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Friday, March 30, 2012

12-Carat ‘Martian Pink’ Diamond Could Fetch $10 Million

12.04-ct. fancy intense pink Type IIa round brilliant-cut diamond ring, by Harry Winston. © Christie's Images Limited 2012

The largest round fancy intense pink diamond to ever appear at auction will be part of Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale on May 29. The 12-ct. diamond is estimated to fetch $8 - $10 million.

The extremely rare diamond is owned by a private collector. It was purchased from Harry Winston in 1976—the same year, the United States launched its first satellite on a mission to Mars: The Viking landers. Ronald Winston named the diamond the “Martian Pink” to honor the historic event.

The Martian Pink is one of two known significant sized round pink diamonds in this world—the other being the 23.60-carat Williamson Pink diamond that was presented to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her wedding in 1947. While most natural pink diamonds exhibit a color modifier like purple, orange or grey, the gem that is up for auction “shows absolutely no trace of a secondary color, making it exceedingly rare,” the auction house said. “Combined with a Type IIa characteristic, the diamond shows an extraordinary limpidity together with a lovely intense pink coloration.”

11.85-ct. D VVS1 potential round brilliant-cut diamond ring, by Harry Winston. © Christie's Images Limited 2012

A second item from Harry Winston, an 11.85-carat D VVS1 Potentially Flawless round brilliant-cut diamond, is being offered. “Its dimensions, perfected by the round brilliant cut, ensures a stunning visual display of brilliance,” the auction house said. “Combined with top D color, this brilliant-cut diamond is a wonderful example of the classic round stone.” The auction estimate is $1.7 - $2.5 million.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair Attracts Nearly 4,000 Buyers

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair, held at the AsiaWorld-Expo center in Hong Kong, attracted 3,878 buyers from 84 countries and region, according to UBM Asia, which owns and operates the trade fair. More than 75 percent of buyers were from outside the Hong Kong region.
The four-day event, which ended February 21, was held earlier than its usual March schedule in order to suit the international trade event calendar. The Top 10 visiting countries (excluding mainland China and Hong Kong region) were the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Japan, Korea, Germany, France and Russian Federation. They accounted for 34.6 percent of total visitors.

“We are happy to note that the United States was the source of the biggest number of visitors, which accounted for 10 percent of total visitors,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at UBM Asia.

The exhibition space near the Hong Kong International Airport was expanded by 17.6 percent from last year’s edition, UBM Asia said. It housed 386 exhibitors from 17 countries and regions, an 18 percent increase over the 2011 edition of the trade fair. The exhibitors were from Australia, Canada, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Nepal, Netherlands, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong and Taiwan regions. More than 80 percent of them are from outside Hong Kong region.

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair is held three times per year. Upcoming dates are: June 21 – 24, September 19 – 22, and March 4 – 7, 2013.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

De Quercize to Head Cartier; Bos to Lead Van Cleef & Arpels

Stanislas de Quercize

Two internationally renowned luxury jewelry brands will soon be under new leadership in a bit of musical chairs by the Richemont group.

Stanislas de Quercize has been named CEO of luxury jewelry house, Cartier, to become effective by the end of the year. He will succeed Bernard Fornas, who reached the age of 65 earlier this month.

De Quercize is currently the CEO of the luxury jewelry house, Van Cleef & Arpels, and will continue in that role until he assumes his new position.

When de Quercize moves to his new position, he will be succeeded by Nicolas Bos, currently creative director of Van Cleef & Arpels and chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels North America.

Swiss luxury good conglomerate, Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A., which owns both luxury brands, made the announcement Monday.

Since 1989, de Quercize has had an extensive career with Richemont, having worked with Montblanc, Alfred Dunhill, Cartier—where he rose to be president of Cartier Inc. in the United States—and, since 2005, Van Cleef & Arpels.

JCK Luxury Privé Heads to Panama

JCK Events will launch a new tradeshow, Luxury Privé Panama, October 22 - 24 at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama City. It is an invitation-only event for upscale manufacturers and retailers.

It will be modeled after Luxury Privé New York. JCK Events said it chose to expand to Panama because the country’s central location allows access to top independent luxury retailers from Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“As the gateway to Latin America, Panama boasts a number of benefits, from its status as a safe, sophisticated tourist and business destination to its adherence of U.S. currency,” said Dave Bonaparte, JCK senior VP. “All of these factors, not to mention the ideal weather conditions, make it an appealing market for brands to establish, maintain and grow relationships.”

Mikimoto, Stephen Webster, Chimento, JB Star, Brumani and Aaron Basha are among the 50 select exhibitors signed on to exhibit, offering retailers a one-on-one personal opportunity to learn about these brands that are new to the region. The show is targeting top retailers throughout Latin America. More than 40 retailers have already registered to attend, including Anabella, Imperiale, Mercurio, Motta and Barakat of Panama; Carranza & Carranza, Daniel & Hijos, Liverpool and Maraf of Mexico; and Tropicana Jewelers of the Caribbean.

In addition to the sales aspect of the event, there will be networking and educational opportunities. A series of pre-show education seminars will include information on “How to Sell in the Latin American Market” as part of the show’s collaboration with AMBIO, the international business development consultancy headed by Paolo Novembri. The four-day event begins October 21 with a welcome reception, followed by the show’s official opening the following day.

Jewelry News Network is ‘Blog of the Month’

The U.K. has really taken to Jewelry News Network. My readership has been growing steadily across the pond and my new friends are active in their support of my web publication. The latest show of support is from Make Jewellery magazine, which named Jewelry News Network as its “Blog of the Month” in its April issue.

