The World’s Most Expensive Apple Watch Case

Apple watch Golden Concept
Apple watch Golden Concept

Apple Watches can do everything. You can use one to track your blood pressure or unlock your car. You can use it to pay when you’re shopping or even to order a pizza. But as fans of traditional mechanical watches, we have to ask – where’s the elegance? Where’s the extravagance? You can’t flex with an Apple Watch the way you can with a Rolex Daytona and there’s no smartwatch that catches the eye like James Bond’s Omega Seamaster. Well, that was until the Swedish luxury tech accessory brand Golden Concept announced its outrageous new diamond-encrusted Apple Watch case – the most expensive in the world.

Golden Concept

You read that correctly, these are the first and only Apple Watch cases decorated with real diamonds, and if you have $15,000 spare you can grab one. But be quick as there are only 7 of these spectacular cases available, each housing 443 diamonds. Based in Stockholm, Golden Concept is a world leader when it comes to crafting exclusive and ultra-high-quality cases for Apple products, but this new release had even its biggest fans doing a double take.

So what’s all the fuss about? Quite simply, it’s the diamonds. For a start, each watch case has nearly five hundred of them and they take a week to set and hand finish. And these are exceptional E colour grade diamonds – this is the second-highest colour grade, meaning they have exceptional clarity and colourlessness. They are set into a case carved from a single block of solid titanium, a metal both stronger and lighter than the stainless steel more commonly used for watch cases.

Golden concept Apple Watch
Golden Concept

The result is a stunning design and the select buyers can have a case created for an Apple Watch 7 or opt to preorder one for the upcoming Series 8. In addition, each watch can be personalized with an engraving on the case back and, in a nice touch, the Golden Concept watches also come with a customised strap fashioned from high-performance fluoroelastomer. This is a famously durable material that is also resistant to changing temperatures making it ideal for sports use.

Yes, the price of the Diamond Edition case is insane, but we’re sure that buyers are going to love the opulence regardless. These Apple watches are neither sensible nor utilitarian. Instead, they’re over the top and excessive – ideal if you like your tech to be something to flaunt.

Golden concept diamond watch
Golden Concept

Source: Lee Smith

Jewelry Worth Millions Stolen from Brink’s Truck


US authorities are investigating a massive theft of jewelry from a Brink’s armored vehicle in California last week.

The truck was transporting goods to the International Gem & Jewelry Show in Pasadena, California, exhibition director Brandy Swanson told Rapaport News on Tuesday. The victims were 16 to 18 vendors. The contents included “high-end jewelry, watches and diamonds,” Swanson said.

The executive estimated the losses at $100 million to $150 million. Brink’s put the value at less than $10 million, according to media reports — a discrepancy explained by the practice of vendors underinsuring goods, Swanson noted.

“They all have invoices and paperwork to show the higher value,” Swanson said.

The theft occurred early on July 11, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles, which is investigating the case together with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

On that day, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department station in Santa Clarita, California, were called to the “Flying J” rest stop and gas station in the mountain community of Lebec in response to the burglary of a cargo container.

They “learned that several pieces of jewelry and gemstones valued at several million dollars were stolen from a locked ‘Brink’s’ tractor trailer by unknown suspects,” the department said Monday in a report.

“According to the information the customers provided to us before they shipped their items, the total value of the missing items is less than $10 million,” Brink’s said in a statement quoted in the US media. “We are working with law enforcement, and we will fully reimburse our customers for the value of their assets that were stolen, in accordance with the terms of our contract.” The company did not respond to a request for comment from Rapaport News.


De Beers Ends Special Supply Measures

A De Beers sightholder examining a rough diamond.

Rough-diamond buyers are anticipating an improvement in sales at next week’s De Beers sight, as the miner is withdrawing concessions that allowed clients to reject goods.

