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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5-Carat Green Diamond Sets New Auction Records


The “Aurora Green,” a 5.03-carat rectangular-cut fancy vivid green diamond smashed auction records Tuesday at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale. 

The green diamond, with VS2 clarity mounted on a gold ring surrounded by circular-cut pink diamonds, sold for $16.8 million and for more than $3.3 million per carat, both world auction records. 

The diamond was purchased by Hong Kong-based by Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co LTD, one of the largest jewelry retailers in the world. 

Despite the price being at the low end of its estimate, the diamond shattered the previous records for a green diamond, which was set earlier this month for “The Ocean Dream,” a 5.5-carat fancy vivid blue-green diamond that sold for $8.6 million ($1.5 million per carat).

The Aurora Green was the top lot of the sale and one of four lots that set world auction records. The sale totaled more than $85 million with 10 lots exceeding more than $1 million. Colored diamonds, colored gems, jadeite and white diamond were among the top lots. A total of 72 percent of items were sold by lot and 73 percent by value.

The sale attracted 197 buyers from 19 countries across five continents.

The three other items that set auction records are as follows:

* Burmese oval-shaped ruby ear pendants of 10.02 and 9.09 carets by Etcetera sold for $11.6 million ($607,053 per caret), a world auction record for a pair of ruby earrings. 

* An Art Deco sapphire and diamond bracelet by Cartier sold for $7.2 million, a world auction record for a bracelet.

* A multi-gem pendant necklace by Wallace Chan sold for $967,164, a world auction record for a jewel by Wallace Chan. 

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Nearly 2,200 Exhibitors Prepare For June Hong Kong Jewelry Fair


A total of 2,198 exhibitors from 41 countries and regions will occupy 70,000 square meters of exhibition space at the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, being held June 23 – 26 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. This year, the fair is divided into 16 specialty zones, making sourcing easier for buyers.

The June Fair features 17 participating group pavilions from Australia, Antwerp, Brazil, mainland China, Colombia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan region, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and the International Colored Gemstone Association. Group pavilions are known for showcasing their respective country specialties. 

“The strong participation of group pavilions confirms the importance of the fair in this industry,” said Sunny Chan, deputy fair Manager, Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia. “Buyers can expect to see a range of quality opals from the Australia pavilion, emeralds from the Colombia pavilion, and akoya pearls from Japan pavilion.”

The Diamond Pavilion, one of the world’s largest, is in Halls 3B, C, D & E. It gathers 480 diamantaires from around the world representing the Antwerp World Diamond Council and the Israel Diamond Institute. The Gemstone Pavilion is located in Halls 5E, F & G and concourses. It hosts 501 gemstone suppliers.

In addition to the June fair, there will be a separate event, “Mineral, Gem and Fossil Asia,” being held concurrently at the Convention Center. This all-in-one marketplace gives buyers the opportunity to source a wide range of the world’s rare mineral specimens, rough gemstones and fossils. Buyers at the June Fair can enjoy free entry to the mineral show. 

Other features of the June fair include:

* The Hong Kong Premier Pavilion featuring the latest collections from 30 avant-garde jewelry brands from Hong Kong; and 

* The Fine Design Pavilion & Fine Gem Pavilion with 80 globally renowned exhibitors showcasing mater jewels, top-quality loose diamonds, gemstones, pearls and other exclusive one-offs.

* The JNA Awards 2016 Press Conference, hosted by Jewellery News Asia, will be held June 23. The annual awards program recognizes innovation and excellence in the jewelry and gemstone industry, honoring companies and individuals for their contributions to the advancement of the trade and achievements made in Asia.

* A diamond Auction by PJSC Alrosa will be held June 23 – 26.

* A seminar program led by Dr. Joe C.C. Yuan from the Gemmological Association of Hong Kong who will discuss the comprehensive identification technology and market assessment of “laboratory-grown diamonds.” Also, GRS Lab (HK) Limited will present its new book “Pigeon Blood Valley,” featuring the history of Mogok’s world record rubies. Both events will be held June 25.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Citizen To Acquire Frederique Constant In a Swiss-Japanese Partnership

Frederique Constant Geneva headquarters

Citizen Watch Co., Ltd., has entered into an agreement to acquire the Geneva-based Frederique Constant Holding, the parent company of the Frederique Constant, Alpina and DeMonaco watch brands. 