Make Jewellery magazine is led by editor Lorraine Luximon and has a circulation of approximately 40,000. It is billed as the UK's glossiest and most dedicated jewelry making magazine. Each issue contains step-by-step guides to create designer-style jewelry on a shoestring, and includes projects on everything from simple bead stringing and wirework to more advanced techniques such as polymer and precious metal clay and resin. It’s for folks who love to create handmade jewelry whether as a hobby or as a business.

The blog appears in the magazine’s “Bookmark this!” section, which spotlights places to visit on the Internet.

In addition to featuring me and my work, it showcases jewelry from Montblanc, Angelique de Paris and Leibish & Co., which have recently appeared on my blog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

QVC to Offer Titanic-Inspired Jewelry

Titanic diamond filigree design bold sterling cuff, approximately 499.

The luxury passenger ship, RMS Titanic, proclaimed “unsinkable,” slid into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg, taking 1,517 people with her. The 100th year anniversary of one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history will be held on April 15. QVC will be noting the anniversary by unveiling its Titanic Collection 100th Anniversary line on April 6 at 8 p.m.

Titanic 0.60-ct. citrine 14K clad hinged cuff, approximately $264.50.

The multimedia retailer says it is the first external retailer for the company named RMS Titanic, the only organization permitted by law to recover objects from the wreck site of Titanic. The collection will include jewelry, home goods, giftware and a fragrance, “Legacy 1912 –Titanicä,” inspired by authentic artifacts recovered from the ship. Items will be made of 14k gold or sterling silver with gemstones.

Titanic white topaz and diamond sterling ring, approximately $184.

“Each of the products being offered will either be an exact replica of an item found on the Titanic or will be inspired by a passenger’s belonging,” the company said in a statement. For example, the intricate designs of an evening bag have been recreated as the "Titanic Diamond Filigree Design Bold Sterling Cuff Bracelet."

Titanic First Class sterling and 14K clad key pendant, approximately $88.

Three Steps to Get Referrals from Your Clients

This is one of a series of articles by Mónica Arias, Excellence Expert specialized in Sales & 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.

Have you ever made an “all of a sudden,” unexpected sale just because you were referred to by one of your clients?

If you never experienced this exciting emotion, I highly recommend you take into account and put into practice these three simple steps that will add value to both your work and your income.

I cannot stress enough the importance of counting on a strategy like this in today’s business environment. It is crucial because there will always be moments when, for whatever reason, you just cannot reach your established sales goal. Yes, I have been through that, and I know how frustrating it can be: no matter how hard I tried, how much energy I devoted to my work and how connected I was with my clients, my efforts were sometimes not showing any results … or so it seemed.

So one day I decided I wanted to change that. I knew I loved what I did and was pretty good at it, I also knew my clients trusted me and the products and services I offered, so I concluded I needed to ask them for referrals.

But, how do you start doing this without sounding like it’s a burden for them or without making them feel obliged or uncomfortable?

You can do this by applying these three techniques:

1)    As soon as you have closed and cashed your next sale, invite your client for a brief informal conversation where you can talk about the great times he/she is going to enjoy with the piece/s they have just purchased from you. After the talk, ask them the following question: “I am so happy you are already enjoying your new XXX, and, as you know I really love to offer this beautiful pieces to as many people as possible, is there any person you can think of that I could send an invitation to come over for a drink? It would be lovely to receive them and of course you could also accompany them….”

2)    Call up your clients every so often and ask them for referrals (you can use a similar question as the one above). Hard as it seems, if you have worked out your relationship as I have shown you on my past articles, this will be a natural step to make and, more often than not, your clients will be delighted to give you some contacts. Be ready to get eight “No, I am sorry” answers out of 10 calls (on average). It doesn’t matter, thank your clients anyway and follow up with the two new contacts collected.

3)    Go out, mix and network. Ahá! If a bell is ringing, it means you never considered events (social or business) as an option for getting more clients. Trust me, it is a fantastic source of acquiring clients and therefore, future referrals. Check on your local chamber of commerce, chances are you will find an event or two where you could find some possible ideal clients to interact with.

Today´s world is evolving towards a new understanding of the nature of human communication. It is really a must to be able to do it frankly, adding value and offering help as much as you can. Your customers will be your best allies when you need them if you have planted the seeds of excellence in your relationship with them throughout the years.

Learn to develop this strategy and enjoy a stable forecast of your sales conversion, no matter how difficult or complicated the economy around you may be.

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

Import Tax Caused an 80% Drop in India’s Diamond Imports

Indian workers polishing diamonds. Photo credit: Solitaire International

February diamond imports fell 80 percent, year-over-year, to $476 million in February due to a 2 percent import increase for the precious gem, according to the India Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council as reported by the Times of India.

The tax has led to drastic drop in the “circular” or “round tripping” among the country's diamond dealers and manufacturers. These are deals in which the same goods are traded over and over to raise capital. The practice has reportedly come under fire, inside and outside the Indian diamond industry, according to reports because it allegedly involves defrauding banks, padding a company’s volumes or laundering money.

The import tax has also led to a decline in diamond exports, GJEPC reportedly said.

India’s February Gems and Jewelry Exports Down 39%

Fewer orders from western markets have resulted in a 39.3 percent decline in February gems and jewelry exports to $2.7 billion, according to India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

The biggest losses among India's gemstone and jewelry manufactures were led by a 53.7% drop in polished diamond orders, followed by a 30.3 percent drop in gold jewelry exports. Exports of rough diamonds fell by 15.6 percent for the period and colored gemstones fell by a more modest 3.7 percent.

Gains for the month were led by silver jewelry (39.5 percent) and gold medallions and coins (15.7 percent).