De Beers will revert to its standard rules limiting sightholders’ ability to refuse or defer their supply allocations, sources in the rough market told Rapaport News. They will also only be able to sell 10% of their purchases back to De Beers, compared with larger amounts in recent months.

“A lot of [sightholders] have tried to push back as much as they could earlier in the year to December, so the December sight might actually be slightly bigger than what people expect,” a rough broker explained. “[It’s] back to the original measures, which are to offer people 10% buyback possibility. There’s no additional flexibility anymore.”

Starting in July, De Beers let sightholders hold off more purchases than usual until later in the year to ease an oversupply of rough and polished in the midstream. At some sights, it made the unprecedented move of allowing them to refuse 50% of individual diamond boxes. It also agreed to buy back up to 20% of the rough it sold, briefly raising that allowance in September to 30% for larger goods.

In December, De Beers will not permit any deferrals, and will repurchase only one in 10 carats it sells, and none of its larger goods, in line with its default policy.

The sale, running from Monday to Friday in Botswana, comes amid increased optimism in the diamond market ahead of the holiday season. A three-week shutdown at Indian cutting factories during Diwali has contributed to a drop in polished inventory, with some categories now in short supply.

“[Manufacturers] have had some time off, and the market has slightly improved,” an India-based sightholder observed. “They’ll be trying to start up their manufacturing [again].”

The upcoming sale is also buyers’ final opportunity to prove demand ahead of De Beers’ decision on the supply each customer will receive in 2020. De Beers is in the process of finalizing allocations for the new intention-to-offer period, or ITO, which it bases on past purchasing records. For that reason, clients are unlikely to reject more goods than necessary, another sightholder explained.

“It feels like whatever is going to be on the table will be sold,” he said. “Anything you’re going to give back now, you have the threat of your ITO being recalculated. They also reduced prices last time, so I don’t see people refusing goods that have been reduced in price at the last sight.”

Sightholders are already expecting the value of their 2020 allocations to be smaller than this year due to a drop in De Beers’ production and the price decline of roughly 5% at the November sight. The miner is predicting output of around 31 million carats for 2019, translating to a 12% decline versus last year, and will release its 2020 forecast on January 23.

De Beers informed sightholders this week of their provisional supply for the new ITO, which will follow a calendar-year cycle for the first time.

Next week’s sight is the 10th and last of the year. Sales fell 26% to $3.6 billion for the first nine cycles, with November seeing a gentler year-on-year decline of 12% as demand began to stabilize.


Firestone Diamonds’ Liqhobong mine back at full tilt as power returns

Lucapa Diamond Mine

Shares in Africa focused Firestone Diamonds went ballistic on Wednesday after it announced that stable power had returned to its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, with the plant processing at full capacity.

Firestone had warned in October that the mine was struggling due to insufficient power supply due to a two-month maintenance shutdown at its only power supplier — Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

As a result, processing operations were halted from the beginning of the month to Oct. 26, when diesel generators were commissioned. The plant then operated at between 80% and 90% capacity throughout November.

While the LHWP resumed operations on Dec. 1, the company said it had to book $1.1 million in additional costs from the use of the generators, adding that it had also filed an insurance claim over loss of profit.

Firestone’s stock was up 128% on Wednesday mid-day in London at 0.97 pence a share, leaving the company with a market capitalization of £6.18 million. The stock price, however, is far from the £3.88 the company’s shares were trading at a year ago.

Diamond miners are struggling across the board, especially those producing cheaper and smaller stones, where there is an over-supply.

Increasing demand for synthetic diamonds has also weighed on prices. Man-made diamonds require less investment than mining natural stones and can offer more attractive margins.

Buyers, those that polish and cut diamonds for retailers, have been hit this year by lower prices and tighter credit, prompting them to delay purchases.

De Beers, the world’s No.1 diamond miner by value, has responded by axing production — with a target of 31 million carats this year compared with 35.3 million in 2018. It has also given buyers more room to maneuver, by allowing them to refuse half the stones in many of the diamond parcels.

