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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Japan Jewellery Fair Opens With An Increase in Exhibitors

Nearly 400 exhibitors have set up shop at the Japan Jewellery Fair, which opened Tuesday at the Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Center.

The three-day event has attracted a total of 394 exhibiting companies, a significant increase from 369 last year, with a corresponding increase in exhibition space, according to UBM Japan Co Ltd. and the Japan Jewellery Association, which host the trade fair. “This expansion in the size of the fair comes in sharp contrast to the lackluster state of the economy and the contraction in the size of other jewelry exhibitions held in Japan this year.”

Of the 394 exhibitors, 51 are international jewelry companies from 19 countries and regions. There are 21 national and themed pavilions, including the Quality Design Zone for high-end jewelry collections, the Japan Pearl Pavilion that includes displays of high quality Japanese akoya pearls, and the Bridal Jewellery Zone displaying the latest trends in engagement and wedding jewelry.

This year marks the 20th edition of the fair, and a number of special events and seminars are held during to commemorate the anniversary. Japanese actress and fashion designer, Uno Kanda, who also serves as the Japan Jewellery Association’s Jewellery Ambassador, participated in the opening ceremonies. She assisted with the unveiling of the Association's "Bonds of Love" jewelry promotion campaign, where she designed a special jewelry collection to remember the close personal relationships and the bonds of love that were strengthened following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan last year. The campaign was launched to remind people of the important role that jewelry can play as a symbol of those bonds.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reena Ahluwalia Designs Historic Indian Diamond Jewelry Collection

Courageous Spirit necklace

A friend of Jewelry News Network, Toronto-based jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia, has created a jewelry collection that uses diamonds mined and manufactured in India. The first time in more than a century this has happened.

The diamonds came from Rio Tinto’s Bunder Project in Madhya Pradesh province, in the center of the country. Ahluwalia was born in Madhya Pradesh.

“What an amazing honor to give back to my province and country of birth,” Ahluwalia said.

Courageous Spirit earrings

Titled Courageous Spirit, the jewelry features a statement necklace and a set of complementary earrings. The collection incorporates a total of 25.34 carats of polished Bunder diamonds and 2.8 carats of rough Bunder diamonds, including a 5.04 carat round brilliant cut white diamond and a 5.02 carat round brilliant cut cognac diamond.

The diamond-encrusted disc symbolizes the natural abundance of the Bunder diamond deposit.

“Inspired by a compass, the disc rotates on a central axis, while a marker points to the true center of the Bunder story—the earthly origins of the diamonds and the pioneering spirit of the people who are so integral to Bunder's development,” Rio Tinto said in a statement. “The latitude and longitude coordinates of the Bunder diamond deposit are inscribed on the back of the disc.”

The rough diamonds were cut and polished by master craftsmen in Indian cutting and polishing factories, while the design was brought to life by Indian jewelry manufacturer Uni-Design Jewellery Private Ltd. of Mumbai.

The jewelry was unveiled Friday at an event in the province with Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in attendance.

“The Government of Madhya Pradesh has supported us from the very beginning in our quest to develop a new benchmark for mine development in India,” said Nik Senapati, managing director of Rio Tinto India. “I am delighted that seven years after our initial discovery, we can showcase these exquisite pieces of jewelry that provide a window into the enormous potential of the gems contained in the Bunder deposit.”

He added, “The Courageous Spirit jewelry collection holds a very special place in Indian diamond history as it has been at least a century since India has mined, designed and manufactured its own diamond jewelry.”

The Courageous Spirit collection is not available for sale, but will be showcased at a number of events throughout the second half of 2012.

The Bunder project was discovered in 2004 by Rio Tinto who entered into a “State Support Agreement” with Madhya Pradesh in 2010 to develop the project. Diamonds from the mine likely to come into commercial production in 2016, Rio Tinto said.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flexibility and Harmony Combine with Mattioli ‘Yin Yang’ Rings

The two opposing principles of Chinese philosophy is the inspiration behind the new, colorful “Yin Yang” collection of rings from Mattioli

The Italian luxury jewelry brand always emphasizes versatility in its designs and this new collection adds to this philosophy. All of the rings consist of two interchangeable curved gold bands of various colors with the use of colored diamonds and other gems create a range of design possibilities. In addition to colorful combinations, the collection uses several surface textures, from polished smooth to the textured brilliance of pavé. 

