ICA Newsletter - August 2019
Altaf Iqbal

Report by Altaf Iqbal
Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is still the primary supplier of fine sapphires to the world, and I am happy to report that the demand for sapphires remains very strong.
To maintain our global position today, we believe that aggressive and continuous promotion of the industry is needed. Government agencies such as the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NJGA), and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board should play a leading role in carrying this forward.
Many of you are aware that our Sri Lankan gem industry not only relies on locally mined goods, but also a considerable amount of African goods that are re-exported through Sri Lanka after undergoing value added gemstone processing, cutting and polishing. However, tighter regulations and the introduction of income tax on the age-old tax-free gem industry risks opportunities being lost to countries such as Thailand and Hong Kong where regulations are more lenient.
On the retail side, up until now, Sri Lankan consumers had always looked at jewelry as an investment - something that remains in the family, is passed on from mother to daughter. However, this attitude is fast changing. Consumerism, especially among Millennials, and more so with post millennials with the notion of “buy Experiences, not Things,” has contributed to slower retail sales.
Jewellery items appeal less as an investment and are looked upon more as an accessory. The younger generation wants to stand out and is not afraid to break traditional norms. This is actually good news as it provides an opportunity for gemstone studded jewellery to go mainstream in an industry that has been dominated by gold and diamonds.
We must acknowledge that the horrific Easter bombings last April personally impacted our community. Our hearts go out to our dear ICA friend and colleague Lewis Allen on the tragic loss of his wife.

The country and the gem industry is healing, and retail business has rebounded as tourists have started to visit the country again in good numbers.
This week, all preparations are underway for the next edition of FACETS, the Sri Lankan International Gem & Jewellery Show, August 29 th through September 1 st . FACETS is actually a window for the entire Sri Lankan gem and jewellery industry. It has expanded over the years, with an increased number of exhibitors, more international delegations coming every year, and growing beyond a mere exhibition. FACETS now incorporates all the aspects of the gem and jewelry industry, such as lapidary, educational training, seminars, and most importantly, the inclusion of the SME sector (Small and Medium sized Enterprises).
Sri Lanka has plenty of gemstones to offer and FACETS provides a firsthand view of the wide variety to the new market entrants.
In addition, the quality of visitors, both local and international, has vastly improved, and it is also a grooming ground for SMEs - it gives them exposure to the larger mainstream market and an opportunity to stand side by side with the bigger players in the industry.
From an industry point of view, we can continue to grow if there is free and easy movement of stones, both rough and faceted, into and out of the country. The export of gems has been highly facilitated by the FACETS show since it attracts foreign traders. Many buyers have visited Sri Lanka for the first time, purely due to the event, and have continued to do so annually after that. The event also creates a benchmark for the local industry. The access they gain to international delegations through the show makes local participants aware of ethical trading and the importance of maintaining the reputation of the industry. This is especially beneficial to retailers who cater to the tourist market.
***** International Opal Jewellery Design Award Winners Announced
The winners of the International Opal Jewellery Design Awards were announced in Lightning Ridge NSW Australia at a gala dinner on Friday 26 July 2019. “The jewelry and carvings were spectacular and of a very high standard. It is quite amazing what can be created with Nature’s art,” said Kavitha Barron, President of the Opal Jewellery Design Awards Association. Read More
***** AGTA Announces the 2019 AGTA Spectrum Awards™ Winners
The American Gem Trade Association is pleased to announce the winners of the prestigious 2019 AGTA Spectrum Awards™. The competition was held in New York on August 3rd and 4th and is regarded as the world’s prominent colored gemstone and cultured pearl design competition. The distinguished panel of judges included: John Carter, Jack Lewis Fine Jewelers; Paula Crevoshay, Mellika Company, Inc. /CREVOSHAY; Myriam Galli, Gemveto Jewelry Company, Inc.; Brett Kosnar, Kosnar Gem Co.; and Naomi Sarna, Naomi Sarna Designs. Read More
***** "Develop viable gemstone, jewelry market" say experts in Nigeria
Experts have urged the federal government to develop an environment conducive for marketing gemstones, and jewelry, to increase their contribution to the national gross domestic product. Permanent Secretary, Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, disclosed that the industry could generate a total of $350 million worth of foreign exchange on an annual basis. He stated, “The key policy question we have asked ourselves is: ‘why has Nigeria not been internationally-recognized as an important gemstone destination?’” Read More
