Camilla and Her Diamond Tiara

The Duchess of Cornwall arrived at Buckingham Palace last night wearing her first royal tiara.

The diamond head piece, loaned to her by the Queen, was the tiara previously worn by Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar to celebrate the coronation of King George V.

It was last worn in 1947 by the Queen Mother for an official visit to South Africa.

The circle of brilliant-cut diamonds mounted in gold and set in platinum was made by Garrards in 1911 and Queen Mary wore it in Delhi to mark the start of King George V’s reign as King and Emperor of India.

Camilla and Charles.jpg

It was lent to the Queen Mother for her visit to South Africa and remained with her but she is not believed to have worn it subsequently.

The tiara previously included five of the Cambridge cabochon emeralds and also was occasionally worn with two diamonds from the Cullinan stone. But the emeralds were removed by Queen Mary and made into another tiara now owned by the Queen – the diamonds were kept separately as a brooch.

Looks like he should be wearing the Tiara, don’t you think? Cheers, Mate!

Botswana Brings Its Diamonds Back Home.

The London Times today reports of a momentous decision that will have great impact on the Diamond Industry.

In a historic turn for the industry, Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, has broken De Beers’ control over the distribution of 50 percent of the world’s diamonds by bringing its diamonds back home.

In a move that marks the end of an era in which African diamonds sold to De Beers were marketed in London through a complex sightholder system of privileged clients, the Botswana government on October 27 said that De Beers’ supplies would move to Botswana.

An official in the capital Gaborone told Business Day that De Beers had agreed under the new sales contract that resulted in the renewal in 2004 of the lease for Jwaneng and Orapa mines, to move the aggregation of diamonds from London to Botswana.

“We have not completed the total mix, but southern Africa is the basis for the aggregation. We hope Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo will agree as members of Southern African Development Community (SADC),” said the Botswana official.

Assuming all countries agree as soon as possible, the Diamond Trading Company should start moving some of their activities such as training and developing security. A new building for the corporation in Botswana is expected to be completed by 2007.

The Botswana official’s comments came after President Festus Mogae on October 26 called on South Africa to allow the aggregation of its rough diamonds at its trading company in Gaborone instead of London. Botswana’s president was delivering an address at a joint session of the South African Parliament.

Another reason for the move was the cost of aggregation in London. “We, the producers are not getting enough back in terms of revenues and part of it is investment. If they aggregate everything, you are migrating say $5.9 billion worth of diamonds to a country. That would have a positive impact on the economy and that of SADC countries,” said the official.

Several sightholders with cutting factories in southern Africa have received sights or allocations by setting up manufacturing plants under a series of new guidelines designed by De Beers to meet local demands for beneficiation.
But these guidelines could be modified due to the pressures applied on De Beers by producer countries, declining market share and ongoing antitrust scrutiny. Although nobody knows precisely where the pendulum will swing, the Diamond Trading Company sightholders outside Africa will remain their sightholders.

“South Africa will still have their own sightholders, but they will take the diamonds that are aggregated in Botswana, the same for Namibia,” the official said. Sightholders who wished to continue buying their rough boxes or allocations in London could do so.

“But we are encouraging Diamond Trading Company sightholders to come to Gaborone, it will have a positive spin on tourism,” said the Botswana official. De Beers said the details were still under discussion and could not comment further.

Now you understand DeBeers strategy of the last few years in their implementation of their Supplier of Choice Program which is taking them into direct retail.

DeBeers Reminds Members On Diamond Business Ethics.

In a letter to its 93 sightholders, De Beers warned industry players to uphold the highest standards for the diamond on approach to the Christmas holiday shopping season.

Diamond Trading Company (DTC) managing director designate, Varda Shine, said, “We all have an interest in promoting consumer confidence, not just individually, but for the benefit of the wider industry.”

The industry and the diamond itself must be “beyond reproach” across the diamond pipeline she wrote. “Each individual sector faces scrutiny and potential challenge from its various observers and interested stakeholders. Any issues that may affect consumer confidence in one sector may have a domino effect on the others.”

All parts of the pipeline must demonstrate responsible business practices, and Shine specifically drew attention to De Beers’ Best Practice Principles (BPPs.) As a sightholder “you have formally agreed to adhere to the BPPs” and sightholders responsibilities extend to their own suppliers and customers.

