Thursday, March 31, 2011

Constant rise in diamond prices a concern

In the past two years, the prices of some categories of low-end roughs have risen by 300 per cent.

A sustained recovery in the prices of unprocessed (rough) diamonds over the past two years is causing concern for processors and jewellers.

Due to a recovery in demand since the global recession, the prices set by Diamond Trading Corporation, the world’s largest producer-cum-purveyor of rough diamonds, is now above the levels which prevailed before the onset of the economic crisis.

DTC is the marketing arm for roughs of the South Africa-based De Beers Group, which has 45 per cent of the global market. In the past two years, the prices of some categories of low-end roughs have risen by 300 per cent. Some in a premium category have risen 150 per cent.

With 600,000-700,000 workers, India’s diamond processing industry handles nine in every 10 of diamonds mined anywhere in the world.

A slump in sales of diamond jewellery would hit hard, which is why there is concern at a continuous rise in prices of roughs.

It is possible, for instance, that consumers in growing markets such as China or India may then prefer to buy jewellery with reduced diamond weight.

Part of the reason for the global rise in demand till date is the part-recovery in the US economy. The US takes close to 40 per cent of global jewellery sales.

roughs considerably, by 34 per cent, to about 34.5 million carats.

Sales of roughs by DTC were $5.1 billion in 2010, against $3.23 bn the previous year. Traders say a further rise is needed for prices to correct and to give another boost to retail demand.

Said a DTC official, “The first half of 2010 saw strong recovery in demand for rough diamonds from sightholders (the authorised purchasers), which continuedin the second half, with increased demand from retail markets, particularly India and China, which showed remarkable rates of growth of polished (diamond) wholesale prices up 31 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively (in local currencies). Further confidence was driven by a strong US Christmas sale season, up by approximately seven per cent from the previous year.”

Source: business-standard

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Diamonds sparkle for investors

The recent surge in prices of polished diamonds and a similar rise in rates for rough diamonds since July last year has hiked the cost of diamond jewellery, a senior official of a leading jewellery firm has said.

Though retailers are trying not to pass on the price increase to consumers by cutting their margins, according to industry experts, the price rise has also reinstated the investment value proposition of diamonds, Mr Karim Merchant, CEO and MD of Pure Gold Jewellers, said.

“With the recent price hikes, consumers are now beginning to realise that diamonds are also a good investment vehicle.

If we look at the diamond price chart over the last 50 years for average one carat D Loupe Clean wholesale diamond prices, the prices have gone up from $2,700 in 1960 to $25,000 in 2010,” he said.

According to Mr Merchant, with the beginning of the wedding season and festivals such as Akshaya Tritiya, there will be greater demand for diamond jewellery and with diamonds’ emergence as one of the best ways to get a higher yield on savings, this is the best time to buy.

Global production of premium cut diamonds is less than 900 carats a year. This means, all together, there are only 750 stones between 1.00 carat to 1.39 carat D Loupe Clean available per year in the whole world.

To produce these 750 diamonds, mining companies have to dig more than 800,000,000 tonnes of Kimberlite, the rock in which rough diamonds are found. De Beers stated in November, 2008, that if diamonds are mined at the current rate, within 20 years, we could face a scarcity.

Mr Merchant said that millions of new middle and high class consumers in emerging markets such as China and India will create increased demand for diamonds in the future and this will gradually push up diamond prices, as diamonds are a thousand times more rare than gold.

Mr Peter Meeus, Chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, said diamonds are a highly transportable store of wealth and the industry is driven by consumer demand and economic growth.

“With the economy improving and strong demand from emerging markets, investment value of diamonds is fortified.

Traditionally marketed as an ornament, the industry must do more to create awareness of the investment value of diamonds.

Consumers need to know their hard-earned money is safe when invested in a commodity that has always been in constant demand, and will even become more so in the future,” he said.

The high degree of rarity and the easiness to transport makes for its value. The best investment in diamond is to wear diamonds in diamond jewellery, as it is easy to trade.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If you have diamonds to sell, we are interested in purchasing them. We will happily accept any shape of diamond from round or square to princess cut. We also buy all colours of diamonds in any condition.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rare rough diamond ring goes to auction in London

A rare 15th Century diamond ring discovered by a Leicestershire metal detectorist could fetch £20,000 when it goes to auction.

John Stevens found the gold ring in the Fleckney area in July 2008.

He said it had been "quite a shock" to come across the treasure just inches below the surface of a ploughed field.

Diamonds were not commonly used during the 15th Century as craftsmen did not have the tools to cut them, according to auctioneers Bonhams.

The crystal in the ring remains the same pointed shape as it would have been found in nature.

The original owner is unknown, but a Gothic script inscribed around the outside of the loop reads: "amour mi tien" (love keep me) in Old French.
'Gold paper'

Mr Stevens had been preparing to return home after a day of metal detecting when he found the ring.

"I was just walking to the car with [the metal detector] on the floor when I got a signal and dug it up," he said.

"My friend said, 'Oh, it looks like you've got a bit of gold paper'. I pulled it out and it was that gold ring. Quite a shock really."

Under the Treasure Act 1996, all discoveries of gold and silver objects over 300 years old must be reported to an official within the district.

Mr Stevens said he felt lucky that no museums had stepped in to buy the ring after it was registered, meaning it reverted to his ownership.

The ring, which has a guide price of £15,000 to £20,000, will be auctioned in London on 13 April, with the profits divided between Mr Stevens and the landowner.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

US blacklists firms dealing in Zimbabwean diamonds

The US government is going all out to blacklist trade with any international company found dealing in Zimbabwean diamonds - this after the Kimberley Process had approved the sale of the gems.

The latest development about Zimbabwe's controversial diamonds comes after the new chairman of the Kimberley Process, Mathieu Yamba, was quoted on Rapaport Diamond Trading Network's website as saying Zimbabwe should go ahead until "an administrative decision is passed". Rapaport is US-based organisation that links thousands of diamond suppliers and buyers around the world.

The US and other European countries put a trade embargo on Zimbabwe, accusing it of gross human rights abuses in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Yamba is said to have sent a letter to Kimberley Process members. Part of the letter, according to Rapaport, reads: "Zimbabwe is hereby authorised to resume exports from the mining operations of Mbada and Canadile."

The US believed its policy on Zimbabwe had been compromised, and said the only way to curb Zimbabwean trade was by prohibiting firms that deal with it from dealing with US companies.

The World Diamond Council has confirmed the US's standpoint. "As has been widely reported, Mathieu Yamba, chair of the Kimberley Process, recently issued a statement that defers discussion on unresolved issues to the Working Group on Monitoring, but in the meantime permits Zimbabwe to export rough diamond shipments from the two official concessions in the Marange region, subject to oversight by the appointed monitor.