The Anglo American unit is also spending more on marketing. At the latest sale, the company increased the amount of stones buyers were allowed to reject in each lot purchased from 10% to 20%, according to people familiar with the auction.

Firestone’s chief executive, Paul Bosma, has said he’d expect prices for smaller diamonds to increase towards the end of 2020, in part due to the closure of Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Australia.


Diamond miners dented by liquidity crisis among India’s polishers

liquidity crisis among India’s polishers

Diamond miners are feeling the pressure after a funding crunch in the world’s polishing hub dented sales of rough gemstones.

Since celebrity jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in 2018 accused of having defrauded a state bank of nearly $2bn, banks have sharply cut back lending to diamantaires, who cut, polish and trade the world’s diamonds.

“Bankers have blacklisted the jewellers industry,” said Shantibhai Patel, president of the Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association in Gujarat, the country’s diamond-cutting centre.

The squeeze has forced diamantaires to buy less from diamond producers such as De Beers, Rio Tinto and Gem Diamonds — which have seen sales and margins suffer as a result.

De Beers is on course to report its worst annual sales in at least four years. In response, the world’s largest producer reduced prices for its rough diamonds by 5 per cent last month at its November sale, the biggest discount in years, Bloomberg reported. De Beers declined to comment on its pricing.

Across the sector, rough diamond prices have fallen 15 per cent since last November, according to Polished Prices. Industry experts say a further 10-15 per cent drop would push some smaller producers to file for bankruptcy.

“It’s a liquidity crisis that’s affecting the middle of the pipeline,” said Edward Sterck, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “Diamond manufacturers can’t afford to pay rough diamond prices . . . It’s a function of necessity that prices have come down.”

Diamantaires — 90 per cent of which are based in India — buy rough diamonds from producers such as De Beers that they then cut with lasers and polish for use in jewellery.

The flight of Mr Modi, whose clients included actress Kate Winslet, prompted banks to tighten up lending terms for manufacturers. Bank credit to the diamond industry, of which Indian companies receive about four-fifths, fell 20 per cent to $8bn this year, according to WWW International Diamond Consultants.

As a result, diamond cutters are working through existing stocks rather than buying on the global market. According to India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, imports of rough diamonds into the country fell 22 per cent year over year to $7.3bn between April and October.

This has struck diamond mining companies hard. Stuart Brown, chief executive at Toronto-based Mountain Province Diamonds, said the rough stone market was “challenging” in its third-quarter results.

Mid-sized producers including Canada’s Lucara Diamond and the UK’s Petra Diamonds all reported lower prices for their diamonds in the latest quarter. Lucara reported a selling price of $390 a carat, a 13 per cent drop from last year and a steep fall from 2014, when gems sold for $644 a carat. Dire market conditions drove Quebec-based Stornoway Diamond into bankruptcy in September.

The diamond industry differs from other commodities given the large influence of the two largest producers on pricing, and the fact that diamonds vary in size, quality and colour. De Beers is a “price setter” that offers uncut stones to traders for fixed prices and quantities at sales, known as “sights”.

Production cuts and concessions, including discounts and flexibility to return stones, have provided some relief to De Beers and its customers. Sales rose last month but were still below $400m — the lowest in a November sight on record.

Mr Patel welcomed the Anglo American-owned company’s price cut, but expected little uplift in the foreseeable future. “There’s no work,” he said. “For one year, one and a half years, we’re not expecting any bullish trends.”

But Colin Shah, managing director of manufacturer Kama Schachter, is hopeful that the worst was over for diamantaires. He said that manufacturers were adjusting to the tougher norms in place after the Modi scandal, which could get liquidity flowing again.

“There’s much more [scrutiny] than there used to be,” he said, referring to banks’ lending practices. “Inventories have come down, everyone has made their business models leaner . . . I think the second half of 2020 will be better.”

