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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bennett Freeman To Discuss Responsible Sourcing At Portland Jewelry Symposium

Bennett Freeman

One of the nation’s prominent experts on Responsible Sourcing, Bennett Freeman, will be the keynote speaker at the Portland Jewelry Symposium.

The Symposium will be held October 2 – 3, at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, Ore. The event provides education and networking opportunities specifically designed to address the needs of manufacturing retailers and custom designers.

“We are excited to be exploring the topic of Responsible Sourcing this year in addition to our full program” said Teresa Frye, founder of the Symposium. “Increasing interest from the consumers on the origins of precious metals and stones is something that the industry will strongly benefit from learning more about.” 

Freeman has extensive experience in the field, having worked at the intersection of multinational companies, responsible investors, NGOs, governments and international institutions to promote corporate responsibility, sustainability and human rights around the world. “We are very fortunate to have the chance to hear first-hand of his global experiences on the subject,” Frye said.

Rounding out the Responsible Sourcing program will be talks by Toby Pomeroy, designer and one of the industry’s true pioneers in fairmined gold, and Stewart Grice, VP of Mill Products at Hoover & Strong, who will be sharing his recent experiences with fair mining gold practices in Peru.

The keynote compliments the Symposium’s customary topics of Technology, Design, Business, and Bench. 

Other presentations include Andrea Hill of the Hill Management Group on Lean Manufacturing Principles, James Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts on Successful Casting of 3D Printed Acrylics, Lake Giles of Thinkspace on SEO and Maximizing Web Presence, Chris Ploof of Chris Ploof Designs on Techniques for Creating Mokume Gane, and Teresa Frye of TechForm will present on critical bench aspects of Precious Metals Metallurgy. 

In addition to the talks, Phil Scott of Rio Grande will be hosting bench demonstrations with a focus on Innovations in Finishing. Jim Tuttle of Greenlake Jewelry, Travis Issacson of Lashbrook, and Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Designs will speak on the panel Strategies for Selling Custom Jewelry moderated by Gillian Frances of TechForm.

Sponsors for the event include TechForm, MJSA, Rio Grande, Santa Fe Symposium, Stuller, Gemological Institute of America, Platinum Guild International, Johnson Matthey, Solidscape, Instore Magazine, Metalsmith Magazine, Hoover & Strong, The Richline Group, Otto Frei, Jewelers of America, A3DM, United Precious Metals, Red Sky Plating, Superfit. Lashbrook, and Laminated Metals Technology. 

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Can MTV Encourage Teens To Buy Adult Jewels?

Rihanna wore a Hearts on Fire diamond necklace and Lydia Courteille ruby rings while performing on stage at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards 

MTV, the cable network that was an extraordinary success in the 1980s popularizing music videos, is now just one more channel on a cable box with a segmented audience. It rarely even plays music anymore, opting for a diet of reality and scripted TV for its teenage demographic.

MTV’s last bastion of broad popularity is its annual Video Music Awards. Its most recent edition was held Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The awards themselves don’t garner much attention. It serves more as a platform for great performances and fashion, and as a forum for outrageous public displays or battles among the entertainers. 

As far as the jewels on view—whether it’s by paying performers to wear their pieces or through agencies who work with performers and their staffs—many of the pieces worn on the red carpet and during performances is similar to what one would see at the Oscars and other more establishment events. In other words far too expensive and too “adult” to be worn by those attending high school. 

It seems to me that promoting high jewelry to teenagers is an extremely difficult pitch. It would be better if fashion-oriented brands would present jewels that young women can afford to wear. 

As for jewelry, the two stars of the evening should come as no surprise: Beyoncé and Rihanna

Getty Images

Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy reportedly wore $13 million worth of Lorraine Schwartz jewels. The Los Angeles jewelry designer is extremely popular among music industry royalty. 

Rihanna in Harry Kotlar diamond earrings and a Lydia Courteille tsavorite and green tourmaline ring and a 36mm Chopard timepiece featuring 21.09-carats of diamonds set in 18k white gold from the “L’Heure Du Diamant” collection

Meanwhile, Rihanna again served as a canvas for a variety of jewelry firms. Her four performances with four completely different looks were embellished with Harry Kotlar diamond earrings, a Lydia Courteille tsavorite and green tourmaline ring, a Hearts on Fire diamond necklace, Lydia Courteille ruby rings and a 36mm Chopard timepiece featuring 21.09-carats of diamonds set in 18k white gold from the “L’Heure Du Diamant” collection.

