DeBeers Retail Diamonds and Jewelry Coming To New York

DeBeers and LVMH are planning on opening their first retail store in New York by this coming June. Another Store is planned for Los Angeles in October as reported by South Africa’s Business Day. This comes in spite of lagging sales in both their London and Japan stores.

De Beers and LVMH joined to form De Beers LV. The company has recently seen the departure of its CEO, its top designer, and icon and supermodel Iman. Under a 10-year plan, approved by De Beers and LVMH, De Beers LV would strive to emerge as the leader in the top-end fine jewelry and diamonds.

These retail stores are in line with DeBeers Supplier of Choice program that was implemented two years ago amid much criticism from siteholders and is designed to install vertical integration from manufacturing to retail end-consumer sales within each company. Siteholders are now required to market and advertise effectively in order to retain membership status with DeBeers.

DeBeers To Review It’s SightHolder List, Again.

GIA newsletter reports today that De Beers Diamond Trading Company (DTC) will announce a new round of potentially far-reaching changes in its sightholder roster in July, said De Beers Managing Director Gary Ralfe in an address to clients Jan.12.

Under the company’s Supplier of Choice program, every client must reapply for sightholder status every two years. In addition, companies that previously failed to make the list, as well as other diamond dealers and manufacturers, are invited to apply.

High on the DTC’s priority list will be manufacturers from producer countries South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. Ralfe called on clients to “help build viable, non-subsidized cutting industries that can compete with established cutting centers elsewhere.”

The DTC caused a furor late in 2003 when it announced that it would cut one-third of its clients beginning with the Jan. 2004 sight.

In addition, Ralfe stated that the DTC was taking “appropriate measures” to guard against “unlawful exchanges of data” – particularly prices – by companies or individuals with diamond mining interests. The policy is meant to exclude diamond manufacturers with substantial mining operations who, in the DTC’s view, may gain access to proprietary data.

DeBeers also stated that it was in no hurry to do business in the United States, a counter salvo to several companies that have recently filed lawsuits against DeBeers for the SOC program and claims of Monoply and unfair business practices.

GIA To Present Information on their New Diamond Cut Grade at Tucson

GIA will present more information and details about their forthcoming Diamond Cut Grade at this weeks Tucson Gem Show.

Two presentations will be held.

The first presentation is at the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA) Tucson Conference, Feb. 2 from 8:30 to 11 a.m., at the Marriott University Park, 880 East 2nd Street. GIA Research Associate Al Gilbertson and Ilene Reinitz, manager of Research and Development at the GIA Gem Laboratory in New York, will provide an in-depth overview of the research that went into the forthcoming GIA Diamond Cut Grading System. They will also explain the cut-quality components incorporated into the system and discuss the planned software and other support products GIA is currently developing.

The second presentation by Al Gilbertson and Barak Green, manager of Laboratory Communications for the GIA Gem Laboratory, will be a briefing on Feb. 6 from 1 to 2 p.m., in the Tucson Convention Center’s Coconino Room. A quick recap of the diamond cut research will also be given.

We’ll be covering the highlights here on DiamondVues as they become available. Stay tuned.

Big Flawless Diamonds Found!

Rapaport Trade Wire reports that four giant diamonds weighing 366 carats and worth over $6 million have been discovered in Lesotho, a tiny kingdom encircled by South Africa.

The four flawless diamonds were found at Lesotho’s Letseng Diamond Mine in the Maluti mountains in the last six days.

“Each one is of the highest quality… flawless,” mine chief executive Keith Whitelock said, adding that he expected the stones to fetch a minimum of $6 million when sold because “there is a worldwide shortage of large, high-quality stones.”

Letseng was officially opened last year with the investment from South African businessman Brett Kebble’s mining finance company JCI.

New Gold Fund Starts Trading on AMEX.

Barclays Global Investors iSHARES COMEX Gold Trust, the second U.S. gold ETF, was launched this past Friday, trading on AMEX under the symbol “IAU”.

The trustee is The Bank of New York and the custodian is The Bank of Nova Scotia, according to documents filed with the SEC.

SEC filings reveal that the shares will be sold in blocks of 50,000. iShares will be offered at prices that will reflect, among other things, the price of gold and the trading price of the iShares on the AMEX at the time of the offer. The objective of the trust is for the value of the iShares to reflect price of gold owned by the trust at that time, less the trust’s expenses and liabilities.

On January 21, 2005, Barclays Capital Inc deposited into the trust 15,000 fine ounces of gold as consideration for three initial baskets comprising 150,000 iShares with a per-iShare purchase price of 1/10th of a fine ounce of gold. As of the close of business on January 21, 2005, the net asset value of the trust was $6,400,500 and the NAV was $42.67.

The Barclays product will compete with the streetTracks Gold Trust (GLD) which was launched in November 2004 on the NYSE. The first day of trading for GLD attracted $550 million into the fund. StreetTracks is the brand new of several ETFs managed by State Street Global Advisors.

Gold ETF shares are aimed at overcoming the logistics of buying, story and insuring gold. Institutional and retail investors, including pension funds, which were not allowed to participate in the gold market are allowed to buy gold-backed shares from the trust.