GJEPC, the organization the leads the India gems and jewelry industry, reportedly blames the decline on fewer orders from the U.S. and Europe, whose economies are still struggling. Other major export markets for the gem and jewelry manufacturers are the UAE and Hong Kong.

The organization also reported that gems and jewelry exports increased by 4 percent from April 2011 till February.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Signet Annual Sales Up 9%

Kay Jewelers, owned by Signet Jewelers
Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and the U.K., reported that for its 2012 fiscal year, same store sales increased 9 percent, compared to an increase of 6.7 percent in fiscal 2011. Total sales increased 9.1 percent for the year to nearly $3.75 billion, compared to an increase 5 percent increase in fiscal 2011. E-commerce sales rose 36.5 percent for the period ended January 28 to $92.3 million.

Income before income taxes for fiscal 2012 increased 67.1 percent to $502.1 million. Diluted earnings per share rose 60.8 percent to $3.73. The Signet board declared an increased quarterly dividend of $0.12 per share, up 20 percent.

Sales in the U.S., which accounts for 81 percent of total group sales, increased 10.6 percent to $3.03 billion. Sales n the U.K., which accounts for 19 percent of total group sales, increased 3.2 percent to $715,100 million.

Same store sales in the U.S. rose 11.1 percent for the year and rose a 0.9 percent in the U.K. for the same period.

Signet operates approximately 1,853 specialty retail jewelry stores, including 1,318 stores in the U.S., under the store brands Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry and a number of regional names. The company operates approximately 535 stores in the U.K., under the store brands H.Samuel, Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis.

“Fiscal 2012 was another outstanding year for Signet, said Mike Barnes, Signet CEO. “The increased quarterly dividend of $0.12 per share demonstrates the confidence the Board has in the strength of our business model and our ability to generate positive cash flow, while continuing to invest in, and support, our long term growth initiatives. We are pleased with our sales for Valentine’s Day and believe that Signet is well positioned for Fiscal 2013.”

There was some softness in the fourth quarter for the Bermuda-based company, when compared to the strong growth in the prior three quarters. Total sales increased 6.6 percent to $1.35 billion, with U.S. stores accounting for $1.09 billion in sales and the U.K. representing $263,700. Same store sales increased 6.9 percent for the period ended January 28 (U.S. 8.3 percent; U.K. 1.7 percent).

Income before income taxes increased nearly 52 percent for the quarter to $242.4 million and diluted earnings per share rose nearly 48 percent to $1.79.

Signet said it repurchased $11.8 million of its common shares in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012. A total of $288.2 million remained available for future repurchases under the program.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fabergé Takes to E-Commerce

The House of Fabergé, known since the 19th Century as one of the most exclusive jewelers on the planet, is broadening its reach and moving into the 21st Century by offering its collections on an e-commerce website.

The “online boutique” is set to launch on April 16 and is designed to complement Fabergé’s existing network of retail stores, the company said in a statement, promising that the site will have “a signature blend of refined sophistication and modernity.”

Each of the Fabergé high and fine jewelry collections—Les Saisons Russes, Les Fabuleuses, Les Fameux, Le Carnet de Bal, Solyanka and Les Favorites—will be represented by a hand-painted illustrations that captures “the artistry, romance and legend of Fabergé,” the company said.

The site also features an interactive area where customers can engage further with the world of Fabergé, experiencing social projects such as the Mir Fabergé art initiative, available also as an iPad application.

Purchases can be made in multiple currencies, with international delivery service to at least 29 countries. Customers can also share and store their favorite jewelry designs through multiple social media channels.

Darren McFadden Receives Miiori ‘FlashSet’ Pendant for His Charitable Work

The diamond and sapphire pendant produces a holographic-type image that changes from an Arkansas Razorback above to the number 20 (see image below).

To celebrate his work with the charitable organization, Face Forward, NFL football player Darren McFadden received a pendant with 25.24 carats of diamonds and 34.97carats of colored sapphires set in white gold.

The custom-pendant was given by fine jewelry brand, Miiori. The item features the “FlashSet” technique patented by the jewelry manufacturer. The field of diamonds in the center of the piece changes from a University of Arkansas Razorback (see top picture), mascot of McFadden’s alma mater, to his Oakland Raiders jersey number, “20,” in a holographic effect (as pictured below).

The diamond and sapphire pendant produces a holographic-type image that changes from an Arkansas Razorback (top picture) to the number 20.

Late last year, the Oakland Raiders running back attended an event at Michael Beaudry’s flagship boutique in Beverly Hills in support of Face Forward, Inc., which provides facial reconstructive surgery for victims of violence. Beaudry began collaboration with MIIORI in 2010 and is now the North American distributor of the Miiori Collection.

“We immediately connected over a mutual passion for design and philanthropy,” said Michael Beaudry, president of Beaudry International. “He was impressed by the unique edginess of the MIIORI Collection and, of course, wanted to make a contribution, so the idea for the customized piece was born.”

Lily Safra Charity Jewelry Auction Includes Largest JAR Collection; Could Fetch $20 Million

Caption: Left: Lily Safra. Right: A ruby and diamond Camellia flower brooch by JAR created for Safra in 2003. Estimate: $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

The jewelry collection of famed philanthropist, Lily Safra, will be up for auction at Chrisite’s Geneva on Monday May 14, with all proceeds to be donated to 20 different charitable institutions. The collection includes the largest single-owner selection of jewels by JAR ever to be offered at auction.

Regarded as a major philanthropist of our time, Safra is also a discerning connoisseur. This jewelry collection reflects her refined taste and its evolution through five decades, from the 1970s to the present day, the international auction house said. Featuring 70 lots, the sale at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues is estimated to fetch more than $20 million. It includes important diamonds, rubies and sapphires, as well as an array of fine antique and period jewelry.