Taking into account what I was saying earlier about jewels and youth, there will always be exceptions and Beyoncé and Rihanna are the exceptions. Their star power, fashion presence, incredible talent and universal appeal put them in a class all their own, deserving of wearing the highest of high jewels. 

The other notable jewels on parade at the VMAs include:

Nicki Minaj in Harry Kotlar diamond cluster earrings and a Le Vian diamond ring.

Amber Rose in a Borgioni rose gold diamond ring along with Le Vian rings and white gold/diamond bracelet. 

Ariana Grande in Harry Kotlar diamond earrings.

JinJoo Lee of DNCE in Pasquale Bruni black diamond and diamond ring, Bavna black diamond earrings and rings and Le Vian white gold and black diamond rings. As an added bonus, Cole Whittle of DNCE in Pluma Italia chains.

Actress and model Shelley Hennig in Le Vian diamond earrings.

Halsey in a Noudar diamond hand chain and Harry Kotlar diamond rings.

Canadian fashion model, spokesperson and activist, Winnie Harlow in Le Vian diamond rings.

Bebe Rexha in Le Vian diamond earrings and Borgioni diamond rings.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

September Hong Kong Jewelry Fair Set for September 13 - 19

Jewelry demand in China is expected to pick up in September ahead of the week-long national holiday in October, according to the GFMS Gold Survey 2016: Q2 Update & Outlook. This is potentially good news for the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, which will be held September 13-17 at AsiaWorld-Expo and September 15-19 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Recent data from the Chinese government also showed an improvement in the Chinese market: China’s gold imports from Hong Kong reached RMB45.8 billion (around $687 million) in the first six months of 2016, up 550 percent from the same period in 2015. The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair positions participants to tap into opportunities in China as well as in the rest of the Asia Pacific. 

The September Fair, now in its 34th edition, continues to enjoy support from key industry players around the world, according to UBM Asia, which owns and operates the fair. 

This year’s September Fair will host more than 3,550 exhibitors from 54 countries and regions in more than 135,000 square meters of exhibition space. AWE will display jewelry raw materials from over 1,600 local and overseas exhibitors, while HKCEC will showcase fine finished jewelry from around 2,000 international fine jewelry exhibitors.

New exhibitors from Nigeria, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Slovak Republic (Slovakia), Tahiti and Vanuatu will be mixing with the veteran vendors. In addition, there will be new group pavilions from Myanmar and Portugal, bringing the number of pavilions to 25. 

“We are excited to unveil numerous new events, launch value-added show features and introduce new exhibitors at this edition as part of our initiative to continually enhance buyers’ experiences,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia. 

About 58,000 local and overseas visitors are expected to attend during its seven-day run, said Sunny Chan, deputy fair manager, Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia. This will be a slight increase over the 2015 edition of the fair.

The Fair Mobile App is now available for download at Through the app, users can receive show alerts and updates, browse the list of exhibitors, and create a personal daily planner.

The Alrosa Group, Russia’s leading diamond company and the world’s biggest diamond miner by volume, will again host its diamond auction at the September Fair at AWE. Meanwhile, the 59th Paspaley Pearl Auction and the 68th Robert Wan Tahiti Perles Auction will be held at HKCEC. 

Also returning are the world’s largest diamond pavilion, Asia’s biggest gemstone marketplace, and the Hong Kong Pavilion and the Hong Kong Premier Pavilion, which house the biggest display of Hong Kong jewelry in the world. 

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Tiffany And Signet Report Declines In Second Quarter Sales

Two of the most important jewelers in North America report a decline in total sales and comparable store sales during the second quarter of 2016.

Tiffany & Co.
The luxury retail jeweler said worldwide net sales for the second quarter fell 6 percent to $932 million and comparable store sales dropped 8 percent, year-over-year. Exchange rates seemed to have little effect on the global declines, with the exception of Japan. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales and comparable store sales declined 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Sales declines were reported throughout all of its regions, with the exception of Japan. The company, which operates 311 stores around the world, attributes the drop in sales to decreased activity from local customers and foreign tourists.