Industry executives point to tightening supply over the next few years that will help restore diamonds’ key feature: rarity. Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine, which outputs 90 per cent of the world’s valuable pink diamonds, is set to close next year.

Meanwhile, retail demand for diamonds has been robust, particularly in the US where spending on diamond jewellery grew 4.5 per cent to $36bn last year. French luxury group LVMH’s $16.6bn acquisition of Tiffany, agreed last week, was seen by analysts as a vote of confidence in long-term consumer demand for diamond jewellery.

But other industry figures say more drastic action by diamond mining companies is needed to help bedraggled manufacturers. Martin Rapaport, founder of the world’s largest diamond trading platform, said the price cut was insufficient. “It’s not enough to recapitalise the industry,” he said.

“They need to drop prices as much as 50 per cent to return liquidity to the market. It’s too little too late.”


Sarine Joins Race to Buy HRD Antwerp


Sarine Technologies has entered the running to acquire HRD Antwerp, according to two sources close to the sale process.

The Israel-based diamond-technology company has registered its interest in buying the Belgian laboratory, as have two previous heads of HRD, the two anonymous sources told Rapaport News.

Peter Meeus, who ran the organization between 1999 and 2005, was one of the first candidates be linked to a potential bid around a month ago. He is now joined by Serge Couvreur, who served as HRD’s general manager from 2013 to 2014, as well as by Sarine. The International Gemological Institute (IGI) also entered a bid earlier this year, as reported by Rapaport News in early November, but has since pulled out, the sources confirmed. The situation is changing constantly, another source pointed out.

Sarine’s move could be seen as part of its increased focus on grading and other downstream activities. While its main business is providing diamond-mapping equipment to manufacturers, the polished-grading sector offers considerable revenue opportunities and margins, Sarine noted last month.

Potential buyers of HRD have until next Tuesday to submit a final bid with a proposed price, one of the sources added.

HRD and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, which owns the lab, declined to comment, as did the three bidders and IGI.


Bespoke Certified Diamond Jewellery Insurance launches in Australia

certified diamond jewellery insurance

CDI combines superior knowledge in the insurance and diamond industries to create a market leading product that will provide you with the right cover at the right price.

Like you, we treasure diamonds and believe they deserve the best worldwide cover should anything happen to them.

It’s why we offer a bespoke insurance policy only for certified diamond jewellery.

Specify your single item or items, and let us do the rest. Fill in your details online, register your diamond and receive instant protection against damage, loss or theft. Alternatively, give us a call and we can get the quotation process moving for you.

Your policy is underwritten at Lloyd’s of London, the oldest and most prestigious name in insurance.

And our Worldwide Cover ensures you are covered anywhere in the world for trips up to 30 days.

Our Certified Diamond Insurance team is based here in Australia and are available to help with any insurance questions you may have.

Also, so your diamonds remain as fabulous as the day you got them, we offer yearly complimentary health checks and cleans.

It’s all part of our dedicated service to keep your diamonds in their best shape.

Value Assurance
We combine superior knowledge in the diamond and insurance industries to create market-leading cover at the right price.

Accurate Claims
Your claim is overseen by diamond experts and vetted by a leading diamond laboratory, ensuring your replacement is of the same quality.

World-class Cover
Your insurance is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s. Lloyd’s is the world’s specialist insurance and reinsurance market

Identification Recovery
Since your diamond is certified, we’ll also register and ID your diamonds, increasing the possibility of recovering them.

Source: Certified Diamond Insurance

Hong Kong Retail Sales Plunge

Hong Kong Retail data

Sales of jewelry and other luxury items in Hong Kong slid in October, marking the second-highest monthly decline on record as protests in the municipality dented consumer sentiment.

Revenue from jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts fell 43% year on year to HKD 3.92 billion ($500.2 million) during the month, the municipality’s Census and Statistics Department reported Monday. . Sales across all retail categories slipped 24% to HKD 30.12 billion ($3.85 billion).

