Despite Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) democratic progress, there have been reports that perhaps the import sanctions on gemstones would be lifted. Recently, President Barack Obama has extended the ban on Burmese rubies and jade.
While the U.S. government lifted broader sanctions on imports from Myanmar, Obama signed an executive order Wednesday which prohibits the import of “any jadeite or rubies mined or extracted from Burma and any articles of jewelry containing jadeite or rubies mined or extracted from Burma.”
The order became effective on Wednesday, extending the ban that lapsed on July 28. The U.S. Department of the Treasury said it opted to extend the embargo on jewelry specifically “due to continuing concerns, including with respect to labor and human rights in specific sectors,” as the sale of gemstones benefits the country’s ruling military junta.
The United States first banned the import of rubies and jade from Myanmar in 2003, it was a ban that definitely caught the attention of the jewelry industry. Much like emeralds from Colombia, rubies from this country, known in the trade as “Burmese rubies,” are considered the world’s best rubies and are prized for their color, which is often described as “pigeon-blood red.” They comprise an estimated 90 percent of the world’s rubies.
The ruby and jade restrictions were tightened under President George W. Bush in 2008 when he signed the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 into law. The JADE Act closed a federal loophole in the law by also banning gemstones mined in Myanmar but processed or treated in other countries, such as Thailand.
This is the second time Obama has opted to extend the ban; he first renewed the sanctions against Myanmar in 2009. The ban does not prevent U.S. sales of Burmese jadeite or rubies that were in the country prior to 2008 and it does not extend to exports of Burmese rubies or jadeite from the U.S.
It also does not apply to stones that were in the country and then exported, including for personal use, so long as they are re-imported by the same person who can prove they left with it and the stone hasn’t been improved in condition or value outside the U.S.
As some of us have heard, Kim and Kanye aren’t the only ones attracting attention for their little one’s choice of name this week. Recently, the executive of a Chinese jewelry company announced a similar act of baby naming as she’s attached to her baby, a 75-carat briolette diamond now known as “The Star of China.” As seemingly ridiculous as this may sound, this naming bug has been something that has been a form of inspiration from many varying sources.
Tiffany Chen, vice chairwoman of China Star Entertainment Ltd., is the wonderful woman who purchased the 75.36-carat, D color, Type IIA diamond at Christie’s May 28 Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong. As is the tradition with exceptional diamonds, Chen named her stone, selecting “The Star of China” as a nod to her jewelry company.
Chen who paid a whopping $148,000 per carat for her Star, set a new sale world record for a briolette diamond at auction and was just one of the latest in a line of record-setting sales. The $39.3 million sale of the Princie diamond at Christie’s New York set a new record for a Golconda diamond at auction while the 101.73-carat pear-shaped Winston Legacy raised the bar for colorless diamonds at auction when it sold for $26.7 million.
In a recent Hong Kong jewelry auction, there has been a noticeable shift in the tastes of jewelry collectors. Although there were a variety of pieces offered ranging from celebrity inspired pieces to actual jewelry worn in actual films, the star power had almost no effect on the price of these sometimes interesting collectables.
At the top lot of the auction was a wonderful pair of jadeite bangles, which sold for $6.9 million to an Asian private buyer. Overall, when the dust cleared, the auction totaled $36.9 million and 79 percent was sold by value.
This ruby and diamond necklace (above) sold for $3.2 million, while a jadeite and diamond suite, consisting of a necklace, earrings and a ring (below), realized $2.4 million.
All top 10 lots of the auction, which were largely jadeite and diamond pieces, were sold to Asian private buyers.
“Nowadays, jewelry collectors have much wider interests,” said Ellen Sin, director of Tiancheng’s jewelry department. “Besides the conventional top jadeites and diamonds, colored gemstones like natural rubies and emeralds have been sought after and drawn increasing attention … We will continue our perseverance in bringing more unique jewelry in line with market tastes from all over the world to collectors.”
Recently its been reported that the government of Zambia has barred mining company Gemfields Plc from exporting emeralds for its upcoming sale to Singapore, which is scheduled for June 10 to 14. According to the report, the country’s Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Yamfwa Mukanga told Bloomberg by phone on June 1 that selling gemstones outside of Zambia is not permitted and that the government had blocked Gemfields from exporting emeralds last week.
As Per a previously reached agreement with the government, Gemfields already had agreed to hold its April auction in the Zambian capital of Lusaka but planned on holding the June sale in Singapore. As of now the fate of that auction remained unclear as of Wednesday afternoon.
Currently Gemfields owns a 75 percent stake in Zambia’s Kagem Emerald Mine, which accounts for a bulk of the company’s production, the government holds the remaining 25 percent. Gemfields also has a 50 percent interest in the Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia, with the other half belonging to the government, and mines rubies in Mozambique.
