Panel Predicts the Future
Memo, economy, branding, consumer tastes
Retailers must start to buy diamonds rather than borrow them
on memo to reduce the burden on manufacturers. If not, the entire
industry will suffer, said Anna Martin, senior vice president
of ABN-AMRO Bank, New York City, during a panel discussion on
the future of manufacturing and marketing diamond jewelry at
the International Gemological Symposium.
The growing reliance on memo is troubling, she said, because
manufacturers are already suffering lower sales from the collapse
of Asian markets and stiff competition that forces lower margins.
As a result of these financial concerns, even banks that specialize
in the diamond industry such as ABN-AMRO are
hesitant to lend money, said Martin. And if manufacturers start
to crumble under the weight of slow sales and even slower paying
retailers, it will start a chain reaction through the entire
Another panel member, retailer Ed Bridge of Ben Bridge Jeweler,
Seattle, WA, listed five trends affecting jewelry: the continuing
health of the economy, more channels of distribution and competition,
technological advancements, branding and demographic changes.
The largest transfer of wealth in history will reach its peak
by 2040, he said, as Baby Boomers transfer their accumulated
wealth to their heirs. This new wealth will spur sales of jewelry
for the foreseeable future.
Eve Goldberg of William Goldberg Diamond Corp., New York City,
said larger diamonds and fancy shapes will remain popular, spurred
in part by De Beers' advertising campaigns, which no longer focus
solely on rounds. But she predicted the market will move away
from ostentatious cuts to more subtle ones, such as cushion cuts,
which have a long history and can be romanced at the sales counter.
Goldberg also advised retailers to consider lower-color diamonds
I, J and K grades which she said are just as beautiful
as higher colors when well cut. To prove the beauty of these
diamonds, however, you must show them to customers and compare
them with similar diamonds with higher color grades, she said.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.