The two companies in a joint statement Friday said the acquisition is part of the Japanese watch company’s “Citizen Global Plan 2018” business plan—a multi-brand strategy where Citizen seeks to complete its brand portfolio by acquiring Swiss brands. 

The acquisition will enable Citizen Watch to strengthen its brand portfolio, offering Swiss timepieces in three categories: traditional Swiss watches (Frederique Constant), sport watches (Alpina) and haute horlogerie (DeMonaco).

There was no mention whether MMT (Manufacture Modules Technologies Sàrl.) is part of the deal. MMT was founded a year ago as a joint venture between Frederique Constant Holding and Silicon Valley to bring an horological smartwatch open platform to the Swiss watch industry. 

Citizen said the present management personnel and staff will continue to hold the same positions after this acquisition.

“We have a great opportunity to expand the sales of Frederique Constant through our current distribution channels of Citizen branded watches, particularly in Japan and the U.S.” said Toshio Tokura, Citizen Watch CEO. “With the acquisition of Frederique Constant, the Citizen Watch Group will be able to augment its portfolio of brands and occupy the space in the markets where some of our competitors operate and further expand the presence of the Citizen brand in the market.” 

He added “Citizen will be able to achieve great synergy for sharing technologies and infrastructures in the future.”

Aletta and Peter Stas, who founded Frederique Constant Holding SA in 2008 to develop tradition high-quality Swiss timepieces at affordable prices, were always staunchly independent. They said they were approached by two companies a year ago and entered into discussions with them only when it became apparent their children were not interested in taking over the business.

“After a year of deep discussions, we felt best with one group in terms of expectations and strategy. This group required, specifically, to keep both of us and the current management team in place for at least five years,” the husband and wife owners said in their own statement. 

In the statement with Citizen, they said: “As we feel a tremendous commitment to the Frederique Constant Group and its people, we started to explore a potential collaboration to secure the company beyond ourselves. We have become increasingly impressed by the innovative technologies of the Citizen Group. We see the opportunity of Swiss-Japanese partnership to develop and market Accessible Luxury watches for the 21st century and beyond.” 

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Platinum Is The ‘King of Metals’


By Teresa Frye, TechForm Advanced Casting

While diamonds and colored gemstones take the main stage in the vast majority of fine jewelry, the precious metals that are used to mount these objects of beauty have their own captivating story as well. More than mere carriers of precious stones, the elements that we rely upon to remain beautiful and perform over decades of routine wear are inherently of special quality. In my next few posts I will reflect on the unique physical attributes of platinum and gold, the dominant metals used in the making of fine jewelry.

Platinum is the king of metals. Aside from its extreme rarity, I find it fascinating that platinum’s particular physical qualities are unmatched by any other element in nature. Its characteristics are so special that it is difficult to find lower cost substitutes in many of the applications where it is used. And at over $1,000 per ounce, believe me, people try all the time.

Platinum is very inert, meaning in the jewelry world that it will not corrode, tarnish, nor spur allergic reactions in humans. This is very rare in metals, with fine gold being the only other element that even comes close. Platinum also rates very high on the toughness scale, which is a scientific measure of a material’s ability to absorb energy when impacted without breaking. It is also very malleable, easy to form, and has no spring-back (or memory as it is called in tech speak). Once set in place, a platinum prong will hug your stone tightly and for life in a way no other metal can.

Platinum is incredibly dense. It is the third densest element on earth and is only exceeded by osmium and iridium, two other platinum group metals. As such it is highly prized for its radiopacity (inhibits the passage of electromagnetic radiation). Often used in implantable devices and visible surgical guides inside the human body, nothing else displays quite so clearly and crisply under x-ray as platinum. Platinum is also a key ingredient in chemotherapies to fight cancer, so it is actually saving lives every day.

The 24.18-carat "Cullinan Dream" diamond set to go on auction June 9 is set in a platinum ring flanked with classic baguette-cut diamonds.

Another powerful feature of platinum is that it remains very stable under extreme temperatures. Many of the world’s high temperature thermocouples are made of a combination of platinum and rhodium. As a caster, I am well-versed in the extreme temperature resistance of platinum. There is no other metal routinely cast that melts at such high temperatures, and this is one reason platinum is among the most difficult metals to cast. This high temperature resistance further translates into industrial uses such as jet engine and glass making components, where the use of anything else might result in corrosion or melting.