Shine said that “malpractice” in the industry is “from the fringes” of the industry, and such actions could seriously damage consumer confidence by mere association with poor practices she said.

The DTC says it would take action against any sightholder or associated business, whereas rumors of unethical standards are proven true. “Irrespective of the BPPs, there is a moral duty for us all to aspire to the highest standards in respect of our business, social and environmental responsibilities as industry leaders, particularly given that we are dealing with the ultimate luxury product, in which so much human emotion is bound,” Shine said.

Do You Know What Palladium Is?

Palladium rose to its highest level in 11 months on Wednesday, while gold took a breather after a fund-led rally pushed the metal to a one-week high.

Platinum, a precious metal mainly used in jewellery and in car catalytic converters, moved closer to a recent 25-1/2 peak. Silver also gathered strength in line with other metals.

Spot gold was at $471.40/472.20 an ounce by 0934 GMT in European trade, down from $472.20/473.00 last quoted in New York on Tuesday, when it rose more than $7.

“There was a wave of new money coming into the commodities complex,” said Jeremy East, global head of precious metals at Commerzbank. “This trend will probably continue.”

He said relatively less liquid metals such as platinum and palladium could move dramatically higher with a comparatively lower investment, but noted a rise in physical demand.

“The fact that we are moving back to these levels again tells us the market wants to go up. I am still bullish and gold will soon re-test $475, maybe tomorrow,” said one dealer in Singapore.

Some dealers said gold was gaining strength on worries about inflation and the U.S. economy. Gold rose to a near-18-year high at $480.25 two weeks ago before profit-taking kicked in.

“My concern would be that speculative position is getting very very long, but in the short term it does look that momentum is higher rather than lower,” said a European metals analyst.

PALLADIUM, PLATINUM GAIN

Gains among other precious metals inspired fund buying in thinly traded palladium, a metal used in jewellery and auto catalysts. Spot palladium rose as high as $217 before easing to $216/219 an ounce.

It was traded at $213/217 an ounce late in New York on Tuesday.

Some dealers were bullish on palladium on the prospect of more demand in China, where many jewellers have abandoned pricey sister metal platinum in favour of palladium.

“Gains in Tokyo are supporting the price. We saw some buying in Asia because people think jewelers and auto makers are using more palladium,” said one dealer in Tokyo, who pegged the upside target at around $220.

The benchmark palladium August contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange rose 26 yen per gram to 806 yen.

Platinum rose to $941 an ounce but declined to $939/943. It was quoted in the U.S. market at $936/939.

Silver rose to $7.80/7.83 an ounce from $7.78/7.81 in New York.

Diamond Dealer Murdered In Greece.

The Associated Press reports this morning that Police in Greece have found the body of diamond dealer, Shmuel Levy, who disappeared shortly after arriving in Athens on October 10.

Four men have been arrested on murder charges including a lapidary expert and a business associate in Athens who said they thought Levy was carrying diamonds, according to police authorities. Levy apparently died from multiple blows to his head and was found 30 miles outside of Athens. Levy’s cash, passports, and diamonds were found in his rented apartment.

Levy, 66 years old, was a resident of Jerusalem who held both an American and an Israeli passport. His son flew to Greece after his father failed to return to Israel on his pre-booked flight. In Greece, Levy’s son appealed to both the American Embassy and the Israeli Embassy for help. He also called upon Interpol to investigate the disappearance of Shmuel Levy.

Sotheby’s To Offer Rare Necklace.

Sotheby’s announced that the diamond necklace believed to have been made for Catherine the Great and housed in Russia’s Imperial diamond state fund from 1760-1917, will be the highlight of its Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva on November 17. The necklace is expected to sell for $1.2 million to $2.0 million and will be on view at Sotheby’s in New York from October 28 to October 30.

The necklace consists of 27 large cushion-shaped diamonds within a border of stylized foliate motifs, close set with smaller similarly cut stones, embellished with a ribbon bow clasp, which can be worn separately.

The diamond necklace is a rare survivor of the 18th century when jewels were broken up to produce new jewelry in the latest styles. In 1719, Peter the Great created the Russian State Diamond Fund to house a collection of jewels that would belong to Russia for the permanent glory of the Russian Empire. Peter demanded that the empress or emperor would bequeath a certain number of pieces acquired during their reign.

