point where the three geographic engines driving our auction business—the Americas, Europe, and Asia—are contributing to our success in roughly equal proportions. This has allowed us to realize a more diversified revenue stream.”

35-Carat Beau Sancy Diamond to be Sold at Sotheby’s

The Beau Sancy is expected to fetch $2 to $4 million.  
Photo credit: AFP - Getty Images

A celebrated 35-carat diamond that has passed through European royalty for hundreds of years will be sold at auction during Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels on May 15 in Geneva—on the second day of a two-day sale.

The international auction house says the Beau Sancy is one of the most important historic diamonds ever to come to auction. Passed down through the Royal Families of France, England, Prussia and the House of Orange, the celebrated diamond has witness of 400 years of European history. Weighing 34.98 carats, the modified pear double rose cut diamond comes to the market with an estimate price of $2 to $4 million.

“The Beau Sancy is one of the most fascinating and romantic gems ever to appear at auction and it is an immense privilege for Sotheby’s to handle the sale,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department in Europe and the Middle East and co-chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland

Acquired by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy (1546-1629), in Constantinople in the mid to late 1500s, the Beau Sancy is most likely to have originated from the mines in southcentral India near the city of Golconda, the source of history’s best-known diamonds, including the Hope, the Koh-i-Noor and the Regent. In 1604, the Beau Sancy was purchased by Henri IV of France and gifted to his wife, Marie de Medici. It was mounted atop the crown she wore at her coronation in 1610, as shown in a portrait by Frans II Pourbus, the Younger, now in the Louvre

Following Henri IV’s assassination by Ravaillac, the queen was exiled in disgrace and escaped to the Netherlands. Heavily in debt, her possessions were sold and the Beau Sancy was acquired by Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange-Nassau (1584-1647). It was the most important expenditure in the state’s budget in 1641. In the same year, in an attempt to reinforce the alliances of the United Provinces of Holland with the great European powers, the diamond was used to seal the arrangement of the wedding of Frederick Hendrick’s son, Willem, later Willem II of Orange Nassau (1631-1660), to Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles I of England and Henriette-Marie of France, and grand-daughter of Marie de Medici.

After the death of her husband, Mary Stuart went to England with her jewels in order to support her brother Charles II in his fight for the throne. In 1662, the Beau Sancy was pawned to settle her debts and it was only in 1677, at the wedding of Willem III of Orange-Nassau (1650-1702) to Mary II Stuart, daughter of the King of England James II, that the diamond reentered the Treasure of the House of Orange-Nassau. In 1689, the couple ascended the throne of England and thus the Beau Sancy now joined the collection of the Queen of England. However, as the monarchs were childless at their death, the diamond went back to the House of Orange-Nassau.

In 1702, following the settlement of a dispute between the heirs to the House of Orange, Friedrich I, who had just been crowned the first King of Prussia, gave up the jewels of his legacy to obtain the Beau Sancy. The king made it the principal ornament of the new royal crown of Prussia and associated it with the first order of Prussia, the Order of the Black Eagle.

The largest gemstone within the House of Prussia’s collection, the Beau Sancy passed down to each successive generation until today. Worn by the women of the family on important royal occasions, the diamond adorned the costume of each successive bride on the day of her princely wedding, much like it had in the past. When the last German Emperor and King of Prussia fled to exile in Holland, in November 1918, the crown jewels remained at the Kaiser’s palace in Berlin. At the end of World War II, the collection was transferred to a bricked-up crypt for safe keeping in Bückeburg, where it was later found by British troops and returned to the estate of the House of Prussia.

After the war, the diamond was subsequently passed down to the eldest son of the Kaiser, Kronprinz Wilhelm (1882-1951) and his son, Prince Louis Ferdinand (1907-1994). After the death of Prince Louis Ferdinand, the diamond was inherited as part of the estate by his grandson, Georg Friedrich (1976-), Prince of Prussia and current head of the Royal House of Prussia.

The Beau Sancy has been shown publicly only four times in the last 50 years: first in 1972, alongside the Grand Sancy in Helsinki, in 1985, in Hamburg at the Schmuck aus dem Hause Hohenzollern exhibition, in 2001, in Paris again alongside the Grand Sancy at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, and finally in 2004, in Munich at the Schatzhäuser Deutschands exhibition.