As a key material used in many catalytic converters for auto emissions, platinum plays a strong role in cleaning the world’s air. Platinum’s unique ability as an auto catalyst is partially substituted with palladium, another platinum group metal, but for many applications platinum remains a needed catalyst. While there are many other industrial and medical uses, hopefully this sampling demonstrates a few of the reasons why this element is so unique and prized for its performance attributes.

Today’s bridal consumer is very inquisitive about the materials they are purchasing. Survey after survey has confirmed this fact, and thus a good knowledge of platinum and gold as elements on the periodic table can go far not only to educate the consumer about their metal choice, but also to set yourself apart as expert in every aspect of what you sell. 

Platinum in summary:

* The third densest element on earth, only exceeded by osmium and iridium.

* A very inert metal, meaning it is highly resistant to chemical corrosion, even at high temperatures. Platinum jewelry alloys simply do not tarnish.
Hypoallergenic, meaning platinum is very unlikely to cause an allergic skin reaction in humans.

* Extremely tough - platinum will resist breakage to a much greater extent than metals that are much harder and typically more brittle.

* Extremely durable - platinum jewelry will not corrode and wear thin over time, as will most karat gold alloys.

* Extremely high melt temperature - platinum alloys have the highest melting temperatures of any metals that are routinely cast, and this includes industrial metals.

* Human and environmental uses - platinum is widely used in applications that save lives and improve air quality. Cancer fighting drugs utilize platinum as a key ingredient and platinum’s strength as a catalyst helps clean auto emissions worldwide.

* Extremely rare investment in a piece of platinum jewelry brings more than the joy of owning a spectacularly beautiful heirloom piece. It can also be seen as an investment in a rare and precious element with high intrinsic value in its own right. 

Teresa Frye is founder of TechForm, which specializes in the casting of platinum group metals for the jewelry, medical, and aerospace industries. She is also founder of the Portland Jewelry Symposium, an annual gathering of custom jewelers, designers, and retailers described as a “great think tank” for jewelers who are passionate about their craft. Frye is a renowned specialist on the casting of platinum group metals who speaks at jewelry events throughout the world. 

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De Beers Has A New CEO, Bruce Cleaver

Bruce Cleaver

Bruce Cleaver has been appointed the next CEO of De Beers. The announcement was made Friday morning by Anglo American and De Beers and the appointment will take effect on July 1. 

Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining companies, owns an 85 percent share of De Beers.

Cleaver, 51, will replace Philippe Mellier, who announced his resignation Friday after serving in the top position at De Beers for approximately five years. 

Cleaver served as De Beers’ executive director responsible for strategy and commercial relationships until 2015, also serving as co-acting CEO for a year prior to Philippe Mellier’s appointment in 2011. He was appointed group director of Strategy and Business Development for Anglo American in 2015. 

“Bruce's leadership of De Beers' strategy and its commercial and government relationships working alongside Philippe and over much of the last decade, combined with his time working with us to shape the new Anglo American strategy, provide strong continuity at an important stage in the diamond market's recovery,” said Mark Cutifani, chief executive of Anglo American and Chairman of De Beers. 

Philippe Mellier

Cleaver takes over for the diamond mining and marketing giant at a difficult time, as 2015 was diamond industry’s worst year since the global recession. A decline in consumer demand led by China caused excess inventory of the precious gem and led to an oversupply of diamonds. 

This year marked a mild recovery in diamond demand led by an increase in demand in the United States, which accounts for 45 percent of global diamond demand

“The structural dynamics of the diamond market continue to improve, led by the strength of consumer demand for diamond jewelry,” Cutifani said. “With the proven management team in place, De Beers is well positioned to maximize value for all its stakeholders across the diamond value chain.”

Cleaver added: “I am honored to be asked to lead one of the world’s great companies. Diamonds are as relevant to today’s consumers, all over the world, as they were to their parents and their parents before them. Diamonds have also made positive contributions to a host of countries that have used their revenues wisely, to communities and to all who have been touched by their mystique and the practical benefits of responsible mining and ethical sourcing. As the world continues to evolve ever more rapidly, it is our task to ensure that we remain as relevant as we are today and to grow our position in the luxury world.”

Mellier—who previously served as president as Alstom Transport, a French multinational conglomerate—was an industry outsider when he was appointed to lead De Beers in 2015. He said he had always planned to hold the top job at De Beers for five years. 