"The World Diamond Council understands that a number of Kimberley Process participant countries, including the US, Canada, Israel and the European Union, are seeking clarity on procedural issues surrounding this release and have indicated that exports should not be permitted until these issues have been explained and resolved."

The council advised members of the international diamond industry to refrain from trading in goods from the region until the situation beca me clearer.

The US is one of the top five diamond consumers. Rapaport's website said the US had already communicated with the United Arab Emirates and India about its position on the Zimbabwean diamonds.

It said that any of its trade partners dealing "in any way with gems originating from Zimbabwe would be blocked".

The two companies, Mbada and Canadile, which have been given the green light by the Kimberley Process, are on the international sanctions list.

The Kimberley Process decision would not help the situation, according to economist John Robertson.

"Most diamonds find their way to the US because it is the biggest consumer market in the world. No company would risk losing business because of Zimbabwe," he said this week.

The Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, declined to comment.

Negotiations to allow the exports failed at the Kimberley Process plenary meeting in Jerusalem in November last year. Further talks broke down in January after Israel, in its capacity as 2010 chair, initiated a final effort to bring all Kimberley Process members into written consensus regarding the "Jerusalem agreement" proposal.

Following an initial announcement by Israel's chairman Boaz Hirsch that consensus had been reached, Yamba subsequently reported that consensus had not been achieved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor: From Burton to diamonds, we cared

“You can’t possess radiance, you can only admire it,” Elizabeth Taylor once wrote.

She said it about gems. But it was true of her life as well.

Elizabeth Taylor died this morning of congestive heart failure at the age of 79, provoking a vast outpouring of emotion from the millions she touched with her sensational personal life and captivating on-screen presence — or was it a sensational on-screen presence and captivating personal life? For Liz Taylor, the two were always intertwined.

Her longevity, in an industry that is not kind to women as they age, was astounding. It was the result of a tangled alchemy, the combination of her talent, which was considerable, her beauty, which was breathtaking, and her willingness to be vulnerable, on-screen and off.

She was Dame Elizabeth, the once and future Mrs. Richard Burton, married and remarried eight times to seven men. “I’m a very committed wife,” she once said. “I should be committed, too, for being married so many times.”

She wasn’t the first star to give candid access to her personal life. But she was one of the first and the last in whom we had such a real stake. Stars nowadays are hot, gassy messes and orange-colored dwarves and blue giants. Liz was a real star — not only were her film presence and her personal life giant-sized, but she also was a celestial body who sparkled in the nighttime.

Before the Angelina-Brad-Jen triangle, there was Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. What a change! Now we live in a world of glossy surfaces. But Liz was able to break through the surface to let us see real emotion and real beauty. Sure, we care about Brad and Angie, Jen and Lady Gaga. But if they’re around and inspiring this amount of love in 40 years, I’ll eat my meat hat.

We cared about Liz. And she cared about us, cementing her place in many hearts with her advocacy on AIDS.

As she passes, we remember a time when it was possible to be the cynosure of all eyes, before our attention fragmented into a million little pieces and our stars rose and fell on the strength of a day’s Googling. With her loss comes the end of an era when everyone talked about the same things and all heads turned the same way:

Toward Liz.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


NEW YORK: As has been widely reported, Mr. Mathieu Yamba, Chair of the Kimberley Process, recently issued a statement that defers discussion on unresolved issues to the Working Group on Monitoring, but in the meantime permits Zimbabwe to export rough diamond shipments from the two official concessions in the Marange region, subject to oversight by the appointed Monitor.

The WDC understands that a number of KP participant countries, including the United States, Canada, Israel and the European Union are seeking clarity on procedural issues surrounding this release and have indicated that exports should not be permitted until these issues have been explained and resolved.

While the World Diamond Council welcomes and applauds Mr. Yamba's efforts to bring an end to the apparent impasse that currently exists regarding the status of production and stocks from Marange, the WDC advises members of the international diamond industry to refrain from trading in and exporting goods from the region until the situation and the status of these goods becomes clearer.

In the meantime, the WDC would like to assure all parties involved that it remains at their disposal to lend assistance and contribute to any initiative that will resolve outstanding issues, while protecting the credibility of the Kimberley Process.

Couple finds nearly 2.5-carat white diamond at park

An Arkansas couple has a very expensive souvenir from their trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, and they didn't have to pay for it.

Melissa and Kenny Oliver visited the crater at the park and found a nearly 2.5-carat white diamond.

Park visitors are allowed to keep what they find. Park officials said visitors have found 93 diamonds so far this year.

The Olivers said they're going to name their diamond the Silver Moon because they found it over the "supermoon" full moon weekend.

Gem in merger talks with Lucara

Gem Diamonds is in talks with Lucara Diamond Company for a possible all-share merger that would allow the two to combine assets in southern Africa.

In a statement, the Gem Diamonds confirmed the talks were underway although they are still at an early stage.

"These discussions are at a very early stage and there can be no certainty the contemplated merger will occur or of the timing or terms of any such transaction," said Gem Diamonds in a statement yesterday. If the deal goes through, it would see AK6 Mine in Boteti and the soon-to-be-constructed Gope Mine in the CKGR coming under the same ownership.

Apart from Gope, Gem operates Letseng Mine in Lesotho as well as the Ellendale project in Australia while Lucara has a diamond project adjacent to Letseng, called Mothae as well as operations in Botswana and Namibia.

According to a weekend report by Bloomberg, Gem and Lucara - which are valued at about $606 million and $412 million respectively - have been in negotiations since February and have signed a confidentiality accord. Talks between the two companies may lead to the creation of a billion dollar mining house. Lucara, which took over AK6 Mine from African Diamonds, is currently constructing the mine with production set for early 2012.

Diamond producers are seeking new reserves as dwindling output fails to match demand in emerging-markets.

Global prices of rough diamonds rose 26 percent in 2010, beating pre-recession highs. Gem's Chief Executive Officer, Clifford Elphick, believes prices could climb 25 percent this year. Gem has a confidentiality accord with Lucara, Elphick said March 18 by telephone, one of eight Gem has with companies.

"Like any mining company, you're always reviewing all options," he told Bloomberg. "We've got internal growth options and we constantly review external growth." The AK6 project is slated to begin production early next year and is considered a "world-class" asset with potential to produce Type IIA and large rough diamonds, as does Mothae, which is currently in a trial mining stage.