“The intersecting components can easily be joined to form a beautiful ring with a special look that the wearer creates for herself. There are many combinations to be made by interchanging elements of different colors of gold or with different gemstones or diamond colors,” the company said. “The opulent, rounded effect of a ring is continuously reborn, offering a new, fascinating harmony every single time.”

Elements include polished white, pink or black gold paired with themselves, or alternated with precious elements enhanced by white brown or black diamonds, or with iolite and tsavorite.

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Montblanc Awards Winner of Young Directors Project at Salzburg Festival

Ingrid Roosen-Trinks, Montblanc Cultural Foundation director, Peter Kuemmel, culture critic, Jury, Gis le Vienne, Young Director, Winner 2012, Norbert Platt, chairman of the Board of Directors Montblanc Simplo GmbH, Helga Rabl-Stadler, president of Salzburg Festival, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, director of Drama Salzburg Festival, Montblanc, Young Directors Award 2012 ©wildbild

You may have remember earlier this month I wrote about the Montblanc Young Directors Project, where the luxury brand sponsors a competition for up-and-coming directors and their ensembles, held during the Salzburg Festival. The project recently has announced a winner,  Gisèle Vienne, who created two pieces for the festival: Eternelle Idole and This Is How You Will Disappear.

Montblanc and Sven-Eric Bechtolf, director of Drama of the Salzburg Festival, invited three directors and their ensembles from around the world, selected by a jury, to present their productions at the annual festival in Salzburg, Austria. Montblanc covered all costs of bringing the groups to Salzburg as well as the awards and prize money.

As winner of the Young Director winner, the French artist receives 10,000 euros ($12,180) in prize money and the Montblanc limited edition Hommage à Max Reinhardt fountain pen, designed exclusively for the event. The sale of the writing instrument provided additional funds that were used to present a fifth production, the guest appearance of Hamlet Cantabile by the South Korean performance group TUIDA.

The statement from the jury about Vienne’s winning performances, reads:

In her pieces Eternelle Idole and even more so in This Is How You Will Disappear, Gisèle Vienne does not evoke a time that we once knew, nor one that will ever exist. This director travels through her own universe, and it is very clearly a world of posterity: the dammed, the exiled, the undead of our popular culture tread their paths there; it is impossible to make contact because language has reached the end of its tether. In Vienne’s theatre, man is devoured by the spaces he thought he controlled. However, the manner in which he struggles and ultimately disappears is marked by great beauty. This beauty has convinced the jury to award this year’s Montblanc Young Directors Award to Gisèle Vienne.

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Vacheron Constantin Opens Boutique in Las Vegas

Entrance of the new Vacheron Constantin Las Vegas boutique.

Swiss luxury watch brand, Vacheron Constantin, opened a new boutique Monday at the Palazzo Hotel, Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, marking the company’s 30th boutique worldwide and its second boutique in North America after the opening in New York in September 2011.

The interior design of the new retail space uses contemporary elements combined with traditional design techniques, the Geneva-based brand said, noting that it is “an architectural perspective that reveals the brand’s constant search for excellence and aesthetic perfection.” The materials and color scheme provide “a warm and comfortable atmosphere dedicated to technical and precious haute horlogerie.”

The boutique will offer the entire range of collections from the Geneva-based brand, as well as exclusive boutique models.

“This opening is another milestone in the brand’s worldwide expansion and allows us to provide an experience that will enhance customer understanding of the brand and its longstanding history in haute horlogerie,” said Hugues de Pins, president of Vacheron Constantin North America.

Vacheron Constantin, established in 1755, is the world’s oldest continuous watch manufacturer.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Record Breaking Jewelry Moments Worthy of Olympic Gold

Christie’s employees taking phone bids during The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s New York. Photo credit: Christie’s

As the 2012 London Summer Olympics winds down, it got me thinking about some of the great moments in history as it pertains to jewelry, gemstones and precious metals. Wealth and power throughout time has often been measured in the ownership of the most valuable and desirable adornment. Often the stories of precious ornaments ran alongside the rise and fall of kingdoms. Below is just short listing of some of the milestone moments. Please feel free to add more.