“Having steered through some of the diamond industry’s toughest times and with the market showing signs of recovery, now is the right time for me to pass the baton to the next generation. I have worked closely with Bruce Cleaver throughout and I have no doubt about his abilities and experience to lead De Beers on the next stage of its journey as the world’s leading diamond company.”

Cutifani noted that Mellier “has led De Beers with great agility, transforming the company’s strategic and operational mindset with a strong customer focus to ensure that consumer desire for diamond jewelry is at the very heart of decision making across the diamond pipeline. He has navigated through structural change and considerable market volatility over the last five years, while cementing De Beers’ unquestioned leadership position.”  

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Signet Jewelers Sales Up 3.2%, Comps Up 2.4% in First Quarter


Signet Jewelers dominance of the U.S. jewelry market is undeniable. It is by far the largest and most diverse fine jewelry retailer in the U.S. To add to its U.S. success, the company also is the largest jewelry retailer in Canada and the U.K., with more than 3,600 stores in the three countries. 

However, it is in the U.S. where its dominance is the most formidable where it operates the three leading brands in various market categories:

* Kay Jewelers, which serves the mid market and is the largest specialty retail jewelry store in the US based on sales with more than 1,000 stores in 50 states;

* Zales, diamond jewelry specialists with more than 700 U.S. stores and 10 stores in Puerto Rico; and 

* Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, upper-middle market jewelry retailer with more than 250 free-standing stores in 39 states. 

Signet’s strength was reinforced Thursday as the company reported that sales rose 3.2 percent to $1.58 billion and comparable store sales increased 2.4 percent, year-over-year, for the first quarter of fiscal 2017. More importantly for shareholders the company said diluted earnings per share grew a remarkable 26.4 percent and adjusted EPS grew an equally impressive 20.4 percent for the same period.

Signets results followed a disappointing earnings report from Tiffany & Co. a day earlier where the luxury jeweler saw total sales in the Americas fall by 9 percent to $403 million and comparable store sales declined 10 percent, year-over-year.

Mark Light, Signet Jewelers CEO, credits its promotions, tight operating margins and real estate management for the solid sales and earnings results at a time when the U.S. jewelry industry on the macro level continues to be choppy. 

“We gained profitable market share despite a challenging retail environment through strong sales of ‘Ever Us’ and other fashion jewelry collections as well as select branded bridal,” Light said. “Our 26 percent EPS growth was driven by higher same store sales and total sales along with solid expense management and synergies, leading to 190 basis points of operating margin expansion. In addition to delivering earnings results at the top end of our guided range, we achieved sales growth across real estate formats and in each of our divisions and our credit metrics showed strong sequential improvement.”

Signet’s dominant U.S. performance from its major brands hasn’t rubbed off on the handful of regional U.S. brands it owns and its Canadian operation. Its U.K. business showed improvement this quarter. Regardless, Signet's major U.S. brands account for approximately 83 percent of total sales for the company, so the drag from its smaller operations hasn’t had much of an effect on its bottom line. 

Other financial highlights for the first quarter of fiscal 2017 include: 

* Ecommerce sales increased 4.2 percent to $80.1 million, accounting for 5.1 percent of total sales. 

* Overall, average transaction value was higher and number of transactions was lower due to merchandise mix. 

* Comparable store sales for Sterling Jewelers (which includes Kay, Jared and regional brands) increased 2.3 percent, ATV increased 5.7 percent and the number of transactions decreased 5.6 percent. “This was driven principally by strong sales of select branded bridal jewelry as well as fashion jewelry and lower sales of Charmed Memories and low-priced promotional items, which tend to drive more transactions,” the company said. 

* Comparable store sales for Zale Jewelry (dominated primarily by Zales in the U.S. and several Canadian retail brands) increased 2 percent, ATV increased 5.8 percent, while the number of transactions decreased 3.7 percent. “This was driven primarily by strong sales of diamond fashion jewelry as well as branded bridal and lower sales of low-priced promotional items which tend to drive more transactions.” 

* Comparable store sales for Piercing Pagoda (its mall kiosk operation) increased 5.6 percent, ATV increased 13.7 percent, while the number of transactions decreased 6.9 percent. “The higher sales were driven principally by strong sales of gold chains and diamond jewelry. Transactions declined primarily due to fewer piercings.”

