Rapaport Magazine

Diamond Sales Up in Basel

The trend to fancy shape and fancy color diamonds marched on at BaselWorld.

By Roberta Naas

Harry Winston

Approximately 104,300 visitors from around the world descended on BaselWorld 2012 from March 8 to 15 to view the latest, most exciting unveilings by jewelry, loose-gem and watch exhibitors. The atmosphere at this year’s fair was upbeat and attitudes — for the first time in years — were positive. Retail attendance was strong, with key American buyers making the rounds. Among those at the show: large U.S. specialty stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Tourneau, as well as a host of independent jewelers.

Most of the diamond dealers and diamond jewelry brands exhibiting reported increases in orders of anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent, while those who saw less business transacted noted that shoppers who didn’t buy in Basel showed strong interest in continuing talks at the upcoming shows in Las Vegas. “We were selling a lot of colored diamonds, and more sporty, chic diamond jewelry,” said Eve Goldberg, of New York City–based William Goldberg, adding that “It is time to make diamonds more fun.” Indeed, Goldberg noted that a white gold bangle with fancy cut diamonds that could easily go from day to night was one of the company’s best sellers at the show. She also stated that buyers seemed particularly interested in large fancy color diamonds, in such colors as brown and orange, most likely because they are easier to sell as large-ticket items. The average sale in these diamonds for William Goldberg was about $15,000 at the show.

Other exhibitors also noticed the attention being paid to multicolored diamond designs, including bangle bracelets containing powerful mixtures of diamonds in a variety of colors. Additionally, fancy-shaped diamonds were in higher demand. At Manak Jewels, based in San Francisco, where natural fancy color diamonds are key, pear shapes and marquise cuts enjoyed particular popularity. Diamond hues that stole the limelight were predominantly yellow and brown. Similarly, at L.J. West, based in New York City, yellow diamonds and pink Argyle diamonds were most popular. 

Demand for diamond sizes at the show seemed to vary. New York City’s Emco was displaying oval brilliant yellow diamonds of 10 carats, on average, and said demand was strong for intense fancy pink diamonds that averaged 3.5 carats. The company also showed some beautiful, colorless diamond necklaces combining fancy-shaped, pear cut diamonds. For Israel-based A.A. Rachimov, cushion and square cuts were the highlight, in sizes ranging from 4 carats to 8 carats on average. Of course, there were some impressive showstoppers, too, with brands such as Belgium’s Pluczenik showcasing a $6 million pair of matching diamond earrings, each weighing precisely 15.28 carats.

Jacob & Co. of New York City unveiled some stunning new floral ring designs with impressive center stones of blue or yellow diamonds surrounded by pink and colorless diamonds. One ring, valued at $18 million, showcased a 17-carat blue intense flawless diamond surrounded by vivid pink diamonds in a shimmering masterpiece. Other beauties included an 18.5-carat orange-pink diamond set as a center stone, and a 75-carat briolette waiting to be set. “We keep all the big sizes in stock as well as the small sizes. I shop everywhere to get the vivid colors because there is such a shortage of big, rare colored diamonds,” said Jacob Arabov of Jacob & Co. “This is what consumers want today in big diamonds — something uniquely different.”

The trend toward fancy colors and fancy shapes was consistent not only in the diamond halls, but also in the finished jewelry displayed by individual designers and big brands alike. Key words both buyers and sellers used in describing this year’s trends include innovation, airy designs, a return to nature and color.

According to Jay Mednikow, owner and president of Mednikow Jewelers in Memphis, “The most important items in Basel are the one-of-a-kind items, so I go with an open mind. My first stop in Basel is always Hall 3 — predominantly the diamond hall — where I scout for the individual items.” Mednikow said he was seeking special, impressive pieces at the show for his store because it is expanding this year. 

Many of the most impressive designs at Basel in 2012 came in the form of color, Indian-inspired motifs, floral and animal themes. Pavé diamond settings remain the strongest player in lower price ranges and for certain designs, but the aforementioned fancy cuts and colors were also very visible, particularly in the Indian-inspired and floral and vine designs. A number of exhibitors showcased stunning animal and insect motifs — ranging from sculpted diamond-adorned tigers, lions and other animals to eagles, hummingbirds and other birds.

Even in watches, diamonds took center stage, sometimes offset by colored gemstones. Harry Winston unveiled a dazzling convertible necklace and brooch watch, named Ultimate Adornment (shown above), which transformed mega-carats of fancy-shaped diamonds into a floral beauty. The legendary French house of Boucheron released the Cypris Tourbillon watch, a swan cuff bracelet watch created entirely of diamonds and gemstones. A magnificent creation, the head and feathers of the bird wrap around the watch dial and form the finished cuff extraordinaire.

Next year, BaselWorld 2013 is slated for a six-week-later date of April 25 to May 2, due to construction being done to overhaul and expand the buildings. The much-anticipated opening of the new halls is expected to bring even more traffic and greater brand visibility. Sylvie Ritter, managing director of BaselWorld, said that both show management and exhibitors have “great expectations for the new era that will be dawning for this world show. I am delighted that BaselWorld 2013 will confirm the excellence of the industry presented here.”


Article from the Rapaport Magazine - April 2012. To subscribe click here.

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