* The Most Valuable Sale of Jewelry in Auction History. “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” auction held at Christie’s New York in December 2011. Following a worldwide tour and a 10-day exhibition at Christie’s New York, the two-day sale of Ms. Taylor’s jewelry took in approximately $137.2 million. The opening night jewelry sale (December 13) alone set seven world auction records for some of the most important jewels in the world, including:

La Peregrina. Photo credit: Christie's

- The World Auction Record for a Pearl Jewel. “La Peregrina,” one of the most famous pearls in the world with a history that spans 500 years, on a necklace designed by Cartier for Taylor, sold for $11.8 million. It is believed to have been found by an African slave on the coast of the isle of Santa Margarita in the Gulf of Panama in the mid-16th Century or as early as the 15th Century. This pear-shaped pearl of 203 grains in size—equivalent to 55 cts.—became part of the crown jewels of Spain. Prince Philip II of Spain gave it as a wedding gift to his wife, Mary Tudor of England. It was passed on to the Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel, who wore the pearl in 17th century portraits painted by Velázquez. Richard Burton famously purchased the pearl for Elizabeth Taylor at auction in 1969 for $37,000, after successfully outbidding a member of the Spanish Royal family. Burton gave the pearl to Taylor on Jan. 23, 1969. Inspired by a 16th century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, who wore it as a pendant to a brooch, Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a new mount of matched natural pearls and rubies, designed by Al Durante.

Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. Photo credit: Christie's

- The World Auction Record for a Colorless Diamond Per Carat. The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (also known as the Burton-Taylor Diamond). The 33.19-carat Asscher-cut D color potentially flawless diamond sold for more than $8.8 million, or $265,697 per carat. The 33.19-ct., D color, potentially internally flawless diamond mounted on a ring was a gift from Richard Burton on May 16, 1968. The most iconic of her cherished white diamonds, it became the ring Ms. Taylor wore almost every day. The Type IIa diamond was purchased at auction for $300,000 in 1968 as the Krupp diamond. It is also known as the Taylor-Burton diamond.

Taj Mahal Diamond. Photo credit: Christie's

- The World Auction Record for an Indian Jewel. The heart-shaped Taj Mahal Diamond that sold for more than $8.8 million. Inscribed with the name Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahangir, this heart-shaped diamond is believed to have been a gift from the ruler to his son, who became the great emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666). At the age of 35, it is believed that the young prince presented the diamond to his favorite and most beloved wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal. The emperor’s grief at her death just four years later was legendary—in her memory he commissioned the majestic Taj Mahal. Richard Burton gave it to Ms. Taylor in 1972 for her 40th birthday.

Joseph Asscher Photo credit: Royal Asscher

* The World’s Largest Rough Diamond. The 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond uncovered in 1907 by Frederick Wells at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa. Wells presented the diamond to Sir Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine. Cullinan then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Asscher studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. Legend has it that on his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion. Lita Asscher, president of Royal Asscher of America and sixth generation heir to the family business, says her family has their own spin on the story: “We always say that he did not faint. He drank too much champagne (after cutting the diamond) and then he fainted.”

"Star of Africa I," or "Cullinan I" Photo credit: Royal Asscher

* The World’s Largest Cut Diamond. The Cullinan was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones. The largest stone is called the "Star of Africa I," or "Cullinan I," and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the "Star of Africa II" or "Cullinan II," is 317 carats. Both of these stones, as well as the "Cullinan III," are on display in the Tower of London with Britain's other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown.

Cullinan I was the largest diamond in the world until 1987. The Golden Jubilee Diamond now has that honor. At 545.67 carats, it outweighs the Cullinan I by 15.37 carats. The yellow-brown diamond in a fire rose cushion cut was purchased from De Beers by a group led by Henry Ho of Thailand and given to Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in honor of his 50th coronation anniversary. It is now located in the Royal Thai Palace as part of the crown jewels.