* Comparable store sales for Signet's UK jewelry operation increased 3.4 percent, ATV increased 4.3 percent and the number of transactions decreased 1 percent. “This was driven principally by strong sales of diamond jewelry and prestige watches. Transactions declined due primarily to beads and fashion watches.”

It has been two years since Signet closed the acquisition of Zale, its former biggest rival, and Light said the “integration continues to go extremely well across all aspects of our business. The synergies we expect to deliver this year will be mostly driven by operating expense savings as a result of the sound investments and strategic management of the integration over the past couple of years.”

He continued: “Learnings from our customer segmentation study and business results since the acquisition have validated our growth assumptions, and we have an enviable position with the three leading U.S. brands in a heavily fragmented and growing middle market jewelry industry.  We are pursuing the opportunity to grow square footage both near-term, driven principally by Kay, and medium-term driven more by Zales.” 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Alex Soldier Jewels Available On 1stdibs

Alex Soldier Codi the Snail ring with diamonds and signature  open work

The work of jewelry designer, sculptor, and internationally recognized jewelry brand, Alex Soldier, is now available on 1stdibs.com. Handmade in New York City, the current selection features a mixture of his latest and classic jewels with price points starting at $1,300 retail. 

All of Alex Soldier's jewels feature his unmistakable aesthetic and signature proprietary metalwork, as seen on his famous Codi The Snail pieces that has its own following on Instagram under hashtag: #adventuresofcodithesnail. 

Since all of Soldier's pieces tend to be one-of-a-kind or limited edition, the selection will be updated regularly with new colors and styles. 1stdibs.com is an online marketplace for collectibles and newer rare items in several categories, including home décor, vintage fashion, jewelry and watches. 

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More than 8,000 Attend China Gold, Jewelry, Gem Fair


The 14th edition of the China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shenzhen attracted 8,683 local and overseas visitors during the show’s three-day run, ended April 22. They viewed and purchased products from 332 exhibitors from around the world in 20,000 square meters of exhibition space from 13 countries, including China, Hong Kong, India and Korea.

The number of visitors from overseas and Hong Kong region is 741 this year. The top 10 sources of buyers (excluding mainland China and Hong Kong region) were India, followed by Taiwan region, the United States, Russian Federation, Malaysia, Ukraine, Thailand, Korea; Pakistan, Singapore and Iran claimed ninth, and Australia.

Mainland Chinese visitors totaled 7,942 from 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of mainland China. The top 5 sources of local visitors were Guangdong, followed by Zhejiang, both Shanghai and Fujian claimed third, both Jiangsu and Shandong claimed forth, while Beijing ranked fifth.

The fair featured the third edition of the China Jewellery Market Summit, co-organized by the Shenzhen Fair and CJNA. It was divided into two main parts: a jewelry parade showcasing jewelry from a select group of exhibitors, and a panel discussion that featured speakers from four leading jewelry brands who shared their views on the latest developments in mainland China’s jewelry market; and how the retailers could tap new business opportunities through innovative thinking.

“The China jewelry retail market has been experiencing a lot of changes in recent years. It is slowing down after years of rapid growth,” Joe Ho, fair manager, China – Jewellery Fairs of UBM Asia. “The summit was a good venue to help local retailers understand the changes and hear about solutions to the challenges.” 

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Tiffany's Global Net Sales Down 7%, Comps Down 9%


Tiffany & Co. on Wednesday reported that worldwide net sales declined 7 percent to $891 million and comparable store sales declined 9%, year-over-year, for the first quarter of 2016. Sales declined in all regions except Japan, which the luxury jeweler attributes to “a continuation of softness in spending by both local customers and foreign tourists.”

Net earnings were also lower than the prior year resulting from a decline in the operating margin, as improved gross margin was more than offset by a lack of sales leverage on operating expenses, the New York-based company said

On a constant-exchange-rate basis that excludes the effect of translating foreign-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars, worldwide net sales declined 7 percent, and comparable store sales declined 9 percent.

Net earnings fell 17 percent year-over-year to $87 million. 

“As expected, this was a difficult quarter in terms of both sales and earnings growth,” said Frederic Cumenal, Tiffany & Co. CEO. “We faced numerous challenges, including continued pressure from foreign tourist spending in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, particularly in Hong Kong.”

