Monday, April 30, 2012

The $15 Million Diamond Cocktail Dress

A diamond wholesaler recently unveiled a $15 million custom-designed cocktail dress comprised of 100 3-carat round diamonds, during a jewelry industry tradeshow event.
A total of 85 diamonds were located on the bodice of the “little black dress,” four diamonds on each sleeve and seven adorning the back.
The diamonds were provided by Tov International, a third-generation family owned and operated New York diamond wholesale business that specializes in 3-carat round brilliant diamonds. The dress was designed by Chloe & Reese, a New York based dress designer that specializes in custom cocktail dresses.
The dress was unveiled on April 25 during a fashion show at the American Gem Society 2012 Conclave, the annual tradeshow of AGS, a trade organization that specializes in the development and maintenance of superior gemological skills and knowledge.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Namakwa Diamonds Revenues Plummit

Namakwa Diamonds reported that revenues fell 60 percent year on year to $17 million during ‎the six months that ended February 29, 2012 after shifting its focus to mining development.‎

‎“The first half of the financial year has been about the successful execution of our stated ‎strategy to restructure the group’s platform to provide for a mining operation underpinned by ‎sustainable commercial production from the Kao Mine,” said Richard Collocott, Namakwa’s ‎chief executive officer (CEO).‎

He added that the company is on track to become the biggest producer of diamonds in ‎Lesotho within the next 12 months and that the mine would become cash generative in the ‎second half of the fiscal year.‎

The company posted a net loss of $15 million, declining from a net loss of $10.9 million ‎recorded a year earlier. ‎

During the year, Namakwa saw a change in management and focused its finances on ‎developing the Kao mine in Lesotho, while reducing the scale of its operations in South Africa’s ‎North West province to provide a cash generative platform. Namakwa also significantly ‎reduced its trading and beneficiation unit, closing its operations in Kinshasa, Tel Aviv and ‎Gaborone and selling its cutting and polishing business in Johannesburg. ‎

Production at Kao was launched in November 2011 and the mine began commercial production ‎in March this year. During the six months, 26,558 carats of diamonds were recovered from the ‎mine while 26,906 carats were sold for an average price of $214 per carat.  As of April 24, ‎Namakwa reported that it sold 33,384 carats at an average price of $218 per carat. ‎

The company reduced its production forecast at the Kao mine for the full fiscal year to 170,000 ‎carats.  ‎

Production at Namakwa’s South Africa-located alluvial mines fell 37 percent to 11,069 carats ‎during the fiscal half year, and output is expected to reach 20,000 carats for the full year.  The ‎average price of goods sold from the North West operations declined by 2 percent to $632 per ‎carat, while the average cost at operations was halved to $589 per carat.  ‎

Namakwa shares rose by less than one percent following the announcement and ended Friday ‎at 3.53 pence in London. The share was at 51 pence a year ago. ‎

Thursday, April 26, 2012

LIBERIAN ex-leader Charles Taylor has been convicted of arming rebels in an historic verdict for international justice.

Warmonger: Former Liberian president Charles Taylor listens as he is found guilty of war crimes for arming rebels in Sierra Leone using money from 'blood diamonds'.