A special section of the sale will be dedicated to a group of 18 jewels by JAR, the majority of which were created specifically for Safra by the renowned jeweler between the 1980s and 2000s. It is the largest private collection of creations by JAR ever to be offered at auction.

“Only a connoisseur with an eye as refined as that of Mrs. Lily Safra could have collected such an ensemble of jewels, and only someone with her philanthropic conviction could have expressed such powerful support to worthwhile causes in all charitable fields,” said François Curiel, international head of Christie’s Jewellery Department.

Lily Safra has carried on the philanthropic tradition of her husband, Mr. Edmond J. Safra, one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished bankers and founder of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Since 2000, she has chaired this foundation, which supports hundreds of projects related to education, science and medicine, religion, culture, and humanitarian relief in over 40 countries.

She is a passionate art and jewelry collector, and has provided assistance to several institutions, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée du Louvre, where the “Salle Edmond et Lily Safra” honors the works she and her husband donated.

All the proceeds from the sale of the collection of Lily Safra will benefit the following 20 charitable institutions:

Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda
Children Action, Geneva
Claude Pompidou Institute for Alzheimer’s Disease, Nice, France
Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, Tel Hashomer, Israel
Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.
Elton John AIDS Foundation (worldwide)
Fight AIDS Monaco
Henry Street Settlement, New York
Hopes and Homes for Children, Romania
Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève
Imperial College, London: Edmond J. Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology & Edmond J. Safra Chair in Radiochemistry
Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord Disorders, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris
Keren Shemesh, Israel
King’s College, London: Edmond and Lily Safra Parkinson’s Research Fellowships
Le ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris
New York University, Parkinson and Movement Disorder Center
Royal Opera House, London
Université Joseph Fourier, Institut des Neurosciences, Bâtiment Edmond J. Safra & Institut Clinatec, Centre de Recherche Edmond J. Safra, Grenoble, France
University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital, Canada: Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease (Dr. Anthony Lang & Dr. Andres Lozano)
Water Treatment Program, Amélia Rodrigues, Bahia, Brazil

Hublot Unveils Its Big Bang Ferrari in Japan

Big Bang Ferrari

Luxury Swiss watch brand, Hublot, the official timekeeper of the Ferrari Challenge, unveiled the Big Bang Ferrari in Japan during the Ferrari Racing Days Suzuka 2012, held in Suzuka City, March 16 - 18.

Ferrari Racing Days Suzuka 2012 is one of largest events in the world for the Italian car manufacturer. One of its highlights was the Concorso d’Eleganza supported by Hublot, which brought together 18 classic cars from the 1950s and ‘60s.

Hublot’s Chairman, Jean-Claude Biver, attended the event—which included a charity auction in support of Ishinomaki City, affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Hublot donated a Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold, for auction. The winning bid was 4.1 million Japanese yen ($49,100). Biver personally topped topped the bid with an additional $4,800.

Hublot Chairman, Jean-Claude Biver

The Big Bang Ferrari (top picture), a collaboration with the Italian car manufacturer, underwent its first update since it was launched in 2005. The design was done in collaboration with Ferrari. A larger case (45.5 mm in diameter), more power and more mechanical features, a cylindrical bezel that offers added depth, the movement which can be seen through the sapphire dial, an indexed crown (with the H logo which is automatically positioned to remain in line), elongated push buttons fixed along a rotating axis like the pedals in a car, carbon inserts on the case profile, two interchangeable straps, and the same tone-on-tone stitching used on Ferrari upholstery. The Ferrari Prancing Horse logo is featured discreetly in relief at 9 o'clock. A minute counter is positioned at 3 o'clock (completed by a yellow date window), and the hand and the style of the indexes are inspired by the counters in a Ferrari.

Finally, the Ferrari-endorsed pieces are made with Hublot’s Magic Gold, a scratch-resistant 18k gold the watch manufacturer introduced three months ago.

The timepiece was first unveiled approximately a week earlier at Baselworld 2012 in Switzerland.

In November 2011, Hublot became the watchmaking partner of Ferrari. It is a comprehensive agreement covering all the activities of Ferrari and Hublot, both in terms of brand image and the commercial activities of both companies.

Tiffany's Soft Q4 Doesn't Tarnish Sparkling Year

Tiffany & Co. said Tuesday that worldwide net sales for the fourth quarter increased 8 percent, year-over-year, to $1.2 billion. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales rose 7 percent and comparable store sales rose 5 percent.

Net earnings declined 2 percent for the period, ended January 31, to $178 million, due to higher costs.

Meanwhile, worldwide net sales for fiscal 2011 rose 18 percent to $3.6 billion. On a constant-exchange-rate basis that excludes the effect of translating foreign-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars, worldwide net sales and comparable store sales rose 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Net earnings increased 19 percent to $439 million. Net earnings increased 24 percent excluding nonrecurring items, including the recent move of Tiffany’s headquarters staff in New York. Net earnings as a percentage of net sales rose to 12.1 percent, from 11.9 percent in the prior year.

“Tiffany exceeded the goals that we had set at the start of 2011 for both sales and earnings growth, although we concluded the year with softer-than-expected results,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and chief executive officer.

In its outlook for 2012, Tiffany said it expects worldwide net sales to increase by approximately 10 percent, primarily driven by sales growth in Asia-Pacific and the Americas. The New York-based company plans to open 24 stores in 2012—nine in the Americas, seven in Asia-Pacific, three in Europewhile beginning the operation of five stores in the United Arab Emirates.

