DeBeers Earnings Fall 14%.

De Beers Group reported that its underlying earnings fell 14 percent to $308 million during the first half of fiscal 2006. De Beers now uses underlying earnings rather than headline earnings to provide a better measure of performance it disclosed in its financial statement. Total revenues for De Beers held flat at $3.92 billion for the first six months of 2006 compared with January through June 2005.

During an industry presentation announcing first half results, company chairman, Nicky Oppenheimer, said that the results were indicative of difficult trading conditions. Higher interest rates, higher gold and platinum prices, reduced margins across the distribution pipeline, and the increasing need to manage polished inventory levels all weighed on the rough trading markets.

De Beers sales and marketing arm, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC,) posted a 1 percent increase in sales to $3.25 billion for the first half of 2006.

Jewelers Keeping An Eye on Bling-Bling Sales.

Consumers shrugged off higher gasoline prices in July and grew a bit more optimistic about the economy, a private research group said on July 25.

The optimism may be short-lived, however, as shoppers face a slew of concerns, including rising interest rates, moderating home prices, more expensive fuel costs and war in the Middle East. Indeed, home sales, which have been a source of confidence for consumers, fell again in June.

The National Association of Realtors reported on July 25 that sales of previously owned homes and condominiums dropped 1.3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.62 million units. It was the eighth time in the past 10 months that sales slipped, while home prices edged up at the slowest pace in more than a decade.

The New York-based Conference Board said that its confidence index rose to a better-than-expected reading of 106.5 from a revised 105.4 in June. Analysts had expected the index to fall slightly to 104.

Stocks vacillated July 25 as mixed earnings news overshadowed an unexpected jump in consumer confidence and the mild housing data. In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 29.94, or 0.27 percent, to 11,021.11, after briefly climbing into positive territory. Investors had a brief bout of optimism that the economy was slowing gradually, rather than slamming on the brakes.

Jewelers are cautiously optimistic about this years Fall and Winter sales which make up the bulk of the entire years revenues.

Interest rates, Oil prices, and the political situtaion in the Middle East and Asia are on the radar screen.

Grading The Diamond Grading Labs: Who Can You Trust?

For most of us, buying a diamond engagement ring is nerve racking as heck. We know less than nothing and break out in a cold sweat walking into a jewelry store hoping we don’t get ripped off.

Some of us flee to the supposed “safety” of our friend’s Uncle’s Brother-in-Law who has a “connection” to someone who once tried (unsuccessfully) diamond prospecting in the Congo and can therefore offer us a “Deal”.
Flying through the Bermda Triangle actually looks like a pleasant alternative.

Advice and Step #1: NEVER buy a diamond without a Diamond Grading Report.
The two most accurate, consistent, and stringent Diamond Grading labs are the GIA (Gemological Institute of America, GIA) and the AGS (American Gem Society, AGS). For those of us in the Trade, we recognize these Labs as being the best and submit our Diamond Inventory to them for grading.

There are a host of other Diamond Grading Labs with alphabet soup initials, i.e.; EGL, HRD, IGI, NGL that have been found to inflate their color and clarity ratings by 1-2 grades. What this means is that you’re paying MORE MONEY for LESS DIAMOND.

Timely and informative discussion going on right now on Diamondtalk.com

Diamond Grading Labs

Rado Watches Goes Culinary.

Rado has named celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa as its newest brand ambassador.

Rado watches appeal to chefs, including Matsuhisa, because of the scratch- and heat-resistant materials from which the timepieces are made, the company says.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of Rado,” Matsuhisa says in a press release issued Tuesday. “In so many ways, the brand’s ideals and my passions overlap, making this a great partnership.”

The partnership between Rado and Matsuhisa, often just referred to as “Nobu,” includes an abstract- and design-oriented photographic exhibition that will tour Rado retail outlets through the United States in 2007. For the exhibit, Matsuhisa created 10 dishes inspired by Rado timepieces and displayed them in a manner that resembled the design of the watch. Martyn Thompson photographed the collection.

A Los Angeles resident, Nobu Matsuhisa is the chef and proprietor of Nobu, Matsuhisa and Ubon restaurants, located throughout the world. Other Rado brand ambassadors include actresses Lisa Ray, Zha

Zales Tries To UpTurn It’s Diamond Fortunes

Zale Corp. has announced that Betsy Burton, its acting chief executive officer, will be president and CEO, effective immediately.

She fills a spot that has been left vacant since the departure of former CEO Mary Forte in January. The company’s board was so pleased with Burton’s performance as the interim CEO that it decided to give her the job permanently, according to a press release announcing the appointment, issued Sunday night.

Burton, who will continue as a member of the board of directors, has served as acting CEO since February 2006. The 54-year-old executive has been a member of the Zale board of directors since 2003. She formerly served as CEO at Supercuts, PIP Printing and the Cosmetic Center. Burton is also a member of several public company boards, including Staples, Aeropostale and Rent-A-Center.

Her term as acting CEO came at a tough time for the company. In addition to Forte’s departure, several other major executives, including COO Sue Gove and Paul Leonard, the former president of Zales Jewelers, also left the jewelry retailer.

