GSI’s 2019 Diamond and Jewelry Industry Round-Up

GSI’s 2019 Diamond and Jewelry Industry Round-Up

2019 was a big year for diamonds and jewelry. From record-setting finds to huge brand takeovers, it was a year to remember. Here is a round-up of the most interesting events that took place in the gemological industry last year.

GSI Discovers Extreme Color Instability in CVD Diamond

Gemological Science International (GSI) discovered an extreme case of color instability while testing a 2-carat CVD diamond in December. The CVD diamond, which was exposed to high-powered UV rays, went from near colorless to blue and kept its blue color even after it was returned to its vault for a week. Although CVD diamonds change colors under ultraviolet light or extreme heat, they usually return to their original color after exposure to sunlight for 30 minutes. This stone, however, took as long as two-and-a-half hours to return to its original color after being exposed to standard ambient lighting.

Following the discovery, the world-class gemological lab has warned that the CVD process could be prone to extreme color instability and suggests that all laboratory-grown CVD diamonds be placed in a full-spectrum light box for at least 30 minutes before color grading. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is one of the two most common methods for producing synthetic diamonds.

Gemological Science International (GSI) is one of the largest gemological organizations in the world. Founded in 2005 in New York City, it has since grown to have 13 gemological laboratory facilities spanning four continents. Utilizing leading-edge processes and proprietary technologies, GSI provides manufacturers and retailers globally with a wide range of gemstone identification and grading services. The company is committed to advancing gemological research through its Research Center, and it offers gemological educational programs for trade professionals and the general public at all levels.

Top Diamond Finds of 2019

Petra Diamond’s Legacy

Petra Diamonds had a remarkable year with several big discoveries at its renowned Cullinan mine in South Africa. Most notable of all, however, was a 425.1 carats D-color type 2 diamond which the company discovered in March. The rare piece is the third-largest gem the company has discovered from the Cullinan mine.

Aptly named “Legacy,” the stone was later sold to Stargems Group for approximately $15 million.

Lucara Diamond’s Black Diamond

Vancouver-based mining company Lucara Diamonds unearthed the largest stone of the year at its Karowe mine in April. It was a giant 1,725 carats grey-black diamond roughly the size of a tennis ball and weighing 352g (12.42 ounces). The diamond is a near gem of variable quality and isn’t expected to fetch as high a price as Lucara’s previous big find, the 1,109-carat “Lesedi La Rona,” which the company recovered in November 2015 and sold to Graff Diamonds for around $53 million.

Alrosa’s Rare Gem

Wrapping up the year on a good note, Alrosa recovered a rare 232.4-carat white gem-quality diamond from its Udachnaya kimberlite pipe in October.

The stone is the second of two large gem-quality diamonds the company has discovered at its Udachnaya pipe in 2019, and the company’s biggest find since 2016.

Most Expensive Jewelry Pieces of 2019

Cartier’s $100,000+ Snow White Themed Bracelet

Early in April of 2019, Christie’s auction house held one of its Magnificent Jewel sales in New York. The entire event was a success, but one piece far exceeded expectations–a Cartier Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs enamel-and-gold charm bracelet.

The Disney-licensed, limited edition bracelet which was expected to fetch between $15,000 to $20,000 started a bidding war that eventually earned it a whopping $118,750 price tag. The Cartier bracelet was one of the 13 pieces from the late Jean Talier’s Collection tagged “The Elegance.”

Gem Diamond’s $9 Million 13-Carat Pink Rough

London diamond producer, Gem Diamond, started 2019 with a big find and an even bigger sale. In February, the global diamond house discovered a stunning 13.33 carats Type 1 pink diamond at its Letšeng mine in Lesotho.

A month later, the one-of-a-kind stone was sold to a tender at Antwerp for $8.8 million or $656,441 per carat. The sale was the highest dollar-per-carat price recorded for any stone discovered at Letšeng.

Moussaieff’s $7.5 Million 3-Carat Pink Diamond Ring

Christie’s held another of its jewelry auctions in May 2019 in Hong Kong. Highlighting the event was a 3.44ct internally flawless fancy pink diamond ring by Moussaieff.

The ring, which was extremely popular online, garnered the attention of several bidders and eventually sold for an impressive $7.5 million.

Brands That Did it Big in 2019

LVMH

The world’s leading luxury group grew even bigger in 2019. Just before the year ended, LVMH announced its agreement with American jeweler Tiffany & Co. to acquire the company for a record-breaking $16.1 billion all-cash deal.

