Jan 10

Drew Barrymore Receives Graff Diamond Engagement Ring

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Jan 10

Light Traffic But Steady Sales at Signature IIJS

RAPAPORT… Visitor traffic remained light for most of the Signature IIJS show, but exhibitors appeared satisfied that the right type of buyers were in attendance.

”Overall, it’s been a good show, but turnaround has been a bit less,” said Devang Doshi, of Bhansali Co., a specialist manufacturer in 0.01-carat to 2.00-carat stones. Some vendors noted that the significant visitor entrance fee discouraged a high number of attendees.

Sanjay Kothari, the vice chairman of show organizer Gem Jewellery Export promotion Council (GJEPC), acknowledged that the intention was to keep the show an exclusive buyer event.

Most exhibitors who spoke with Rapaport News reported that they were receiving a steady stream of inquiries but buyers were asking for lower prices, while some traders were adjusting accordingly.

”People are uncertain and they fear that prices may still come down,” said Swaroop Biswas, the marketing manager at Kiran Gems Private Ltd. He explained that market conditions are particularly tough for smaller polished suppliers who rely upon the domestic market, while larger more diversified exporters are faring better.

Vendors noted that activity in the jewelry section was better than for loose diamonds. One international trader, who requested anonymity, said that he had sold goods for 2 percent to 3 percent cheaper than before the show.

Sujay Valanju, the marketing and corporate communications manager at Dimexon Diamonds Ltd., added that buyers were showing resistance to prices on stones larger than 1.00 carat and less so on the smaller goods. ”Not everyone is in a buying mood but there is movement,” he said. ”But they are treading cautiously.”

Indian polished manufacturers and dealers expect sales to improve in the first quarter following the local wedding season and as trading with international centers returns to normal following the New Year vacation period. Exporters are hoping that U.S. retailers will replenish depleted inventories after reports that holiday jewelry sales were better than expected. They eagerly await official sales numbers to be published in the U.S. later during the month to confirm the market reports.

Most exporters noted that sales were good this past November and December period, which helped stabilize the market and inject money into the market. ”Liquidity has improved since September due to the increased turnover at the end of the year,” Doshi said.

Kothari agreed but explained that volatile gold and diamond prices in the second half of 2011 have influenced people to cut down on their buying. More recently he explained that the weak rupee has also caused a fluctuation in diamond prices in the domestic market. ”That’s why people have been reluctant to purchase [goods] because they are not sure how the exchange rate will move in the short term so they prefer to wait,” Kothari said. As the exchange rate stabilizes, he expects buying to improve.

Since the beginning of August, the rupee has lost about 19 percent in value to trade currently at INR 52.725 to $1.

”Everyone is facing a price barrier and the exchange rate volatility is a concern,” said one trader. As a result, trading at the show remained relatively low given that the Signature show is largely aimed at domestic buyers.

”People do not feel free to buy goods immediately,” said Isaac Siman-Tov, the managing director of Lili Diamonds, an Israeli company participating in the show for the first time. ”But we feel a strong connection here and there is good potential so we are looking at the long term. We have got customers inquiring about goods but we need to be patient.”

Jan 10

Israel Police Make Arrests in Diamond Exchange

RAPAPORT… Police entered the Israel Diamond Exchange Sunday morning and  reportedly arrested a well-known money changer along with 15 other people.

Numerous computers and documents were taken by the police in what appears to be the conclusion of a year-long undercover investigation involving fraudulent invoices and money transfers by a special tax force against professional money laundering.

Traffic in the exchange building was noticeably lighter as many members of the trade decided to take the day off.  The suspects are expected be arraigned Monday morning. 

According to The Marker publication, the suspects were systematically laundering money in large sums without reporting the transactions to the relevant authorities in Israel or abroad. They were also reportedly illegally converting foreign exchange and providing unlawful loans. The group allegedly gained tens of millions of shekels in profits from these activities, The Marker stated.

The 16 individuals are suspected of using their offices in the diamond exchange and other locations over a number of years to conduct transactions of the bank without the sufficient reporting, including the provision of loans, transfer of money overseas, and foreign currency conversion disguised as legitimate diamond transactions. The value of these transactions amounted to hundreds of millions of shekels each year and the combined value of these deals over the years may have reached billions of shekels, The Marker reported.

Management of the Israel Diamond Exchange had not yet issued a statement at press time.