The departures came amid the Dallas-based jewelry empire’s loss of market share to Kay Jewelers, which made gains while Zale struggled through an ill-fated attempt to shift its focus from its core middle America customer to a more upscale shopper. Kay’s parent company, Sterling Jewelers, surpassed Zale in fiscal 2005 sales for the first time in NATIONAL JEWELER’s $100 Million SuperSellers list.

Adding to its woes, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched a non-public investigation into accounting and other matters at Zale Corp.

SuperbCert Princess Diamond VS. AGS Ideal Cut Princess Diamond

We have been cutting our Signature SuperbCert Princess Cut Diamonds for quite some time to maximize the light performance and brilliance of our princess cut diamonds. Recently, with the introduction of Ideal Cut Princess Diamonds with Ideal Cut grade/parameters by the AGS labs (American Gemological Society), we have looked to provide our customers with an exceptional selection of loose AGS-0 Ideal Cut Princess Diamonds for their engagement rings.

Although both diamonds exhibit incredible brilliance, fire, scintillation, and have excellent precision cut parameters; there are a few visual distinctions between the two.

Here is a photograph of a 1.03 H VS1 AGS-0 Ideal Cut Princess Diamond (on the left) next to a SuperbCert .93 H VS1 Signature Princess Cut Diamond on the right. Similar specs….. can you see the differences??

Superbcert vs. ags-0.jpg

Business and Religion Can Mix: L.A. Diamond Dealers Find Place To Worship.

Rapaport News reports on The Boys of Summer thinking ahead to the Winter and while winter may seem as far off as the end of Los Angeles’ current July heat wave; nonetheless, diamantaire Avraham Nektalov knows that when sundown comes early from November through February across Los Angeles’ diamond district, business demand and heavy commuter traffic make it difficult for Jewish diamond dealers to attend services in outlying areas.

Nektalov, owner of Custom Carats LLC, decided to setup a branch of Shaarei Rachamim (a Pico Robertson area synagogue) in the heart of Los Angeles at his 12th floor, 550 Pershing Square, office.

The 32-year-old Nektalov is known to his associates as a problem solver and they describe him as one of the sharpest dressers in the diamond district. Less than one year ago he named his conference room as the Downtown Shaarei Rachamim. Jewish men of Sephardic heritage (a term used to group together descendants from Spain, the Middle East and Iran) began to trickle in to the high-rise diamond district house of worship.

Some attendees donned black velvet skullcaps, others exhibited their colorful central Asian tradition of wearing an elaborately embroidered cap. The daily prayers are led by different fellows — each chanting in their own unique accents of Russian, Hebrew, French, English, or a rarer tongue, Bukharian, but all were united in the universal Jerusalemite tune.

On any given weekday since its opening, when services are completed, coffee and tea are available to those who have some time to spare. Jewish diamond salesmen visiting from Europe or Israel find a home-away-from-home at Downtown Shaarei Rachamim too.

During the 2006 Passover holiday, when Jews refrain from eating leavened products (using matzo instead of bread plus a multitude of other products that are deemed kosher for Passover,) Nektalov hosted a bevy of Chassidic salesmen. Nektalov’s wife Leora made sure the showroom and synagogue’s pantry was stocked with food for the duration of the holiday.

Nektalov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in the former United Soviet Socialist Republic. His forebears date back to Bukhara and the Jews of Babylonia, who are specifically known for their charitable and hospitable nature. He was raised in New York and arrived in Los Angeles in 1996 with his bride.

Ten years ago, Nektalov only had a window booth, which he said extended a bit to the sidewalk. He placed a table along side the street and between selling stones, he gave out prayer books while blasting Jewish music for all to enjoy.

It is a personal mission he said to bring the vibrancy of Jewish life and the love of Torah to those who sought it in the diamond and jewelry district. Jewish pioneers arrived 150-years-ago downtown in what was then the Wild West and established homes, businesses, and conducted their religious life in Los Angeles. Those first settlers’ families dispersed across a sprawling landscape. Downtown Shaarei Rachamim’s opening marks the renaissance of Jewish observance in the same locale where it began a century and a half ago.

Following orthodox halacha (law,) a small section of the synagogue is cordoned-off with a brown, lace curtain room divider for the women’s section. On the official opening day of Downtown Shaarei Rachamim on Labor Day weekend 2005, more than a dozen females of all ages participated in the services and also helped in the serving and preparation of the breakfast.

Mathieu Attar, a diamond dealer of French-Moroccan descent, said, “In all the years I’ve been here, no one has ever dedicated such a large space, and included a permanent home for a Torah. It shows how someone can successfully divide himself between his work and religion.”
“It reminded me of the biblical story of Abraham – who waited outside his tent, greeting and serving visitors. And I said to myself …this is in America!”

Weekly prayer services are conducted each morning at 8:45 a.m. Nektalov said, “It doesn’t matter whether I’m here, or if I travel. We’re keeping the faith at Shaarei Rachamim”.