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Expensive Basel Show Frustrates Diamond Suppliers

Steady Demand for High-End, Unique Stones

Apr 30, 2013 10:50 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... Diamond exhibitors reported steady sales and strong demand for unique stones at the ‎Basel show; however, they were frustrated by show expenses and venue changes made at this year's fair.

‎“It’s an expensive show and not worth it,” said Leibish Polnauer, the president of Leibish & ‎Co., a specialist supplier of fancy color diamonds. “Europe is not a market and you can’t ‎compare this show to Hong Kong.”‎

Most diamond exhibitors who spoke with Rapaport News agreed, estimating that their booth ‎expense was in excess of $100,000, with higher rentals and ‎smaller booth space than in 2012. “It’s almost impossible to cover our expenses,” said ‎one exhibitor who requested anonymity. “Basel is about seven times more expensive ‎than other shows. Hong Kong and Las Vegas are not so expensive and you get more for ‎what you’re paying.”‎

Organizers of Baselworld increased the price of the exhibitor space by 20 percent from ‎CHF 350 ($373) per square meter previously to CHF 420 ($448) per square meter this year. The show ‎completed a $454 million renovation in time for this year’s show, which resulted in ‎the diamond pavilion being relocated from its previous position near the entrance of the main hall, ‎to Hall 3,  located behind the major watch brands and closer to the jewelry brands. ‎

Bernard Keller, communications director for Baselworld, explained that the renovation ‎reduced the overall available space at the show from 160,000 square meters to 141,000 ‎square meters but resulted in better quality, multi-level space for the big-brand watch and ‎jewelry exhibitors (see picture on the right).‎

Furthermore, diamond dealers complained that their location was difficult to find, in the outfield  and poorly marked with signage.‎

Keller reasoned that the new location meant that diamond exhibitors were now in the ‎same building as the watch and jewelry brands whereas before they were separated. ‎‎“This makes it much more comfortable for visitors,” Keller said. “It’s a question of signage ‎and communication, which can be improved and I am convinced that the change will ‎result in more traffic than they got last year.”‎

Steady High-End Demand

Still, diamond exhibitors did report steady traffic in Hall 3 (see picture below), but some concluded that the ‎new location enticed only serious buyers to make an effort and visit the diamond ‎section. ‎

Suppliers who spoke with Rapaport News reported strong demand for collection, large ‎stones above 10 carats, as well as for fancy color diamonds and nice-make fancy ‎shapes.‎

‎“These are goods we don’t have to worry about,” said Efraim Zion of Dehres Limited, a ‎supplier of better-quality polished diamonds and jewelry. “Even if a store doesn’t sell the ‎stone immediately, they know they eventually will.” He added that commercial-quality ‎large stones in L-to-M colors are also selling well, while finished jewelry sold better than loose ‎stones at the show. ‎

Barry Berg of William Goldberg, a high-end dealer and jeweler, agreed and explained that the ‎market is being driven by emerging economies such as the Far East and Middle East. ‎While consumers recognize the investment aspect of their purchase, Berg stressed that ‎the market is consumer driven. “People want beautiful jewelry to wear,” he said. “There is ‎a real health in this market. Consumers are looking for important diamond jewelry.”‎

Dealers noted that margins are generally stronger in the high-end segment this year  than for ‎commercial goods, particularly in fancy color stones. However, they also acknowledged ‎that their clients have become more knowledgeable about the quality of the diamond and ‎its price and that there is greater competition to source these goods. ‎

Beyond the unique items, exhibitors reported that there remains caution in the market ‎with pockets of demand for commercial-quality goods. They noted that the market has ‎slowed slightly since the Hong Kong show in March and  April is generally a ‎softer month for the trade anyway. ‎

However, dealers said they were looking for better-quality goods at Basel and that overall feedback from sales ‎remained mixed before the show comes to a close on May 2. 

‎“There are very few players at the Basel show who can come in and make the show ‎really worthwhile for loose diamonds because the show is expensive,” said one dealer in ‎fancy shapes who asked to remain unnamed. “But they’re around and if those buyers ‎come to your booth, it can be great. If not, Basel can be a difficult show for us.”  ‎

The following is a summary of some of the stronger trends observed during the  Basel ‎show:‎

•    There is a strong market for unique stones with demand driven by Far East and Middle East ‎consumers.‎
•    European high-end retailers are in the market for special stones and they are willing to pay premium prices but not looking to make large-quantity purchases.‎
•    Demand for fancy colors is strong, particularly for fancy intense pinks and blues. ‎Exotic colors such as orange and greens are also generating a lot of interest.‎
•    Very good demand for special large stones: 10-carat-plus, D, IF.‎
•    Steady demand for large, commercial-quality diamonds: 10-carat-plus, F to H, VS to SI. ‎
•    Nice-make fancy shapes are very strong with pear-shaped, 0.70-carat to 1.99-carat, very hot and in short supply. ‎
•    Nice-make hearts and ovals are hard to find with steady Far East demand, while emeralds are steady.‎
•    The strongest sellers in commercial-quality goods remain 0.30-carat to 0.40-carat, F-to-G, VS2-to-SI1 diamonds. ‎
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Tags: Avi Krawitz, Baselworld, diamonds, Jewelry, Rapaport, watches
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