The latest quarter brings worldwide net sales to $1.8 billion for the first half of the year—7 percent below the first half of the prior year and comparable store sales declined 9 percent. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales and comparable store sales declined 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

“The global environment continues to reflect well known challenges that we believe have had broad effects on spending by local customers, as well as foreign tourists, especially from China,” said Frederic Cumenal, Tiffany & Co. CEO. “We are managing expenses efficiently, but also maintaining our marketing spending as a percentage of sales and continuing to invest in key strategic initiatives and opportunities to further strengthen Tiffany's competitive position among global luxury brands.”

Net sales by region are as follows:

In the Americas, total sales of $434 million in the second quarter and $837 million in the first half were both 9 percent below last year, with declines of 9 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in comparable store sales. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales and comparable store sales declined 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in both the second quarter and first half. Tiffany attributed the declines to lower spending by U.S. customers as well as by Chinese and other foreign tourists.

In the Asia-Pacific region, total sales of $230 million in the second quarter and $469 million in the first half were down 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively, lower than the prior year, and comparable store sales declined 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales and comparable store sales declined 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in the second quarter and 4 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in the first half. Sales growth in China and Korea was offset by a continuation of significant declines in Hong Kong and more moderate declines in most other markets.

In Japan, total sales increased 10 percent to $138 million in the second quarter and rose 9 percent to $269 million in the first half. Comparable store sales increased of 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively. However, on a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales and comparable store sales declined 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in the second quarter and declined 2 percent and rose 1 percent, respectively, in the first half. Management noted lower spending by Chinese tourists in both periods.

In Europe, total sales declined 12 percent to $111 million in the second quarter and 11 percent to $208 million in the first half of 2016. Comparable store sales fell 17 percent and 16 percent for the period. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales and comparable store sales declined 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in the second quarter and 7 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in the first half. Lower sales in continental Europe were attributed to weak demand by foreign tourists and local customers, in contrast to better performance in the UK.

Other sales declined 3 percent to $18 million in the second quarter and 20 percent to $40 million in the first half, reflecting comparable store sales declines of 22 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Management noted lower retail sales in the United Arab Emirates and an increase in wholesale sales of diamonds.

Signet Jewelers
The dominate retail jeweler in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. reported a year-over-year sales decline of 2.6 percent to $1.37 billion. Total sales on a constant currency basis declined 1.3 percent. Comparable store sales decreased 2.3 percent compared to an increase of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of the prior year.

The company said “the decline was fairly broad-based across most store banners and merchandise categories and was particularly pronounced in energy-producing regions.”

“We are disappointed by our Q2 results and market conditions have been challenging particularly in the energy-dependent regions,” added Mark Light, Signet Jewelers CEO. “We achieved some important wins in the second quarter. Select diamond fashion jewelry, bracelets, and earrings sold well. We saw success in a variety of selling channels including outlets, kiosks, and on-line due to improvements in our consumer websites and mobile sites. The Zale integration is running well and synergies remain on target. We remain confident in the medium and long-term prospects of our business.”

Signet Jewelers second quarter sales by operating segment is as follows:

• The Sterling Jewelers division (which consists of U.S. retail chains Kay, Jared and regional US brands) saw comparable store sales fall 3.1 percent with the average transaction value down 0.8 percent. The company attributed this to “relatively stronger sales of several fashion and diamond jewelry collections as compared to higher-priced bridal jewelry.” The number of transactions decreased 3 percent. 

• Zale Jewelry division (which includes Zale and Gordon stores in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico along with Peoples Mappins stores in Canada) saw same store sales decrease by 3 percent. ATV increased 1.2 percent “driven by higher sales of select diamond jewelry collections,” the company said. The number of transactions decreased 4 percent.

• Piercing Pagoda's same store sales increased 6.4 percent. ATV increased 17 percent while the number of transactions decreased 7.7 percent. The higher sales “were driven principally by strong sales of gold chains and diamond jewelry. Transactions declined primarily due to fewer piercings.”