Taylor, 64, was convicted yesterday of arming rebels who killed and mutilated thousands in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
Taylor was found guilty on all counts including acts of terrorism, murder and rape committed by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who paid him for arms with diamonds mined by slave labour.
While rights groups and Sierra Leoneans whose limbs were chopped off by the RUF during the west African country's brutal decade-long civil war hailed the verdict, Taylor's lawyer slammed the decision and accused the prosecution of "buying" evidence.
In the first judgement against a former head of state by a world court since the World War II Nuremberg trials, Taylor was found guilty of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
"The trial chamber finds you guilty of aiding and abetting of all these crimes," presiding judge Richard Lussick told the UN-backed court, situated in the leafy suburb of Leidschendam just outside The Hague.
Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, the former president, who once notoriously compared himself to Jesus, stood motionless as the verdict was read and showed no emotion afterwards.
He will be sentenced by the same court on May 30. If sent to jail as expected he will be held in a British prison. His lawyers and the prosecution will have two weeks to file an appeal after sentencing.
Although the court may not impose a death sentence or life in jail, it could impose "a number of years", effectively meaning Taylor could spend the rest of his life behind bars, should the judges deem his crimes severe enough.
"The trial chamber found that the accused was instrumental in procuring and transporting arms to RUF rebels, that he was paid in diamonds and kept some for himself," the Samoan Judge Lussick said.
The hearings, which saw model Naomi Campbell testify that she had received diamonds from Taylor, lasted nearly four years, wrapping up in March 2011.
Prosecutors alleged that the RUF paid Taylor with illegally mined so-called blood diamonds worth millions, stuffed into mayonnaise jars.
These diamonds would then be smuggled through a guest house used by the RUF in the Liberian capital Monrovia in return for arms and ammunition provided by Taylor.
Judge Lussick said the stones were gathered by the RUF in Sierra Leone, who used slave labour and enlisted child soldiers.
"Children under the age of 15 were abducted and conscripted. They had the letters 'RUF' carved into their foreheads and backs to prevent escape," the judge said.
Judge Lussick however stressed that while Taylor had substantial influence over the RUF, including its feared leader Foday Sankoh - who died in 2003 before he could be convicted by the SCSL - "it fell short of command and control" of rebel forces.
Taylor, Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, had dismissed the charges as "lies" and claimed to be the victim of a plot by "powerful countries."
During his own 81 hours of testimony, which began in July 2009, he called the trial a "sham" and denied allegations that he had eaten human flesh.
"These convictions were obtained with corrupt and tainted evidence effectively bought by the prosecution," his lawyer Courtenay Griffiths said yesterday.
Prosecutor Brenda Hollis however lauded the verdict as "another victory for the fight against impunity."
"Today is for the people of Sierra Leone who suffered horribly at the hands of Charles Taylor and his proxy forces," she told reporters.
The US said Taylor's conviction "delivers a strong message" to all war criminals, while British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was proof that heads of state "cannot hide behind immunity".
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the "historic moment in the development of international justice" meant tyrannical rulers could no longer retire on blood money.
In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called it a "landmark" in the battle to hold accountable all perpetrators of atrocities.
The proceedings were also relayed live by television to Sierra Leone where hundreds watched intently.
"We as victims expect that Taylor will be given 100 years or more in prison," said Al Hadji Jusu Jarka, a former chairman of the Amputees Association, his prosthetic arms folded in his lap.
Authorities in Nigeria arrested Taylor in March 2006 and he was transferred to The Hague in 2006 after security fears in the west African country.
During Taylor's trial which began on June 4, 2007, 94 witnesses took the stand for the prosecution and 21 for the defence.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiffany Celebrates 175th Anniversary

Tiffany & Co. marks it 175th anniversary this year by resetting the company’s icon -—the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond— in a spectacular diamond and platinum necklace. This legendary stone will take part in anniversary events in Tokyo, Beijing and Dubai, returning home to New York City, where Tiffany was founded in 1837.
The Tiffany Diamond is one of the world’s largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds. Tiffany’s own jewelry designers submitted innovative ideas and concepts for the new setting, and the result perfectly reflects their efforts. Skilled artisans meticulously hand-cut and set each diamond in the new modern, fluid design that rests lightly on the neckline, radiating light and energy with every movement. Over a year in the making, the elegant necklace of white diamonds totals over 120 carats and features 20 Lucida® diamonds and 58 brilliant-cut diamonds. The Diamond’s mounting, an openwork motif of sun rays, is designed with 481 sparkling stones.  tiffany diamond
“Resetting the Tiffany Diamond represents a commitment to the future and design innovation,” said Jon King, the executive vice president of Tiffany & Co. “The diamond is the most important gemstone in the world and honors the vision of our founder, whose acquisition of the stone established Tiffany’s diamond heritage.”
The diamond’s origin dates back to 1877 from the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa. At 287.42 carats, the original rough stone was acquired the following year by founder Charles Lewis Tiffany and helped to solidify him as the “King of Diamonds” and made his enterprise the world’s diamond authority.
The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant weighing 128.54 carats with an unprecedented 82 facets — 24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone is just over an inch wide and seven-eighths of an inch from top to bottom. Cut to enhance its radiant color rather than size, the diamond sparkles as if lit by an inner flame.
The Tiffany Diamond was the highlight of the jeweler’s award-winning exhibits at the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago; the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York; the 1933-34 Century of Progress in Chicago; and the 1939–40 World’s Fair in New York City. Later appearances included the 2006 Bejewelled by Tiffany exhibition at Somerset House in London, and an exhibition celebrating the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Diamond has been set on four previous occasions, two of which involve original designs by Jean Schlumberger, Tiffany’s renowned jewelry designer. The stone was set in Schlumberger’s Ribbon Rosette necklace to promote the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s; and it was mounted in Schlumberger’s Bird on a Rock setting for the designer’s 1995 retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
After its 2012 anniversary tour, the Tiffany Diamond in its new setting will return to its place of honor on the Main Floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store.
In other news, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® added three points from one year ago at 69.2 in April (benchmark 1985=100), The Expectations Index fell from April 2011 to 81.1 while the Present Situation Index improved some to 51.4 points.
Lynn Franco, the director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, observed that consumer confidence was virtually unchanged in April from March, following a modest decline. ''As was the case last month, the slight dip was prompted by a moderation in consumers’ short-term outlook, while their assessment of current conditions continued to improve. Overall, consumers are more upbeat about the state of the economy, but they remain cautiously optimistic.”