AK6 is expected to have a throughput of up to three million tonnes a year in the first phase development, instead of the previously anticipated two million tons a year. Lucara, which last month announced it had raised P400 million ($60 million) for the financing of AK6 Mine in Boteti and Mothae Mine in Lesotho, says the Botswana diamond mine is expected to yield 400, 000 carats of high-quality rough diamonds in its first year.

On the other hand, Gem Diamonds last week unveiled a P550 million ($85m) cash chest for the construction of the first phase of its Gope underground mining project in the CKGR, which will add fresh production to the London Stock Exchange-listed outfit by 2013. Gem has $130m of cash and expects more to be coming in because of the strong recovery in rough diamond prices and demand.

After putting the Gope project on the backburner in 2009 as a cost-cutting measure and to stay afloat in the face of the global economic crisis, the company was awarded a 25-year mining licence by the government two months ago. Gem Diamonds envisages a phased approach to the construction of the mine, with an underground mine planned to improve the company's knowledge of the ore body, diamond valuation and metallurgical characteristics.

After an initial period of mining, production capacity will be scaled up to a higher steady state. The lifespan of Gope Mine is currently estimated to be in excess of 30 years. Gem Diamonds' wholly-owned subsidiary, Gope Exploration Company, is developing Gope Mine, which has a resource of 79 million tonnes at a grade of 18.5 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht).

The Gope deposit is estimated to possess 20 million carats of diamonds worth more than $3 billion and is expected to produce up to one million carats a year when fully operational. Gem Diamonds acquired Gope Exploration Company from De Beers and Xstrata in May 2007 for US$34.1 million, inheriting constant criticism due to involvement in the controversial CKGR.

Monday, March 21, 2011

DRC diamond chief clears Zim exports

The new chairman of the international diamond trade watchdog the Kimberley Process (KP), has cleared Zimbabwe’s diamonds for export, amid strong protest from the US.

According to the US based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network (RapNet), KP Chairman Mathieu Yamba, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has “unilaterally” made the decision. RapNet’s news service Rapaport News quotes a letter sent by Yamba to KP members, saying: “With immediate effect, Zimbabwe is hereby authorised to resume exports from the compliant mining operations of Mbada and Canadile.”

The two companies are joint ventures with the state’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), and have been mining the Chiadzwa diamond fields under a cloud of controversy since 2009. The government seized the Chiadzwa concessions from a UK based mining firm in 2006, using the military to stamp its authority on the claim and ‘control’ illegal panning. This control led to severe abuses at the hands of soldiers, including murders and forced labour, and in 2009 Zimbabwe was suspended from international trade.

Mining has continued nonetheless and reports of abuses and other irregularities have continued to filter out of the diamond fields. Soldiers are reportedly in control of different smuggling networks, which are said to be facilitating the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of diamonds. At the same time, numerous deaths are still being reported and according to a recent investigation by the UK’s ITV, there are at least 20 deaths a month at Chiadzwa.

The KP, which is meant to be curbing the trade in ‘blood diamonds’, has been trying to reach a diplomatic solution to Zimbabwe, stopping short of banning the country from trade. In 2009 it gave the Zimbabwean authorities time to sort out its diamond industry and reach international compliance levels. The KP last year then authorised two monitored diamond auctions, meant to pave the way for full exports to resume.

But KP members have been unable to reach consensus on Zimbabwe’s trade future, and last year a proposed agreement was shot down, with mainly Western KP members raising concerns about ongoing human rights abuses. The KP’s Chairman at the time, Israel’s Boaz Hirsch, then announced that an agreement was reached earlier this year.

The new chairman, Yamba, subsequently reported that consensus had in fact not been achieved. In his most recent letter to KP members, Yamba stressed that the KP’s working group for monitoring would work to gain consensus regarding the draft administrative decision on Zimbabwe. He added, however, that should the parties fail to reach consensus, “exports (from Chiadzwa) shall continue until the administrative decision is passed.”

Rapaport News reported on Monday that the US has objected to Yamba’s decision to allow the exports. US representatives have apparently sent a note to the KP authorities in India and the United Arab Emirates stating that it would view any shipments from Zimbabwe as non-compliant.
The US has also warned that it would publish the names of companies taking delivery of the diamonds on the State Department website to ensure that all American companies are aware of potentially non-compliant goods. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers US sanctions, has meanwhile also been asked to look more closely at the issue of these transactions.

OFAC has listed the parastatal ZMDC on the US sanctions list, and has been actively involved in preventing illicit financial movements from Zimbabwe’s diamond sales. OFAC, together with the US Federal Reserve, recently collaborated to freeze an account held by the ZMDC in South Africa after US$2 million had been moved into the Stanbic Bank account by the ZMDC.

British owned Standard Chartered Bank in Harare also recently refused to process financial transactions involving ZMDC and China’s Uranium Corporation, saying the local company was on the sanctions list. The companies wanted to embark on a uranium mining project, but the US thwarted the deal by blocking the transfers of capital.

Tiffany Posts Earnings Gem

Tiffany & Co. posted fourth-quarter earnings of $181.2 million, or $1.41 per share, compared to $140.4 million, or $1.10 per share, in the same quarter last year.

Sales rose 12%, to $1.1 billion, and adjusted earnings of $1.44 per share exceeded analyst estimates.

Tiffany ( TIF - news - people ) said it expects sales to fall 15% in Japan in the current quarter, leading to a cut in its earnings forecast for the first quarter, to $0.57 per share.

Also Monday, Gem Diamonds said it is in talks to merge with Lucara Diamond Corp.

Gem Diamonds said its negotiations are at a very early stage, with no certainty that a deal will take place.

Should a deal go through, it would be as a reverse takeover transaction.

Russian Diamond Market Appeals to Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is looking to partner with Russia's state-owned diamond producer, Alrosa, to increase its presence in Russia's diamond market, the trading website reports.

While Rio Tinto does not currently operate in Russia, the world's second-largest mining company after BHP Billiton is believed to be a finalist to cooperate with Alrosa on the development of the Arkhangelsk diamond deposit.

Rio Tinto has been mining diamonds for close to 40 years. The company's diamond operations include the Diavik mine in Canada, the most profitable mine in North America; Zimbabwe, and Australia – where it owns the renowned Argyle mine, the source of some 90% of all pink and red colored diamonds.

The company is also working on prefeasibility studies at the Bunder diamond project in India's Madhya Pradesh state, which is estimated to contain some 27.4 million carats of diamonds.

In 2010, Rio Tinto produced 13.8 million carats of rough diamonds, making it the third-largest producer in the world after Alrosa and De Beers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Biti, Mpofu diamond income dispute 'put to rest'

A GOVERNMENT audit of proceeds from diamond sales has been completed and disputes between ministers over the matter “have been put to rest”, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said.