• In the UK Jewelry division (which consists of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones) same store sales increased 0.8 percent. ATV increased 2.5 percent “driven principally by strong sales of diamond jewelry and prestige watches,” while the number of transactions decreased 3 percent due to lower sales in fashion watches, the company said. 
Ecommerce sales, which have seen robust growth in recent years, continued this path in the second quarter with a 5.6 percent increase to $69.6 million. This total accounts for 5.1 percent of total sales for the period. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Israel Diamond Pavilion Will Host 84 Companies At September Hong Kong Fair

The 2015 Israel Diamond Pavilion at the September Hong Kong Fair

The Israeli diamond industry will once again be one of the largest national exhibitors at the upcoming September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. The Israel Diamond Pavilion, organized by the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI), will feature 84 companies and will extend over more than 1,150 square meters. There will also be about 15 additional Israeli companies exhibiting at different locations throughout the show. 

The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair will be held at two venues: September 13 – 17 at AsiaWorld Expo Hong Kong for materials and equipment and September 15 – 19 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for finished jewelry.

The Israel Diamond Pavilion will be located in Halls 7 and 9 of the Asia World Expo. The IDI Lounge at the heart of the pavilion will offer four “Find Your Diamond” terminals and will serve refreshments throughout the day. 

Find Your Diamond, the trade show search platform by IDI, has been expanded to include a Chinese version in addition to an English one. Buyers are able to access the system on their smartphones, as well as at dedicated terminals. The Find Your Diamond system enables buyers to search a computerized database of all goods offered by Israeli exhibitors at the show.

Coinciding with the September show are the annual JNA Awards honoring excellence and achievement in the Asian jewelry industry. IDI has supported these awards since their inception and will again be an “Honoured Partner” of the JNA Awards, which will be presented at a ceremony and gala dinner at the InterContinental Hotel in Hong Kong on September 14. 

The September Hong Kong Show is one of the most important shows for the Israeli Diamond Industry. Asian markets are key to Israel’s marketing strategy, with sales to Asia representing more than 30 percent of Israel’s total polished diamond exports. Israel’s net polished diamond exports to Hong Kong reached $1.4 billion in 2015. 

IDI Chairman Shmuel Schnitzer said that he was cautiously optimistic about the show. “I am pleased that the Israeli industry will have a strong presence at the show. I am hopeful about the outcome of the show despite the challenging conditions the entire industry is facing. We believe in Asian markets and we are there for the long haul.” 

IDI Managing Director Eli Avidar added, “Hong Kong is a very important part of our marketing strategy and we participate in four shows during the year. The September show is always the most important since it sets the tone for the upcoming holiday season. This show attracts buyers from all over Asia – Hong Kong, China, India, Singapore and even the U.S. and Australia. As usual our exhibitors will work hard at the show and I believe they will be rewarded.” 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Graff Princess Butterfly Timepiece

Graff Diamonds has introduced the Princess Butterfly, a highly-sculptural bejeweled depiction of the winged insect that has been the motif for an endless number of jewels. In this case, the creature takes its form with an outline of tapered baguette diamonds, which define the pavé wings and conceal the hidden timepiece. It is available in white, pink or yellow diamonds.

A jeweled mechanism is pushed to reveal the secret 17mm watch dial set with mother of pearl. 

According to the London-based jeweler, the creation of a transformable jewelry watch required master craftsmen spending months testing the design. It is a traditional motif but 3D technology was used to map the curve and contour of the butterfly wings.

For the all diamond Princess Butterfly version, the bracelet comprises four alternating flowing and interwoven lines of pavé baguette and brilliant round diamonds. 

It also is available with a satin watch strap complete one version of the timepiece. 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

High Gold Prices Cause Global Decline In Jewelry Demand

Record high prices for gold and increased investment demand for the precious metal, has led to the lowest demand for gold jewelry since 2010, according to the World Gold Council.

Gold jewelry demand declined 14 percent year-over-year for the second quarter of 2016 to 444.1 tons led by the two largest gold jewelry markets in the world, India and China, the WGC said in its quarterly Gold Demand Trends report. 

It’s a continuation of how the year began. Jewelry demand in the first half of 2016 fell by 185.5 tons from the prior year—out of which 149.4 tons was due to combined weakness in India and China.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to show improvement, along with Iran, according to the report. 

The dollar value of gold jewelry demand for the first half of 2016 was the lowest since 2010, at $36.3 billion. 