Faberge Siberian aquamarine and diamond brooch was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to princess Alix of Hesse. They were executed July 17,1918, and she was wearing the jewel right up until the time of her death. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The World’s Best Story Attached to a Piece of Jewelry. A Siberian aquamarine Fabergé brooch that Russian Tsar Nicholas II gave to princess Alix of Hesse as an engagement gift. I saw this piece at Wartski jewelry antique store in London, best known as the “royal warrant of appointment,” one of a handful of companies that supply goods and services to the British Royal Family. Geoffrey Munn, the store’s managing director Fabergé told the story behind the brooch:

In here we have a Fabergé brooch, a Siberian aquamarine surrounded by diamonds. That’s all we knew for a while. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s of extraordinary color. (women in the group gasp with amazement). I know, I know it’s fabulous. (But) it’s only the beginning of the trouble. Because this really is going to wreck you and you’ll need a stiff drink afterwards. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s a Siberian one and they don’t really come in that color unless they do come from Siberia.… The story of this is really quite awe inspiring because the color blue in the lore of lapidary stones stands for love and then there’s sort of the interlock of two lives with diamonds forever. And that’s all we knew for a very long time until my colleague sent off the number to Russia and back came the provenance and it said that it was bought by the Supreme Autocrat of all the Russias—a pretty hot title—and there’s a note beside it saying it was the engagement present from (Russian Tsar) Nicholas II to princess Alix of Hesse. And that is sort of stratospheric. But then what happens later is even more heartbreaking because when they were taken to prison in Siberia (during the Bolshevik Revolution), they went to a place called The House of Special Purpose—a very menacing title—and you know what happens next but this (the jewel) was with her just before she was taken to the basement and riddled with gunfire. It was confiscated and it isn’t actually open to debate because it was a civil service theft and so they made an inventory of what they’ve taken from her and they photographed it on the table so you don’t hear any fanciful stories. I think possibly that’s as far as jewelry will ever take you.

Tsarevna Swan

* Most Diamonds Set on a Single Ring. Could this be an object that will hold a history of its own? The “Tsarevna Swan,” a tall, highly stylized 18k white gold ring set a Guinness World Record for having the most cut diamonds on a ring: 2,525. It was unveiled in 2011 by the Lobortas Classic Jewellery House of Kiev, Ukraine. Regardless of whether this will capture the imagination of future generations of jewelry collectors, it is a great accomplishment.

As I mentioned, you are welcome add anything that I have missed.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Luxury Megayacht to Host Contemporary Jewelry Fair During Art Basel Miami Beach

An event onboard the SeaFair

A new jewelry exhibition will be held on a 228-foot megayacht as part of America’s largest art fair.

The inaugural International Contemporary Jewelry Fair will be held December 4 - 9 onboard the SeaFair, a $40 million, luxury yacht built for the purpose of hosting mobile art and jewelry exhibitions. It will be part of Art Basel Miami Beach (December 6 - 9), the most prestigious art fair in the Americas.

While the exhibitors haven’t been announced yet, the organizers, International Fine Art Expositions, promise that the event “will present unique jewelry created by designers and artists from around the world as another segment of collectible contemporary art.”

For the exhibition, SeaFair will be docked at its winter season location at Chopin Plaza at Noguchi Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. In addition to the shipboard exhibition, SeaFair will play host to educational events and exclusive VIP parties, including a private “first view” event on December 4. 

The fair will be open December 5 – 8, 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.; and December 9 from 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. There will be cocktails, champagne and caviar served on the vessel’s sky deck. The ship’s glass walled VIP lounge and Luxe Lounge will offer additional gathering places for collectors.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, $20 for a one-day ticket and $30 for a “Priority Boarding” ticket, which allows immediate priority boarding. Advance ticketing is available online for $15 for a one-day ticket and $25 for a Priority Boarding ticket at

SeaFair is owned and operated by Expoships, LLLP, David and Lee Ann Lester, who have organized over 70 international art fairs in art capitals around the world for more than 20 years.

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Free Digital Marketing Workshops at Hong Kong September Jewelry Fair

The upcoming September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2012 will include free digital marketing workshops, which will take place prior to the show’s daily opening.

The workshops are being offered by JewelleryNetAsia, the Web portal for the jewelry industry and a division of UBM Asia. They provide exhibitors and buyers an opportunity to combine their business activities with free education in digital marketing.

