Earlier in the year, I wrote about how sanctions on Russian originated diamonds wouldn’t work. Since then, both the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the Belgian government have released plans to identify and ban Russian originated diamonds, with the aim of convincing The Group of Seven Countries (G7) to implement sanctions on Russian originated diamonds, even if they have been cut and polished in another country, such as India.
Writing about engagement ring trends isn’t anything new – every so often there seems to be an article in magazines such as Vogue that purports to know the new trends for the current year. However, these articles tend to be mostly fictional, based on what the writer assumes is a trend and sometimes backed up by anecdotal evidence from an actual jeweller. Worse yet, are articles from jewellers that are merely puff pieces, written merely as an advertisement to promote their new jewellery line or get rid of old stock. However, engagement ring trends tend not to change from year to year. Moreso, they change over a period, say three to five years, and increasingly, much to the chagrin of jewellers who manufacture jewellery, are increasingly influenced by social media and online vendors.
In 2012, we upgraded our recording systems – going from what was essentially a paper-based system to a system that recorded everything about what we made and what we sold. Using that data, I have come up with five engagement ring trends that have emerged from 2013 to 2023.
The past 18 months in the diamond and jewellery industry certainly have been a rollercoaster ride. March of 2022 saw natural diamond prices reach dizzying new heights, before coming crashing down again to currently be about ten percent below 2019 prices. At the same time, the prices of lab grown diamonds have come down by 90 or more percent over the last four years due to the market being flooded with supply, thus spurring huge demand for lab grown diamonds. This has prompted diamond tzar Martin Rapaport to label the situation as “serious” and that the threat posed by lab grown diamonds will “significantly impact the generic non-branded B2B diamond markets”. However, the question still remains whether lab grown diamonds will have a lasting impact on the natural diamond market, or will the novelty wear off?
23 years ago, in 2000, Melbourne gemmologist Garry Hollway, developed the Holloway Cut Adviser, more commonly known as the HCA. Essentially this tool took the proportions of a round brilliant diamond (table, depth, crown angle and pavilion angle) and produced a rating that judged how well the diamond was cut. At the time, it was a very useful tool, as GIA hadn’t released their cut grading system, AGS Labs didn’t exist yet and void of the transparency that the internet provides, the diamond industry relied more on bogus terms such as “Belgian Ideal Cut” and “Russian Ideal Cut” to describe the cut of a diamond. However, beginning in the mid-2000s, a number of things happened that seemed to make the HCA obsolete, such as GIA introducing their cut grade, AGS Labs opening and more vendors providing detailed cut analysis online. So, is the HCA a useful tool in this day and age, or should it be consigned to a museum?
As another month goes by, diamonds, both natural and lab grown record another price drop. In natural diamonds, Rapaport records that 1ct round diamonds fell by 2.7% in the month of July alone, continuing their downward trajectory that started in March 2022. On the lab grown side, prices continue their predictable price slide with 1ct round brilliant, E/VVS2, ideal cut lab grown diamonds now available for well under A$700 including GST. However, the reasons for the price collapse of natural and lab grown diamonds are entirely different – one is supply driven and one is demand driven.
Most professionals in the diamond industry would agree that diamond grading has slowly become worse over the past 20 years. In fact, if you offered me a choice of two round brilliant diamonds, the same size, colour, clarity and proportions, with one graded by GIA in 2003 and another graded in 2023, it would be a no-brainer to choose the one graded in 2003, as I have witnessed firsthand what I think to be the slow degradation of grading standards, in some cases such as the GIA cut grade it is on display for the whole world to see. However, people rarely talk about this. Sure, there have been and will always be disputes about diamond grading, but it seems nowadays, the entire industry, from wholesalers and retailers to independent valuers simply accept GIA’s grading without any questions.
An article last Friday in Fairfax papers tells the story of post pandemic Melbourne and Perth. Essentially, it states that whilst Perth has nation leading office occupancy in its CBD, the retail vacancy in the CBD is 26.1 per cent – the highest CBD vacancy rate in the country. Meanwhile, in Melbourne, the opposite is true, with a retail vacancy rate of 9.2 per cent, but a very high office occupancy rate.
It has been two years since we started selling lab grown diamonds. Over that time, we’ve seen supply of lab grown diamonds explode, with prices plummeting which in turn has led to greater demand from our clients. With the sudden gain of popularity, one must wonder what the future has in store for lab grown diamonds and the entire diamond industry.So, here are six predictions on the future of lab grown diamonds.
Almost three years ago, I wrote about how jewellery, and especially engagement rings are not indestructible. The fact remains that if you buy a piece of jewellery, and you wear it on a regular basis, at some point, whether it be in a year’s time or 50 years’ time, your will need to get it repaired or resized. That said, getting your jewellery repaired, resized or re-modelled can sometimes be a minefield, so below I’ll discuss five of the most common mistakes people make when getting their jewellery repaired.
Over 15 years ago, I wrote about how jewellery valuations were worthless. Fast forward to about a month ago, I was asked to do valuations on a number of unknown pieces of jewellery. Usually I would decline such a request as I had never done a valuation on a piece of jewellery not bought from us, however, this was for a relative of an existing customer, so I agreed.