The verification showed that US$174 million was remitted to the Finance Ministry, Mpofu added, while expressing the hope that the money would be used to improve civil servants' pay.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has always insisted that “Treasury has only managed to reconcile US$62,1 million” of the diamond revenues from 2010, while pressing for greater transparency.

But Mpofu said after a meeting with Biti on Monday, the Finance Minister had “acknowledged and accepted the reconciliation of the US$174 million and this was reported to Cabinet on Tuesday”.
“That matter has been put to rest," the state-run Herald newspaper quoted Mpofu as saying.

Mpofu said the government had received its dividend share of US$174,223,814.88 from gross diamond sales of US$313,504,567.17 by Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources.

"The objective of the verification was to address the plight of our civil servants. The civil servants' plight needs our united attention,” Mpofu added.

Officials from the Ministries of Finance, Mines and Mining Development, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation took part in the reconciliation exercise.

Angolan Diamond Production at 8.55 Million Carats Last Year

Angola produced 8.55 million carats of diamonds last year, Endiama EP, the country’s state-run gem company, said.

Preliminary estimates show that Angola earned $956 million from the sale of gems at an average price of $111.74 per carat, the Luanda-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.

The southern African nation was the world’s fourth-largest diamond producer by value in 2009, according to the Kimberley Process, the global body that monitors sales of so-called conflict diamonds. Endiama holds stakes in all diamond mines in Angola.

The company has “practically shut down” its operating unit, known as Endiama P&P, after its debt increased, said a company official who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CIBJO Diamond Commission further qualifies definition of diamonds

The Diamond Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, has further qualified the definition of a diamond in the CIBJO Blue Book following a meeting at the just-ended 2011 CIBJO Congress held in Porto, Portugal.

The Diamond Commission meeting attendees unanimously accepted a proposal that when a gemstone is referred to as a “diamond,” without any qualifier, it is “a mineral consisting essentially of carbon crystallised in the isometric (cubic) crystal system. Its hardness on the Mohs’ scale is 10; its specific gravity is approximately 3.52; it has a refractive index of 2.42."

The proposal goes on to define a mineral as “a naturally occurring material formed by geological processes." Such a gemstone, the commission decided, can also be referred to as a “natural diamond.”

The Diamond Commission also accepted a statement declaring its support for the Kimberley Process Certification System (KPCS), which was presented at the CIBJO General Assembly for approval on Wednesday.

“A robust KPCS is central to the health and welfare of the diamond supply chain. CIBJO urges all jewellers to fully implement the World Diamond Council's system of warranties to ensure all diamonds sold to consumers have been traded consistent with the requirements of the KPCS.

“CIBJO urges the participants of the KPCS to resolve outstanding issues regarding diamond producers and leadership in the KPCS. We urge the KPCS to fulfill its role as steward of the integrity of the diamond supply chain."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rough Diamond Prices May Gain 25% This Year on ‘Voracious’ China, Gem Says

Rough diamond prices may surge more than 25 percent this year driven by “almost insatiable” demand from China, India and the U.S., Gem Diamonds Ltd. (GEMD) said.

“Most people in the industry continue to be surprised by the voracious appetite from the Chinese consumer for diamonds,” Chief Executive Officer Clifford Elphick said in an interview. “I would be surprised if we don’t achieve plus 25 percent.”

De Beers, the largest diamond miner by sales, said last month it may raise output by 21 percent to full capacity by the end of 2012 to meet “extraordinary” demand from China and India. Global prices of rough, or unpolished, diamonds gained 26 percent last year, surpassing pre-recession highs, according to data compiled by WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd.

The U.S. remains the biggest market for diamond jewelry, buying about 38 percent of the total last year, De Beers said.

“Prices have continued to rise substantially,” Elphick said by phone. “Demand is almost insatiable. The American consumer is coming back with much greater confidence, Chinese demand is extremely strong and India demand is very strong.”

Price gains are also underpinned by a long-term decline in output as the world’s largest mines are exhausted.

Gem, based in London and operating in southern Africa and Australia, said in a statement today full-year net income rose to $20.2 million, from $15.5 million as prices increased. It estimates output of 300,000 carats this year, up from 257,641 carats last year, and 500,000 carats by 2013 on expansion of Lesotho’s Letseng mine and development of a new Botswana mine.

De Beers said last month demand from China and India gained by 25 percent and 31 percent respectively in 2010, and forecast that by 2015 China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and the Gulf would account for almost 40 percent of global demand.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jennifer Lopez Is The New Face Of High-End Jewelery Brand

Jennifer Lopez has proved that diamonds are indeed her best friend by signing up as the new face of jewelery brand TOUS.

The 41-year-old star has been roped in to front the TOUS Spring 2011 ad campaign, reported Us magazine.

Lopez, who was also recently named the first-ever global brand ambassador for Venus razors, said, "This is my favorite. You know, all girls love diamonds."

The Maid In Manhattan star will be shot by Ellen Von Unwerth in a fun, feminine approach to the whimsical Spring collections designed by Rosa Tous with her husband Salvador.

"We are absolutely delighted to have the iconic Jennifer Lopez be the face of TOUS' Spring campaign," said Rosa.

"Jennifer is not just an amazingly beautiful woman, but also a talented actress, musician and dancer sharing with us strong family values as we are a family-owned business," said Salvador Tous, Honorific President of TOUS.

Read more at:

US freezes Zimbabwe diamond money

ABOUT US$2 million realised from sales of local minerals and deposited locally into a Stanbic Bank account has been frozen by the United States’ central bank, the Federal Reserve, on the grounds that the two account holders — Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) — are under US sanctions.

This puts paid to claims by that sanctions are "targetted at individuals" in President Robert Mugabe's government.

The MMCZ and ZMDC employ hundreds of employees whose livelihoods depend on their viability.

Of that money, more than US$1,5 million belonged to MMCZ and about US$300 000 was deposited into the ZMDC account.

The money was transferred by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines through a Stanbic Bank telegraphic transfer (TT) and wired by the bank to the US.

Stanbic Bank operates a nostro account, maintained by an overseas bank, where bulk transfers are first sent before they reach their local recipients. Through that arrangement, Stanbic Bank instructs its overseas bank to transfer the money to a local bank but that money first goes through the Federal Reserve.

A US government arm, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (Offac), which is used by that government to implement the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwean parastatals, is said to have recommended the freezing of the funds.

In 2001 the US imposed the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA). It is an illegal piece of legislation as it was not imposed by the United Nations.

All payments associated with companies on the illegal sanctions list risk having their funds frozen.