The Beau Sancy will be showcased in an international tour before its auction in Geneva on May 15, at the following dates and locations:

Hong Kong March 30 - April 2
New York April 14-16
Rome April 19
Paris April 24-25
London April 27-30
Zurich May 2-3
Geneva May 11-15

Uggie and Miss Piggy Are Bejeweled at the 2012 Oscars

Uggie the dog
Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Chopard and Fred Leighton were two of the most successful jewelers at this year’s Oscars and whether the wearer had two legs or four legs or no legs, the jewelers showed their flair and artistry in designing baubles that fit the occasion.

The Swiss luxury brand Chopard had the good fortune of bejeweling several members involved with the big winner of the evening, TheArtist, including Uggie the dog. For his four-legged walk on the red carpet, the Jack Russell Terrior was adorned with a black-satin collar shaped as a bow that is clasped in the front with an 18k yellow gold bone engraved with his name.

The one-of-a-kind collar was designed by Caroline Scheufele, co-president and artistic director of Chopard. The collar will be auctioned off to benefit the Amanda Foundation, a Los Angeles–based animal rescue organization.

Meanwhile, Fred Leighton had the honor of providing jewels for the most beautiful Muppet of them all (just ask her): Miss Piggy. She was apparently demanding lots of bling and the jeweler complied by adorning her with a 1950s 55-carat diamond and platinum swirl necklace and matching 40-carat swirl bracelet; and a 70-carat amethyst and diamond ring from the 1940s.

Miss Piggy wears Fred Leighton. Photo credit: Getty Images

She approved of the jewelry, according to reports.

Look for ‘Crazy Warren’ Buffett Selling Jewelry at Borsheims

Susan Jacques, Borsheims president and CEO, shows Warren Buffett the special shareholder price of piece of jewelry during last year’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholders weekend.
Borsheims jewelry store is one of the most popular stops for Berkshire Hathaway investors during the company’s annual weekend-long shareholders meeting. The retailer should expect to see greater crowds this year as Warren Buffet will once again be making the rounds as a jewelry salesman for the weekend.

Buffett made the announcement in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, released Saturday. It will be the second consecutive year that the “Sage of Omaha” will be selling jewelry for the shareholders weekend—which attracts more than 30,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, media members and other guests. Borsheims is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

“On Sunday (May 6, 2012) around 2 p.m., I will be clerking at Borsheims, desperate to beat my sales figure from last year,” Buffett wrote. “So come take advantage of me. Ask me for my ‘Crazy Warren’ price.” 

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Buffett back among our sales staff. He set records last year in his brief stint behind the counter and we expect a longer stay from Mr. Buffett this year,” Borsheims wrote on its blog.

The jeweler was founded in 1870 and has been a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway since 1989. The store covers more than 62,500 square feet after its 2006 remodel, and maintains an inventory that includes more than 100,000 pieces. It also has a very large catalog and website business.

Buffett, if course, is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and is widely regarded as one the most successful investors in the world.

India’s Diamond Growth to Slow Due to Lack of Rough

Photo credit: De Beers Group

Exports of gems and jewelry from India are expected to rise 5 to 7 percent in 2012/13, a slower pace than the prior year than the estimated 9 percent growth in 2011/12 that ends in March, as sourcing of rough diamonds and color stones is the "biggest constraint," Rajiv Jain, chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, reportedly said.

Jain expects gems and jewelry exports from India to rise to $47 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, Reuters reports.

India, the largest diamond manufacturing center in the world, does not mine diamonds of its own. It depends on raw materials from Botswana, Zambia and South Africa among others for supply.

"Every mining country wants to process diamonds and color stones in their home country and increase employment there," Jain reportedly said.

Gems and jewelry amounts to 17 percent of India's total exports, and employs 1.5 million workers.