The luxury retail jeweler reported annual double-digit growth in all regions. Unsurprisingly, the Asia-Pacific region reported the strongest growth.

Sales by region are as follows:

* In the Americas, sales increased 15 percent to $1.8 billion in fiscal 2011 and rose 5 percent to $605 million in the fourth quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total Americas sales rose 14 percent in fiscal 2011 and 5 percent in the fourth quarter, largely due to comparable store sales increasing 13 percent in the year and 3 percent in the fourth quarter. On that basis, comparable branch store sales in the Americas increased 11 percent in the year and 3 percent in the fourth quarter, while sales in the New York flagship store increased 20 percent for the year and 2 percent in the fourth quarter. Combined Internet and catalog sales in the Americas rose 6 percent in fiscal 2011 and declined 4 percent in the fourth quarter.

* In Asia-Pacific, sales rose 36 percent to $748 million in the full year and increased 19 percent to $225 million in the fourth quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales and comparable store sales rose 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in the year, and rose 18 percent and 13 percent in the fourth quarter, due to increased sales in most countries.

* In Japan, sales increased 13 percent to $617 million in fiscal 2011 and rose 12 percent to $204 million in the fourth quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales in Japan rose 3 percent in the year and 5 percent in the fourth quarter and comparable store sales increased 4 percent in both periods.

* In Europe, sales increased 17 percent to $421 million in the fiscal year and 3 percent to $142 million in the fourth quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales in Europe rose 12 percent in the year and 3 percent in the fourth quarter while comparable store sales increased 6 percent in the year and declined 2 percent in the fourth quarter. Throughout the fourth quarter and year, sales growth in Continental Europe was relatively stronger than results in the U.K., the company said.

Tiffany currently operates about 247 stores (102 in the Americas, 58 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan and 32 in Europe.

Other sales declined 5 percent to $51 million in the fiscal year and fell 22 percent to $12 million in the fourth quarter due to declines in wholesale sales of rough diamonds in both periods as well as lower wholesale sales of finished products to independent distributors in the fourth quarter.

Other financial highlights:

* Gross margin (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) of 59.0% in the fiscal year compared with 59.1% a year ago, reflecting both higher product costs and shifts in product sales mix toward higher-priced jewelry that achieves a lower gross margin being largely offset by sales leverage on fixed costs. Gross margin in the fourth quarter was 60.4 percent, versus 60.9 percent in the prior year for generally similar reasons except for a lack of sales leverage on fixed costs.

* SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expenses increased 18 percent in the fiscal year and 10 percent in the fourth quarter, with both increases affected by nonrecurring costs related to the relocation of Tiffany's New York headquarters staff. Excluding the nonrecurring costs in all periods, SG&A expenses rose 16 percent in the fiscal year and 11 percent in the fourth quarter primarily due to increased store occupancy, labor and marketing costs.

* The company repurchased approximately 2.6 million shares of its Common Stock in the fiscal year at a total cost of $174 million, or an average cost of $66.23 per share. In the fourth quarter, the Company spent $35 million to repurchase approximately 525,000 shares at an average cost of $67.26 per share. At January 31, 2012 approximately $218 million was available for future repurchases under the currently authorized plan which expires in January 2013.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blue Nile Names New CEO

Harvey Kanter
Online diamond and jewelry retailer, Blue Nile, has appointed retail industry veteran Harvey Kanter as CEO and president, effective March 30. He will also be appointed to the Seattle-based company’s board of directors. He replaces Diane Irvine who resigned suddenly in November.

Interim CEO, Vijay Talwar, has been named general manager and president of International, and will lead Blue Nile’s international business.

Kanter has more than 25 years of merchandising and retail experience, including multichannel retail and merchandising positions. Prior to joining Blue Nile, he served as president and CEO of Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel, Inc., a leading multichannel retailer of premium outdoor apparel and gear. Under his leadership, Kanter developed Moosejaw’s enhanced brand architecture and market positioning by clearly defining the merchandising, marketing, and consumer experience strategy and initiatives. During his tenure, Moosejaw experienced double-digit revenue growth and was the recipient of numerous industry awards, including: Internet Retailer Hot 100 and Hot 100 Mobile, and Ad Age Top 50 Marketing Company.

Before Moosejaw, Kanter served as executive VP and managing director of Michaels Stores, the nation’s largest craft store chain in the United States and Canada, with nearly $4 billion in annual sales. While at Michaels, Kanter led the overhaul of the company’s product merchandising and was responsible for product trend development.

“Harvey brings a vibrant leadership style and a unique ability to align product strategy and marketing in such a way that inspires consumers,” said Mark Vadon, Blue Nile chairman. “His dynamism and passion, coupled with his experience in online and traditional retail, are just what we need to drive growth and inspire the next generation of Blue Nile customers.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Over 800 Diamonds on this Girard-Perregaux Ladies Watch

Luxury Swiss watch brand Girard-Perregaux unveiled a sparkling 38 mm ladies jewelry timepiece that combines robust mechanics, manufactured in-house, with a sparkling exterior paved with 807 diamonds. It is the latest offering from the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based company's 1966 collection.

The timepiece is available in white or pink gold. The gem-set bezel and slightly curved dial are entirely covered with “brilliant”-cut precious stones. The diamonds are arranged in concentric fashion. The “leaf”-type hour and minute hands and four applied hour markers lend elegance to the sparkle of the diamond-pavé dial.

The alligator-skin strap closes with a gem-set ardillon buckle. The Girard-Perregaux 3300-0066 mechanical movement with automatic winding is equipped with a power reserve of more than 46 hours. Visible through the sapphire-crystal case back, its gold oscillating weight is engraved with circular Côtes de Genève decoration.