“With the workshops, we intend to break down the challenges of the digital environment into simple steps. Participants walk away with tangible knowledge,” said Jerome Hainz, manager of eBusiness at UBM Asia. “Many jewelry professionals have difficulties in keeping up with the fast developments online. But using digital channels as tools to generate new leads and nurture existing business can generate a significant advantage.”

The presentations will include know-how and practical tips but also statistics and data taken from JewelleryNet’s original research and analytics.

The presentations will be held September 20 and 21 at Asia World Expo and September 22 and 24 at Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. The workshops will start at 9:15 am. Seating is limited and online pre-registration is recommended via the following link: .

For further information contact or call +852 2827 6211

The September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair 2012 will be held September 19 -23 at the Asian World Expo and September 21 – 25 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Harry Winston Opens Salon in Harrods

International luxury brand, Harry Winston, on Friday opened a salon in Harrods, marking its second retail location in London and 27th worldwide.

Located in the luxury department store’s fine jewelry room, the salon was designed by Studio Sofield, Inc. of New York. The 631-square-foot space uses a soft taupe and grey color palette complements the custom designed black lacquer and antique bronze furniture and display vitrines, with vintage floor lamps, bespoke chandeliers and hand beaded silk walls completing the look.

The salon contains dedicated high jewelry, bridal jewelry, and timepieces, including one-of-kind pieces from the brand’s Ultimate Adornments. Harry Winston’s largest high jewelry collection to date, was on display for the grand opening.

Frédéric de Narp, president & CEO, Harry Winston Inc., said the new salon is part of the company’s expansion plan.

“Harry Winston salons are located in the finest shopping destinations across the globe,” he said. “As one of the great international cities, London is a key and critical part of our retail growth.”

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pandora’s Troubles Continue as Q2 Profit Falls 90% and Revenue Drops 9.5%

Pandora Group, home of the international silver jewelry brand that became famous for its charm jewelry, had another disappointing quarter.

The Danish company with manufacturing facilities in Thailand said that year-over-year sales for its Pandora branded jewelry fell by 9.5 percent to 1.26 billion Danish krone ($210.2 million) in the second quarter of 2012. Profit during the same period fell 89.9 percent to 63 million Danish krone ($10.5 million).

Pandora reported losses in every region it operates. The company noted that a stock rebalancing campaign launched in the first quarter is a major reason for the disappointing results, which the company said are in line with expectations. It said it received returns of discontinued products valued at 183 million krone ($30.5 million) and replaced it with 310 million Danish krone ($51.7 million) worth of new inventory.

Björn Gulden, Pandora CEO, said the company will continue with the stock rebalancing program and will cap it at 800 million krone ($133.5 million).

“The execution on the stock balancing campaign continued into Q2 2012 and was very well received by our retail partners across all our markets,” Gulden said. “Even though the stock balancing campaign, short-term, hurts our revenue, cost ratio and profitability in 2012, the campaign has proven to be the right action to help our retailers improve the quality of their stock.”

By region, revenue results are as follows:

* Americas decreased by 5.1 percent (14.6 percent decrease in local currency)
* Europe decreased by 16.6 percent (17.4 percent decrease in local currency)
* Asia Pacific decreased by 8.1 percent (14.1 percent decrease in local currency)

Branded revenue as percentage of total revenue increased to 75.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012, from 73.4 percent in Q2 2011; and gross margin was 67.9 percent in Q2 2012, compared to a gross margin of 74.4 percent in Q2 2011.

Pandora projects revenue for 2012 to be above 6 billion krone ($1 billion), down from 6.66 billion krone ($1.1 billion) in 2011.

“Feedback from our retailers on our Autumn/Winter 2012 collection has been very encouraging and with an additional 94 new Concept stores opened in H1 2012, we are on track to deliver on what we have promised the market in our financial guidance for the full year,” Gulden said.

Pandora also announced a number of organizational changes. Among them:

* Scott Burger, former COO of Pandora North America, was named president for Pandora North America, succeeding John White, who is taking up a position outside Pandora.

* Sten Daugaard, chief development officer, has been assigned to head Pandora's Asian headquarters in Hong Kong “in order to secure senior management attention to an important future region.”