Jain reportedly said the council was focusing on Latin American countries and Commonwealth of Independent States, along with China, to promote jewelry from India, but will take time for substantial increase in the market share, Reuters reports.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Oscars Red Carpet Jewelry

Gwyneth Paltrow Wears Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie on the red carpet, including the Hearts of Winter cuff bracelet made of 2,368 rose-cut, round brilliant diamonds weighing 163 carats and valued at $1 million; and the double hoop Duchess Hibiscus Ring made of rose cut and round diamonds with purple sapphires set in 18-karat white gold and valued at $160,000. 

With a silent film taking the night’s biggest prizes and two Octogenarians nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars (one winning), it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that it was night of nostalgia when it came to red carpet fashion for the 84th Academy Awards. The jewelry worn by the movie industry’s biggest stars kept with that trend with classic designs and plenty of old-time sparkle.

Best Actress nominee, Michelle Williams, arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in a 30-carat Fred Leighton diamond forevermark necklace. Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Green, the most popular color last year, was still very much in the limelight but shared the stage with red and blue. Necklaces were more difficult to spot than in previous years and the ones that were worn took to more traditional designs, such as riviera style necklaces, rather than the big, bold necklaces that some jewelry designers and luxury brands had ready for the stars to wear. Earrings were mostly kept to modest lengths. When size did matter it was used for rings and bracelets, such as large cuffs. Emerald and diamonds seemed to the most popular gemstones for the evening.

Natalie Portman wears a V-shaped diamond necklace and diamond earrings on the red carpet. Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Harry Winston and Fred Leighton were among the favorites of the actresses as were the Swiss brands, Chopard and Piaget. Hollywood’s popular jewelry designers, Lorraine Schwartz and Neil Lane, also had outstanding nights. Largely missing in action were the Italian jewelry houses, Bulgari and Damiani; and the French fashion houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier. Tiffany also had a quiet night, with the exception of placing $1 million worth of jewelry on Cameron Diaz.

Penelope Cruz wears a Chopard riviera style necklace and diamond ear clips. Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Overall, risk taking took a backseat to old Hollywood glamour. For the most part it was a good thing.

Cameron Diaz arrives on the red carpet wearing $1 million worth of Tiffany jewels, including the diamond necklace. Photo credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress, winner for The Help finished her look with Neil Lane jewelry and a Judith Leiber clutch. Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jessica Chastain on the red carpet wearing Harry Winston jewels.

Milla Jovovich wears Jacob & Co.

The Iron Lady Meryl Streep wears Fred Leighton.

Emma Stone in Fred Leighton on the red carpet.

George Clooney's SO, Stacy Kiebler, wears Lorraine Schwartz.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prince Albert, Princess Charlene at Montblanc Pre-Oscar Brunch For Grace Kelly Collection

Princess Charlene and Albert II, Prince of Monaco, attend the Montblanc jewelry brunch celebrating Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco at the Hotel Bel-Air. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images For Montblanc)

Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene were among a full room of celebrities and royalty who attended the Montblanc Champaign Brunch at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles Saturday to get an up close view of the Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco. It was a final chance for many of the guests to choose a Montblanc piece to wear on the red carpet at the Oscars, being held Sunday.

It was the first time Montblanc showcased the complete collection, which is intended to honor the style and majesty of one of the 20th century’s most revered leading women. The collection is designed as a tribute to Princess Grace of Monaco, who is regarded by many as the epitome of classic beauty. The collection features fine and high jewelry as well as writing instruments and timepieces in the Swiss watch-making tradition.

A general view of the atmosphere at the Montblanc jewelry brunch celebrating Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco at the Hotel Bel-Air on February 25 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images For Montblanc)

Among the guests in attendance were: actresses Rosario Dawson, Teri Hatcher, Nastassja Kinski and Rosanna Arquette; model Petra Nemcova; and socialite Lady Victoria Hervey.

The actress attends the Montblanc jewelry brunch wearing the Princesse Grace de Monaco Petales Entrelaces motif. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images For Montblanc)

As reported earlier, Montblanc held exclusive viewings of its Princess Grace collection and other offerings during the week at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel “Royal Suite Styling Lounge.”

Petra Nemcova attends the Montblanc jewelry brunch wearing items from the Princesse Grace De Monaco collection. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images For Montblanc)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ulysse Nardin Opens Boutique in South Florida

Luxury Swiss watch brand Ulysse Nardin opened its second boutique in the United States at the Aventura Mall in South Florida. The 775 square-foot store has a collection of more than 100 of company’s timepieces, including three models from the Limited Edition Boutique Exclusive line, presented in a nautical inspired setting.

