Colored Diamonds continue to Sparkle

The Attraction, The Trend, And The Treasure: Part 1

Who loves color?  We all do.  It is something that evokes emotions and memories, tells stories, and can be symbolic.  The color trend in jewelry has been going on for a while now, and we are going to talk about how it is stirring in the market place, particularly in natural colored diamonds.  Color is not only sentimental, but it represents a fine investment in rarity upon the earth. Regardless of the market swings, the colored diamond is a holder of unique currency.  According to the Gemological Institute of America(GIA), in Carlsbad, California, one in 10,000 diamonds would be considered a fancy colored diamond. As a newcomer to observing this market, I have learned that the natural chemical occurrences are rare indeed and extremely limited to only a few locations in the world.

Let’s start this off with a bit of recent events in the world of sparkle.  With the recent sales of prominent colored stones, the gain in popularity and value is reflected in record setting purchases.  For example, consider the Oppenheimer Blue, a 14.62 carat fancy vivid blue diamond sold at Christie’s Geneva Auction in May of 2016.  It was sold for a record $57.5 million Swiss francs, surpassing the sale of the Blue Moon of Josephine. Which sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva November 2015 for $48.4 million swiss francs to a Hong Kong billionaire for his daughter. A superbly rare pear-shaped 15.38 carat pink diamond called the Unique Pink, sold for $31.6 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva May 2016. It is the most expensive fancy vivid pink diamond to ever sell at an auction. The 5.03 carat Aurora Green, a fancy vivid green sold for $16.8 million in Hong Kong in May 2016. It set 4 world auction records for a green diamond including largest fancy vivid green diamond offered at auction, most expensive green diamond in the world to be sold at auction, the most expensive green diamond to be sold in Asia, and the highest per carat price ever sold for any green diamond in the world at auction Christie’s.

Embarking on a journey to understand more about this enticingly colorful market, I have interviewed 2 jewelry experts who come from different and engaging perspectives.  Let’s explore these conversations about this highly precious market, beginning with a New York City based expert.

A coloured diamond is a touchstone of the universe, a little something God created that man can’t always find…they are the last frontier of collectable.” – R. Winston 1986

My first interview was with Mr. Bruno Scarselli of Scarselli Diamonds in New York City. Mr. Scarselli comes from an extended line of diamond cutters and caretakers. His grandfather began the Scarselli business in New York in 1955 after relocating from Italy. Due to his diamond expertize, the business had been known for fine jewelry and accessories. Over the last half of the 20th century, the Scarselli family has grown the colored diamond business through 3 generations, building on each stone that has been examined, cut, and polished into exemplary pieces. They began with colorless diamonds in the 1950’s and 60’s, and pursuing the less known colored diamonds in larger sizes of 15 to 60 carats. They began moving away from the colorless diamonds, seeing the opportunity to showcase these rare gems. Bruno reflected the early culture and vision. “My grandfather was always envisioning a fashion statement.” This painted a picture in my mind of a hardworking craftsman approaching the bench, his vision blossoming as he cut each shape. “We started to look to Asia where we could combine pearls and rubies, sapphires and the colored diamonds to make pieces of art.” It was at this moment that I realized the importance of the Scarselli family being caretakers of color.

Bruno began cutting diamonds when he was just 15 years old, accumulating as much knowledge as he could. He told me, “Since colored diamonds are a specialty that few people in the industry have, it is acquired through the entire process. From knowing the specific mines and veins the colored diamonds come from, to the chemical composition, I act as the gemologist, the purchaser, and interact with the stone cutter, bringing me to ultimately the point of customer service.” I could hear the pride coming through the phone at this point, and there is no doubt Scarselli Diamonds is here to make the best journey possible for each gem they choose for their clients.

“There are very few schooled in the understanding of colored diamonds,” said Bruno.  “Travel takes you to all tenders of the world to find the best colored diamonds. You also need to understand what to speak to for rarity and shape in colored diamonds.”