ZMDC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa confirmed that his company had lost more than US$300 000 in gold sales proceeds.

The Chamber of Mines is said to have transferred the money from Jena and Sabi Gold Mines through its Stanbic Bank’s Samora Machel Branch to ZMDC’s BancABC account.

“Through the US’s Offac, our money was frozen because we are on the sanctions list,” said Masimirembwa.

He said the sanctions were so dire that payments for minerals were difficult to institute directly to ZMDC.

“We get paid normally in US dollars. Our customers cannot pay us directly.

“We need to consistently sell our diamonds. Once the sanctions are removed, the country can realise more than US$85 million per month from that,” he said.

Stanbic Bank legal adviser Aisha Timba could not comment on the issue yesterday and referred all questions to the financial institution’s managing director, Mr Joshua Tapambwa, who could not be reached for comment.

Other companies on the sanctions list are Agribank, the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDC), the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and ZB Bank.

Jongwe Printing and Publishing, M & S Syndicate, Zidco Holdings, the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) and Zimre Holdings are also under the illegal sanctions.

Together, these companies employ over 10,000 people. These are all affected by the illegal embargo. These companies are also some of the biggest companies in the country, in turnover and their viability, or lack thereof, has a huge impact on the economy.

Civil servants in Zimbabwe have been pushing for proceeds from the diamond industry to be channeled to improving their salaries and working conditions.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai from the pro-sanctions party, the MDC-T, have remained mum on these issues.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stellar raises £6,2m to accelerate diamond exploration efforts

Aim-listed Stellar Diamonds said on Thursday that it had raised £6,2-million for its exploration activities in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The company placed 77,5-million new ordinary shares with institutional and other investors at 8p a share, which would represent 35,8% of the enlarged share capital of 216,67-million shares.

CEO Karl Smithson said that the proceeds of the placing would be used to accelerate the company’s kimberlite portfolio and to fund its general working capital requirements.

About £2-million would be used for resource definition drilling and bulk sampling at Stellar’s Droujba kimberlite pipe in Guinea, £1,5-million would go towards the evaluation of the high-grade Tongo kimberlite dyke project in Sierra Leone, while some money would also be spent on exploration and evaluation projects at the Bouro and Kono projects.

The balance would be used to pay a £300 000 loan note plus interest, and for general working capital purposes.

“The diamond market and the outlook for the diamond sector as a whole continues to improve and our strategy remains for Stellar to become a leading diamond producer in Africa," concluded Smithson.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zimbabwe Minister Says Rules for Indigenous Control of Mines to be Published Shortly

Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told an investment conference in Harare that the government will take control of the mining sector through a so-called sovereign wealth fund that will hold public stakes

Controversial mine ownership rules requiring foreign companies to cede 51 percent of shares to indigenous or black Zimbabweans will be published on Friday, Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere revealed Wednesday.

Addressing delegates at a two-day Euromoney investment conference in Harare, the minister accused foreign mining companies of fleecing the country of resource revenue, charging that citizens have not benefited from vast mineral wealth.

“The country has been getting a raw deal from the mining sector all along with companies taking money out of the country,” Kasukuwere said. He added that the unity government Cabinet had come to agreement on the question.

“We have to address this issue," Kasukuwere told investors. "We have been very careful in implementing this law and adhering to the rules of the country.”

Kasukuwere told the conference that the government will in effect nationalize the mining sector by setting up a sovereign wealth fund to hold 51 percent indigenous stakes. The fund will then help individual Zimbabweans acquire a stake in the mines.

Kasukuwere told VOA that he is not moved by assertions that such a step, amounting to expropriation, will discourage investment by foreign players.

He said foreign investors understood and agreed on the need to empower indigenous Zimbabweans. Kasukuwere said those who don’t like it can stay away.

The regulations in the Indigenisation Act seek to transfer ownership of any foreign-owned businesses with a value of US$500,000 or more to indigenous Zimbabweans.

“We have a mandate to empower our people, we want to be fair," Kasukuwere said. "Government has never been against foreign investment,” he told delegates, blaming poor performance by many state-controlled enterprises on Western sanctions.

Companies targeted include Angloplat and Impala Platinum - two leading players in the market for that semi-precious metal, and Rio Tinto, which operates a diamond mine.

Economist Eric Bloch dismissed Kasukuwere’s assertions as cheap politicking from ZANU-PF ahead of possible elections this year. He said the government does not have enough money to acquire the shares needed to establish a sovereign fund.

Affirmative Action Group President Supa Mandiwanzira said the government is right to take a 51 percent stake in mining firms for the benefit of black Zimbabweans.

But Tsvangirai's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka denied the Cabinet had come to an agreement on the move to acquire 51 percent stakeholdings in mines.

Kasukuwere said that in putting the Indigenization Act into effect, the Cabinet had agreed and his role as a minister is to publish regulations for the process of cession.

As the Euromoney investment conference ended Wednesday, the ZANU-PF politburo was holding an extraordinary session to endorse an anti-sanctions campaign seeking the seizure of firms whose parent companies are in states imposing sanctions.

Investment Minister Tapiwa Mashakada said ministers put up a spirited performance at the conference to allay fears of foreign investors about nationalization.

Mashakada said nearly 2,000 delegates including investors and World Bank and African Development Bank representatives see Zimbabwe as a good destination for capital.

He said Zimbabwe should begin seeing significant foreign direct investment following the conference. “We expect some of the investors that attended the conference to come back to set up businesses in Zimbabwe,” Mashakada said.

Economic commentator Masimba Kuchera said President Mugabe’s failure to show up for the opening of the conference left investors unsure of the business climate.

He said it is particularly distressing that ZANU-PF held an extraordinary politburo meeting about seizing foreign companies even as the investment conference was under way.

Changes at De Beers raising eyebrows in diamond industry

Falling long-term output, and a failure after eight months to appoint a new CEO are just two of the issues facing De Beers as it adapts to a changing world.

Which major diamond mining company has not replaced its CEO eight months after he announced he was stepping down, and has seen its market share fall by half in just a couple of decades? The changing nature of the global diamond industry could hardly be better illustrated than by the changes that are taking place at mining giant De Beers.

But it is not just those issues that have raised eyebrows in the diamond industry. De Beers also recently announced that its diamond sales agreement deadline with the government of Botswana was pushed back three months to March 31, and the miner is likely to have to accede to a Botswana demand that 10 percent of sales be sold outside the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) framework from next year.