The high price of gold has led to a substantial increase in gold recycling. In the first half of 2016, gold recycling generated 686.7 tons of supply, the highest first half total since 2012. 

“We recently conducted a large-scale survey in which high gold prices were cited as the most important factor influencing the decision to recycle gold jewelry,” WGC said in its report. “Among the respondents in India and China who had ever sold gold jewelry, a high gold price was the most common reason cited for doing so (27% and 43% respectively).”

The Gold Demand Trends report adds that “price volatility can further magnify this effect.”

In India, “paltry import numbers and steep local discounts were omens of a disappointingly weak quarter,” WGC said. Official imports of gold were cut in half to below 100 tons (the lowest amount since 2013). 

The WGC says India faced three key issues: 

• A sharp jump in the gold price 
• Weaker rural incomes 
•Government regulation in the form of a 1 percent excise duty that caused a six-week strike by jewelers and resulted in an estimated 44 tons of smuggled gold entering the market.

In China, second quarter gold jewelry demand fell 15 percent to 143.5 tons due to high prices, low economic growth and weak consumer confidence. As a response gold recycling activity reached a nine-quarter high, according to WGC. In addition, changing consumer tastes in China had an impact as consumers are shifting to fashionable, unique, highly designed 18k or gem-set pieces as opposed to traditional 24k jewelry. 

“This trend may continue, given the younger profile of 18k gold jewelry customers, WGC said. “Our survey showed that, of the more-than 1,000 respondents who had bought gold in 2015, 18 - 30 year olds were more likely to buy 18k jewelry than 24k (39% vs. 25%).”

Some of the smaller markets in the Southeast Asia were positive in the second quarter, but the WGC attributes this to weak demand in the second quarter of 2015. “First half demand across all regional markets was subdued compared with 2015, registering single-digit percentage changes.”

In the U.S., a slight 1 percent year-over-year increase to 25.9 tons marked the 10th consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth. In the first half of 2016, jewelry demand reached a seven-year high of 48.6 tons. This is despite a more subdued consumer environment ahead of the presidential elections.

“Growth in jewelry and watch sales comfortably outstripped that of general retail sales for much of the year-to-date, although the comparison was slightly flattered by weak gains in early 2015,” the WGC said. “Consistent, if moderate, economic growth and improving employment levels are supporting demand, although enthusiasm in the sector can be expected to wane over the coming months as the elections draw nearer.”

In the Middle East, demand remained weak, with the exception of Iran (due to the removal of international economic sanctions). The WGC blamed the combination of high gold prices, relatively low oil prices and continued geopolitical unrest. 

Demand in Egypt hit a record low of 5.3 tons. “The domestic currency remains very weak, following the devaluation in March making local gold prices punitively high for many consumers,” the WGC said. 

Meanwhile, demand in Iran continued to improve, growing 10 percent in the second quarter to 17.9 tons.

In Turkey, second quarter demand dropped 25 percent year-over-year to 8.7 tons. “Ongoing political tensions, reduced tourism, rising unemployment, together with collapsing export revenues from Russia affected local sentiment towards gold,” the WGC said. 

In Europe, “jewelry markets have been relatively subdued so far this year,” WGC said. “Despite the higher gold price, stabilization or modest growth was the norm as economies continue to recover and the high-end of the market continues to grow.”

France was an exception as demand slipped 2 percent to 2.5 tons. Demand in the U.K. grew marginally to reach 8.2 tons in the first half, the strongest first-half showing since 2010. 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

‘Innovation/Sustainability’ Category Of The JNA Awards Receives Huge Response

(From top left, clockwise) Gubelin Gem Lab gemmologist at work, weld-free technology for precious metal from Shenzhen Bofook Jewellery Co Ltd, jewellery polishing at Shenzhen Xingguangda Jewelry Industrial Co Ltd, and an advanced machinery at Shenzhen Ganlu Jewellery Co Ltd

Eight jewelry companies are the finalists of the “Industry Innovation/Sustainability Initiative of the Year” category of the fifth annual JNA Awards

Conferred by JNA magazine (Jewellery News Asia), the awards event recognizes and celebrates companies and individuals whose passion for excellence, innovation and outstanding business performance has helped shape the growth and development of Asia's jewelry industry.