I did do a bit of inquiry to understand the possibilities in this elegant world of carbon color. To give you a brief overview, the colors of natural diamonds are defined by the chemical composition, luminosity and even fluorescence. Grading is complex, and to be certified as a fancy colored diamond takes many steps in an appraisal. This is executed by a person highly trained and certified by the GIA. They measure four quality factors including color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Fancy colored diamonds can be classified into the families of brown, black, grey, white (milky or opalescent), yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, pink, and the rarest being red. They range in color grades from fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, to fancy vivid. If you are an investor, you may be researching at the Fancy Color Diamond Index at the Fancy Color Research Federation. Colored diamonds are usually found in certain mines known for specific veins of color influenced diamonds. For example, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Mine in Australia and Petra Diamonds’ Cullinan mine near Pretoria, South Africa produce a high percentage of the blue diamonds found. Blue diamonds have a small amount of boron atoms within to give them their blue color.

Scarselli Diamonds has become a global authority of these natural resources. In 2010, some of the Scarselli gems made a rare diamond media appearance. They have also shared with the public the largest red heart shaped diamond, seen here with exuberant CBS cohosts. The 1.71 carat heart is one of the most unique fancy vivid red diamonds in the world. These are some of the best of the best.  Their pursuit of excellence also unified an extremely rare group of gems deemed The Olympia Collection.  It is a spectacular group including a natural fancy vivid blue green, natural fancy vivid purplish pink, a natural fancy vivid orange, a natural fancy vivid blue, and a natural fancy vivid orange yellow. This collection was exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History’s Morgan Memorial Hall  of Gems in 2009-2010. Their record breaking 90+ carat fancy vivid yellow diamond the Golden Dragon is a marvel to behold.

Now that I had an introduction, I wanted to know more about the natural colored diamond trends.  Bruno focused on two primary markets, the US and the Asian markets. “In the US, the best interest is primarily in size more than the color. You may have a customer more interested in a larger stone such as a 5-carat pink, but not as a vivid classification. There is the dilemma of rare versus sought after. The two should be similar, but they are not.”

“In order to derive the best color, it is by getting away from a sharp, brilliant cut. The number 1 enemy for color is the principle of brilliance. Brilliance kills color. You will see 4, 5 , 6 even 7X more color in a fancy round than in a brilliant cut,” says Bruno. However, brilliance is a big part of the sales here in the US.  “The 2 most sought after cuts to enhance color are the round and emerald cut. You will see those more in other markets.”

Bruno outlined the top 3 US color trends. “If you are pursuing value, the yellow diamond gives you more for your money and is often surrounded by white singular diamonds. Pink is validated by consumers. Blue is far behind because there is less appreciation and growth and the US is slower.” Colorless diamonds are said to be preferred and easier to sell here, but Bruno says otherwise. “Completely untrue. Colorless diamonds are more abundant and prices are volatile.  Most fancy colors can sell with a profit on any stone purchased in recent years. Westerners are slow investors in color, so there is little change in their buying habits.”  He mentioned another resource, Fancy Color Research Foundation, which I had found online. According to Mr. Scarselli, yellow is somewhat conservative, while blue or pink takes more patience and budget.

Two movements have led both markets Bruno points out. First, “there seems to be a culture within the culture of executive women who know what they want.” Design is a bigger part of the relationship of colored diamonds. Cocktail rings and exclusive pieces are more collector types at the high price points. “In the US the interest is for larger and more flashy pieces. More interest is being generated in diamonds in the $35K-70K price range, but the focus is not on the quality or color, but being usable with a white center stone and less elaborate settings.  The cluster pieces, white with multicolor, are also gaining in popularity. We discussed multi-color pieces, where 2 different colors mounted can accentuate one of the colors compared to the other. It is a skill that is developed over time to work these color combinations affected by refraction of light. I personally imagine this will be a growth area, celebrating rare color combinations.

“In Asia, there is a tendency to look for strong color, with intense and refined clarity. This would be more in the 1-2 carat range.”  There is more growth because this marketplace contains many high net worth individuals (HNWI) interested in the value and beauty of colored diamonds. The Asian market is a special place. Perhaps it is the appreciation for things so rare in nature that inspires Asian tastes, similar to pearls and precious metals. The recent sale of the Aurora Green to Chow Tai Fook Jewelry is an example of the interest in Scarselli colored diamonds.