In April, those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 15.3 percent from 14.3 percent in March.  However, those claiming business conditions are “bad” edged up to 33.5 percent from 33.2 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market remained mixed. Those stating jobs are “hard to get” declined to 37.5 percent from 40.7 percent in March, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 8.4 percent from 9.0 percent.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sotheby's to sell 400-year-old diamond

The 400-year-old "Beau Sancy," one of the world's oldest and most storied diamonds in private hands, is up for sale at Sotheby's auction house. Weighing in at 34.98 carats, the sparkling gem with a rare pear cut is expected to fetch up to $4 million. For now, the jewel is on display in Paris and will move on to London and Zurich before it gets auctioned off in Geneva on May 14.
"It has a fascinating history, and really is a once-in-a-lifetime sale," said David Bennett, Sotheby's jewelry chairman. "When it was made in the 16th century, the pear cut was new, bold, and so it became the most sought-after jewel of its era. Before the 'Beau Sancy' all diamonds were rudimentary."
Such was the diamond's fame that in 1604, French King Henri IV purchased it from the first owner, the Lord of Sancy, as a gift for his glamorous wife, Marie de Medici, one of Europe's richest women.
Following the king's murder, she fell into poverty and was forced to sell the jewel, which was cut from the famous gem mines in the Indian city of Golconda.
The diamond eventually made its way through four royal European families, including England's House of Orange. Its most recent owners are the descendants of the last emperor of Germany.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The house that Bob built?

iol nws april 22 mugabe nt robs 2 
It might not belong to Robert Mugabe, but the controversial multimillion-rand property on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast could very well belong to one of his allies – a diamond-dealing Zimbabwean who shares the same first name.
It is believed the property may belong to Robert Mhlanga, a former Air Vice-Marshal and apparently once Mugabe’s personal pilot. Mhlanga was a prosecution witness in the 2003 treason trial of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Rumours that it was Mugabe’s house resurfaced last week.
A nearby property owner, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the owner was Zimbabwean. He said the man was “pleasant” but “very private”.
He knew that “Dr Mhlanga” made his money through dealing in commodities. He had lived there for about eight months. This tallied with information provided by others in Ballito.
It appears Mhlanga has the money to fund the massive development, estimated to be worth R200 million to R300m. He is chairman of Mbada Diamonds, a Zimbabwe-based company that was awarded mining rights at Chiadzwa by Mugabe’s government. It has been reported that first lady Grace Mugabe had a substantial interest in Mbada and had met Mhlanga several times.
Mhlanga has interests in an SA firm, Liparm Construction, whose website indicates it is involved in commodities including diamonds.
It has been previously reported that a study released by British watchdog NGO Global Witness raised concerns about diamond mining in Zimbabwe. It named Mbada Diamonds as one of the companies it was concerned about.
The grounds of the house are bordered to the south by the luxury Zimbali Estate and to the north by the old Pottery Gallery and Hilltop Estate. The property starts just 100m from the M4, but security is tight. A large fence circles the entire piece of land, and the entrance is guarded around the clock. A thick barrier of trees makes it impossible to see inside.
Aerial pictures show a main house that fronts on to a swimming pool and a man-made lake, with views of a second man-made lake and the sea. There is construction on the first lake, but it’s unclear what it might be. Towards the sea, at the second lake, another big building is going up, smaller than the main house.
Sister newspaper the Sunday Tribune contacted former owner Martin Sherwood, the main contractor on the developments, sub-contractors and property agents in the area. All would not speak or didn’t know who the owner was.
Sherwood said: “I can’t disclose who the owners are. One of the conditions of sale was that I sign a confidentiality agreement.”
He said he could not confirm or deny the rumours about ownership of the land.
Stefannuti Stocks, the main contractor on the project, would not comment. Director Graham Carver said: “I am not at liberty to divulge any information at all. I don’t want to discuss the project.”
He said a confidentiality agreement had been signed and that the company won the work on a private tender. At first he said he would provide the name of the developer, but later said he was not allowed to do so.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harry Winston Diamond Corporation reports on Diavik Diamond Mine