This year, the JNA Awards has consolidated two categories that are judged against a similar set of criteria. Industry Innovation of the Year and Sustainability Initiative of the Year—both standalone categories in previous years—are now known collectively as Industry Innovation/Sustainability Initiative of the Year. By refining the criteria and streamlining the categories, the JNA Awards has become "more reflective of current industry aspirations" and "maintained the relevancy and rigor of the awards," according to the awards' judging panel, which comprises of: Albert Cheng, advisor to the World Gold Council, Far East; James Courage, former chief executive of Platinum Guild International and former chairman of the Responsible Jewellery Council; Lin Qiang, president and managing director of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange; Nirupa Bhatt, managing director of the Gemological Institute of America in India and the Middle East; and Yasukazu Suwa, chairman of Suwa & Son, Inc. 

(From top left, clockwise) Employees at Shenzhen Foreway Jewellery Group Co Ltd participating in a blood drive; Wang Chunli, General Manager of Beijing Cai Shi Kou Department Store Co Ltd in Tibet for a charitable cause; environmental-friendly workplace at Shenzhen Y&M Jewelry Co Ltd; and Shenzhen Batar Investment Holding Group Co Ltd team completing a community walkathon

This category is open to companies that best demonstrate the impact that their innovative, corporate social responsibility or sustainable initiatives have on their respective operations and the industry at large.

The eight finalists in this category are:

* Beijing Cai Shi Kou Department Store Co Ltd
* Gübelin Gem Lab Ltd
* Shenzhen Batar Investment Holding Group Co Ltd
* Shenzhen Bofook Jewellery Co Ltd
* Shenzhen Foreway Jewellery Group Co Ltd
* Shenzhen Ganlu Jewellery Co Ltd
* Shenzhen Xingguangda Jewelry Industrial Co Ltd
* Shenzhen Y&M Jewelry Co Ltd

“Industry innovation and business sustainability are two long-term driving forces in spearheading the growth of our industry,” said Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and director of Business Development—Jewellery Group at UBM Asia. “Over the past decade, the significant growth in the jewelry business in Asia was not only a reflection of the increasing buying power from the middle-class customers, it was also the extra effort put forth by retailers, manufacturers, designers and entrepreneurs in these two areas to enable us to stay relevant and agile to the changes of the external environment.” 

The winners of the 2016 JNA Awards will be announced at the JNA Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, which will be held on September 14, during the second day of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

The much-anticipated gala dinner is a ticketed event by application only. Interested parties can book their seats now by submitting an online application for on the JNA Awards Website.

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Speakers Announced For The Portland Jewelry Symposium

A presentation from the 2015 Portland Jewelry Symposium

The Portland Jewelry Symposium, billed as “a great think tank for jewelers who are passionate about their craft,” will be held October 2 and 3 at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, Ore. 

The annual event brings together jewelry manufacturers and designers to learn about the newest technologies and artistic trends in the making of jewelry. 

“Methods for jewelry manufacturing are changing rapidly,” said PJS founder Teresa Frye, president of TechForm Advanced Casting Technology. “This is a one-of-a-kind event that brings together custom jewelers, designers, and retailers for knowledge, inspiration and networking.”

Topics will examine new jewelry manufacturing innovations, artistic expression and jewelry-making techniques. As of August 12, speakers and topics include the following:

Lean Manufacturing for Jewelers by Andrea Hill, CEO/owner of Hill Management Group 
Hill has been working on Lean Manufacturing concepts specifically tailored to jewelry production for nearly 20 years, and she will share some of the most beneficial applications with during this session. 

A World Behind the Design by Toby Pomeroy
Pomeroy—a designer, goldsmith and an activist for a shift in social and environmental responsibility within the jewelry industry—will discuss the power of context and how it can make a remarkable difference in self-expression, businesses and daily lives.

Mokume Gane History and How-To: A Survey of Technique by Chris Ploof of Chris Ploof Designs
Ploof, an award-winning jeweler, will showcase the history and the technique of mokume gane from its beginnings in feudal Japan to its use as a jewelry material by modern smiths around the world. This is a practical “how-to” presentation, and is the first time the full process in daily use will be presented.

A New Method For Preparing 3D Acrylic Photopolymer Patterns For Investment Casting by Jim Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts
Binnion, a metalsmithing and goldsmithing instructor and jeweler who developed his own technique for making mokume gane using an electric kiln, will discuss the process steps to fully harden and then prepare 3D-printed acrylic photopolymers for investing and casting. 

