China’s largest jewellery retailer backs mined diamonds

Chow Tai Fook 

The Natural Diamond Council (NDC), which groups the world’s seven leading diamond producers, has inked a deal with China’s top jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook to boost demand for mined rocks in the Asian market.

The partnership, the trade organization’s first collaboration with a retailer, seeks to attract young Chinese customers to naturally produced diamonds.

It also comes as Chow Tai Fook, which has more than 4,500 stores in East Asia and the United States, plans to expand its global footprint.

“One of our key priorities this year is to work closely with natural diamond retailers to protect and convey the authentic and unique beauty of natural diamonds together,” David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council, said in the statement.

“I am confident that this partnership will solidify the values of and forge consumers’ desire for natural diamonds,” Chan Sai-Cheong, managing director (Mainland China) of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group added.

Earlier this month, the world’s biggest jeweller Pandora dealt a blow to diamond miners by announcing it would no longer sell mined gems, but exclusively man-made ones.

Since 2011, when prices peaked thanks to China’s younger shoppers, diamonds have faltered. Lab-grown stones, initially priced confusingly close to the real thing, posed a challenge.

The NDC, until 2020 known as the Diamond Producers Association, focuses on marketing mined rocks and its funded by its members: ALROSA, De Beers, Dominion Diamonds, Lucara Diamond, Petra Diamonds, Rio Tinto and RZM Murowa.


Chow Tai Fook Sales Dip on Economic Slowdown

Chow Tai Fook

Chow Tai Fook followed a string of major retailers that have noted a slowdown in greater China as the jeweler’s same-store sales fell in the three months that ended December 31.

“A decline in same-store sales was recorded for both mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau markets in the third quarter amid uncertain macroeconomic environment,” the company said in a trading update Monday.

Same-store sales — at locations open for more than a year — dropped 7% year on year in China and 6% in Hong Kong and Macau. Same-store sales of gold products fell 11% in China and by 6% in Hong Kong and Macau, while gem-set jewelry declined 5% and 8%, respectively.

Other retailers have expressed similar caution about the region, with Cartier owner Richemont noting a slowdown in Hong Kong due to lower tourist spending resulting from a weaker yuan versus the Hong Kong dollar. Tech giants Apple and Alibaba also recently expressed concern about a decline in the region.

Hong Kong’s government this month noted that slower retail growth reflected more cautious consumption sentiment stemming from external uncertainties such as the US-China trade tensions and volatility in global financial markets.

Chow Tai Fook saw lower sales volume but slightly better average prices due to a shift toward higher weights in its gold products, which account for approximately 60% of its total retail revenue. The average price of its gem-set jewelry fell 4% to HKD 6,600 ($841) in China and by 3% to HKD 11,500 ($1,466) in Hong Kong and Macau.

The jeweler reported that total retail sales grew 1% in China, boosted by 259 new points of sale that opened in the country during the quarter, while overall sales in other markets slipped 1%.