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August 1999


Racing Ovals

Demand for oval diamonds is rising, fueled by De Beers ads and interest in three-stone rings

Two years ago, Richard Kessler saw an opportunity – no one in his area promoted oval diamonds. Kessler, the owner of two Kessler Diamond Centers in suburban Milwaukee, WI, worked with a few suppliers who provided a wide selection of ovals on memo. He advertised heavily on radio, and in two years, he sold 161 oval diamonds with a total value of more than $450,000.

Kessler was ahead of his time. Two years later, ovals are gaining in popularity, according to some diamond dealers and designers. A three-oval diamond ring featured in De Beers' "Seize the Day" campaign last year helped to fuel demand, causing prices to rise slowly but steadily ever since. For example, a 1.5-ct. F VVS2 oval sold for $5,700 per carat last year, $5,900 this year and is expected to rise to $6,100 next year (Professional Jeweler,May 1998, p. 48).

A New Classic
Why are ovals popular? "People want something with a classic look, but different. Ovals are different," says Rafi Fouzailoff of Jewels by Star Ltd., New York City. Adds David Levy of Adasco Designs Inc., New York City, "Consumers can get a bigger look for the price with an oval."

Levy says oval orders started to heat up in February. Even as prices rise, the popularity of ovals doesn't seem to falter, adds Mark Levy of Kimberley Diamond Co., New York City.

Of course, not everyone is seeing a demand now. "The subtle ads (by De Beers) affected the market and the price," says Edward Zohrabian of Universal Fine Jewelry Inc., Los Angeles, CA. "We pushed ovals [at the time of the ad] and created some demand, but right now no one is breaking the doors down asking for ovals."

Kessler, meanwhile, sees an opportunity for enterprising jewelers – but only if they're willing to carry a big inventory of ovals. "It's a tremendous advantage to make a commitment like this because most jewelers won't," he says. "Show an oval when you're showing rounds. Customers won't be able to make a comparison like that in other stores because no one else will have ovals."

– by Jack Heeger

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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