The 1966 collection (introduced in 2006) pays homage to a prolific era in terms of creativity, technical expertise and performance of Girard-Perregaux—a period when the watch brand received several awards. The 1966 line specializes in manufactured movements with automatic winding in ultra-thin cases produced entirely in Girard-Perregaux workshops.

Huguette M. Clark Estate Auction Includes 9-Carat Pink Diamond

The 9-ct. Belle Epoque cushion-cut, fancy vivid purplish pink diamond ring has an auction estimate of $6 - $8 million. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

As reported previously, the April 17 Magnificent Jewels auction at Christie’s New York includes 12 items of art deco jewelry and objects from the estate of Huguette M. Clark.

The auction house released images of the items being offered from the estate. The top lot for the auction is a 9-carat pink diamond ring that is estimated to fetch $6 - $8 million (top picture). 

The 19.86-ct. D-color, potentially internally flawless clarity, Type IIa diamond ring by Cartier has an auction estimate of $2 - $3 million. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

Another notable item is a 19.86-carat rectangular-cut diamond ring by Cartier (pictured above). 

Circa 1925 Art Deco diamond bracelet by Cartier has an auction estimate of $300,000 - $500,000. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

At least six other items in the auction are from Cartier, including bracelets, a flag brooch and a desk clock. Tiffany & Co. also figures prominently in the sale with at least two items. The auction estimate for the entire collection is $9 to $12 million.

Circa 1925 Art Deco emerald and diamond bracelet by Cartier has an auction estimate of $50,000 - $70,000. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

The jewelry is part of the sale of Ms. Clark’s residences at 907 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan owned by the late copper heiress. Christie’s International Real Estate has been entrusted with the sale. 

Diamond, ruby and sapphire American Flag brooch by Cartier has an auction estimate of $30,000 - $50,000. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

Ms. Clark was the youngest daughter of former United States Senator and industrialist William A. Clark. She died May, 2011, at the age of 104.

Circa 1915 ruby, sapphire, emerald and gold bracelet by Tiffany & Co.has an auction estimate of $30,000 - $50,000. Photo credit: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

Baselworld 2012 Closes with Strong Results, Upbeat and Confident

Business was brisk at Baselworld 2012 and the attitude of both exhibitors and buyers was upbeat and confident.

A fractured arm kept me from attending Baselworld this year Fortunately, veteran watch journalist, William George Shuster, kindly agreed to take time from his busy schedule to write a few stories from the tradeshow. Below is his fourth and final report.

By William George Shuster
Special Correspondent

BASEL, Switzerland — The just-ended Baselworld 2012, the world’s most important and largest watch and jewelry tradeshow, was one of the most successful in its history.

The eight-day show closed March 15 with a 1 percent rise in attendance (to 104,300, its second-highest attendance ever); a 9 percent gain (3,320) in the international press corps at the show; and almost universal satisfaction among vendors—especially those in the luxury sector—with the business, orders and contacts they had; and widespread confidence among retail buyers.

"It was a fascinating week, and truly a good year for us exhibitors. We are highly satisfied,” said Jacques J. Duchêne, long-time chairman of the show’s Exhibitors' Committee. Francois Thiébaud, president of the Swiss Exhibitors Committee, agreed, calling the show a "complete success."

Positive comments. Indeed, this year’s edition of the annual watch and jewelry trade fair on the Rhine in Basel, Switzerland, evoked positive comments from most vendors, both large and small.

Swiss luxury sport brand TAG Heuer, for example, welcomed 30 percent more retailers than last year. It also introduced movie star Cameron Diaz as its new brand ambassador. Luxury watch Hublot—which unveiled its one-of-a-kind $5 million diamond-encrusted timepiece--took “considerably more orders than in [2011],” said CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. At Swiss watchmaker Ellicott, “Response to our new watches—especially the world’s thinnest minute repeater with perpetual calendar (hand-wound)—was very good,” said CEO Pierre-Andre Finazzi to the show’s newspaper, “and price points and units per order are more than last year.”

Despite economic problems in Europe, the U.S. and many other regions of the world, an upbeat business attitude pervaded the fair’s buying and selling. Luxury watch brand Patek Phillippe, for example, noted “an exceedingly positive mood amongst our customers throughout the entire show,” said Jasmine Steel, international communications director, while at the Bulova Corp. stand, “People are excited about our groundbreaking products and technologies,” said Harvey Kaplan, regional vice president. “Business is hot,” declared Jacques-Philippe Auriol, CEO of TechnoMarine watches, to the show’s daily newspaper. “The booth is packed and clients are smiling.”

At Seiko, “sales are much better than expected, and there’s great interest in our new Astron GPS watch,” said Karou Matsumoto, public relations general manager. “Customers are cautiously optimistic, and we share their optimism.”

‘Gratifying’ business. In the Hong Kong delegation of vendors, the show’s second largest, “Purchasing behavior was gratifying and the potential in the boom markets, including Russia and Latin America, highly promising,” said Ralph Chow, director of product promotion for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Gem dealers and vendors of technology and equipment, too, were generally upbeat about business result, as were jewelry firms. The German precious gem house of Groh + Ripp, for example, surpassed 2011’s good results by 25 percent. “The quality of the visitors was exceedingly good,” added Managing Director Bernd Willy Ripp. At Spanish jewelry firm Carrera y Carrera, “For the first time in three years, we don’t hear about the [financial] crisis,” CEO Nathalie Guedj told the BaselWolrd Daily News. “That reflects the very good business the jewelry industry did in 2011. People are confident about the future.”

