Rapaport Magazine

Take Note

July 2007

By Rapaport
RAPAPORT...  What’s in a name? Well, if that name is Harry Winston, there’s plenty of value in it. Just ask the shareholders of the Aber Diamond Corporation, who last month voted to change the mining company’s name to that of its well-known retail division. Calling the entire company the Harry Winston Diamond Corp. will leverage the brand equity of the Harry Winston name—the only true luxury brand based in the United States rather than in Europe, said chairman and CEO Robert Gannicott in an interview with the Canadian Press.

Since Aber took full ownership of Harry Winston in 2006, the name change will better reflect “the nature of the corporation’s activities, and in particular the broadening of the corporation’s focus to include both retail and mining segments of the diamond industry,” Gannicott told shareholders at the annual meeting. “A promotion of the company’s equity in turn promotes its jewelry products, and the promotion of the jewelry products in turn supports the promotion of the company’s equity.”

Aber expects to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange in the fourth quarter of 2007 under ticker HWJ. It already trades in Toronto under ABZ.

• American Gem Society (AGS) Laboratories has appointed Frank Dallahan as its new president and chief executive officer, effective July 15. Dallahan previously was president and CEO of Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA). MJSA chairman Alan Bell said the group already has begun the search for a new CEO.

• Israel Diamond Exchange President Avi Paz was unanimously reelected to a second term at the bourse’s 58th Annual General Meeting last month. Paz said that during his first term the Israeli diamond industry attracted many new foreign trading partners and grew the quantity of rough diamonds brought into the country; he hopes to continue to strengthen its position as the world leader during his new term. IDE members also elected a new board of directors, comprising Yehezkel Blum, Nissan Chen, Itzhak Cohen, Moti Fluk, Moti Ganz, Hagai Halevi, Jacob (Cobi) Korn, Yair Sahar, Ilan Samuel, Yehuda Sayag, Ben Zion Shasho, Eli Shiri, Yosef Siani, Ishai Topel, Estie Wertheimer and Rafi Yerushalmi.

• Junior mining company Cape Diamonds PLC appointed four new directors, naming Merika Johannes Madungandaba as finance director, Sharon Sasson as an executive director, and Anna Theresa Masamo Mokgokong and Oren Jonathan Lubow as nonexecutive directors. Chairman Masoud Alikhani will now become nonexecutive chairman. Cape Diamonds is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market and owns a 74.4 percent stake in the Elandslaagte Project.

• The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has appointed Gaiti Rabbani as executive director of its new colored stones and pearls division. Previously, Rabbani was the group’s chief sales and marketing officer.
The appointment comes against the backdrop of the DMCC’s increased focus on colored stones and pearls, fuelled by the recent growth in demand for these gemstones in the Gulf region. Ahmed bin Sulayem, DMCC executive chairman, said Dubai is fast emerging as a global hub for the trade in colored stones and pearls. In the first half of 2006, the country exported more than $653 million of precious and semiprecious gemstones, accounting for 28 percent of the United Arab Emirate’s total exports. The UAE made up more than $6 billion of the $146 billion global jewelry market in 2006.

• EGL USA’s new 360º Diamond Report service features light performance as a new measure for overall diamond quality. Light performance is the combination of brilliance, contrast and radiance that distinguishes individual diamonds. The 360º Diamond Report measures and details light performance, as well as traditional industry benchmarks, to provide a complete overview of a stone’s quality and visual appeal, the company said. As part of the 360º Diamond Report, EGL USA assigns an overall grade, known as a Diamond’s Natural Attraction or DNA, to each diamond. The grade comprises 12 distinct elements, seven relating to cut and proportion, three to light performance, and two to polish and symmetry. The 360º Diamond Report service was developed utilizing ImaGem’s patented direct light performance technology.

• Colored stone specialist Elizabeth Quinn has joined the staff of American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) as a senior staff gemologist to help expand AGL’s colored stone services. She will be involved in gemological testing, research and development, as well as in training additional new hires. Quinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences from the University of Arizona and a G.G. from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). She was previously manager of the colored stone division at the European Gemological Laboratory/Professional Gem Sciences in Los Angeles. Quinn joined the GIA Laboratory as a staff gemologist in 2001, and served as a liaison between GIA’s labs in the United States and its Gem Tech Lab in Switzerland.

• ABN AMRO has won two awards for its contributions to sustainable banking. The company was named “Sustainable Bank of the Year” by the Financial Times, while its ABN AMRO India division won the global Emerging Markets Sustainable Bank of the Year award.

ABN AMRO, a leading financial institution for the diamond trade, instituted a formal sustainable development program about a decade ago. The program considers the ways in which climate change, energy and fresh water constraints, poverty, environmental degradation and respect for human rights shape societal and business environments. In India, the bank launched the country’s first sustainable development fund applying the Equator Principles and was the first foreign bank to engage in microfinance activities.