Net sales by region in the first quarter are as follows:

In the Americas, total sales fell 9 percent to $403 million and comparable store sales declined 10 percent, year-over-year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales declined 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively, due to “varying degrees of softness in spending by U.S. customers and foreign tourists.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, total sales fell 8 percent to $238 million and comparable store sales declined 15 percent, year-over-year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales declined 5 percent and 12 percent, respectively. The company said total sales growth in China and Korea was offset “by a continued significant decline in Hong Kong and more moderate declines in other markets.”

In Japan, total sales of $131 million were 8 percent above the prior year and comparable store sales increased 12 percent, year-over-year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales rose 1 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Management attributed the sales growth to higher spending by local customers.

In Europe, total sales fell 9 percent to $97 million and comparable store sales declined 15 percent, year-over-year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis total sales and comparable store sales declined 7 percent and 14 percent, respectively, “due to softness in most countries, led by France, attributed largely to lower foreign tourist spending.”

Other sales declined 30 percent to $22 million, and comparable store sales declined 21 percent, reflecting lower retail sales in the United Arab Emirates and wholesale sales in other markets.

Tiffany updated its full year earnings forecast and now expects a decline by a mid-single-digit percentage from 2015’s adjusted earnings per diluted share. 

Tiffany opened two company-operated stores in the first quarter (in Europe) and closed one location (in Japan). As of April 30, the company operated 308 stores (124 in the Americas, 81 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan, 43 in Europe, and five in the UAE), compared with 298 stores a year ago (123 in the Americas, 75 in Asia-Pacific, 56 in Japan, 39 in Europe, and five in the UAE).

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

$29 Million Estimate For 24-Carat Blue Diamond At Christie’s


It’s just another jewelry auction that features another superb blue diamond.

This time it’s the “Cullinan Dream,” the largest fancy intense blue diamond ever offered at auction. It is the lead item at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on June 9 with an estimate of $23 - $29 million.

The 24.18-carat cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut gem is set on a platinum ring flanked with classic baguette-cut diamonds. It is nearly 10 carats larger than the “Oppenheimer Blue,” which sold for a world auction record of $57.5 million and is currently the largest blue diamond ever sold at auction.

The Cullinan Dream has a VS2 clarity grade (very slightly included with inclusions observed with effort under 10x magnification), two grades below flawless.


The Cullinan Dream is the largest of four blue diamonds cut from a 122.52-carat rough diamond discovered in 2014 at the legendary Cullinan mine, famous for yielding the 530.20 Cullinan I, the largest polished white diamond in existence and is part of the British Crown Jewels housed in the Tower of London.

In recent years, the Cullinan mine has been associated with some of the most significant blue and pink diamonds to come to market, including the 10.1-carat “De Beers Millennium Jewel 4,” that sold for $31.8 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in Spril; and the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon” that sold for $48.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2015, the second largest amount ever for a diamond at auction.

The Cullinan Dream is the top item in the 260 lots on offer at Christie’s New York sale. It includes fancy colored and colorless diamonds; colored gemstones; natural pearls; and signed jewels from Buccellati, Bulgari, Cartier, David Webb, Graff, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

‘Oppenheimer Blue’ Diamond Sells For $57.5 Million, Sets World Auction Record


It took only six months for a second blue diamond to sell for a world auction record. And it wasn't even close.

The 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” sold for more than $57.5 million (including commission and fees), smashing the previous record for the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon of Josephine,” which sold in November 2015 for $48.4 million. The auction house originally listed the price, converted from Swiss francs to U.S. dollars, as $58.2 million.

Its hammer price (not including commission and fees) was approximately $51.3 million.

The rectangular-shaped gem, the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction, had a high estimate of $46.1 million. It was the lead item at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday, which is still ongoing.

Bidding for the gem, led by Rahul Kadakia, Christie's international head of jewelry, started at 30 million Swiss francs and went agonizingly slow (approximately 30 minutes), with long silent pauses, nervous laughter, incremental bidding at 200,000 Swiss francs and applause after each million-franc milestone, as viewed through the auction house live stream.



Kadakia was happy to accept all bids no matter how small saying, “once in a lifetime we have a stone like this we have to take all bids.”

The bidders eventually dwindled down to two phone buyers who traded bids for about 10 minutes before Kadakia ended it. 