* David Allen, former VP of Sales of Pandora Australia, has been named president of Pandora Australia with the responsibility for commercial operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, succeeding Karin Adcock, who retired as planned on July 1.

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Survey: U.S. Luxury Spending Down 27%

Pam Danziger
Luxury consumers in the U.S. cut back their level of luxury spending during the second quarter of 2012 by 8.2 percent from first quarter, according to a recent survey. The decline in spending was even more pronounced when comparing year-over-year, down 26.9 percent.

The Luxury Consumption Index for the April to June period shows that “luxury consumers got nervous about their financial status,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, which runs the quarterly survey of affluent Americans.

“The up and down trajectory of the LCI that we've seen over the past year measures continued uncertainty among affluent consumers who make up the heavy lifters in the overall consumer economy,” Danziger, said. “Looking back at over the past three years, we find that the luxury consumers, particularly the ‘ultra-affluents’ (the top 2 percent of U.S. households), unleashed pent up demand for luxury indulgences during 2010, but since then affluent confidence, and their willingness to spend on luxury, has been constrained.”

Danziger said that spending among ultra-affluents dropped to the lowest level seen since 2008. In addition, nearly one-third of the affluents surveyed believe the country is worse off now than it was three months ago.

“If this key consumer segment for the super-premium luxury brands continues apace, many luxury marketers will have a hard time meeting high comparable sales goals this year,”  Danziger said. For the next six months, Unity Marketing continues to expect challenges for luxury brands to encourage the affluent to trade up to their high-end brands, especially the lower-income HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet with HHI $100,000-$249,900), who have taken a hit to their wealth and earning potential as a result of the recession and ongoing weakness in the U.S. economy.”

Danziger points to the recent quarterly release by leather goods maker Coach Inc as an example of a brand that seriously overestimated HENRY customers' willingness to spend. Coach tried to eliminate coupon promotions tied directly to its discount outlets, which are the company's biggest source of revenue, and which attract HENRY customers looking to stretch their dollars. This misstep, she said, led to Coach reporting weak same store sales growth in the quarter ending June 30, which then caused its stock to have its worst day on Wall Street since the 9/11 attacks.

“The number of people willing and able to pay a premium for luxury brands, like Coach, is getting smaller as this weak economy continues,” she said.

Unity Marketing has been calculating the LCI since 2004 based upon five key measures of luxury consumer confidence including their expectations for future spending on luxury, their personal financial conditions and their overall assessment of the economy as a whole, in surveys conducted every three months among over 1,200 affluent luxury consumers.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Harry Winston May Purchase Second Canadian Diamond Mine

Ekati diamond mine. Photo credit: Jason Pineau, through Wikipedia

Harry Winston is in talks to purchase an important asset of BHP Billiton’s diamond business, according to published reports.

The Toronto-based company, which describes itself as a diamond enterprise with premium assets in the mining and retail segments of the diamond industry, has secured bank financing for a possible deal to buy the Ekati diamond mine in Northwest Territories of Canada, according to the Financial Times. However, the deal, which was to be completed by mid year is going slower than expected and could even break down.

Harry Winston, best known as a luxury jewelry and watch retailer, already owns a 40 percent share in the Diavik diamond mine in the same area with Rio Tinto, which owns a 60 percent stake.

Both BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto announced in November 2011 that they are looking to get out of the diamond business to focus on larger, more-profitable assets from their vast mining businesses.

It’s a complicated matter, according to the report, because if Rio Tinto agreed to sell Diavik to Harry Winston, it would make it more difficult for the mining giant to sell the rest of its diamond assets.

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Richemont Expects Huge Sales and Profits as Hard Luxuries Continue to Sparkle

Montblanc boutique in Hamburg. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

A luxury slowdown in China, a European economy under constant crisis, and sluggish growth in the U.S. has failed to slow the growth in the sale of “hard luxuries” (jewelry and watches). The latest example is Geneva-based Compagnie Financière Richemont, which issued a statement Monday saying that it expects first half profits to rise from 20 percent to 40 percent, year-over-year.

Richemont—whose brands include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and Vacheron Constantin—was required to make this statement prior to its sales and profits reports for the first half of the year. SIX Swiss Exchange requires that issuers make an immediate announcement when “the foreseeable profit or loss for a given period is expected to deviate significantly from the profit or loss achieved in the prior-year period.”