“Creating value is essential. Jewelry is working on less profit, and demand for unique is becoming more highly sought, but there is still a need to define a market.” Bruno’s point was clear. The cut colored diamond can be the objet d’art and the inspiration for many collectors. I am curious to see if the high-end jewelry market moves using color as a more defining barometer than it has been in the past. Although the overall diamond market has slowed, the focus on color should continue. I personally believe the closer we get to other planets, the more our natural resources will be valued!

Second is the movement of interaction on the internet, it has been a long-term movement. Retail stores are suffering, but they are becoming more active on the internet than at the retail space which is good. The digital presence for high quality stones is key. Bruno has definite insight. “The diamond market has to have luminosity and exceptionally high quality photography to appeal to the $10 million buyer who is working off the internet for research. 90% of the big buyer work is done online. Since 60% of the time spent is on cleanup of dust in a photo, tech behind the photography is a key factor.” Digital tech is going to be where the growth of customer interaction will expand.

I have noted such movement being redefined in all phases of the customer environment.  This includes making retail spaces more a social engagement center to share their customers love of gems, and intertwining with social media ops for photos.  Tiffany’s Union Square store in San Francisco recently did this with their recent makeover cumulating in a re-opening extravaganza. It is the fight that all retailers have to keep space engagement.  The message across digital media must also intrigue a customer for an in-person experience. Portraying color digitally is a substantial challenge and most important in the colored diamond business. The interaction for local retailers is securing time from a consumer to see them up close. They must push the educational aspects of colored diamond investment to be worth the consumer’s efforts, and emotional attachment to finish the sale of getting them to walk in the door. Those interested in color will be captivated!

 

Thanks for investing time here and stay tuned for my next interview with another experienced jewelry expert in the retail diamond marketplace!

Renee

 

Photo credit: Comartlab (featured stone is a 3.19 carat Cushion Fancy Greenish Blue VS2)

 

Read More:

Fancy Color Research: https://www.fcresearch.org/

Aurora Green on Christies.com: http://www.christies.com/about-us/press-archive/details?PressReleaseID=8346&lid=1

Gemologists of America: https://www.gia.edu/fancycoloreddiamond-quality-factor

Oppenheimer Blue and Blue Moon of Josephine: http://www.investments.diamonds/oppenheimer-blue-diamond-helps-christies-gain-edge/

Pink Unique: http://www.sothebys.com/en/news-video/slideshows/2016/the-best-selling-jewels-sold-this-year.html

American Museum of Natural History: http://www.amnh.org/

Olympia Diamond Collection: https://vimeo.com/46841628    https://www.jewelry.com/blog/tag/olympia-diamond-collection

Petra Mines Cullinan:  https://www.petradiamonds.com/our-operations/our-mines/cullinan/

Rio Tinto Argyle: http://www.riotinto.com/australia/argyle-4640.aspx

 

Tis the season of Wonder in NYC

Windows and wonders abound this month in the Big Apple!

Check out the pictures from my recent return to NYC, and the first time as a tourist and explorer of Holiday Windows!  What a lot to see and do!  Here are some of the sights in the retail scene, and even a few glances at some prize works recently sold at Christie’s! Go if you can, it is amazing all the work and the wonderful items featured in the amazing windows.  Watch out at Trump tower though, a little extra security may slow you down!  If you get the opportunity to shop and enjoy these great spots over the holidays, please join in with your comments on your favorite places!

Here we go! Starting at Macy’s

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Blloomingdale’s theme with “Light up a young Mind” campaign

Luis Vuitton inside Macy’s

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Saks… Land of 1000 delights!

 

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Land of 1000 delights

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Saks Rosie Assoulin

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Saks  Naeem Khan

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Saks Peace of Cake Saks

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Saks by Saint Laurent

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Saks Land of 1000 nights Food fight!

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Saks Fur Salon

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Saks Nutcracker Sweet Land of 1000 delights

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Saks Inspiration Cotton Candy by Marchesa

On to the Macy’s “Believe” experience

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Close up, Seriously!