Demonstrations against an extradition bill have been ongoing since June, interfering with retail sales and hitting local consumer sentiment and tourism. Although the bill has been scrapped, violence in the municipality has continued.

“[Total] retail sales continued to plunge in October, and showed the largest year-on-year decline for a single month on record, as the local social incidents…depressed consumption sentiment and severely disrupted tourism and consumption-related activities,” a government spokesperson noted.

August showed the highest decline for jewelry since the Census and Statistics Department began publishing results in 2005. While January was the only month this year to note an increase, leading to a nine-month consecutive decline, sales during August, September and October each fell more than 40%.

The situation has led to a sharp drop in travelers from China and abroad, as well as weakened local purchasing. Tourism in Hong Kong was down 44% to 3.3 million visitors in October, the Hong Kong Tourism Board reported. Of those, 2.5 million came from mainland China, 46% fewer than the same period last year.

The government expects weakness in the market to continue as conditions persist, stressing that the market would likely not improve until the unrest subsided.

“Ending the violence in the local social incidents and restoring social order are crucial to the creation of an environment for the retail business to recover,” the spokesperson added, noting the government would continue to monitor the situation’s repercussions on both the municipality’s labor market and the overall economy.

In the first 10 months of the year, retail sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts decreased 19% to HKD 57.67 billion ($7.37 billion). Sales in all retail categories for the January-to-October period fell 9% to HKD 365.12 billion ($46.6 billion).


Drake’s New Rolls-Royce Diamond Owl

Drake's New Rolls-Royce

The rap icon has sold over 170 million albums since hitting the music scene in 2019, and with that kind of success comes all kinds of cash for going bonkers on cars.

His latest acquisition is a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but being this is Drake’s new ride, it’s not just a Phantom if such a thing exists.


Among other things, it has a custom golden owl for a hood ornament that’s also covered in diamonds. More on that in a bit.

The owl has been a thing with Drake for years, and it’s also the symbol for his record label OVO Sound, so having it affixed to the Phantom’s nose isn’t just a random act of weirdness.

As mentioned, the owl is solid gold and uses diamonds for its eyes. Diamonds also encompass the entire base, with Drake’s name engraved for good measure.

Double-Digit Growth in Number of Bids at Rio Tinto Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender

Argyle tender pink diamonds

The number of bidders at the recent 2019 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender saw double-digit growth with buyers vying to get their hands on some of the last diamonds to come from the Argyle diamond mine. The mine is scheduled to close at the end of 2020.

While Rio Tinto does not disclose the value of winning bids, it said that over the past 19 years, the value of diamonds sold at Tender has appreciated over 500 percent, outperforming all major equity markets.

The most valuable lot in the collection, the Argyle Enigma, a 1.75-carat modified radiant fancy red diamond, was won by Australian based Argyle Pink Diamonds partner Blue Star & Kiven Diamonds who also won the 1.37-carat oval-shaped fancy vivid purplish pink Argyle Verity.

“No other diamonds on earth match the rarity and provenance of Argyle pink diamonds. To have acquired two of the last Argyle pink diamonds to ever be unearthed, and one of the few Fancy Red Argyle diamonds in existence is the ultimate privilege,” said Ron Kiven, director of Blue Star & Kiven Diamonds.

This year, Rio Tinto also offered The Argyle Pink Everlastings Collection comprising smaller Argyle pink and red diamonds totaling 211 carats. The entire collection was purchased by Hong Kong fancy colored diamond specialist Kunming Diamonds.

“This is a dream come true, a rare opportunity to acquire a once in a lifetime collection of pink and red Argyle diamonds,” said Kunming Diamonds director Harsh Maheshwari. “With the imminent closure of the Argyle mine, a collection such as this deserves to be showcased to the world and we look forward to announcing our plans at a later date.”

Source: IDEX