• Zale Corporation’s former president Larry Pollock has joined the board of directors of The Gemesis Corporation, which produces laboratory-grown diamonds. Pollock was president and COO of Zale Corporation, and president and chief executive officer of the Cole National Corporation, which operates more than 3,000 retail stores, including Pearle Vision and Things Remembered. He currently serves as a nonexecutive chairman of Borders Group and as managing director of the investment firm Lucky Stars Partners.

• It was a busy month for HRD Antwerp NV, which in June rolled out a grading service for customers in Israel and opened a representative office in Mumbai, India.

The new HRD Lab Link program in Israel is similar to one already offered in Mumbai and Hong Kong. It allows HRD to pick up ungraded diamonds from offices in Israel and deliver them with certificates, and gives Israeli customers access to such HRD Antwerp Diamond Lab services as fancy color grading and HRD Certificate ID laser inscriptions. Secure delivery will be provided by G4S from its Antwerp diamond district offices; the global security service’s local partner, D2D Val Express, will handle delivery services in Israel.

In India, meanwhile, HRD appointed Devika Gidwani as its chief operations officer and country head.

HRD Antwerp acts as the commercial subsidiary of the Antwerp Diamond High Council. Its services include the HRD Diamond Lab, the Precious Stones Lab, HRD Education, HRD Equipment and HRD Research. The Belgium-based lab is an internationally respected center for gemological grading and study, and the first in the world to achieve ISO accreditation.

After a 10-year term, Douglas Hucker has tendered his resignation as CEO of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), though he will continue to work for the group in an advisory capacity for six months. AGTA chief operating officer Ed Griffin will be the primary contact person until a new CEO is announced.

Hucker will be honored with the AGTA Lifetime Membership Award at the 2008 AGTA GemFair Tucson Dinner Dance and Awards Gala.

• Noted jewelry dealer Marion Halfacre died on June 9 at the age of 58. Since 1975, when he became a partner in a jewelry store in Jackson, Mississippi, Halfacre focused his abilities on building and growing a successful trade in jewelry, overseeing the store’s move to a large regional mall in Mississippi and then moving to California to open Traditional Jewelers at the Newport Hills Shopping Center. The store flourished into a highly successful business in which members of Halfacre’s family played an indispensable role. Halfacre served as president of the board of the California Jewelers Association and president of the 24K Club of California, and served on the boards of the JCK Show and the Jewelers of America. In 2005, he was inducted into the National Jewelers Retailer Hall of Fame.

• The IGC Group is setting up a diamond-polishing factory in Botswana. The group has bought a 10,000-square-meter property in Gaborone, adjacent to the new Diamond Trading Company/Debswana building; it will house 120 polishers and a training unit expected to be operational by July. IGC also has polishing facilities in Belgium, Thailand and Laos.

• In what it calls a response to strong market demand, the Birmingham Assay Office’s AnchorCert Laboratory has launched a Tanzanite Grading System. The varying price and quality of tanzanite, which is often expensive and sold in quantities of several carats, demands more specialized knowledge and greater confidence at the point of sale, the company says. The new grading system, developed by senior gemologist Anu Manchanda, is based on a stone’s intensity of color. Stones are graded in four categories, from A for pale to AAAA for vivid. Clarity grades are consistent with GIA colored stone grading. A variety of zoisite, tanzanite is named after Tanzania, the country where Masai shepherds first discovered the crystal in 1967, and the only location where it is known to exist. Stones tend to be an exquisite blue with a faint outline of purple.

• The Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) board of governors released $297,000 in funding for scholarships from the GIA Endowment Fund. This move will fund about 49 new scholarships in the GIA Schools of Business, Gemology, and Jewelry Manufacturing Arts (both on campus and through distance education). The additional funding will allow the institute to provide 91 scholarships in 2008.

For the first time, GIA scholarship funding will be set aside for international distance education for gemology students and for those wishing to enroll on campus at GIA London and GIA India. The institute’s current scholarship program in the United States will also undergo expansion. “We are thrilled to be expanding our scholarship program to reach deserving individuals around the world,” said Linda Ellis Harmeling, GIA vice president and chief advancement officer. In preparation for awarding international scholarships, the GIA is also addressing local legal and tax issues in each country concerned.

The endowed scholarships are furnished by the interest earned on the GIA Endowment Fund. Because the principal is never touched, gifts to the fund assure that the GIA can carry on its nonprofit edifying mission.
All 2008 scholarship applications must be received before October 15, 2007. The winners will be notified by December 31.

• BHP Billiton has appointed Marius Kloppers as its new chief executive officer, effective October 1. He will replace Chip Goodyear, who announced his retirement in February after five years as CEO.

South African-born Kloppers, who in the past has served as chief marketing officer and chief commercial officer at the BHP Billiton Group, is currently its president of nonferrous materials, as well as an executive director of BHP Billiton.

The National Association of Jewelry Appraisers has announced its 28th Annual Mid-Year Conference, which will take place in Atlanta from August 11 to 14, 2007, in conjunction with the Atlanta Jewelry Show.

The association focuses on gems and jewelry. In the upcoming conference, it is offering attendees a wide range of speakers and sessions aimed at both further educating appraisers and providing opportunities for networking.

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

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