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Macy’s reindeer

Tiffany’s front Window

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Dolce & Gabbana

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Cartier

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 Chanel

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Michael Kors

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 Massim0 Dutti

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Lord & Taylor’s Enchanted Forest

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Lord & Taylor Enchanted Forest

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Lord & Taylor Enchanted Forest

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Inspirations from all over….Keith Hearing, Christie’s, Salvatore Ferragamo,

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Keith Haring inspiration

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Keith up close

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Luis Comfort Tiffany lamp at Christie’s

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Salvatore Ferragamo

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Soho body jewery capelet

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Christie’s Window tower

 

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Wendell Castle contemporary display

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Hermes emerald bags

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Nicolo Barovier

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Hermes graphic bags

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Willem De Kooning

Regalia, 2018’s crown jewel color

Ruby inspired with blue zest.  Vintage in Bloom.

To be made or remembered.

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We are going to relish regalia and all its forms.  Heritage and Hemisphere.  Which one is your favorite?  What hemisphere do you spend most of your time? Do you seek your place in a leather bound book of yesteryear?  Enrobed in velvet cloak, Sceptres and imperial swords surrounding coronation. Warbonnets, headdresses, tiaras and Orders of the fleece. Ruby red pillows upholding the crown jewels.  Craftsmanship continues through the artesian hand and the luxury minds that support the need for masterpieces. Embellimenta of braids,  gold thread and jewels.  Be prepared for an all star cast of jewel tones  cascading in to your world for 2018-19. May you find the regalia that suits your heritage and hemisphere identity.  Enjoy and mix it up.Take from the best to present your own tribe’s passion and pride. 

Velvet and Data Clouds

Velvet rose scarf

Above is one of my favorite silk velvet scarves, made by my friend and textile artist Toni Nordness.  She has done many wonderful colorations and this just fit my wardrobe perfectly. To talk the latest trend path, I want to give you a silk example to visualize.

So….we are all headed in the direction of the passions that stir us and this includes the love of craft, art and the notion of romantic trends. This goes farther out, beyond the 80’s styles and will begin to really start to infiltrate our world as we move into the “internet of things” and data cloud worlds. Our future is as much a document of code as it is a contribution to its chaos. The survival of it all will be through our embrace of the finer things that have been crafted and perfected through individual care and thought. Not artificial, but deeply sympathetic to our human needs.

I propose we are headed to a time when 3 D printed materials will become the norm, but the association with handmade will be more so bespoke and treasured than ever before. The artists and craftsman who so love their creating processes will be celebrated, and the tech that will infuse will be purely to amuse and juxtapose that which came from the heart.

To start the journey I will re-introduce a crafted elegant fabric that has been popping up on such fall 16 runways as Ellie Saab and Schiaparelli Couture. This textile was developed originally in the Far East and was associated with royal dressage.  It has since been expanded from silk and cashmere to other fiber types such as cotton and rayon. There is much on the history of velvet, but that I will discuss more in the next 2 years as the trend moves from fashion/autos  to home, you can keep touch on this thread.

My focus today is the trend’s emergence, so let me identify one craftsman who knew of velvet’s true potential, Mr. Mariano Fortuny. He was a legendary clothing designer and textile manufacturer of the 20th century and well known throughout the Art Nouveau movement. He would open a publically held joint-stock company called the Societe Anonima Fortuny in 1919 and exhibit at the influential trade fair in Paris, the Exposition des Arts Décoratif. Viewers went into ecstasies over his work- the perfection of silks, their jewel like colors, and sheer splendor of the patterns.¹  I introduce Mr. Fortuny to say this, the craftsmanship and care to develop such exquisite and singular pieces will also become the differentiate for the bespoke of the future. Be watchful of the rebellion of the IOT for those who can afford to go off the grid and choose artesian fare, it is the exclusive make of the heartfelt that luxury will survive by. It will in fact influence the rest of the world’s passion and I hope to see the designer/craftsperson be paid for true handiwork and thoughtful composition of material and color.  Keep looking for the trends that will push aside the IOT and cloud data.  There will be no AI (artificial intelligence) in this trend but all the consciousness of the art it creates. Enjoy your day and look for the things that took heart and soul and a gift of hand.

 

¹ Anne-Marie Deschodt, Doretta Davanza Poli.  Fortuny (2001) Harry N. Abrams Inc   p.63

Confirming trends:

Vogue-Velvet fall evening wear

Velvet revolution

Shoe trends

Men’s takes on velvet

CHIC velvet

velvet heels on Gabrielle Union

6 pieces every girl needs for PFW

 

 

 

 

Best Trend Bets: See the 80’s in a new way!

