This past October came news that 25% of jewellery sold in the United States was sold online. In fact, the 25% figure represented the value sold online, but if you look at the volume, it is actually 31%. This essentially means that nearly one third of all jewellery sold in the United States in 2021 was sold online.
If you Google “how to become a jeweller”, you will get plenty of results saying the exact same thing – that is you need to do an apprenticeship. This usually takes four years, apprenticeship openings are virtually nil, especially in states like Western Australia, and to top it all off, apprenticeship wages are a pittance. However, thanks to technological changes and shifting customer demands, nowadays an apprenticeship, for the most part isn’t the best option to become a jeweller.
So if you’re unfamiliar with the term “shrinkflation”, it refers to a product being reduced in size whilst the amount being charged staying the same. A good example is a bag of potato chips weighing 200 grams suddenly going down to 180 grams and the price staying the same. Whilst this may be good for peoples’ waistlines, the same has been happening in the diamond industry for the best part of the past two decades.
When it comes to diamonds and crime, most people think of spectacular, and perhaps daring robberies, such as the 2013 Brussels Airport diamond heist or Argyle Diamond Mine heist. However, in Australia at least, crimes involving money laundering and loose polished diamonds are apparently non-existent, whereas crimes involving money laundering and banks or gold dealers make headline news.
So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, you would know that Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022. This sparked a lot of western nations to impose various degrees of sanctions on Russian produced goods. Theoretically, this meant that rough diamonds (plus everything else including oil and gas) originating from Russia would be banned, Putin and Russia would go bankrupt and the invasion would be over in a few weeks.
Earlier this year, Jeweller Magazine published a complete anthology detailing the “fall from grace” of The Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA). As the article states, the decline of the JAA started almost a decade ago, seemingly caused by their own stupidity, which included promoting overseas diamond wholesalers over Australian wholesalers and attempting to launch their own rival trade fair in competition to one that had been running for 25 years.
Over the last year, I’ve noticed more and more customers bringing their own lab grown diamonds into us for us to set into a ring. Sensing a trend, we’ve recently jumped on the lab grown diamond bandwagon and started selling them ourselves. That said, there still is a lot of myths, confusion and debate amongst industry professionals and consumers alike.
Every so often, one of our clients come back with their ring in need of repair. It is usually a quick fix, such as tightening the setting or bending the ring back into shape. However, what I find interesting is the reaction by our some of our clients when their ring does break. Whilst most clients are happy for us to repair their ring, some clients let their emotions get the better of them and accuse us of manufacturing a faulty ring, even when the damage is clearly their fault.
10 years ago, I wrote about handmade engagement rings. Back then, in times some may say were simpler, jewellers could merely listen to what the client wanted, or prepare a hand drawn sketch before manufacturing a piece of jewellery. During the handmade manufacturing process, seemingly minor details of the design may have been overlooked – attributed to “jewellers discretion”. When finished, the client was presented with the piece of jewellery. Whilst most of the time the client loved the finished product, sometimes the whole piece needed to be remade due to a minor detail. However, as with a lot of things in life, technology is changing how business is done and how products are manufactured and bought. Gone are the days of hand drawn sketches and handmade jewellery. Nowadays, CAD/CAM is what fine jewellery consumers are demanding.
In 2013, I wrote about the differences between white gold and platinum. Back then, 18kt white gold was still cheaper than platinum, however, for the past four years, platinum prices have been steadily falling and have come down to record lows compared with gold.