In addition, De Beers’ exploration spending in 2010 was less than half of its Russian competitor, Alrosa, while changes to sales via its Diamdel subsidiary, by allowing sightholders to bid for goods, have caused a degree of disquiet. And then there is the stepping down of Nicky Oppenheimer as deputy chairman of Anglo-American Corp after close to four decades on the board.

The most prominent indicator of De Beers’ lowered profile in the industry is the fall in its share of global diamond output. Where, two decades or so ago, the company accounted for 80 percent or more of worldwide production, that figure has dropped to just 37 percent. However, not only is the firm comfortable with that figure, it is also in discussions with a number of companies which have made unsolicited expressions of interest regarding another of its South African mines, Namaqualand, after selling the Finsch mine to junior miner Petra Diamonds less than two months ago for around $210 million.

And just last week, De Beers finalized the sale of the Krone-Endora Project at Venetia, in South Africa to Diamcor Mining Inc. The project consists of the prospecting rights over an area of approximately almost 6,000 hectares next to the Venetia diamond mine. An early exploration report on an area of about 310 hectares states that it alone has an inferred resource estimate of 54.3 million tonnes of diamond-bearing gravels and 1.3 million carats of diamonds.

Although De Beers would not comment on the suggestion, some analysts believe the firm has had to sell off some of the smaller assets, such as Finsch and Kimberley, to deal with its debt situation and in order to finance big spending plans. These include the $3 billion expansion of the huge Jwaneng mine in Botswana that was agreed last year, and the $1.38 billion that De Beers would need to find if it decides later this year to construct an underground mine at its Venetia plant in South Africa.

In addition, there is the development of the Gahcho Kué in Canada which would require around $700 million from De Beers and its partner in the project, Mountain Province Diamonds. The project, in which De Beers has a 51-percent stake, is some years away from production which is estimated at five million carats annually assuming the environmental approval process goes to plan.

Given that it has been less than two years since the company asked its three shareholders – Anglo-American Corp, the Oppenheimer family and the Botswana government – to provide $1 billion in funding to help it through the difficult situation brought about by the slump in demand for diamonds, then clearly the company needs to find ways to raise cash. Smaller mines, producing relatively low amounts of diamonds clearly do not fit with its new strategy.

As De Beers Consolidated Mining CEO Phillip Barton said of the sale of the Finsch mine to Petra Diamonds, it reflected “the continuing evolution of DBCM’s mining portfolio. It will enable us to prioritise capital to invest in growth opportunities that best suit our criteria, and to sustain a strong diamond mining business in South Africa for the future.”

Those comments were reiterated by Lynette Gould, head of media relations at the De Beers Group, who said: “Our focus is on mines and projects that fit the De Beers portfolio. Those that deliver superior risk adjusted returns and are at the right stage of their life cycle. Added to that of course we have to prioritise our capital investment which is on the cut-8 extension project at Jwaneng mine, the underground plans at Venetia where the pre-feasibility study was approved by the DBCM board last month so we now go into full feasibility before going to the board for approval. At Gahcho Kue, the Environmental Impact Statement was completed and submitted in December 2010 on schedule. The Environmental Impact Review is estimated to take two-to-three years.

Meanwhile, as for appointing a successor to Gareth Penny, it has been eight months since the former CEO announced that he intended to step down after five years at the helm. The firm is being run by acting joint-CEOs, Chief Commercial Officer Bruce Cleaver and Chief Financial Officer Stuart Brown. For now, De Beers says it is comfortable with the situation.

“At a recent presentation of our 2010 results to analysts De Beers Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer said he had undertaken a thorough search for a new CEO, both internally and externally,” commented Lynette Gould, head of media relations at the De Beers Group. “He added that the process would be concluded soon. Having said that, as was seen from our results, any speculation that the thoroughness of the process is somehow damaging the company is misplaced.

“After two years of recession, De Beers has just reported its best financial results in more than a decade. What’s more, under the leadership of Stuart Brown and Bruce Cleaver, the company’s debt level has been lowered, it is highly cash generative and highly profitable, and has exciting capital projects in Botswana, South Africa and Canada,” Gould added.

Given the financial blow that the global economic crisis handed the firm, De Beers is fine-tuning production perhaps as never before. Analysts have suggested that the miner is content to leave diamonds in the ground and dig them up at a later date to reap the benefits of rising rough prices as the global shortfall starts in the coming years.

While production was considerably higher in 2010 on the year before when output was slashed in the face of slumping demand, and is set to rise again this year, De Beers is tightly monitoring production. Output in 2010 was almost 33 million carats and this year is expected to rise to 38 million carats, and about 40 million carats in 2012. The miner also has the capacity to add further carats if market demand justified it, acting joint-CEO Stuart Brown said recently. However even the 40 million carat level would still be considerably lower than the 48 million carats mined in the peak year of 2008.

“We said during the recession that we would align our production with prevailing demand from the DTC sightholders,” said Gould. “Stronger than expected demand from sightholders last year enabled a 34 percent increase in carats recovered on 2009, and a 53 percent increase in sales from the De Beers Group, again compared with 2009. Global economic expansion and retailer sentiment are supportive of further DTC sales growth in 2011, during which time total production for the De Beers is expected to reach 38 million carats, approaching full production which will, as planned, be achieved in 2012.

“What we are saying at De Beers now is that our mission is to maximise the value and life of our diamonds for all our stakeholders. With a decreasing supply of diamonds, we are focused on maximising the recovery of diamonds in the mining process and reducing breakages. We want to ensure that we can sustain our production levels, employment and supply to our customers over the medium term, and plan our production levels accordingly. Which is why the way we mine, market and sell them is deliberately focused on unlocking as much value as possible out of every single carat. This value can be realised globally through consistent and stable prices and, locally, through initiatives like beneficiation which empower more citizens to participate in the country’s diamond economy,” Gould explained.

“Given the sale of assets over the past few years, and the focus on profitable and sustainable production going forward, we are unable to produce at the historic highs in De Beers’ production seen previously. Our share of global production is forecast to remain around 37 percent, a figure that we are comfortable with,” she added.

The failure of De Beers and the government of Botswana to sign a sales agreement by the end of 2010 as planned, with the deadline being pushed back to March 31, certainly raised eyebrows. So did the reported Botswana demand that up to 10 percent of output be sold outside the DTC framework.

Gould says the miner is confident that agreement will be reached by the March 31 deadline. “The sales negotiations with our government partner are currently underway and we are in the middle of a three month extension,” she stated. “As these discussions are still taking place it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any of the details. Our relationship with our government partner goes back more than 40 years. Discussions of this nature take time but we’re confident we’ll get to a mutually agreeable solution.”

