Mar 30

Mountain Province Turns a Profit in 2016

RAPAPORT… Mountain Province Diamonds recorded a profit last year,
benefiting from the Canadian dollar’s improvement against its U.S. counterpart.

The miner’s net income stood at $3.6 million (CAD 4.8
million) compared with a net loss of $32.4 million (CAD 43.2 million) in 2015, the
company reported on Wednesday. The change was mainly due to foreign-exchange
gains of $3.6 million (CAD 4.8 million) during 2016 as the U.S. dollar weakened
3% against the Canadian coinage, the miner explained.

Mountain Province owns 49% of the Gahcho Kué diamond
mine in the Northwest Territories, where commercial production began this year on
March 1. The company expects to start recording revenue in
the second quarter of 2017.

Mar 30

De Beers Clinches Grading Deal with Luk Fook

RAPAPORT…
De Beers’ polished-grading unit has partnered with Hong
Kong-based jeweler Luk Fook to produce co-branded diamond reports for the
retailer’s customers.

The arrangement with the International Institute of Diamond
Grading Research (IIDGR) will enable Luk Fook to present customers with a
magnified image of a diamond’s “light performance pattern,” giving them more
information about the jewelry on offer, De Beers said Thursday.

The program, which launched Thursday in Hong Kong and Macau,
will potentially expand to other parts of Greater China at a later stage, De
Beers added.

“As customers continue to seek ever-greater confidence in
diamonds, we are seeing increased demand from major diamond jewelry retailers
for the innovative solutions that IIDGR can provide,” said Jonathan Kendall, the
institute’s president. “This new initiative with Luk Fook highlights the rapid
international growth we are seeing in the business, and we look forward to a
long and successful partnership.”

Mar 29

Botswana Diamonds Gains from Weak Pound

RAPAPORT… Botswana Diamonds recorded a profit in the first half of the
fiscal year, benefiting from a drop in the value of the British pound, the
exploration company said this week.

Total comprehensive income stood at $75,799 (GBP 61,000) in
the six months that ended December 31, 2016, compared with a loss of $340,472
(GBP 274,000) during the same period a year earlier.

The profit received a boost from a $244,792 (GBP 197,000)
currency gain, as the Botswana pula appreciated 9% during the half-year against
the British pound – the currency in which the miner reports.

Mar 29

Gübelin Using Nanotech for Emerald Traceability

RAPAPORT… Gübelin Gem Lab has unveiled a radical solution for tracing
the origin of emeralds, using nanotechnology to mark stones with an invisible
imprint that is accessible at any stage of the supply chain.

Branded the “emerald paternity test,” the technology is a “true
game-changer for the colored-gemstone industry,” the Switzerland-based
laboratory said in a statement Monday.

DNA-based nanoparticles are applied to rough emeralds at the
mine and are designed to survive the stages through which the gemstone passes,
including cleaning, cutting, polishing, transportation and setting. They can be decoded at any point in their journey from
mine to jewelry.

This is the first time nanotechnology – the branch of technology
dealing with dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers – has been used for this
purpose, the lab claimed.

The tiny particles are small enough not to impact the
stone’s appearance, even with an optical microscope, meaning they will not
affect a stone’s grading properties.

“This technology offers all stakeholders along the entire
supply chain, from the miner to the final customers, proof of the exact source
of emeralds, instilling confidence and creating trust,” said Daniel Nyfeler, the
organization’s managing director. “It enables a new level of transparency for
the gemstone trade.”

The House of Gübelin, which operates the lab, introduced the
tracing technology for an emerald extracted at the Belmont mine in Brazil. The
company added the nanoparticles to the emerald directly at the mine, and the
stone is now on a platinum ring.

Mar 29

Currency Gains Bolster Firestone Earnings

RAPAPORT…

Firestone Diamonds’ bottom line improved in the second half of 2016 as its Liqhobong mine operation in Lesotho benefited from the appreciation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.

Total comprehensive income stood at $9.7 million during the six-month period, compared
with a loss of $31.5 million the previous year, the company reported on Tuesday.

The Liqhobong mine recorded a lower value
of debt in the local currency as the dollar fell 7.9% against the Maloti, with
other currency-related gains resulting as well, Firestone said in a statement.

Excluding these gains, however, the miner’s loss after tax
almost doubled to $8.8 million from $4.6 million a year ago.

Production at Liqhobong started in October, with
the first two diamond sales occurring in February and March in Antwerp. The combined sales fetched $13.7 million for 127,590 carats of rough, achieving
an average price of $107 per carat.

Mar 29

Israel Bourse Slices $3M off Expenses

RAPAPORT… The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) has reduced membership fees for 200 companies after a cost-cutting program resulted in $2.8 million (ILS 10 million) in annual savings.