The line includes the Blue Toro, the Freak Diavolo Platinum, and the Blue Executive Dual Time.

Blue Toro
The Blue Toro is a limited edition certified chronometer with a self-winding perpetual calendar that is conscious of leap years, so it doesn’t have to be reset.

The Freak Diavolo Platinum pays tribute to the original Freak’s pioneering spirit by expanding its use of silicium and its tourbillon. Named after its devilish-in-appearance power-reserve backing it showcases advancements in technology, materials and design and is limited to 10 pieces.

Blue Executive
Dual Time
The Blue Executive Dual Time is comprised of a patented Dual Time system with pushers that instantly adjust the hour hand to a different time zone while the home time indicator continues its’ 24 hour cycle.

Ulysse Nardin offers custom personalization of its timepieces, allowing customers the option of engraving a personal inscription on the timepiece’s serial number plate.

The Aventura based boutique is an addition to the U.S. headquarters and flagship boutique both located in Boca Raton. The headquarter houses the company’s only service center in the U.S. with six Swiss-trained watchmakers. In addition to the brand’s two boutiques, Ulysse Nardin timepieces can are available at 65 authorized retailers nationwide.

Ulysse Nardin’s timepieces are produced with 250 craftsmen in the company’s production facility in Le Locle, Switzerland, where 20,000 units are created annually.

Oscar-Worthy Jewelry

The Collier Entier Romanov by Fabergé is set with 2,225 gemstones totaling 363.48 carats. It includes 79 emeralds totaling 186.85 carats, featuring sugar-loaf cabochons and a single pear-shaped drop of 30.65 carats. The diamond include 1,991 round white diamonds totaling 98.15 carats, 151 rose cut diamonds, of 43.29 carats, 0.67-carat rose diamond, and a pear-shaped rose cut diamond of 3.48 carats. The choker detaches from the collar, allowing the two necklaces to be worn separately, while the choker can be worn alone or with the emerald drop pendant.

It’s not only Hollywood’s finest who will be under the glare of the international spotlight as they stroll the red carpet and appear on stage for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. What they wear will be under the scrutiny of fashion experts and the general public—and that includes the jewelry they choose.

Leading style expert Michael O'Connor—who is hosting StyleLab's styling event for Academy Award nominees, presenters and stylists—says that there will not be one dominate color this year. “Bright and vibrant colored gemstones that were big in past decades including pink, blue, orange and green, will make a resurgence.”

Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden checks out pink drusy earrings Pamela Huizenga in the StyleLab Suite at the 2012 Oscars. Photo credit: American Gem Trade Association

O'Connor, who curated a selection of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces from world-renowned designers for celebrities to borrow for the red carpet, says large pieces will be prevalent on the Red Carpet, from “chunky cuff styles with geometric shapes and vintage designs” to “oversized drop or chandelier earrings that practically touch the collarbone.”

Elizabeth Taylor's Bulgari Sapphire and Diamond Sautoir. This sold for $5.9 million at Christie's Elizabeth Taylor auction. Will an item from the auction make an appearance on the Red Carpet Sunday? Photo credit: Christie's

Following Christie's Elizabeth Taylor auction, look for vintage pieces to take center stage as well. In fact, maybe statement pieces owned by the late movie star will make an appearance. After all, the renowned Italian jewelry house, Bulgari, reportedly purchased $20 million of its own jewelry at the auction. The speculation is that it will be used for a museum. What better way to announce the museum and make a bold statement than to have a multi-million piece of jewelry adorn one of the world’s top actresses.

Montblanc Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco Bracelet

Another company that is bringing in the nostalgia is Montblanc. It has created several lines of haute joaillerie, timepieces and writing instruments that honor the Hollywood actress and first lady of Monaco, Princess Grace. These items along with others by the venerable brand are being presented at its own “Styling Lounge” showroom.