The Swiss watch delegation was especially pleased. Following a record-breaking year in exports in 2011 (29.8 million watches, valued at 19.3 billion Swiss francs, or about $21 billion), its strong results for Baselworld 2012—driven in lager part by ongoing, growing demand for luxury products, especially in Asia, and China particularly, and “certain emerging markets”—promise another good year for Swiss watchmakers. “While it is always difficult to anticipate results,” said the Swiss Exhibitors Committee’s closing report. “This 40th edition [of Baselworld] augurs well for positive progress in 2012. The 20 billion franc export threshold should be easily crossed and thereby represent the third consecutive growth year [in 2012].”

The enhanced interest by the global media in the show’s news and trends and the sizeable increase in journalists covering the show was especially important to both vendors and show officials. It indicates the importance the show has gained with the global press, and “For exhibitors, the worldwide reports in the specialist, daily, business and lifestyle media, as well as in the online media, TV and radio, are of major importance,” noted Baselworld’s closing report. Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe, for example, received over 800 journalists at it stand, “a considerable increase over previous years,” noted spokesperson Jasmina Steele.

A new era. For the 104,300 visits from 100-plus nations and the 1,851 vendors from 41 countries, this was the last time they would work in the current exhibition stands or rush hurriedly through its halls. But many said they were already looking forward to what show officials call show’s “new era” starting in 2013.

The show’s owner, MCH Group, is revamping the current Exhibition Square and its surrounding buildings, with an immense makeover valued at just under half-a-billion dollars. The expensive and extensive transformation—including two new three-story building, a two-building above the formerly outside Exhibition Square, a new events hall, and the tearing down of some of the show’s older buildings—transformation is being handled by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the famous Bird’s Nest national stadium in Beijing. The new complex will have 141,000 m2.

Show Director Sylvia Ritter admitted to “a certain amount of nostalgia” for the current buildings sand fair grounds, which will be gone in weeks. “At the same time, I am looking forward impatiently and with great expectations to the new era that will be dawning for this world show,” she said.

The new complex, opening in April 2013, will also involve the relocation of many watch exhibitors in the current Hall 1 and the spending of millions of dollars by exhibitors on new exhibition booths and presentations. “Nearly all the brands will now be investing in their new stands for Baselworld 2013,” said Duchene. “This highlights the fact that we have a great deal of confidence in this [trade show] event, because [it] will be giving us exhibitors even more opportunities to experience positive developments in future."

The next show, Baselworld 2013, will be held April 25 – May 2, 2013.

William George Shuster is a multi-award winning writer—including three Jesse H. Neal Award, business journalism's highest honor. He has 40 years experience as a journalist, author and editor. He is considered one of the world’s top watch industry journalists, covering the world of timepieces for the past 30 years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baselworld 2012: End of an Era; Baselworld 2013: A new era begins

Inside Hall 1, the Hall of Dreams, where all the major watch brands at Baselworld 2012 are located. There will be changes among the exhibitors.

A fractured arm kept me from attending Baselworld this year. Fortunately, I know some of the best writers and experts in the jewelry and watch industry. One of those folks is William George Shuster who has kindly agreed to take time from his busy schedule to write a few stories from the tradeshow. Below is his third report.

By William George Shuster
Special Correspondent

Baselworld 2012, the 40th annual edition of the world’s largest and most important watch and jewelry show, may be its most successful yet.

But it also marks the end of an era for the trade fair. Indeed, there was a sense of finality about Baselworld 2012 that had nothing to do with business.

The reason: An enormous and costly restructuring of trade fair buildings and a redesign and revamping of Exhibition Square, the outdoor center of the fair, so total that international visitors and exhibitors from next year onward will not recognize the long-time fair site.

Indeed, Sylvie Ritter, the show director, called Baselworld 2012, a “milestone in the history of our trade show” and “a decisive turning point” before the “start of a new era” in 2013.

This newest modernization in a long history of renovations and expansions of the Basel fairgrounds is scheduled to finished and ready for the 41st edition of Baselworld in April 2013.

Trade show facilities that have housed the annual Baselworld and earlier Swiss watch and jewelry fair for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries are being torn down and replaced with massive new, three-story structures, costing millions of dollars. Show officials promise this enormous undertaking, the most extensive modernization and expansion of the show facilities in its history, will benefit both visitors and exhibitors immensely.

“With investments of around 430 million Swiss francs ($460 million), we will be able to provide our exhibitors, our trade visitors and our journalists with a fantastic trade show infrastructure,” said René Kamm, CEO MCH Group.

The 95-year-old Hall 1, site of  major watch brand exhibitors and the fair ground’s oldest building, will be rebuilt, with its front dismantled, and extended into the exhibition square by a three strew building. Hall 3, across the street (site for gemstone and equipment exhibitors) is being torn down and replaced also with a new three story complex, with a multifunctional event hall (capable of holding up to 2,500 people) on the ground floor. Linking these two buildings will be linked by a two-story complex (starting the second floor level of Hall One, roofing over exhibition square. The exhibition square (pictured left) itself will become a large atrium, open to the public and the trams which will continue to regularly ride through it.

The new complex will have a total of 141,000 square meters and will “ensure a greater level of convenience for our visitors,” says a show report. The final outcome is going to do justice to the expectations of our exhibitors,” says Jacquares Diichene, trade show chairman.

Also changing will be the locations of many exhibitors, especially those watch vendors on the first floor in Hall 1. And members of the Hong Kong exhibitors pavilion, the show’s second largest, will be moving from Hall 6 to Hall 4.

William George Shuster is a multi-award winning writer—including three Jesse H. Neal Award, business journalism's highest honor. He has 40 years experience as a journalist, author and editor. He is considered one of the world’s top watch industry journalists, covering the world of timepieces for the past 30 years.