The bourse has extended its bursary scheme – which entails a 50% subsidy for companies that cannot afford the full membership sum – so that a total of 400 firms will now receive the discount, IDE president Yoram Dvash said in a letter to diamantaires last week. That represents about 14
percent of the 2,800-strong membership.

The bourse’s current
leadership has worked to drive down central bourse expenses without
compromising on security and quality, according to Dvash (pictured), who took over the
presidency in December 2015. The downturn in the diamond industry requires a
“modest” management style that is both effective and careful with expenses
while easing the burden for bourse members, he explained.

Measures include
technological security alternatives such as automated entrances to the exchange
and its parking lots, and biometric face recognition. Maintenance costs have
fallen 10%, Dvash said, while overall expense reductions have beaten
expectations, enabling the expansion of the bursary program.

“We’ve increased security
and dramatically reduced costs in one go,” he wrote. “We’ve slashed wage
expenses, the number of consultants, maintenance costs and general expenses, and
in total we’ve saved about ILS 10 million per year.”

Mar 28

Sierra Leone to Tender 709ct. Diamond

RAPAPORT… A 709.48-carat diamond discovered by a pastor in Sierra
Leone will go up for sale by international tender, authorities have announced.

The stone, believed to be the 13th-largest rough diamond
ever found, will be available for viewing at the Bank of Sierra Leone for a
week starting this Wednesday, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources said
in a statement last week.

Potential buyers can obtain bidding documents on payment of
a non-refundable $5,000 fee, as well as a $50,000 deposit, the ministry said. The
sealed offers will be opened in front of all bidders on April 6.

Artisanal miner Pastor Emmanuel A. Momoh found the diamond
earlier this month in the Kono district, and the stone was presented to Sierra
Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Koroma has previously said the selling
process will be transparent and that the highest bidder will win the stone,
subject to a reserve price. He has also stressed the importance of selling it
within the country for the benefit of the nation.

Mar 28

U.S. Jewelry Stores Continue Gains

RAPAPORT… Sales at U.S. specialty jewelry stores increased 4% to $1.84 billion year on year in January, according to the nation’s Census Bureau.

The figure is provisional and not adjusted for seasonal fluctuation, noted the data agency, which released the numbers this month.

The increase came after sales rose 3.7% to a revised $30.3
billion for the whole of 2016, with a 7% spike in December compared to the
previous year.

Mar 28

Hong Kong Slowdown Hits Chow Sang Sang

RAPAPORT…

 Chow Sang Sang saw a sharp drop in
sales last year, the Hong Kong-based jeweler reported Monday, citing weak consumer sentiment and a decline in tourist levels.

Group revenue slid 16% to $2.07
billion (HKD 16.09 billion) in 2016, according to a company statement. Sales in Hong
Kong and Macau fell 23% to $1.11 billion (HKD
8.65 billion), with mainland China revenue slipping 4.6% to $944.9 million (HKD
7.34 billion). Profit slumped 34% to $95.5 million (HKD 742.2 million).

A sluggish economy resulted in
lower consumption in regions where the retailer is active, especially Hong
Kong, the company explained. The strong Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to
its U.S. counterpart, made the municipality a less attractive tourist
destination. This had a notable impact on visits from mainland China, which
dropped 6.7 percent, Chow Sang Sang pointed out.

Meanwhile, despite an increase of more
than 20% in the price of gold during the year – a consequence of global
economic and political uncertainty – there was no corresponding rise in demand
for gold jewelry, the retailer said. The company’s sales in this category slid
34% by volume in Hong Kong and Macau as a result.

Mar 28

Ex-De Beers Exec Varda Shine Joins Sarine

RAPAPORT… Former De Beers executive Varda Shine is set to become an
independent director at Sarine Technologies, as the company diversifies its
board to prepare for expanding its services.

Shine (pictured) was CEO of the Diamond Trading Company – now De Beers
Global Sightholder Sales – between 2006 and 2014, during which she oversaw the
division’s move from London to Gaborone.

She is currently an independent director of the state-owned Mineral Development Company Botswana, as well as a non-executive
director of miner Lonmin.

Her appointment comes as Sarine directors Ehud Harel, Eyal
Mashiah and Hanoh Stark have decided to step down from the board. The company
plans to recruit another two directors this year besides Shine, according to a
statement on Monday.

“As the group focuses its expansion and growth on the
downstream polished diamond trade segment of the diamond industry, and in
compliance with corporate governance principles, the company’s board has
decided to diversify its composition,” Sarine executive chairman Daniel Glinert
said in the statement.

Shine’s addition to the board is subject to approval at the
group’s annual general meeting in Singapore on April 25.

The company, headquartered in Hod Hasharon, Israel, and
listed on the Singapore Exchange Mainboard, supplies mapping equipment
and other technology used predominantly in the diamond-manufacturing sector.