As for exploration, although De Beers still regards it as “a major priority,” according to Gould, it invested less in searching for new deposits last year even than in 2009 when the company slashed spending across the board in the face of the global slump in demand for diamonds. De Beers invested $43.4 million on exploration in 2010 compared with $44.8 million in 2009. By way of contrast, Russian miner Alrosa spent $92 million on geological exploration last year, almost three times the $32 million it spent in 2009.

“To give us the best chance for success in exploration we aim to be on the right ground, with the right team, supported by sound relationships and operating with focused plans aligned with our operational capabilities and resources,” Gould said. “In both Canada and Angola, our exploration team is focused on advanced level programmes to bulk sample kimberlite pipes for diamonds. In Canada, this involves focus on satellite kimberlites around the Victor Mine, whilst in Angola deposit assessment drilling is underway on three pipes in the ‘Mulepe cluster’ of our Lunda NE concession.”

“Angola represents one of our most exciting prospects for the future, particularly given that in the past 50 years it has never been systematically explored. So far, of the 152 pipes we have discovered, we have established baseline economic information for 100 and have bulk sampled 34,” Gould added.

De Beers surprised the diamond market last year when it announced that it would be opening up auctions of rough goods by its Diamdel unit to sightholders. The subsidiary had traditionally supplied goods to the so-called secondary market of firms that were not sightholders, a move that did not go down well with some diamond companies.

“The advantage for non-sightholders was to be able to buy goods without competition from the big firms who inevitably push prices up,” said one Antwerp diamond manufacturer. “With sightholders now able to participate in these goods as well, the smaller firms are coming under even more pressure.”

However, Diamond Trading Company (DTC) Sales and Sightholder Services Director Mahiar Borhanjoo stresses that the amount of diamonds sold by Diamdel is a relatively small proportion of DTC sales, with the vast majority sold under long-term contracts. “Only 10 percent of the company's goods are sold via Diamdel,” he explained. “And of that amount, just 70 percent is sold at tender. Most DTC goods are, therefore, sold by fixed contracts.”

As for Nicky Oppenheimer stepping down as deputy chairman of Anglo-American Corp, he explained that it was simply time to retire after nearly four decades on Anglo-American’s board. The Oppenheimers’ shareholding in Anglo has dropped to around 2 percent from 8 percent in 2000, but James Teeger, managing director of Ernest Oppenheimer and Son, the family investment company, said the Oppenheimers “currently have no intention of selling their stake in Anglo American.”

However, the issue of whether Anglo-American aims to acquire the Oppenheimers’ stake in De Beers has been at the centre of speculation in the mining industry for many years. Anglo American has said in the past year that it has no intention of altering the present ownership structure of De Beers, but the lengthy delay in appointing a new CEO at De Beers, as well as Nicky Oppenheimer’s decision to step down, have fuelled rumours that ownership changes could be on the way. Gould, however, declined to make any observations on the issue, saying the firm “does not comment on speculation”.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

LVMH Acquires Bulgari Diamond House for $6 Billion

The Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) luxury goods group is acquiring the venerable Italian jewelry house Bulgari for $6 billion, news outlets report.

LVMH Managing Director Antonio Belloni said that the diamond jewelry powerhouse represented the group's biggest purchase in 20 years. Both LVMH and Bulgari see the deal as a way of increasing LVMH's luxury jewelry and watch business and help the group launch in "promising" developing markets like Russia, India, the Middle East, and China, which in 2010 moved past Japan to become the world's No. 2 consumer of diamonds after the US.

Under the terms of the deal, Bulgari Chief Executive Francesco Trapani will receive a seat on the LVMH board and will also direct the group's jewelry and watch division, which includes the De Beers, Chaumet, and Hublot brands.

Bulgari was founded in 1884 by Sotirios Bulgari and the diamond company's flagship store opened on Via Condotti in Rome in 1905. Since then, the luxury jewelry and watch chain has expanded to include 260 stores worldwide.

Zimbabwe to sell diamonds to pay off debt: Prime Minister

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday the country will use revenue from diamond sales to repay part of its external debt amounting to $7.1 billion.

The southern African nation is facing diamond export controls for suspected human rights violations in mining of the precious stones.

"The government has so far sold diamonds worth $300 million, and the money will be used to service the debt and also to rehabilitate Zimbabwe's faltering industry," Tsvangirai told an investment conference in Harare.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Harry Winston Diamonds Shine

Diamond prices have been on the rise recently with the cost of "rough diamonds" -- those harvested but unpolished and cut -- up more than 50% over the past four years, according to Harry Winston's research.

Industry research firm the Rapaport Group noted that five-carat diamonds of the highest-end color and clarity went for a retail price of just under $56,000 in 1996; the same stone would run a lucky customer around $144,000 in today's market.

Harry Winston is a 40% owner of the largest diamond mine in North America, the Diavik mine in Canada's Northwest Territories, worth around $4 billion in future revenue. It sells rough diamonds on the global wholesale market and then repurchases the finest cut gems for sale at its upscale retail outlets.

Harry Winston shares rose 5.7% to $13.91 in morning trading Monday. More than 400,000 shares were in play ninety minutes into the day's session, compared with their average daily trading volume of just 218,000.

Top-end jewelry retailer Tiffany saw its shares rise 1.3% Monday morning to trade at $63.39.

The Street

Diamond Dealers Convicted For Staging $7 Million Heist

Two jewelry wholesalers were convicted March 4 for staging a jewelry heist in order to collect a $7 million insurance payment for their business.

Atul Shah and Mahaveer Kankariya were convicted in New York City with two counts of insurance fraud, two counts of attempted grand larceny in the first degree, and three counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, following a bench trial, according to a statement from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

The D.A.'s office charged the men falsely claimed that two thieves dressed as Orthodox Jewish men entered the offices of Real Creations and Dialite Imports on Dec. 31, 2008, and stole approximately $9 million worth of jewelry and diamonds at gunpoint.

Shah and Kankariya then made an insurance claim worth $7 million. Insurers and authorities became suspicious when it was discovered the businesses were in debt, according to The Associated Press.

According to prosecutors, a security camera caught Shah and Kankariya removing a significant amount of jewelry from the safe two hours before the alleged robbery.

The men face from one to 25 years in prison at their sentencing, scheduled for April 29. The Associated Press reports the men are free on $750,000 bond but are wearing ankle monitors.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

US 'diamond envoy' leaves Zim empty-handed

Zimbabwe and most diamond exporting countries have told the United States that they will not support its bid for the vice presidency of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

The US sent an envoy to Zimbabwe this week to lobby for support in what observers said was a "cheeky" move since Washington has been at the forefront of trying to deny diamonds from Marange KP certification for international trade.