LVMH, which has 75 brands under its banner—including the three luxury jewelers Bulgari, Hublot, and TAG Heuer—hopes that acquiring Tiffany will make it a major player in hard luxury, the only sector the brand isn’t leading. Acquiring Tiffany will also boost the company’s presence in big markets such as the U.S. and China, two places where the Tiffany brand is popular. For Tiffany, entering under the LVMH banner will provide the resources and expertise the company needs to take it to new heights in the coming decade.

Gucci

Even though its sales slowed down from 2018, Gucci continues to grow. The company recorded a 13% growth in the second quarter of 2019, largely thanks to its success with millennials.

The luxury fashion brand maintained the loyalty of its Gen Z and Millennial clientele through its marketing and tech-forward approach. In 2019, Gucci launched several advertising campaigns using famous faces such as Gucci Mane and Lana Del Ray to appeal to its primary audience. The brand also collaborated with student directors in New York to create a trendy marketing campaign for its recently launched Ultrapace sneakers. Gucci is also the first fashion company to debut an AR try-on experience on its mobile app, an innovative idea that has so far had only been tried by cosmetic brands.

Trends That Stood Out in 2019

Diamonds As a Symbol of Love

Romance remains one of the top reasons people buy and gift diamonds. According to a 2019 study by DeBeers group, half the market demand for diamond jewelry was as an expression of romantic love.

The study reported that 72% of U.S. brides received a diamond ring for their engagement, while 86% of women in China see diamonds as the ultimate declaration of love. Diamonds represent a strong sense of permanence and endurance, and is a symbol of a love that lasts forever.

Sustainable Luxury

2019 was a year of awakening for the luxury industry. Thanks to Millennials and their demand for more transparent, eco-friendly, and ethical products, many brands have become socially and environmentally conscious. In August 2019, 32 fashion houses—including big names Chanel, Prada, and Ralph Lauren—signed a non-legally binding agreement to improve sustainability and tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Among other commitments, the agreement vows to reduce greenhouse gas emitted by the industry by at least 30 percent before 2030.

Debbie Azar, President and Co-Founder of GSI, Launches “In Depth With Debbie” Blog

As an executive with extensive knowledge of the industry, Debbie Azar’s entrepreneurial skills and vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide, establishing 13 leading-edge gemological facilities on four continents. She is an active member of myriad industry organizations and charities; currently serving on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Responsible Jewellery Council, and Jewelers for Children, and is a member of the 24 Carat Club of New York and The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA).

“I am thrilled to officially launch my blog,” stated Ms. Azar. “Diamonds and jewelry continues to be an important part of our lives and I look forward to using my blog to educate readers about the global diamond industry, discuss the hottest trends in jewelry at the intersection of fashion, highlight the newest celebrity engagements and red carpet appearances to show what the stars are wearing, and offer a peek into my travels all around the world.”

At “In Depth with Debbie,” Ms. Azar will be sharing her entrepreneurial journey with readers. She will also be offering commentary on diamonds, gemstones, precious metals, how to wear statement pieces, the latest jewelry trends, and trend forecasting what’s on the style horizon. Azar will also provide insights on what the global industry is doing to be sustainable and socially responsible and the good diamonds do around the world.

Moving Forward

2019 was a year marked with growth, memorable discoveries, and positive trends. Diamond miners broke records of previous years, luxury brands pursued expansion and innovation, and positive trends such as sustainable fashion took a foothold. Moving forward into a new yearand decademany changes are expected to take place in the industry (as well as some growing pains), but overall the future looks bright.

About The Author

Debbie-Azar-100px.jpg

Debbie Azar is the Co-Founder and President of Gemological Science International (GSI), one of the largest gemological organizations in the world, and a distinguished leader in the global diamond and jewelry industry. As an executive with extensive knowledge of the jewelry and gem lab industries, her entrepreneurial skills and vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide, establishing 13 leading-edge gemological facilities on four continents. She currently serves on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Responsible Jewellery Council, and Jewelers for Children, and is a member of the 24 Karat Club of New York. She has been featured in Forbes, Daily Mail, Good Morning America, Bloomberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fox Business, Fox5, CBS2, BOLDTV, Varney&Co, The Street, and NASDAQ, among others.

Debbie Azar

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