The diamond is set in a platinum ring flanked on either side by a trapeze-shaped diamond. Its VVS1 clarity grade is one step below Internally Flawless. The diamond was originally set in a "Five Blades" mounting by Verdura


A photograph of the Oppenheimer Blue in its original Verdura “Eight Blades” mounting. Photo courtesy of Verdura

The diamond was previously owned by Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a member of the family that once controlled the De Beers Mining Company. He is credited with serving for 45 years as chairman of the Central Selling Organization, the sales cartel set up by De Beers to keep strict control over the diamond supply worldwide. Today he is remembered as the architect of creating stability in the international diamond chain and for his incomparable gem collection, which includes the Oppenheimer Blue.

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‘Unique Pink’ Sells For Record $31.5 Million At Sotheby’s


A 15.38-carat fancy vivid pink diamond sold for more than $31.5 million at Sotheby’s sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva Tuesday, setting a record for a stone of its type. 

Called the “Unique Pink,” it achieved more than $2 million per carat. It is the largest fancy vivid pink diamond ever to come to auction.

It was sold by phone to a private Asian buyer, according to a source who requested anonymity. The buyer doesn’t appear to be Joseph Lau, the Hong Kong billionaire who has gained a reputation for paying exuberant sums at auction for diamonds and gems for his daughters, including the “Blue Moon, which set a world auction records for any diamond, gem or jewel. 

“It is difficult to imagine a diamond that better illustrates the term Vivid Pink than this outstanding stone,” David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, said in a statement. “The color is simply astonishing and, for its size, it is in my experience truly unique.” 

The gem was sold by Cora International, a New York-based company that specializes in cutting and polishing rare important diamonds, including the Blue Moon. 

“Pink diamonds are among the rarest in the world and they are increasingly being viewed as an investment, said Ehud Laniado, Cora International chairman. “Diamonds are beautiful and a treasure of nature, but more than this, they offer an economy of rarity that is making them increasingly attractive to savvy investors.”

It was the top lot of a sale that set a world record for any jewelry auction, achieving more than $175 million with 83 percent of items sold by lot and with 70 percent of lots sold above high estimate. Three lots sold for more than $10 million and six lots for more than $5 million.

In addition the auction set a new record for an online purchase during a live auction with the sale of a pear shaped fancy blue and fancy orangy pink diamond earrings that sold for nearly $6 million, double its high estimate. 


Other records set at the auction held at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage are:

* An Alexandra Reza brooch featuring a 6.64-carat fancy intense blue diamond sold for more than 13.6 million, setting an auction record for a jewel sold by the famed Parisian designer. 

* An 18.51-carat fancy pink diamond pendant sold for more than $9.7 million ($528,021 per carat), setting an auction record for a fancy pink diamond.

* An 8.2-carat fancy purplish pink diamond ring sold for nearly$3.7 ($450,744 per carat), setting a record for a diamond of this color. 

There was a year-over-year 41 percent increase in the number of items sold online. In addition, the sale attracted bidders from 45 countries with 25 percent of bidders from Asia. 

Later today will be the sale of the 14.56-carat “Oppenheimer Blue,” the largest and finest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. If the results of Tuesday’s auction are any indication, it will have a chance to eclipse the “Blue Moon.”

The first of two sessions of the auction is underway and so far sales are brisk with several items selling above the high estimate. 

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Monday, May 16, 2016

‘Oppenheimer Blue,’ ‘Unique Pink’ Set For Auction In Geneva

The Oppenheimer Blue could fetch $45 million

Two rare statement colored diamonds will highlight the upcoming Sotheby’s and Christie’s jewelry auctions in Geneva this week. 

The item getting all the press (and for good reason) is the 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue,” which is the highlight of Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues on Wednesday. It is “the largest and finest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction,” according to the auction house. 

If it goes beyond its high estimate of $45 million, it could outpace the “Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03-carat cushion-shaped fancy internally flawless vivid blue diamond that set a world auction record of $48.4 million in November, 2015.

The diamond was previously owned by Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a member of the family that once controlled the De Beers Mining Company. He is credited with serving for 45 years as chairman of the Central Selling Organization, the sales cartel set up by De Beers to keep strict control over the diamond supply worldwide. He died in 1995 at the age of 83.


While the Oppenheimer Blue is the star of the Geneva jewelry auctions, there will be several other statement pieces on the auction block. In particular, the “Unique Pink,” (pictured above) which goes on sale at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage. The pear shaped 15.38-carat fancy vivid pink diamond has a high estimate of $38 million. It is the largest fancy vivid pink pear shaped diamond ever offered at auction, according to the auction house. “In my experience, such outstanding vivid Pink color in a stone over 15 carats is truly unique,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division.