Responsibly Sourced Artisanal Gold: A Tour of Two Peruvian Mining Communities by Stewart Grice, VP of Mill Products, Hoover & Strong
Stewart—who has 26 years of experience in alloy, product and process development, technical support and process troubleshooting—discusses the underlying principles and goals of responsibly sourced artisanal metals and will highlight two mining communities in Peru that operate under the Fairtrade and Fairmined systems. 

You Probably Shouldn’t be Paying for SEO by Lake Giles of Thinkspace Jeweler
Gilesdirector of Operations and Sales at Thinkspace Jeweler, a digital marketing and software development companydiscusses the importance of being visible online and easy to find via Google and other search engines. Despite that necessity, he  will explore effective methods of improving visibility online through basic SEO work. 

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Pearl Jewelry: Going For Baroque

Freshwater soufflé pearl sliced and lined with seed pearls and reclaimed rubies set in 14k rose gold by the jewellery design firm, Little h

Luxury jewelry artists and designers are finding new ways to create contemporary, edgy jewels made with baroque pearls. These irregularly shaped pearls were once limited to inexpensive fashion jewelry because of their abundance and affordability. However, in recent years, jewelers have found new uses for these pearls.

Baroque pearls are cultured freshwater pearls from China (although there are saltwater varieties) that are mantle-tissue nucleated. Cultivated round pearls (whether freshwater or saltwater) are created by inserting a bead along with the mantle-tissue into the nacre-producing mollusk. The bead creates the spherical shape. Not including the bead results in pearls with all kinds of unusual shapes. There are additional ways to manipulate the shapes of pearls.

Keshi pearls in a necklace and matching earrings paired with gold and pave diamonds by Yvel

In addition to unusual shapes, baroque pearls also can exhibit subtle rainbow-colored luminescence, similar to an opal. Some jewelry artists like the organic nature of the pearls. High jewelry designers are pairing them with traditional precious metals and gems. 

For example, Hisano Shepherd, founder of Little h, is taking soufflé pearls (baroque pearls with hollow centers), cutting them in half and filling them with micro pearls and tiny diamonds, rubies sapphires and other precious gems. Appropriately named the “Pearl Geode Collection,” she has created a grouping of earrings, pendant necklaces and rings with many styles, shapes and color combinations. The result is an organic and elegant look. 

Yvel, takes a particular kind of baroque pearl, the keshi (non-nucleated pearls typically formed as by-products of pearl cultivation), and uses it to create a niche artistic, high jewelry brand, matching them with precious metals, diamonds and other gems. 

This bracelet by pearl jewellery brand, Mizuki, uses two simple baroque pearls capped with 18k yellow gold that dangle from either end of an 18k yellow gold thread 

Mizuki can take one or two baroque pearls and pair it with strands of gold for fashionable, elegant jewels that can be worn throughout the day. 

Granulated cuff by Michou with one baroque pearl serving as a centrepiece but almost hidden within a granulated sterling silver cuff layered with blue topaz, African amethyst, and iolite woven in tendrils of gold vermeil wire that looks like vines

The company, Michou, inspired by Balinese jewels and jewelry-making techniques, takes an artistic approach with these pearls. For example its Spring Frost collection, featuring granulated silver layered with blue topaz, African amethyst and iolite all set within tendrils of gold vermeil wire that appear like vines. Baroque fresh water pearls can be centered within the rest of the structure or appear like drops with other colored gems. Either way the work has a frosty appearance.

The Capri ring by Yoko London uses 18k rose gold sprinkled with paved diamonds and topped with a colourful natural baroque freshwater pearl

Yoko London deals primarily in traditional round pearls of varying colors. However, the company has no problem using baroque pearls paired with precious metals and other gems. 

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Friday, August 5, 2016

The Rio 2016 Gold Medal Is Worth $564

The Rio 2016 Olympics gold medal. Photo credit: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

The thing about the Olympics is that it brings out the best in just about anyone who's involved with it. Whether it's for the pride of one’s country or the grandeur of personal gain, everyone associated with the event works hard to step up their own game. 

