By Deborah Yonick - MJSA Journal
Thirty years ago you couldn’t give away a color diamond, especially yellows and browns, diamond dealers quip. Now, color diamonds represent the most exciting part of the dia- mond business. Not only are they more widely used in fashion jewelry, color diamonds are making inroads in bridal jewelry as well. Members of the Natural Color Diamond Association share their take on what’s happening in this increasingly important niche market.
“High flying auction results and me- dia publicity surrounding celebrities receiving and showing off color dia- monds has created a huge increase in the desire for these remarkable stones,” says Jeffrey Post of Gem Platinum in New York City.
Color diamonds were among the biggest sellers in jewelry auctions in 2014. Among the highest-priced jew- els auctioned off were vivid blue diamonds, with the 9.75-carat Zoe Diamond selling for more than $32 million, setting a new world auction total price record for a blue diamond. Last year also saw many record-setting rare color sales, including an 8.41-carat flawless fancy vivid pink diamond, which fetched $17.7 million, and a 100.09-carat Graff vivid yellow diamond (the largest yellow cut precious stone in the world) that sold for $16.3 million. From the world’s top auction houses to Hollywood’s major red carpets, fancy color diamonds in dazzling jewels have been everywhere. “Definitely the end consumer has become much more aware and savvy of natural color diamonds,” says Pratima Sethi of Sethi Couture in San Francisco. “This makes it more exciting for designers to create pieces knowing that consumers are not just intrigued by color diamonds, but also are appreciative of them.”
There’s been a shift in the natural color diamond market to appeal to a larger audience. “As the majority of designs incorporating pink and other natural color diamonds have been stylistically more arty, contemporary, or unusual, we’ve found that over the last five years more mainstream/everyday designs are incorporating natural color diamonds,” says Michael Neuman of Mondial Neuman in Sydney, Australia. “This indicates a much wider audience has accepted color diamonds as an option.”
One area many dealers cite as a large source of color diamond growth in 2015 is bridal jewelry. An increase in color diamonds as an alternative to traditional white is appearing not just in engage- ment and wedding rings, but also in jewelry worn on the wedding day. “With consumers wanting true uniqueness, color diamonds offer that personalization,” says Sethi. “Younger clients especially appreciate the characteristics of color diamonds.”
However, to develop a niche in color diamonds, Sethi notes that it’s critical to offer various price points, and not just focus on larger statement pieces. “It’s important to note that color dia- mond jewelry can be affordable, which makes it even more inter- esting to capture a younger, newer buyer to the market, and grow them into more sophisticated color diamond jewelry.”
Dealers also expect to see customers ready to move beyond the regular fancy yellows and pinks, notes Harsh Maheshwari of Kunming Trading Co. in Hong Kong. “Brownish pinks, greenish yellows, yellowish oranges, are all items that will move this year,” he says.
However, Post notes, as demand outstrips supply as more retailers enter the market segment and more consumers discover color diamonds, prices for natural color diamonds will continue to rise.