At the same auction, a pear shaped 7.32-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring will be offered with a high estimate of $25 million (pictured above).


Meanwhile, Christie’s will be offering earrings with matching fancy vivid orange-yellow diamonds of 12.20 and 11.96 carats (above). One diamond with this color is extremely rare, let alone two matching diamonds. The high estimate for the pair, named “The Oriental Sunrise,” is $12.2 million. The origin of the diamonds is unknown or unavailable. 

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Chopard Sparkles On The Cannes Red Carpet

Julianne Moore in emerald earrings from Chopard's Green Carpet Collection

The Cannes Film Festival red carpet is one of the world’s top fashion stages. It’s the only international red carpet presentation that I know of where the jewels are on a near equal footing with the gowns and the stars who wear them. Other companies use the stage to adorn the stars with their jewels and watches but the Cannes Film Festival is Chopard’s world.

It’s a world that began in 1998, when the film festival introduced the first Palme d’Or designed by Chopard. It's the trophy awarded to the best film of the festival. The Swiss luxury brand’s partnership broke new ground in 2007 when it introduced its Red Carpet Collection. The collection of one-of-a-kind jewels is unveiled every year during the festival is worn by the stars throughout the event. This year, the company introduced 69 jewels, which honors the 69th edition of the annual festival.

It has to be one of the great marketing coups by a jewelry and watch company.

In recent years the collection included the “Green Carpet Collection” of jewels, which are crafted with Fairmined gold. This year for the first time the collection includes emeralds, mined in a responsible sustainable manner by Gemfields, a colored gemstone mining and marketing company, from its mine in Zambia.

The following stars appeared on the Cannes Red Carpet Wednesday wearing Chopard Red Carpet, Green Carpet and High Jewellery collections.


Julianne Moore wore earrings from the Green Carpet Collection in 18k white Fairmined gold set with two pear-shaped emeralds (10 and 11 carats each) and marquise-cut diamonds; and a ring from the Green Carpet Collection in 18k white Fairmined gold adorned with a 10.3-carat cushion shaped emerald and set with marquise-cut diamonds (top photo and above). All emeralds are responsibly mined at Gemfields’ Kagem mine in Zambia. All diamonds are sourced from a producer who is an RJC certified member.


Chinese Actress Zhao Tao chose a necklace in 18k rose gold set with rubies (131.5 carats) and diamonds (31.34 carats), a pair of earrings in 18k rose gold set with rubies (24.97 carats) and diamonds (2.84 carats) and a bracelet in 18k rose gold set with rubies (20.09 carats) and diamonds (20.15 carats, all from the Red Carpet Collection.


Victoria Beckham wore two bracelets in 18k white gold set with diamonds and a ring in 18k white gold set with a 8.88 carats of cushion-cut diamonds, all from the High Jewellery Collection. Caroline Scheufele, Chopard co-president and artistic director, walked the red carpet with Beckham in Chopard.


Kirsten Dunst, wore a pair of earrings in 18k white gold with diamonds (20.24 carats), a bracelet in platinum set with diamonds (9.12 carats) and a bracelet in 18k white gold set with diamonds (18.27 carats), all from the High Jewellery Collection.


Italian Actress Valeria Golino, wore a pair of pink spinel and diamond earrings and pale pink spinel ring, all from the High Jewellery Collection.


Thai Actress Araya Hargate wore an 18k white gold necklace set with 76.5 carats of conch pearls and 90.76 carats of diamonds. She also word diamond stud earrings in 18k white gold set with brilliant cut diamonds and a ring in 18k white gold with 5.21 carats of diamonds, all from the High Jewellery Collection.


French singer Line Renaud wore an 18k white gold necklace with 82.48 carats of diamonds, all from the High Jewellery Collection.


Italian Model Bianca Balti shined in a pair of earrings in 18k white gold set with sapphires and diamonds and a bracelet in 18k white gold set with sapphires and diamonds, all from the High Jewellery Collection.


French Actress Frédérique Bel wore a pair of 18k white gold earrings featuring diamonds and rubies and bracelet featuring rubies and diamonds, all from the High Jewellery Collection. 

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