Platinum Headed for $1000!

Marketwatch reports today on Platinum prices having more than doubled over the past four years, and that’s no surprise given that the white metal is more than 30 times rarer than gold.

Demand for it has kept pace with or outpaced supplies since 1999.

“Platinum is essential and precious,” and its use is growing, said R. Michael Jones, president of Platinum Group Metals Ltd., whose Web site touts the metal as “vital to the production of 20% of the world’s consumer goods.”

Platinum is everywhere — used in numerous applications for the auto, petroleum, and chemistry industries, and it’s a highly sought-after metal for jewelry.

Its price reflects its many uses — platinum costs twice as much as gold.

December gold finished at $463 an ounce Thursday, while January platinum futures closed at $925 an ounce — near the record $951 touched Oct. 12.

In keeping with that double value, analysts predict that as gold prices head for $500 an ounce, platinum may set its sights on the $1,000-an-ounce mark.

Both gold and platinum “have some real upside potential in the short and medium term,” said Paul Walker, chief executive of precious-metals consultancy GFMS Ltd. in London.

Ultimately, the best metals investment would be gold, in part because it’s “still an alternative to paper money,” said Peter Grandich, managing member of Grandich Publications, which publishes commentary on the mining and metals markets and other topics.

But “we’ve seen increased investment demand across the board in metals, and some of it finally spilled over into the platinum-group metals,” he said.

A true rarity

Recently, platinum prices have been climbing on the back of “reasonably strong” market supply and demand fundamentals and dollar weakness, said Walker.

In 2004 total world platinum supplies stood at 6.5 million ounces, but demand was 6.58 million, according to data from platinum experts Johnson Matthey.

Compared with 1999, that’s a nearly 34% rise in supply, but also an almost 18% climb in demand, Johnson Matthey data showed. See Johnson Matthey’s “Platinum 2005″ report.

The metal is “35 times rarer than gold and is geologically unlikely to be found in large amounts as a result of the ‘freak of nature’ process that concentrated it in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa,” Jones said.

Indeed, 75% of the world’s platinum is mined in South Africa, according to Sean Brodrick, the investment director for the Sovereign Society, a publisher of global investment opportunities.

The rest of the world’s platinum is mined in Russia, the United States, Canada and Zimbabwe, according to Johnson Matthey. And, all in all, there are fewer than 10 significant platinum-group-metal-mining companies in the world.

Platinum is ’35 times rarer than gold and is geologically unlikely to be found in large amounts as a result of the ‘freak of nature’ process that concentrated it in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa.’

The Bushveld Complex is the second most exclusive mineral real estate in the world — second only to diamond pipes, and they are spread all over the world.

By far, the bulk of platinum’s demand comes from the auto and jewelry industries, with about 40% of consumption originating from the manufacture of auto catalysts and 38% coming from the jewelry sector in 2004, according to a Johnson Matthey report.

Total demand in 2004 reached 6.58 million ounces, up 50,000 ounces from a year before, JM said.

Auto-catalyst consumption rose 7% in 2004 to 3.5 million ounces on the heels of growing European diesel-car production and by tightening emissions limits for cars in Europe and for heavy vehicles in Japan, JM reported.

“Diesel engines are becoming more popular due to higher energy prices,” and platinum can’t be replaced by palladium in those engines, said the Sovereign Society’s Brodrick.

Demand for platinum, especially in bridal category, is at an all-time high.

Meanwhile, jewelry demand fell by 12% to 2.2 million ounces last year, its lowest point since the late 1990s, JM said, as high and volatile prices in the first half of last year led to a “significant” fall in purchases from the Chinese jewelry trade.

But Antonia Camaano, a New York-based spokeswoman for Platinum Guild International, pointed out that, overall, “demand for platinum, especially in the bridal category, is at an all-time high,” with 81% of brides surveyed by the Fairchild Bridal Group indicating they wanted platinum engagement rings.

Platinum jewelry is 90% to 95% pure, compared with 18-karat gold’s 75% purity, she said. Platinum is also hypoallergenic and the densest precious metal in the market — well-suited to hold a diamond securely in place.