Jan 10

DGSE Opens Two Southern Bullion Coin & Jewelry Stores

RAPAPORT… DGSE Companies held two grand openings for new stores this month and plans to open a third new location in February. DGSE celebrated its 23rd Southern Bullion Coin Jewelry store, which opened in Daphne, Alabama on January 3, marking the second location in the greater Mobile metropolitian area.  On January 6, Southern Bullion opened  in Anderson, South Carolina.

In early February, Southern Bullion plans to open a 25th location, this one in Destin, Florida.

”Southern Bullion had a very successful 2011, and we look forward to expanding on that success in the coming year,” stated Southern Bullion’s president, Jim Vierling. ”All three of these new stores complement existing locations, which will allow us greater efficiencies in staffing, merchandising, management and advertising. As we move forward through 2012, we will continue to evaluate opportunities for new store openings in both existing and new markets.”


Jan 10

CIH Estimates Namibia’s Diamond Sales at $741M in 2011

(RAPAPORT) The Namibian: Namibia’s diamond sales for 2011 are estimated to have earned “in the region of NAD 6 billion,” or about $741 million, a new report says.

Compiling its latest Mineral Update Report with eight of the 10 diamonds sales’ data available, Capricorn Investment Holdings (CIH) estimates the 2011 volume sold at 1.24 million carats – about 250,000 carats less than 2010.  Diamonds remained a sparkler in state coffers with about $54 million paid in royalties during the first 10 months of 2011. This is more than $12 million paid in 2010, CIH said.

“This bodes well for annual royalties to be taken by government in the remaining part of the year [2011],” the report says.

According to CIH, the 993,000 carats sold in total in eight of the sales brought in more than $593 million.

Copyright The Namibian. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

Jan 10

JSA Honors FBI, eBay Personnel for Fighting Crime

RAPAPORT… The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) presented awards to two recipients on January 7 who have helped fight crime against the jewelry industry.   Sheldon Kwiat, the chairman of JSA, presented the 14th annual “James B. White Award to Law Enforcement” honor to FBI Supervisory Special Agent Eric B. Ives, of the Organized Crime Section for Jewelry and Gem Program. Ives was cited for his assistance as the principal link at FBI headquarters for JSA on issues involving jewelry crime and was a vital link for JSA to each FBI field office. The citation stated that during his supervision of the jewelry and gem program, the FBI conducted many important, far-reaching and successful investigations of crimes against the jewelry industry, which resulted in arrests, convictions and merchandise recovery.
Ives has also helped a major effort with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to train FBI personnel and key foreign police personnel in basic gemology and jewelry industry practices and procedures to combat crime. Through his efforts, the FBI has invited and supported several dozen agents from the U.S. to GIA in Carlsbad, California for two weeks of intensive gem training.

Kwiat also presented JSA’s seventh annual “Industry Service Award” to Paul Jones, the senior director of global asset protection at eBay. Jones was cited for improving the integrity of the eBay marketplace, especially through closer cooperation with law enforcement and with major retailers. Jones has helped build the PROACT program, which brings together stakeholders in a common effort to reduce fraud, fencing and other crimes and abuses involving the eBay marketplace.

The awards event also conducted a moment of silence for six jewelers who were murdered in 2011. John Kennedy, the president of JSA, mourned the tragic loss of life  and thanked the industry, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for their continuing support of JSA’s war on crime.

Jan 10

SCIO Diamond Secures Patent in Canada

RAPAPORT… SCIO Diamond Technology Corporation  was issued its first Canadian patent (number 2511670), titled ”Tunable CVD Diamond Structures.”  The patent relates to single crystal diamond grown in layers, wherein the layers of diamond are manipulated to create desired properties, according to the company.  The finished product of multiple layers is called a “structure.”  Diamond grown in this manner can be adapted for use in applications such as semiconductor devices, optical waveguides and industrial applications and can have mechanical, tribological, and electronic properties comparable to, or exceeding those, of natural diamond.

SCIO’s portfolio of intellectual property rights, which includes those from Apollo Diamond, are secured in five countries: U.S., India, China, Australia and Canada.  The portfolio also contains 18 issued patents and more than  40 pending patents applications in the U.S, Europe, India, Japan and South Africa.

Joseph Lancia, the company president, said,  “This notable development is an important step to ensure we remain at the forefront of cultivated diamond technology. We are very pleased with accomplishing this milestone.”