Harry Winston Diamond Corporation reports that in the first calendar quarter of 2012, Diavik produced 1.60 million carats from 0.5 million tonnes of ore processed. Diamonds recovered in the 2012 first quarter was higher by approximately 19% compared to the same quarter of the prior year due to improved grades. In the first quarter of 2011, a higher proportion of mud-rich A-418 type B ore was processed which reduced the overall grade. Ore production for the first calendar quarter consisted of 0.1 million carats produced from 0.04 million tonnes of ore from the A-154 South kimberlite pipe, 0.2 million carats produced from 0.10 million tonnes of ore from the A-154 North kimberlite pipe and 1.2 million carats produced from 0.39 million tonnes of ore from the A-418 kimberlite pipe. Also included in production for the calendar quarter was an estimated 0.08 million carats from reprocessed plant rejects ("RPR"). Average grade increased to 3.0 carats per tonne in the first calendar quarter from 2.8 carats per tonne in the comparable quarter of the prior year. The increase in average grade was primarily the result of the production of RPR in the current calendar quarter.

A mine plan and budget for calendar 2012 has been approved by Rio Tinto plc, the operator of the Diavik Diamond Mine, and the Company. The plan for calendar 2012 foresees Diavik Diamond Mine production of approximately 8.3 million carats (100% basis) from the mining of 2.0 million tonnes of ore and processing of 2.2 million tonnes of ore. Open pit mining of approximately 1.0 million tonnes is expected to be exclusively from A-418. Underground mining of approximately 1.0 million tonnes is expected to be sourced equally from the A-154 South and A-154 North kimberlite pipes. Included in the estimated production for calendar 2012 is approximately 1.0 million carats from RPR and 0.1 million carats from the implementation of an improved recovery process for small diamonds. These RPR and small diamond recoveries are not included in the Company's reserves and resource statement and are therefore incremental to production.

Based on the Company's sales during the first quarter and the current diamond recovery profile of the Diavik processing plant, the Company has modeled the approximate rough diamond price per carat for each of the Diavik ore types as follows:

Ore Type February and March 2012 Average Price per Carat (in US dollars)
A-154 South $160
A-154 North $205
A-418 A Type Ore $145
A-418 B Type Ore $100
RPR $55

Monday, April 16, 2012

Diamonds the New Gold For Individual Investors?

Marilyn Monroe to "Moulin Rouge" the iconic song has endured as a symbol of wealth for more than half a century.

Should diamonds be an investor’s new BFF?

But should diamonds be an investor’s new BFF?

Of course, investors and couples alike can buy diamonds on the retail market, but there’s a movement to create a way for individual investors to buy diamonds like gold.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking over a proposal for the first ever diamond backed exchange traded fund.

Tom Lydon, president of Global Trends Investments and editor of ETF Trends, thinks there would be a demand for a diamond ETF, but the problem will be pricing. “When you look at these ETF providers trying to get into the space to a degree it’s the tail wagging the dog. They’re trying to force the industry to have standardized pricing” he said.

“Gold is liquid. It trades on the futures market. But when you get to diamonds it’s a whole different story. Diamonds aren’t created equal. There are so many sizes, shapes, qualities,” he said.

It would buy one-carat diamonds and store them in a vault in Antwerp, Belgium, providing daily values with an as-yet-unnamed index. The fund is backed by a New York company, IndexIQ, that has brought 14 other exchange-traded funds to market in the last five years.

Wall Street waded into the diamond trade in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when inflation was exploding and investors were looking for hard assets. But when rates sank, so did the value of diamonds and the diamonds-as-an-investment proposition.

Citi analyst Oliver Chen, who covers the diamond industry, regards the proposed diamond ETF with caution. “Diamonds for end-use tend to be 98 percent consumer versus gold at 50 percent. So there could be a lot of volatility on those supply and demand characteristics.

“Within the context of the diamond market, De Beers and [Russia’s] Alrosa still have chunky market shares. On a combined basis that’s 60 percent. So it’s a relatively non-fragmented market, which is a unique characteristic in contrast to gold,” Chen told CNBC.

And it may get even more non-fragmented.

Chen is, however, bullish on diamonds, projecting that prices will increase 6 percent annually for the next decade. He likes Toronto-based Harry Winston recommending it as a "buy" with a price target of $17 a share over the next 52 weeks.

Meanwhile, Harry Winston is looking to tap hedge funds, pensions, and other institutional investors by teaming up with a Swiss asset manager to create a $250 million fund to buy diamonds.