In accordance with these requirements Richemont said that sales for the four months ended in July rose 24 percent on a reported basis and 13 percent on a constant-exchange basis. Based on these results, Richemont’s said its operating profit for the six months ending September 30 is likely to show an increase of between 20 percent and 40 percent compared to the first six months of the last financial year.  Net profit for the same period may also increase by 20 percent and 40 percent.

Richemont sales for the five months ending August 31 will be announced on September 5 first-half results for period ending September 30 will be announced November 9.

This is the latest in financial reports that are revealing the resiliency and strength in hard luxuries.

* In late July, Paris-based LVMH reported revenue growth of 26 percent, year-over-year to $16 billion for the first half of 2012. Group profit rose 28 percent to $2 billion. The luxury group, whose jewelry and watch brands include Tag Heuer, Hublot and Bulgari, acquired in June 2011, reported that total jewelry and watch sales rose 113 percent to $1.6 billion, with Bulgari's revenue now included. Organic growth was 13 percent.

* A few days earlier, Swatch Group, the world’s largest watch company, said its watch and jewelry sales for the first half of 2012 increased 16.7 percent to $3.42 billion, year-over-year. The company owns 19 watch and jewelry brands in all market segments, including Swatch, Breguet and Longines.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nicky Oppenheimer to be Honored at JNA Awards

Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers Group, will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Jewellery News Asia honoring his significant contribution to the global diamond business, particularly in Asia. He will be feted at the JNA Awards ceremony, September 20, at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

The JNA Awards is an industry event that honors and recognizes excellence and achievement in the jewelry trade. The event, the first of its kind in Asia, is organized by Jewellery News Asia of UBM Asia in collaboration with UBM Awards.

“His outstanding achievements with De Beers and the Diamond Trading Company have made him one of the key figures and leaders of the global diamond industry,” said Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and director of Business Development—Jewellery Group at UBM Asia, and the chair of the JNA Awards judging panel. “His inspired guidance and outstanding leadership, has significantly contributed to the development of the diamond jewelry markets in China and India—the twin growth engines in Asia.”

“Throughout my time in the diamond industry, I have been immensely proud to witness the growth of the consumer's love affair with diamonds, nowhere more so than in the exciting markets across Asia,” said Oppenheimer, who is leaving the diamond industry as he and his whose family is finalizing the sale of De Beers to their longtime partner, Anglo American.

In other JNA Awards news, the KARP Group, an international polished diamond manufacturer and marketer of polished diamonds and diamond jewelry, is serving as a partner of the JNA Awards

The shortlisted honorees for the first nine categories of the JNA Awards were announced in June. The Wonder of the World category, which is open only to AsiaWorld-Expo exhibitors during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2012, will be accepting entries until August 21.

The JNA Awards 2012 is a ticketed event by application only. Interested parties may submit their request by logging on to

Jewellery News Asia, first published in 1983, is the flagship magazine of UBM Asia's Jewelry Group.

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Royal Asscher Participates in HIV/AIDS Event Honoring Elton John and Hillary Clinton

Lita Asscher between Sharon Stone and Elton John.

Lita Asscher, America’s president of the Royal Asscher diamond company, was part of a star-studded event held July 23 in Washington, D.C., that honored U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Elton John for their efforts battling HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Lita Asscher with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The event, hosted by The Human Rights Campaign, was held to raise awareness for the Global Equality Fund, a U.S. State Department program, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Sharon Stone hosted the event held at a private residence in Georgetown.

Lita Asscher volunteered to have her personal one-of-a-kind Stars of Africa floating diamond ring auctioned to benefit the foundations. The ring, containing 0.60 carats of tiny diamonds floating inside a sapphire globe, sold for $16,000 among the crowd of bidders.

Stars of Africa ring that sold for $16,000.

“As a family and as a company we at Royal Asscher consider it of paramount importance to support important causes that benefit all of humanity,” she said.

Human Rights Campaign is a civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Montblanc Sponsors Young Directors in Salzburg Festival Competition

Tick Tock Productions of South Africa performs in the production of Trapped.