The famed luxury jewelry house, Fabergé, has been making a comeback and it isn’t shy about letting Angelina Jolie know that it has an emerald and diamond necklace(top photo) that it wants the international star to wear. Set with 2,225 gemstones and 2,043 diamonds, the choker detaches from the collar, allowing the two necklaces to be worn separately, while the choker can be worn alone or with the emerald drop pendant.

Platinum, Tanzanite and diamond "Tokapi" detachable earrings by Gumuchian.

So be on the lookout for these sparkling items along with some glittering surprises when Hollywood’s finest stroll the red carpet tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fabergé Invades London with an Egg for the Queen and an Easter Egg Hunt

The Fabergé Diamond Jubilee Egg.

Luxury jewelry house, Fabergé, has unveiled a custom bejeweled egg honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in London Tuesday as residents scoured the city streets to begin a 40-day hunt for elaborately decorated Easter eggs in a charity benefit.

Crafted with precisely 500 grams of rose gold, the design of the one-of-a-kind Diamond Jubilee Egg is topped with 60 gemstones—one for each year of the Queen’s reign—set in the pleats of its quilted rose gold surface and comprising diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Actress Emilia Fox displayed the egg during the unveiling outside the recently opened Fabergé London boutique.

Actress Emilia Fox with the Fabergé Diamond Jubilee Egg.

The Diamond Jubilee Egg is valued at $157,850 and is the top prize in the The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. It will be on display at the Fabergé boutique from February 21 until April 1, and then at Harrods in Knightsbridge from April 2 -8.

More than 200 eggs, each around 2 ½ foot in height and designed and decorated by designers and artists have been “hidden” around central London as residents try to find the eggs. Each egg holds a unique code which, when texted to the number provided via SMS, provides an entry to win the Diamond Jubilee Egg. Each additional code submitted provides an additional entry, increasing the chances of winning the Diamond Jubilee Egg. Charges apply to each text message, with the proceeds going to the two charities: Action For Children and The Elephant Family. Fabergé seeks to raise one million pounds for each charity

The creative talent decorating the eggs represents many disciplines—including architects product designers, fashion houses, jewelry designers and artists. They include Marc Quinn, Chapman Brothers, Sir Peter Blake, Zaha Hadid, Nicky Haslam, Candy & Candy, Gordon Murray, Bruce Oldfield, Robinson Pelham, Sir Ridley Scott, Diane von Furstenberg and Mulberry.

Each of these works of art will be sold by auction to raise funds for the charities. See for more information.

Gitanjali Q3 Sales Up 33 Percent

Mehul Choksi
Mumbai-based Gitanjali Gems said its net sales in the third quarter rose by 33 percent and its net profit grew by 28 percent.

It is one of the largest companies—if not the largest company—in the Indian jewelry industry. It is diamond manufacturer, jewelry manufacturer, jewelry retailer, and a creator and owner of numerous brands in nearly all consumer markets of the Indian jewelry industry. It also owns retail chains, brands and other operations in the U.S., U.K., Belgium, Italy, the Middle East, Thailand, Southeast Asia and Japan. Mehul Choksi is the chairman and managing director of the company.

“The group has performed strongly across its various segments,” Gitanjali said in a statement. “High growth in sales (in India) can be mainly attributed to rapid expansion in Tier 3 and Tier 4 towns via the franchising route. Profits have grown faster than sales on account of economies of scale achieved in operations and a strategic shift towards jewelry retailing."

Gitanjali said its U.S. sales grew 8 percent for the period where it owns the Rogers Jewelers and Samuels Jewelers chains.

“The quarter has been significant for our U.S. business primarily due to profitability stemming from supply chain synergies,” the company said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

12-Ct. Pink Diamond Unearthed In Australia

The Argyle Pink Jubilee. Picture credit: AAP via the Herald Sun

A 12.76 carat diamond was found at the Argyle diamond mine in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s the largest pink diamond ever found at the famed mine, the largest producer of pink diamonds in the world.

It is expected to fetch at least $10 million according to a report in the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Australia.

Owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, the mine is estimated to have a 10-year supply left of these pinks so it’s likely this will be the largest diamond ever found at the mine.

The diamond will be known as The Argyle Pink Jubilee, Rio Tinto said in a statement.