Welcome to my first blog!

So you think purple was always popular? Moonwalking was invented by John Glenn? I am going to cause you to think back today, or if it is before your time, you will understand some influences on your future choices in fashion when we are done.
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So, I am here to say we have seen the intersection of expression, technology, and fashion once again and in a positive direction. As we go through time you will see we are ready to enter the intersection again. With the losses of such major influences such as Prince, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Whitney Houston, to name just a few, we have felt the undercurrent of the 80s during recent memorial moments. This reminiscent path is not just temporary. In the eighties, there was a lot of intersections from many music genres. This included hip hop, rap, club, and heavy metal. There was music and dance competing on every corner in major cities. And then there was MTV… music television.

This new way to listen and relate to music was not a new technology, but it was a new marketable music product. It transformed artists and brought us the moves and fashion of the funky, hip, thrashers, and dance divas. How does this relate to today’s trends? Let’s talk through it.

Today we are seeing a turn in the intersection of technology, music, and fashion. From wearable apparel and athleisure, to 3D printing technology, we are in a creation period. Add into the mix the disruption of virtual reality. Where will all this take us? I think a revival of sorts. In the 1980’s the following was trending and growing: Steve Jobs and Apple were starting to manufacture, Microsoft and Bill Gates were taking shape and IBM was pushing into homes. Now we are seeing new technology like the IoT (internet of things)  enter our homes in a new phase of connections via everything from a washing machines to the coffee maker. Our lives are getting ready to open up and be assigned to data clouds for everything we do.

Bring in the 80’s music. It was a time of exploration and pushing new directions in many clubs, on TV and at concerts. The artists who have kept going since then are bringing messages back to the world and Madonna and P Diddy are just the start.  Yes Janet is having a baby, but Miss Jackson will be back and I’m quite sure she will be bringing her next show up to the level it has seen before or better. Why? Because the eighties music was about passion and survival. It could be viewed almost as a selfie expressed in music, dance, and costume. Watch a few of any of Janet or Prince’s videos. David Bowie, Culture Club, Depeche Mode, The Police, and Duran Duran were big in Europe and took leaps into the US music scene. Between all of these styles, people were exposed to videos on MTV and it started some fashion statements in bright colors, shiny fabric, and military looks. Costume designers, stylists,  and directors were being employed and competing in a bigger way. The impact they were making became influential. With interest moving to the video centric, fashion and accessories designers were asked to push limits too. Madonna was queen of this influence!

One movement that was not foreseen was the effect of rap, hip hop, break dancing and street style. It influenced whole markets such as the sneaker world. Companies like Nike and Adidas took their names to the next level by getting the hip hop and rap groups to wear their product. The styles would go to the streets and it would be the top price SKUs that kids would buy up along with their big gold chain jewelry. Fashion designers pushed their goods to the hip hop teams and their followers. They were taking samples into certain areas of NYC to create a wanted product and get the masses buying up their goods. Now with the new LED technology and 3D printed shoes, I am hoping that these new tech aspects will increase creativity by the consumer. For example, Under Armour is sending out shoes that can guide  you through the streets with map technology. Customers will start adding capabilities to their own products as they compete with each other for the best fashions.

As street style leads once again, expect to see retail and design companies reach out to sponsor groups and events to start telling individual stories or “Sell-frees” I will call them, to get the interests of the mass markets. Young consumers will compete for their 15 minutes of fame via the company’s website or social marketing campaigns.

With all this transpiring, there is a young bright color palette emerging with an anchor of denim (reminiscent of the early 80’s dance music). I expect this will continue to flourish as people revive royalty colors similar to Prince’s Purple guitar, and Michael’s red Thriller jacket and pearl white glove. I also see the undercurrents of goth and metal movements follow closely behind and feature dark and vintage colors as a secondary trend. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the 80s undertones and beatbox rhythms as they cross our paths.

Update 7/3/16

Here are some references and evidence of the eighties influences as they creep into the marketplace:  

Fast times/skateweek

Marc Jacobs Resort 2017

Moschino Resort 2017