JewelleryNetAsia Enters Turkish Jewelry Market

The global jewelry trade portal, JewelleryNetAsia, announced Tuesday its participation at the Istanbul Jewelry Show 2012, which will open its doors on March 22 at the CNR Exhibition Center.

At the stand of JewelleryNetAsia jewelry buyers can make use of the free-of-charge sourcing support as well as access the internet free of charge. As official media partner to the jewelry show, JewelleryNetAsia is providing the online exhibitor list, show photo galleries and product previews.

The Turkish jewelry market is one of the most dynamic globally, with Istanbul being one of its trade centers. Thousands out of the estimated 40,000 jewelry-related firms in Turkey are active also on international markets. The majority of the Turkish jewelry exports is gold jewelry, mostly to the Middle East, the USA and CIS countries.

More than 600 Turkish Jewelry Suppliers are represented at both the Istanbul Jewelry Show as well as in the online directories of JewelleryNetAsia. Many specialize in wholesale gold jewelry and wholesale diamond jewelry but there is also a large amount of technology vendors and suppliers of findings and mountings.

‘It is not only the Turkish market that attracts us, but also the fact that the whole region congregates here for business. Also the region is not yet very sophisticated when it comes to using the internet for sales and sourcing, so this is a perfect timing for fast growth’ said Jerome Hainz of JewelleryNetAsia.

For inquiries, contact:
Fiona Wong, Marketing Manager, JewelleryNetAsia
Tel: +852 2586 2180 Email:

Gemesis Creates Lab-Grown Colorless Diamonds

A 1.05-carat colorless round diamond from Gemesis with Very Good cut, J color and VVS2 clarity, certified by IGI.

A Florida-based diamond company has begun selling colorless, lab-created diamonds on its Internet site directly to consumers.

Gemesis Diamond Company has been producing lab-created fancy colored diamonds (primarily yellow diamonds) for some time, with limited acceptance by the jewelry industry and consumers. But the production of colorless diamonds, by far the most widely used diamonds in the world, with what it calls “excellent color and clarity” could give jewelry retailers, jewelry designers and consumers a real choice when specifying diamonds. (In this case the term “colorless” is used to describe what are also known as “white diamonds,” meaning not colored diamonds. It is not describing the “Clarity” grading standard for diamonds, one of the 4Cs.)

Gemesis colorless diamonds are all certified as Type IIa, the purest type of diamond, almost or entirely devoid of chemical impurities. Less than two percent of the world’s diamonds produced naturally are Type IIa. Many of those diamonds are among the most widely sought after in the world, including the “Elizabeth Taylor Diamond,” formerly known as the “Krupp Diamond,” a 33.19-carat Type IIa diamond that was recently auctioned by Christie’s.

There will be confusion with these diamonds, calling them synthetic diamonds. This would be wrong. These are actual diamonds that are formed in a laboratory as opposed to being created naturally.  

Updated information: As I’ve learned,  the explanation above isn’t how many in the industry view this. For many, anything grown in a lab is considered synthetic. This will probably never be settled. But the bottom line remains that these are diamonds. They are not to be confused with diamond-like gems such as cubic zirconia and moissanite.

In addition to the quality of diamonds, another selling point the company is eager to push is that lab-grown diamonds are “conflict-free,” meaning they were not mined in areas where there is a potential for human rights abuses as well as large-scale environmental impact. The diamonds are accompanied by certificates from the International Gemological Institute.

The company, located in Lakewood Ranch near Tampa, says their colorless diamonds are priced according to their overall quality and color, in the same manner as mined diamonds. The largest diamond available on the Gemesis website is a 1.05 carat round diamond with J-color, VVs2 and “very good” cut is priced at $4,837.04. A similar diamond on the Blue Nile website with a Gemological Institute of America certificate is priced at $6,238, an approximate $1,400 difference.

Stephen Lux, Gemesis president and CEO, said in a statement that price alone will not be the only selling point of these diamonds.

“The value proposition to consumers is tangible. It’s not only about price, but about getting the purest and highest-quality diamonds,” he said. “Add to that environmental responsibility and the ability to unequivocally know your diamond’s origin and we have a very special product offering.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Art Deco Jewels Owned by Copper Heiress Could Fetch $12 Million at Christie’s

Huguette M. Clark

Christie’s auction house will offer a jewelry collection from the estate of Huguette M. Clark, one of the last great heiresses of America’s Gilded Age. Ms. Clark’s collection, which is believed to have been stored in a bank vault since the 1940s, includes signed Art Deco jewels by Cartier, Dreicer & Co., and Tiffany & Co., including an extremely rare 9-carat pink diamond ring and a superb 20-carat D-color diamond ring. The complete collection of 17 jewels is expected to fetch $9 - 12 million at auction on April 17 at Christie’s New York.

“In the world of fine jewelry, this is truly a fairytale collection,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas. “Opening the vault to find this treasure trove of period jewels from the best French houses of the early 1900s has certainly been one of the most extraordinary moments of my 15-year career here at Christie’s. The iconic Art Deco design and exceptional craftsmanship of these meticulously preserved jewels are emblematic of the great Gilded Age in American history.”

The jewelry sale is part of the estate sale of three residences at 907 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan owned by the late copper heiress. Christie’s International Real Estate has been entrusted with the sale. The limestone clad, Italian palazzo-style cooperative building on 72nd Street, designed by architect J.E.R. Carpenter in 1915, offers sprawling views of Central Park. Two of Clark’s apartments make up the entire eighth floor; the third occupies half of the 12th floor. The floor plans of her sprawling residences, which need renovation, are being made public for the first time ever.

Ms. Clark died May, 2011, at the age of 104.