For the 11th consecutive year, Montblanc is involved in a theater competition for up-and-coming international directors and their ensembles, held during the annual Salzburg Festival.

Known as the “Young Directors Project,” it promotes “young, emerging theatre directors with innovative ideas who offer an unconventional approach to the questions of modern society.” Montblanc and Sven-Eric Bechtolf, director of Drama of the Salzburg Festival, invited a selection of theater ensembles from around the world, selected by a jury, to present their productions at the annual festival in Salzburg, Austria. 

The limited edition Hommage à Max Reinhardt fountain pen.

Montblanc covers all costs of bringing the groups to Salzburg as well as the awards and prize money. The ensemble and director with the most convincing performance will receive the Montblanc Young Directors Award, 10,000 euros ($12,180) in prize money and the Montblanc limited edition Hommage à Max Reinhardt fountain pen that is exclusively available during the Salzburg Summer Festival.

The crowd outside the theater during the opening night performance.

The project opened July 31 with the premiere of Trapped by Tick Tock Productions of South Africa. The project will run till August 26 and will feature four other performances:

* Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz by Theater Montagnes Russes of Austria

* Éternelle Idole, and This is how you will disappear by Gisèle Vienne of France

* Hamlet Cantabile Performance Group by Tuida of South Korea 

Teri Hatcher, who attended the performance and the Montblanc premiere party, signs autographs.

Following the July 21 performance, Montblanc held a reception, followed by a premiere party in Salzburg. Guests came from all over the world and included actresses Teri Hatcher, Rosario Dawson and Sarah Marshall, designer Jean Claude Jitrois and actor Clemens Schick. 

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Piaget Produces Melody Gardot Video, 'La Vie En Rose'

Melody Gardot adorned in Piaget Rose Collection jewelry.

Grammy-nominated jazz singer, Melody Gardot, is a bit of an enigma and prodigy all rolled into a voice that has been often described as smooth, smoky and sultry. She seems to hum words and bend and roll melodic notes in a voice that is strong and elegant even when it is at a whisper.

The Philadelphia native’s remarkable story has been repeated in every article and appearance she’s ever made. At the age of 19 the bike she was riding was hit by a car and she suffered severe head and spinal injuries and a broken pelvis. Among her long-term problems are memory loss, hypersensitivity to light and loss of her sense of time. A piano player in bars prior to her accident, her doctor suggested music as therapy. She was bedridden for about year and taught herself guitar while lying on her back. She could no longer tolerate the louder music she played prior to her accident so she started writing quiet, traditional jazz songs.

Her stunning sophisticated bohemian look that is constantly changing adds to her mystique. She’s forced to walk with a cane and must wear sunglasses all the time. In many photo shoots and videos, these items serve as props.

Piaget Rose Collection ring.

Piaget tapped into this unusual elegance in song, spirit and appearance by making her the newest ambassador for the luxury watch and jewelry brand. Gardot is promoting the Piaget Rose Collection—a line of diamond jewelry inspired by the shape of a rose. It has a starting price of $1,900 but also includes diamond and precious stone pieces priced up to several hundred thousand of dollars.

Gardot recently released “The Absence,” and is on a worldwide tour promoting the CD as well as Piaget. As an added feature, The Geneva-based company produced an additional song and supporting video of Gardot singing "La Vie En Rose." It appears on a deluxe edition of the new CD. The video is below (After starting the video, please click on the full-screen box on the lower right corner to get the full effect of the video).

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$7.8 Million, 12-Carat Pink Diamond

Majestic Pink Diamond

A 12.27 fancy pink diamond is being offered by M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans. Known as the “Majestic Pink Diamond,” it has characteristics that are among the most desirable and rare in fancy colored diamonds, including VVS1, Type IIa designation.

Type IIa colored diamonds are among the most desirable by collectors because they rarely contain internal imperfections and are famous for their color. The VVS1 designation translates to “Very, Very Slightly Included,” denoting very high clarity—rare for a colored diamond of this size.

The cushion-cut diamond is mounted on an 18k rose gold and platinum ring. The asking price is $7.85 million.

The pink diamond ring will go on display online on the website beginning August 8. For those who like to view the diamond in person, it will be on display at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, August 23 – 26.

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