The Argyle Pink Jubilee is a light pink diamond, similar in color to The Williamson Pink, which is the diamond that Queen Elizabeth II received as a wedding gift and was subsequently set into a brooch for her Coronation.

Expert diamond polisher Richard How Kim Kam, who has been at Argyle for 25 years, started the work to begin polishing the pink diamond, Rio Tinto said. After two months of assessment and planning, it will take about 10 days to cut and polish the diamond as a single stone.

“I'm going to take it very carefully,” he said. “I know the world will be watching.”

When the diamond has been cut and polished it will be graded by a team of international experts and showcased to the world before being sold as part of the annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender later this year. The best Argyle pink diamonds are shown in major cities around the world to a select group of diamond dealers where they view the diamonds and place silent bids on the ones that catch their eye. They find out months later if their bids have won. 

 “A diamond of this caliber is unprecedented—it has taken 26 years of Argyle production to unearth this stone and we may never see one like this again,” said Josephine Johnson, Argyle Pink Diamonds manager.

More than 90 per cent of the world's pink diamonds come from the Argyle mine.

Large pink diamonds tend to go to museums, are gifted to royalty or end up at auction houses. Christie's auction house has only sold 18 polished pink diamonds over 10 carats in its 244 year history.

Reena Ahluwalia’s Award-Winning Diamond Necklace to be Showcased in Oscars Celebrity Suite

Canoe diamond necklace

Toronto-based jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia was recently honored as a winner of the Rio Tinto Diamonds Global Design Competition for her “Canoe” diamond necklace. It will be among winning designs that will be showcased at the annual Academy Awards 2012 with a chance to be selected and worn on the red carpet by Hollywood’s elite.

Set in 18K white gold, with 28.96 carats of Canadian diamonds, Ahluwalia said the necklace was inspired by a poetic image of the magical Canadian landscape and its pristine white winters. It captures a snapshot of a snow covered canoe in a frozen crystalline lake.

“Celebrating the magic and beauty of Canada, my home, is the inspiration for my design,” she said. “Canoe is a carrier of Canadian myths, a symbol very unique to Canada that represents voyage, harmony with nature, discovery and courage. It is one of the greatest gifts the First Nations people gave to all those who came after.”

Reena Ahluwalia with her trophy.

After receiving a record number of entries from around the globe, a panel of judges from the U.S. jewelry and fashion industries gathered in New York to select nine winners in four categories: Ahluwalia, received the Master Craftsman award in the Canadian Diamonds category.  

The necklace comes together with two diamond-studded links embracing the neck that represent the fluidity of lake. Irregular intersecting lines, studded with Ideal Square cut diamonds depict the chunks of floating ice. The necklace culminates into a canoe shaped element. “Canoe” has an angled faceted interior,

“I wanted the diamonds to reflect on the opposite facets for a dramatic shine and create an icy crystalline look,” Ahluwalia said.

Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd., a manufacturer of branded Canadian diamonds, collaborated with Ahluwalia, sponsored manufacturing and provided Canadian diamonds for the necklace.

High Flying Pandora Returns to Earth with No Growth in 2011 Revenue

A tumultuous year for Pandora came to an end after a 10-percent drop in revenue for the fourth quarter, leaving the jewelry manufacturer and designer with a 0.1 percent decrease in group revenue to 6.65 billion Danish kroner ($1.18 billion) in 2011.

This is a far cry from the spectacular results the company, known for its silver charm jewelry, reported from 2009 until the mid-year of 2011. The bottom dropped out for the fast-growing brand—a darling of investors, retailers and consumers—with a second-quarter report released in August where the company changed its outlook from expecting a revenue growth of no less than 30 percent for 2011 and an EBITDA margin of minimum 40 percent with flat revenue and EBITDA margins in the low thirties for the year. This report resulted in the immediate resignation of its CEO, Mikkel Vendelin Olesen, and a one-day 65 percent drop in the value of its stock.

The company also announced Tuesday that it has begun a campaign to buy back unsold stock from retailers for the first two quarters of the fiscal year that will negatively affect 2012 results. The company estimates that the campaign will cost 500 million to 800 million Danish kroner.