According to Chen, the difference between this investment fund and the proposed IndexIQ diamond ETF is the Harry Winston vehicle will only be open to qualified investors, will be capped at $250 million and will be a closed-end fund.

Chen also thinks that Harry Winston’s luxury retail business is attractive as the company builds more salons globally in emerging markets such as China.

“Only 31 percent of Chinese brides wear rings versus about 80 percent for brides in the U.S. and Japan,” Chen pointed out.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's Engagement Ring

Angelina Jolie's engagement finger as she and her son Pax view works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Chinese collection on April 11, in this publicity handout photograph provided to Reuters April 13, 2012.

Angelina Jolie's engagement ring has a huge rectangular diamond that was cut in to an exact custom size and shape to suite her hand.

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The first photograph of the extravagant ring on Jolie's hand was taken on Wednesday, when she and Brad Pitt attended a private viewing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Chinese collection.

Jewelry designer Robert Procop told The Hollywood Reporter that he had created the ring for Jolie in collaboration with Brad Pitt. Procop gave details of the ring to the publication.

"He [Pitt] wanted every aspect of it to be perfect, so I was able to locate a diamond of the finest quality and cut it to an exact custom size and shape to suite Angelina's hand," Procop said, according to the publication.

"The side diamonds are specially cut to encircle her finger. Each diamond is of the highest gem quality," the famous designer added.

Jolie, 36 and Pitt,48, one of the world's best known couples, are engaged to marry, Pitt's manager confirmed Friday.

"Yes, it's confirmed. It is a promise for the future and their kids are very happy. There's no date set at this time," said Pitt's spokeswoman Cynthia Pett-Dante.

The announcement ended a severe media frenzy over whether the couple who has been together for seven years and has six children, will tie the knot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

De Beers branded diamonds do well in South Africa

Forevermark jeweller in South Africa, has reported that sales of the De Beers' diamond brand have exceeded projection by three times within the first quarter of trading.

Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” actress, as one of the presenters at the 65th British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards in February this year wearing a pair of 4.72 carat Forevermark Millemoi chandelier earrings.
According to Brett Parker and PJ Kirkland, GMs of the Montecasino and Cape Town stores respectively, good sales were achieved in terms of both volume and value since the local launch of the brand in November 2011.

First launched in 2008, it built a significant presence in Hong Kong and China and rolled-out across Japan, India, the US, Singapore, Malaysia, the Caribbean and Mexico. The brand has resonated well with consumers, offering a promise of beauty, rarity and responsible sourcing, key factors that have helped to drive success to date.

"The stores cater predominantly to foreign travellers, with a significant segment comprising visitors from China and Hong Kong where there is a strong and growing affinity for diamonds, particularly those associated with the De Beers name," says Parker.

Whilst locally branded jewellery traditionally has not traded well, the pull of an aspirational international brand of this calibre has completed its retail offering exceptionally well, he said.

Less than 1% of the world's diamonds are eligible to be so branded. The Forevermark icon inscribed on each diamond is proof of the brand's promise. Invisible to the naked eye, the inscription can be seen using a special viewer found in store.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exports triple

Bank of Botswana indicates that the February level of diamond exports, both rough and polished stones, was approximately 89 percent higher than the December sales and 65 percent higher than the November figure.

The February 2012 sales are also 35 percent higher than the P1.65 billion recorded in February 2011.

Diamond sales slumped from a record P10.1 billion in the third quarter to P6.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, on weakening demand in the key US and the Euro zone markets, owing to the economic crisis.

The slump consequently pushed the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) down 5.8 percent quarter on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, with output in the economically critical mining sector declining by 24.8 percent.

The GDP figures, released last week seemed to confirm expectations of constrained growth and even a possible recession in 2012, stemming from a slowdown in the mining sector. However the figures released yesterday by the Bank of Botswana, confirm projections made by several producers pointing to the precious stones' resilience in 2012, despite threats of economic deceleration in traditional diamond markets.

Last week, De Beers Botswana CEO, Neo Moroka, told Mmegi the demand for diamonds has been strong at the three sights or auctions held by the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) since the beginning of the year.

He said the sales were positive despite the fact that cutting and polishing firms still had stockpiles of diamonds from sights held last year. "Sales have been very good," Moroka said.

"Due to the downturn at the end part of last year, companies have been getting rid of the stockpiles and when the industry is selling off stockpiles, the performance is not usually good. But much to our surprise, our sights in the first quarter of the year have been above expectations, although not as good as the first quarter of 2011 which was exceptional."

Moroka said rough diamond prices were expected to trend upwards this year, based on the strong demand coming out of China, which is now the second largest consumer of the precious stones after the US.