This certainly is true for the 5,130 Olympic medals that will be awarded to athletes in the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. More than 100 employees in various fields—including, art, sustainability, engineering and production—were involved in the making of the medals. The result is several innovations in the design and in the sustainable sourcing and creation of the medals. 

A total of 2,488 medals were produced for the Rio 2016 Olympics (812 gold, 812 silver and 864 bronze) by the Mint of Brazil. All of the medals are the same size and weight, with a diameter of 85 millimeters and a weight of 500 grams. This makes the Rio 2016 Olympic medals the heaviest in the history of the Summer Olympics and it is tied with the 2012 London gold medal for the largest medals in the history of the Summer Olympics. At least three Winter Olympic medals were larger and heavier. 

But how much is a 2016 Rio Olympics gold medal worth? 

The reverse (top) and obverse of Rio 2016 Olympics gold medalPhoto
credit: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

Precious metal prices fluctuate but based on gold and sterling silver prices as of Thursday, the “podium value” of the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics is approximately $564, in line with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games (about $566, even though that medal was 31 grams heavier). However, it is a nowhere near the approximate $708 record price of the 2012 London gold medal, due to the record high prices for gold and silver at the time.

If the entire medal was made of gold it would be valued at nearly $22,000, which is why 1912 was the last time all-gold medals were awarded.

As of Thursday, the price of gold was $43.76 per gram. The price of silver was 66 cents per gram, while the price of sterling silver was 61 cents per gram

Each of the 812 Olympic gold medals is plated with six grams of gold (the minimum required by the International Olympic Committee) with 99.9 percent purity. The remaining 494 grams is made of silver with 92.5 percent purity (the standard for sterling silver), according to the Mint of Brazil. The purity silver standard also is a minimum IOC requirement.

The obverse and reverse sides of the Rio 2016 Olympics gold, silver and bronze medals. Photo credit: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

Each of the 812 silver medals contains 500 grams of sterling silver. The podium value is about $305. Each of the 864 bronze medals contains 475 grams of copper (95%) and 25 grams of zinc (5%). Its podium value is reportedly less than $3.

For the first time in history, the medals are designed in a dome-shape, higher in the center, so the thickness ranges from 6mm to 11mm. 

Sustainable Design
All of the medals (including those for the Paralympics) were produced by the Mint of Brazil, using methods that the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee described as “symbols of sustainability and accessibility.” More than 30 percent of the silver used in the production of the medals are recycled from mirrors, waste solders and X-ray plates. The gold is mined entirely free of mercury. More than 40 percent of the copper used in the production of bronze medals came from the industrial waste of the Mint of Brazil through a process that was developed internally.

The medals come with a sustainably sourced wooden box with a miniature sculpture of the Rio 2016 logo. Photo credit: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

Even the ribbons that are attached to the medals were well thought out with half of the materials woven from recycled polyester polyethylene terephthalate (PET) yarn (recycled post consumer polyester made from bottles). Each medal comes with a sustainably sourced wooden box, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which also contains a miniature sculpture of the Rio 2016 logo. 

The front of each medal has the Rio 2016 logo framed by laurel leaves (which were given as awards for the ancient Olympics). The reverse reveals the traditional etching of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in the foreground and the Greek Panathnaic Stadium in the background. Above Nike is the engraving of “XXXI Olympiad” and the Olympic Rings. In a bit personalization, the name of the event in which the medal was won is engraved by laser along its outer edge.

The front and reverse sides of the three Rio 2016 Paralympic medals. Photo credit: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

Paralympic medals with new sound innovation
The 2,642 Paralympic award medals were made by the Mint of Brazil are of the same weight, dimensions and materials as the Olympic medals. The design is highlighted by a trail of seeds that wraps from the front to the reverse side of the medal. Olympic officials say the seeds represent “the courage, persistence and development of athletes.” The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games logo is on both sides of the medal, with Braille inscriptions on the front side. 

For the first time the medals come with sound, so visually impaired athletes can identify the medal’s hue. Metal ball bearings were placed inside the medals which rattle when shaken. The gold medal makes the loudest noise and the bronze the weakest. 

The ball bearings being placed inside one of the medals

The use of sound is perhaps the biggest breakthrough in the design of the award medals this year and has the potential to serve as a new Olympic tradition. 

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