“The campaign will encourage Pandora retailers to exchange discontinued, merchandise for appropriately priced best-sellers, on a one-for-one basis,” the company said. “(It) will likely generate a corresponding negative impact, due to cannibalization of forward sales, on reported numbers across the whole of 2012.”

Among Pandora’s results for 2011:

* Sales in Americas increased 7.9 percent (12.4 percent in local currency);

* Sales in Europe fell 8.3 percent (down 7.7 percent in local currency);

* Sales in Asia Pacific decreased by 0.2 percent (down 4.3 percent in local currency);

* Gross margin increased to 73 percent in 2011 compared to 70.9 percent in 2010;

* EBITDA margin was 34.3 percent in 2011 compared to 40.3 percent in 2010;

*EBITDA decreased by 15 percent to 2.28 billion Danish kroner ($406,503 million);

* EBIT margin was 30.9 percent in 2011 compared to 36.2 percent in 2010;

 EBIT decreased by 14.8 percent to DKK 2.05 billion Danish kroner ($366,323 million);

* Reported net profit increased by 8.9 percent to DKK 2.03 billion ($362,684 million) in 2011. Adjusted for a revaluation of the CWE earn-out provision based on a revised outlook for PANDORA CWE, 2011 net profit decreased 18.4 percent to 1.52 billion Danish kroner ($247,228 million).

In its outlook, Pandora it expects 2012 revenue growth to be in mid-single digits; gross margin in the low 60s, driven by the impact of commodities prices and a reduction in our selling prices; and EBITDA margin in the mid 20s.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Your Most Remarkable Emotional Tool: Surprise

This is one of a series of articles by Mónica Arias, "Excellence Expert" specialized in sales and customer service for luxury brands based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. These articles will focus on ways that sales and marketing professionals in the jewelry and luxury industries can improve their techniques.

If you are a good, experienced salesperson, chances are you love to continue your sales education. In fact, I believe that reading more and attending seminars and courses improves the quality of your customer service. However, it is not enough. Today, you need to learn more strategies. The main reason why you will be remembered by customers is what I call the emotional tool of surprise.

What do I mean? I will answer this question with some questions (after all, you already know of my passion for making them). How would you feel if you got something unexpected from a salesperson? Wouldn´t you agree that in such occasion your mind would probably make an effort to go back through its files and find the memory attached to the person who sent the surprise? Wouldn´t this simple act of being surprised make your day a happier? And because of that, wouldn´t you immediately attach this gesture with excellent service? Absolutely, is my answer.

Let me clarify. To send a surprise to your customers does not mean counting on a huge budget to do it. Nor does it mean hiring a detective to find out what each of your customers prefer (Once more questions are your best allies when it comes to learning about them).

Essentially, customers love surprises, and surprises can be strategically crafted for each of them. The more you know about them, the closer you will be to send the right surprise.

For example, years ago I used to have a client who loved dogs. She was single, lived on her own, and had two lovely dogs she bragged about all the time as if they were her own kids.

A few weeks after one of her purchases—and after having sent her my email acknowledgement to express gratitude for her acquisition—I decided to surprise her with something that would emotionally ring a bell in her brain and heart: I sent her two dog toys for both her “babies.”

Her response was amazing: She called me immediately to thank me for the presents, expressing her joy at watching her little pets playing around the house. She became one of my best customers for many years ever since. Budget? I believe I spent around 20 dollars for both toys (maybe less). Result? Outstanding: I managed to offer her my help for many years as a salesperson, closed fantastic sales, and build a strong and trusting long-term relationship that she still honors today.

Your surprises can also include beautiful crafted letters of acknowledgement you can enclose into lovely envelopes the color your customer adore, nicely arranged bunch of season flowers sent to office or home and useful desk accessories.

If you are the shop owner, your gifts will have to reflect this. Do not send 20 dollar gifts if you wish to make an emotional impact to your customers. I have met jewelry owners who did this (reputable, very well known ones, mind you) only to get logical, horrible responses from clients. I would suggest for example an original accessory like a fine pen—the one-of-a-kind- like that people adore—with your company´s logo and, if possible, the name of your customer engraved on it.