Since 2009, all 11 of Kagem’s auctions have taken place outside of Zambia, in India and Singapore, generating a total of $160 million. The Zambian government see’s this as revenue that is not being generated from within the country, thus eventually having a spill over affect which would also boost its economy through tourism and other means.
Gemfields has said that being forced to sell the emeralds in Zambia only would negatively impact revenues and the overall development of the country’s gemstone sector and place Zambian emeralds at a competitive disadvantage worldwide.
Ever wonder when the Government seized goods such as jewelry will be auctioned? Well todays post provides this information. When things from seized lots are auctioned, rest assured, the items have been appraised and are sure to come at a bargain price.
As soon as tomorrow, June 1st, the U.S. Marshals Service will be auctioning more than 300 lots of gold and silver bullion’s and coins, loose diamonds, fine jewelry and watches which at some point were connected to federal criminal cases in an auction which is scheduled to take place amid the jewelry shows in Las Vegas.
The auction, which will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, also will offer a live simulcast on the web here at 10 a.m. PST for those who for one reason or another cannot attend in person but would like to bid on these prized items.
Several times a year, the U.S. Marshals consolidate pieces which were seized in connection with criminal cases nationwide and holds these large auctions. Fortunately proceeds generated from these auctions are used to compensate victims of crimes and supplement law enforcement programs.
Our sources have informed us that some of the lots to be offered in Saturday’s auction include a rare 4.9-carat diamond with a starting bid of just over $15,000, a diamond bracelet starting at $11,500 and a Rolex watch starting at $145,000 just for starters.
Additional lots, including images, can be found here.
Although unfortunate, jewelry heists are one of my favorite stories to read about. As shocking as it may seem, these quite carefully planned criminal acts only succeed with a lot of planning to be rewarded with a handsome stash of jewels.
It may sounds very much like the plot of a Hollywood thriller but tonight while a fancy jewelry company was hosting a ball at the Cannes Festival, thieves broke into a company employees’ hotel room and stole roughly $1 million worth of jewelry. This unfortunate tuurn of events occured as the representative of Chopard, the Swiss-based watch and jewellery company, left the jewelry stash in a safe in his room at the Novotel Hotel in Cannes as he attended a late-night gala at a much more luxurious hotel just across town. Upon his return, he noticed that the thieves had ripped a safe from the wall of his room.
French police said the Chopard gala lasted until 5 a.m. and strongly believe the burglary happened around 2.30 a.m. They also do not believe this was a solo job and deduced they knew exactly what they were doing.
In another twist of irony, a film with a similar plot had just been screened at Cannes. Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” which is about a celebrity-obsessed teenagers in Los Angeles who follow movie stars online and break into their homes while they are at public events. The film is based on a real gang of teens who broke into the home Paris Hilton and other stars.
Chopard doesn’t just make jewels. They also make the Oscar-like trophies for the Cannes film festival, the crystal and gold Palme d’Or. Festival officials all say the that the Palme’s are safe.
Wedding and engagement season is soon upon us as the winter fights off its time to roll back. As this season comes into full swing, many eager brides to be anxiously start parousing through different internet jewelry stores and sites with their hopeful future husbands hinting and in search of that fairy tale engagement ring. In this day and age things have taken a slightly different turn in making this arduous and time consuming search more easily through our world of apps. Yes there’s an app for that.
In October 2012, Simon and Nelly Cohen developed and launched their fledgling engagement ring finder app, The Vow. When they debuted their app, the cost of creating it amounted to their entire life savings. Luckily for the longtime married couple—co-owners of Cherie Dori and the Diadori bridal lines—their nest egg investment seems to have been well-spent. The Vow, is currently ranked in the top 50 in Apple’s Top Free Lifestyle Apps—the single most popular diamond, jewelry, and ring-finder app, ahead of the big names Blue Nile, Tiffany & Co., and even Cartier. This app is so popular that it receives roughly 3-4 thousand downloads a day!!
The Vow allows users to survey 120 Diadori bridal engagement SKUs in 3-D, while a GPS feature locates the closest of 350 participating retailers. “We’re not in the middle,” says Simon. Additionally, Diadori rewards users for sharing the app and helping to generate new leads—aka potential ring buyers—by giving points for things like posting pics of favorites to Facebook. The points eventually add up to a prize, such as a cultured pearl necklace. “All we do is uplift the brand of the store [carrying our pieces],” explains Simon.
The Cohens invested in the app after reading research which shows that consumers prefer shopping on apps instead of websites. (Shoppers like the speed and convenience of mobile apps, reports a March study from Compuware.) Now, the company has a wait list of retailers that want to be involved. “We are combining both worlds, Cyber-shopping and stores ” Simon says.