Jan 10

Faberge Plans World’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt for London

RAPAPORT… In anticipation of its first ”Fabergé Big Egg Hunt” in London this coming Easter, Faberge held a special breakfast at The Goring Hotel  this past November, where head chef Derek Quelch debuted ”Eggs Fabergé” comprising smoked salmon, scrambled Burford Brown eggs, quail’s egg, lobster, and caviar. The dish will be added to the menu at The Goring  throughout the duration of The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, which aims to raise up to GBP2 million for  Action for Children, and Elephant Family – the U.K.’s biggest fund for the endangered Asian elephant.  Faberge also hopes to make this Big Egg Hunt  a Guinness World Record for the biggest Easter egg hunt.

Sarah Fabergé, the great granddaughter of Peter Carl Fabergé and the special projects director for Fabergé, said, ”Eggs have become synonymous with Fabergé and it is almost impossible to think of one without the other. The egg is symbolic to so many nations and cultures given its associations with life and rebirth. How fitting then that we should sponsor The Big Egg Hunt, raising money for Action for Children and Elephant Family.”

With 42 days remaining until hunt begins, Faberge is creating buzz and encouraging the public to take part in this massive Easter egg hunt across Central London, which will feature 200 giant and uniquely crafted, strategically placed eggs, scattered throughout the capital. Entrants have the 40 days and nights of Lent – starting on Fat Tuesday, February 12, 2012 – to hunt down as many eggs as possible.

The two-and-a-half foot fiberglass eggs will be adorned and decorated by  leading artists, architects, jewelers and designers including the Chapman Brothers, Vivienne Westwood, Giles Deacon, Zandra Rhodes, Diane Von Furstenberg, Sophie Dahl, Rob Ryan, William Curley, Bompas and Parr and Polly Morgan.

Following the hunt, the eggs  will be available for purchase  at three special auctions, with proceeds from the sales going to Action for Children and Elephant Family. The jewel in the crown of the auction will be an exclusively-designed, one of a kind jeweled egg pendant by headline sponsor Fabergé, in collaboration with Nicky Haslam.

Action for Children’s chief executive, Dame Clare Tickell, said, ”The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt is a really innovative and fun way to raise awareness and vital funds to support vulnerable and neglected children, young people and families across the U.K. It’s a great opportunity to get members of the public involved in what promises to be an exciting and engaging event.

”We stand to benefit from around GBP 1 million from the event, which will make a real difference to the 150,000 families we support every year. It’s particularly heartening to know that the money, which will allow us to continue helping the most vulnerable children overcome the obstacles in their lives and to achieve their full potential, will have been raised thanks to an event which will be hugely enjoyable for the thousands of people who become involved with it.”

Elephant Family’s director, Ruth Powys, added, ”From the charity that brought you Elephant Parade, we give you, in partnership with Action for Children, The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. It’s about time to have some fun again. Forget about your worries – for 40 days and 40 nights we’re going to put a smile on your faces and brighten up our great capital city. Like everybody, charities are up against it and you need to think out of the box, so welcome to another fun and vital initiative to protect our children and the endangered animals that share their world.” 

Jan 10

JIC Hosts Tenth Annual Gem Awards

RAPAPORT… The Jewelry Information Center (JIC) honored industry professionals and companies at  its 10th annual GEM awards on January 6 in Manhattan.  The event featured Indian supermodel and “Top Chefâ€� host Padma Lakshmi.

Among those honored were Ralph Destino, the chairman-emeritus of the Cartier and the  Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and former chair of the JIC, who received a Lifetime Achievement award; Candy Pratts Price, editor-at-large for Vogue.com, who received a Journalistic Excellence award; and jewelry designer  Daphne Guinness, who received a Jewelry Style Award. Chanel Fine Jewelry was also honored with a Corporate Communications award, which was accepted by the company’s senior vice president, Olivier Stip.

Jan 10

Signet’s Christmas Season Comps +8%

RAPAPORT… Signet Jewelers reported that same-store sales for the nine weeks that ended on December 31, 2011 and included Christmas season, rose 7.8 percent year on year. By region, same-store sales in the U.S. rose 9.2 percent and in the U.K. they increased 1.8 percent by dollar value. Same-store sales increases were below the company’s 48-week total.

Signet closes its fiscal year on January 28 and expects strong increases in earings per share and within a range of $3.67 to $3.72.

Mike Barnes, Signet’s chief executive, said, ”We believe our strong performance in both the U.S. and the U.K. for the holiday season and year to date is due to the exceptional execution by our teams in both divisions. I would like to thank them all very much for their dedication and hard work.

”We believe that Signet is well positioned for fiscal 2013 and we will remain focused on providing our customers with an outstanding experience and investing in the business to further our competitive strengths, in order to continue to create shareholder value,” he added.