Love your customers. Make them feel they are special for you with surprises here and there and enjoy long-term happy clients and great results.

Mónica M. Arias
Excellence Expert: Helping you discover how to reach your next level through excellence.
Copyright 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Former Hublot Exec to Lead U.S. Expansion for Girard-Perregaux

Michael Margolis
 Updated, 12:04 p.m.

Luxury Swiss watch brand, Girard-Perregaux, named Michael Margolis president of America for Sowind (which owns Girard-Perregaux and watch brand JeanRichard), effective March 1.

Margolis will join Michele Sofisti, CEO of Sowind and Stefano Macaluso, Girard-Perregaux managing director, to oversee the U.S. expansion strategy for the watch brand.

Born in the U.S., Margolis graduated with a double major in Latin American Studies and Foreign Languages from the University of Connecticut. Proficient in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German, he began a sales career at Crest Reprographics and later moved to Nikon. His passion for luxury timepieces began when he served as moderator from 1996 till 2007. It was during this time that Hublot CEO, Jean-Claude Biver, hired him as U.S. sales director.

“Mike is a remarkable individual, with true passion for the craft,” Sofisti said. “We are very glad to have him on board to lead the U.S. team into this new phase of the brand.”

“I am very excited and honored to join an iconic brand like Girard-Perregaux”, Margolis said. “I have admired the brand and its heritage from afar for many years and greatly look forward to being a part of the team.”

High Gold Prices Deter Jewelry Demand


Global jewelry demand for gold declined 15 percent, year-over-year, to 476.5 tons in the fourth quarter of 2011, the World Gold Council reports. In value terms, demand was 5 percent higher at $25.9 billion, a quarterly record. 

For 2011, demand fell 3 percent, year-over-year to 1,962.9 tons, as the price of gold rose by 28 percent for the period. In value terms, demand grew by 25 percent to a record $99.2 billion, the WGC said in its Gold Demand Trends report. 

India and China account for 55 percent of total gold jewelry demand, WGC said.

The WGC defined the year for gold jewelry demand as a tale of two halves. The first half of the year saw demand increase by 9 percent, largely due to the precious metal’s two largest markets—China and India. Demand was also aided by a couple dips in price during the period.

The second half of the year saw demand decline by 13 percent to 941.2 tons due to “record gold prices reached during the third quarter, combined with an increase of price volatility, deterred consumers in a few key markets,” the WGC said in its Gold Demand Trends report for 2011.

Jewelry demand in India, the world’s largest market for gold, fell 44 percent (down 22 percent in value terms), year-over-year, to 103 tons. Annual demand of 567.4 tons was 14 percent below 2010 (down 13 percent in value terms). 

In China, the second largest gold market, fourth quarter gold jewelry demand was slightly above last year’s totals at 131.4 tons. The net result was an annual demand increase of 13 percent to 510.9 tons.

Fourth quarter jewelry demand in Hong Kong rose 37 percent to 7.1 tons, bucking the decline trend in Asia, due to “record inflows of tourists from mainland China, who continue to take advantage of lower taxes levied on gold in Hong Kong,” the WGC said.

In the U.S., gold jewelry continued its long term downward path with fourth quarter demand down 9 percent to 42.7 tons while full-year demand fell by 11 percent to 115.1 tons. By value, gold jewelry demand rose 12 percent for the quarter to $2.3 billion and 15 percent for the year to $5.8 billion. High prices for the precious metal, price volatility, a fragile labor market, depressed real estate prices and volatile stock market all contributed to hesitant consumer demand and fragile consumer confidence, WGC said.

“The independent, smaller jewelry stores have now begun to adopt a shift to silver jewelry that began among the major retailers in late 2010-early 2011,” WGC said.

In Italy, a major gold jewelry manufacturing center, fourth quarter gold jewelry demand dropped 17 percent to 14.8 tons (up 3 percent in value). For the year demand fell 17 percent to 28.8 tons. “Price remains the major hindrance to Italian gold demand, with increasing substitution to silver and other metals in the lower price ranges,” WGC said.

UK fourth quarter old jewelry demand declined 19 percent to 11.2 tons and down 17 percent 17 percent to 22.6 tons for the year.