Rapaport Magazine

Vegas Show Disappointing For Some

Antwerp Market Report

By Marc Goldstein
RAPAPORT... Except for the highest-quality items, the JCK Las Vegas show wasn’t considered successful by many. Dave Lapa of Overseas Diamonds commented that “Generally speaking, the traffic was inferior to last year. The mood was morose for medium and low quality. The better goods were sold at 10 percent higher prices and there were 10 percent more sales in those goods at the show than in 2006. As far as we’re concerned, we gained between 18 and 22 retailers for our ISee2 program, which is good.”

Vartkess Knadjian of Backes & Strauss agreed about the show’s mixed message. “We had a very good Vegas, although Vegas was very disappointing to others. Less traffic than ever before was recorded. Actually, we sold to Asian customers. Our advantage was that we don’t specialize in U.S. goods. The Americans don’t really come to Vegas to buy loose diamonds. You can see jewelry, branded jewelry, programs, marketing, promotion activity. We had large, loose stones. When you really consider the complaints, they have nothing to do with Vegas. If you have the right goods [big nice stones], then buyers will travel to wherever you are to get them.”

One of the most significant and interesting discoveries at the show, according to Roby Taché of Taché Diamonds, was that “While the high-end goods moved extremely well, there was less activity at the level of the lower-end diamonds. All of a sudden, it’s as if there has been some change in mood vis-à-vis the majors. It seems that the suppliers are no longer ready to bend before the big buyers. Now they have the guts to say ‘No’ to programs that they know they won’t be able to sustain.” In other words, the market appears to be en route to once again being a seller’s market and is at least starting to move in that direction — just not yet.

Taché offered one explanation for the poor impression left by the U.S. show. “The fact that there have been so few visitors relative to the size of the fair is maybe due precisely to the size. Vegas has, indeed, become too big for what it is. Not only are there too many organizers, but there are actually too many booths. It’s as if the whole show has lost all human dimension, making it exhausting to go from one point at one end of the show to another point at the other end and return to the first point on the same day to close a deal.”

IDL Keeps Recruiting

Barely two months before starting its operations in Dubai, Mumbai and Antwerp, the International Diamond Laboratories (IDL) has appointed three senior officers with strong backgrounds at gemological laboratories to key positions in its grading operations.

The appointments are:
Michel Schuermans, a Belgian who was the Diamond High Council’s (HRD) chief gemologist for 25 years until he left in 2004, will be overseeing IDL’s grading operations as chief laboratory manager.

Pierre Grabowski, a Canadian who was in charge of the security department of a major bank before joining HRD as manager of the certificates department for six years before leaving in 2000, will become chief logistics officer of the IDL.

Filip De Weerdt, a native of South Korea who received his PhD in Physics at King’s College London for his research work on diamond color treatments and headed the research department at HRD from 2000 to 2006, will also head IDL’s research department. He was a member of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Gemological Research Conference scientific advisory committee and has been working closely with De Beers research division in Maidenhead, United Kingdom.

HRD Antwerp Plans Foothold in China

HRD Antwerp has signed a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for establishing a functional gemological service center in Panyu, China, in cooperation with Worldmart Jewelry & Gems Emporium. Preliminary plans call for a “fast track” service for diamond certification in Antwerp and an expert facility in Panyu.

“We are looking forward to working with one of the leading industry organizations in Panyu and to extending the opportunities for HRD certificates and courses in one of the fastest growing markets today,” said Georges Brys, general manager of HRD Antwerp NV.

The Marketplace

• Demand for rough is very strong and prices are constantly rising.
• Demand for polished is more steady, which causes the gap between the prices of rough and polished to spread, except in 3 carat+, where inflation has hit.
• Better qualities of melees keep moving.
• The purchasing power of the U.S. middle class appears to be diminishing, which has a direct impact on diamond sales in the middle-quality goods.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2007. To subscribe click here.

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