Christie’s To Auction Largest Briolette Diamond Ever!

Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale on May 28 will feature the largest briolette diamond that has ever appeared at auction. The 75.36-carat diamond is part of a pendant necklace that includes a marquise-cut purplish pink diamond suspended above the briolette. The two diamonds are joined by a briolette diamond neck chain mounted in 18k rose and white gold. The necklace is estimated to fetch $8.5 to $12.5 million.

The briolette has been graded as D color and type IIa, indicating its internally flawless clarity, excellent polish, high level of chemical purity and exceptional optical transparency.

Sterling Jewelers Sues Zales Over Diamond “Brilliance”.

Sterling, operator of Kay Jewelers and other stores nationwide, says in its lawsuit that Zale, based in Irving, Texas, is falsely claiming in advertisements that its Celebration Fire diamond is “the most brilliant diamond in the world.”

Sterling says Zale promotes the Fire diamond “as the most brilliant diamond in the world” on its website, its Facebook page, on Twitter and in stores. The company also says Zale makes a similar claim in its catalog. Sterling says in the lawsuit that the “independent laboratory testing,” cited by Zale in some promotional materials, falls short. It notes that the testing was limited, involving only diamonds from select leading national jewelry chains and could only be valid if the comparison was made against every diamond cut in the world.

Zales has not commented.

Kim Kardashian Keeping Humphrey’s Bling.

Kim Kardashian’s refusal to return her engagement ring from basketball star Kris Humphries has already lasted fives longer than their actual marriage.

Kardashian contends that she has no obligation to return the bling because the former couple’s prenup states that she is entitled to keep the estimated $2 million 21.5 Carat diamond. Humphries says that the marriage was a total sham and that Kim only wed him for publicity so therefore she has no right to keep such an expensive gift.

The estranged couple is set to return to court in mid February to determine a trial date.





Tiffany Earnings down 30% on Soft Economy.

Tiffany & Co. announced last Thursday that it is downgrading its full-year sales forecast amid slow revenue growth and a sharp drop in net earnings.

In the third quarter ended Oct. 31, Tiffany’s same-store sales in the Americas increased 1 percent while total sales were up 3 percent to $400 million.

Sales in the New York flagship store rose 5 percent in the period while comparable branch store sales fell 1 percent. Internet and catalog sales were up 3 percent.

Worldwide, same-store sales were up 1 percent for the New York-based retailer and total sales increased 4 percent to $852.7 million. Net earnings fell 30 percent, from $90 million to $63 million.

Will China Cause a Shortage of Diamonds for the Rest Of Us?

We have previously blogged on China’s emergence as a world economic power and the update is that China’s economy is growing at an incredibly clip at the rate of close to 12%.

Lawrence Roulston writing today in in Resource Opportunities indicates that the biggest European economy—Germany—saw a rise in consumer confidence, buoyed by strength in exports. Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest car maker, is now building two big new plants in China to keep up with Chinese consumers demand there. Other companies are also planning expansions, to meet an expected 20% growth in the Chinese auto market this year. Last year, China became the world’s largest market for automobiles.

Chinese consumers are forecast to increase their buying of gold in tandem with their increasing prosperity. Already the second largest consumers of gold (after India), the Chinese are expected to further boost spending on jewelry. Investment demand for gold in China is still low, but that could also rise with growing wealth.

Some analysts suggest the expansions may lead to overcapacity in the coming years. Industry executives point out that there are now 41 cars per 1,000 Chinese residents. That compares to 500 automobiles per 1,000 population in the US. No one has any notion that China will ever come anywhere close to the US love affair with the automobile. Even getting a few percent of the rapidly growing middle class into cars will maintain a strong auto industry for many years.

Rapidly rising demand for diamonds in China is leading to forecasts of a shortage of gems in the not too distant future. Fifteen years ago, there was no diamond culture in China. Today, 40% of brides in the three biggest cities are getting diamond engagement rings. China has another 100 cities with more than a million people.

India, which now leads the world in diamond cutting and polishing, is growing concerned at Chinese efforts to secure supplies of raw diamonds as a basis for starting its own diamond cutting industry. In anticipation of growing internal demand, the Chinese government is including diamonds in its shopping list of commodities. The government is working hard to establish relationships with other nations to pave the way for Chinese corporations to gain access to a wide range of raw materials.

China has overtaken Germany to become the world’s largest exporter, with 10% of global exports. The country is the second largest importer (with 8% of global imports), exceeded only by the United States. World trade is projected to grow 9.5% this year, after shrinking 12.2% last year.

What should concern us here in the USA is the fact that China holds a large amount of US Treasury IOU’s. What happens to the US economy and the mounting pile of accrued debt if and when China calls in these markers?

NYC Bomb Suspect Sought Jewelry Store Job.

The New York Daily News reports today that Faisal Shahzad, the man who was arrested for attempting to set off a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square last week, recently sought a job at a Connecticut jewelry store.

Sylvia Lee of Dynasty Jewelry, which has locations in Connecticut, told the Daily News that Shahzad, who had worked at the store during college, telephoned her in February to ask for work. After she told him she was not hiring, Shahzad subsequently made two follow-up phone calls to check back, and politely thanked Lee each time.

“It was very strange, but I remembered him,” Lee told the newspaper. “I told him we were very slow and didn’t have any job opportunitys open…I was so surprised to hear from him.”

The jewelry store job Shahzad, 30, had held in his college years paid $10 an hour. After graduation, Shahzad had worked as a budget analyst for a marketing firm in Norwalk, Conn., but gave that job up, stopped paying his mortgage, and told a real estate agent to let the bank take the house because he was returning to Pakistan.

Two months after approaching Lee for a job, Shahzad was able to pay $1,300 cash for the explosives-packed SUV that was seized from Times Square, and he also bought an international plane ticket to Dubai, United Arab Emirates–a trip he never took, because at that point authorities swept in to arrest him.

Investigators believe Shahzad may have gotten financial help from foreign sources and they are eyeing potential ties to Islamist terror networks in Pakistan where Shahzad reportedly claimed to have received bomb-making training.