Zimbabwean officials made it clear to visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ms Susan Page that the US could not expect Harare's backing for as long as Washington sabotaged the country's diamond industry.

It is also understood that the US has all but lost out in the race for the KP vice presidency as African diamond producers and several others from outside the continent do not think Washi-ngton can best serve the global diamond trade.

Ms Page left Zimbabwe yesterday and tried to save face by claiming she had only paid a courtesy call on Mines and Mining Development Ministry officials.

Secretary for Mines and Mining Development Mr Thankful Musukutwa however, said Ms Page had canvassed for Zimbabwe's backing at the KP, a grouping of all countries that deal in diamonds.

"From the looks of it, it appears their bid was thrown out. We told them that for us to support them they had to let us trade our diamonds," he said.

Mr Musukutwa said the US was behind a caveat in a KP decision on Zim-babwe's diamonds that made it all but impossible to get certification for gems from Marange.

Clause 3b of that decision says Zimbabwe will be barred from trading if any three countries in the KPCS raise concerns about the human rights situation in Marange.

The US, Canada and Australia - apparently as a matter of political policy - always raise allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Mr Musukutwa said, "We told them we were against clause 3b of the Bru-ssels decision that we now term the ‘violence clause.'

"We rejected that clause and nobody has come back to us on the issue."

He said Ms Page and her team then tried to claim America had no influence over KPCS affairs.

She reportedly claimed Canada was afraid Zimbabwe would flood the international market and drive down prices.

"I, however, told them that the US held the keys to the door for Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds," Mr Musukutwa said.

Ms Page asked the Mines Permanent Secretary which country Zimbabwe would back for the KPCS vice presidency.

"We told them it was something that had to be discussed at a higher level and that Zimbabwe could also be a contender as well," Mr Musukutwa said.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray attended the meeting, which also drew representatives from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

During her four-day, visit Ms Page met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, officials from the Ministry of Finance and activists from Western-funded NGOs.

The US delegation did not meet empowerment groups like the Affirma-tive Action Group that have been fighting for Zimbabwe's right to sell its diamonds.

The pro-Zimbabwe diamonds grou-ps made it clear before Ms Page's visit that they were not interested in listening to her sales pitch for the KPCS vice presidency.

They said her visit was "cheeky" and "contemptuous".

At a Press conference yesterday afternoon, Ms Page repeated the claim that there are no sanctions on Zimba-bwe.

She said she had merely paid "a courtesy call," on Mines Ministry officials and would not elaborate.

Alrosa to Tender All +1 Carat Polished Diamonds

Alrosa wants to gain a greater benefit from the rising polished diamond prices, deciding to switch to a tender system. Effective immediately, polished goods weighing one carat or more will be offered only in tenders, the company announced.

The decision to tender polished is a surprising one as well as uncommon in the wholesale section of the diamond pipeline. The current rally in polished prices is taking place in a stiff competitive environment, reflecting a return to pre-crisis levels after rough diamond prices have already bounced back.

Until now, Alrosa sold all polished diamonds under one-time contract system.

The move raises fears that the company is also considering tendering its rough diamonds. Tenders in general tend to push up prices and therefore are popular among small and medium sized diamond miners. Tendering rough by the major diamond miners, is viewed as possibly destabilizing to the industry. Alrosa is the world’s second largest diamond company after De Beers.

The decision to tender larger polished diamonds was made on Friday by Alrosa’s Market Conjuncture Panel, chaired by the company’s President Fyodor Andreev. The panel reviewed the rough and polished diamonds market and the company’s current price policy.

Conventional wisdom among regular clients of Alrosa is that the company is going to hike prices of its rough diamonds in response to soaring rough diamond prices in the market. This will follow the practice of the other leading suppliers, led by De Beers.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pink diamond could fetch up to $15 million at auction

A purplish-pink diamond in excess of 10 carats could fetch as much as $15 million when it is sold at a Magnificent Jewels auction next month, Christie's said on Wednesday.

The 10.09 carat Fancy Vivid cushion-cut is expected to be the highlight of the sale on April 12 in New York.

Prices for large pink diamonds have skyrocketed at auctions in recent years, with four pink diamonds going for more than $1 million per carat since late 2009, Christie's said.

Demand and increasing rarity have drive up prices, making them the most expensive coloured diamonds on the market.

"Collector demand for large coloured diamonds has never been stronger, especially where pink diamonds of this size and quality are concerned," said Rahul Kadakia, head of jewellery at Christie's in New York.

The auction house set a per-carat record for any diamond at auction in December 2009 when the Vivid Pink 5-carat cushion cut diamond sold for more than $2.1 million per carat in Hong Kong.

Fewer than 10 percent of all pink diamonds mined weigh more than .20 carats, Christie's said, and even fewer bear such deep colour saturation and brilliance as the gem that will be auctioned.

"I have never seen such vivid colour in a stone of this size," Kadakia said, adding that the gem had an even richer, deeper hue than a 6.89 carat Fancy Vivid purplish-pink diamond that fetched $6.9 million in December.

Pink diamonds get their colour through a rare, naturally occurring slippage of the crystallographic lattice in the stone while it is forming deep within the Earth's crust.

Only a few mines in the world produce pink diamond rough, and of the stones that are cut and polished, only one in about 10 million diamonds possess colour pure enough to be graded as Fancy Vivid, according to Christie's.

In December a 14.23 carat Fancy Intense pink rectangular-cut diamond sold for $23,165,968 at Christie's Hong Kong, setting an auction record for jewellery sold in Asia.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Diamond Production in Australia Expected to Grow by Over 21% in 2012

Australia's two-year drop in diamond production is expected to end in 2012 and grow by over 21%, a report published Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) says.

The ABARES report projects that diamond production in 2012 will reach 12.05 million carats with an export value of approximately $456.6 million.

According to the ABARES report, the country's total diamond production for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is expected to comprise some 9.9 million carats, falling short of earlier estimates of 10.63 million carats. This figure represents a 10.6% decrease compared to the country's rough diamond production in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

In the 2009 calendar year, a period still deeply affected by the global financial crisis, Australia produced 15.6 million carats of diamonds with a total value of $312.7 million and an average per-carat value of $20.04.

Australia is also the source of most of the world's red and pink colored diamonds, 90% of which are recovered from Rio Tinto's Argyle mine in Western Australia.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Diamond earphone covers cost $9,971 more than Apple earbuds

We assumed everyone knew that Apple's stock earphones give only slightly better sound quality than holding a speakerphone up to your ear, but nobody tipped off the buyers at the OC Concept Store, a new luxury boutique in New York selling diamond Apple headphone covers for $10,000.