***** Chinese consumers have strong appetite for imported products
Chinese merchandise firms plan to scale up their imports as Chinese consumers' demand for such products remains robust, an industrial survey showed. Among the 1,059 surveyed consumers, 24.1 percent planned more purchases of imported products, with strong demand for food, maternal and infant products, cosmetics, watches and glasses, jewelry and passenger vehicles. Read More
***** ICA members in China meet for an information-sharing session
The members shared views and exchanged ideas on the current state of the market. Rising gold prices and an unfavorable Chinese currency exchange rate are causing the jewelry market to head into a difficult direction. Trade issues weigh heavily on members’ minds, although they feel that the real effect is yet to be seen. They are also concerned about what is happening in Hong Kong and how the demonstrations may affect the HK September show.   Read More
***** China’s Loss as India Gains on Trade Heat
Simmering U.S.-China trade tensions are going to nudge many global jewelry majors to shift their manufacturing base to India from China, according to Romesh Sobti, CEO of Mumbai-based IndusInd Bank Ltd. “The natural shift in the manufacturing business will be to India from China. Some major global players in gems and jewelry are pausing to re-balance the business on account of the trade tensions,” Read More
***** Fura Gems again extends hard deadline for Mozambique ruby acquisition
Fura Gems Inc has announced that it has pushed back the purchase of ruby assets in Mozambique for the sixth time. The company provided written notice to  New Energy Minerals Ltd , formerly known as Mustang Resources Ltd, that it would extend the 'drop dead' date (the very final date) to complete the transaction from July 31 to August 31.
***** Trade Fears Weigh on Hong Kong Retail
Retail sales of jewelry and other luxury items fell sharply in Hong Kong in June amid increasingly cautious consumer sentiment and a slowdown in tourism. Revenue from jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts dropped 17% year on year to HK$5.75 billion US($734.4 million), the municipality’s Census and Statistics Department reported last week. Sales in all retail categories slipped 7% to HKD 35.21 billion ($4.5 billion). 
Continued economic uncertainty due to fears about tariffs on trade between the US and China has caused tourism to decline, affecting sales, advisory firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers said last month. In addition, demonstrations against an extradition bill have also dented luxury sales. The government expects the decline to continue if the protests in the municipality persist.  Read More
*****(Nigeria) ACCI urges Federal Government to formalize gemstone mining to boost GDP
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has urged the Federal Government to formalize gemstone mining to make it a critical contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. Its President, Adetokunbo Kayode, explained that Nigeria’s colored stones were well rated, adding that one of the major impediments to a sustained growth of the gemstone industry were activities of artisanal miners who are, in most cases, foreigners. Read More
***** U.S. retailers blast new China tariffs, say move will raise prices further, hurt jobs
President Donald Trump’s threat to impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1 will hurt consumer purchases, raise prices further and limit hiring, four large retail trade groups warned. Trump moved to impose fresh tariffs after U.S. and Chinese negotiators failed to kick-start trade talks between the world’s two largest economies. Read More
*****U.S. Jewelry Business Closure Rate Drops
The US jewelry trade contracted in the second quarter, but the rate of downsizing has slowed, data from the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) revealed. In the three months ending June 30, 185 jewelry businesses exited the market, a 21% drop versus the same period a year ago. Read More
***** Through gemstones, a glimpse into ancient Egyptian civilization
Doctoral student Shelby Justl’s research expands what we know about who controlled semiprecious stones such as red jasper and carnelian, plus their cultural and economic significance. Justl didn’t start her time in Penn’s Department of  Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations  thinking she would study semiprecious stones. But fieldwork in Egypt in 2014 shifted her trajectory, and for the past few years she’s focused on how ancient Egypt managed and processed materials like red jasper and carnelian.  Read More
***** Police among 18 feared killed in landslide at Myanmar jade mine
A landslide at a Myanmar jade mine killed 14 people including at least one policemen recently as earth and mud engulfed a guard post, and four people were missing and feared dead, police said. The jade hub of Hpakant, in Kachin State in the north of the country, is frequently hit by deadly accidents, despite government pledges to clean up the lucrative mining industry. Read More
***** US jewelry sales drop further in July
In May 2019, like during the four previous months, jewelry sales in the USA continued to suffer. Watch sales, on the other hand, have been improving though the first five months of the year, albeit in low, single digit increments. In May, the fall in sales of jewelry registered at 8.7%, compared to May 2018, the sharpest fall for the year. In May 2018, jewelry sales peaked positively, showing a growth of more than 10%. Read More
***** Jewelry Growth Strong for Kering in 1st Half
Kering, the owner of high-fashion houses Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, reported solid growth in its jewelry and watch divisions in the first half of 2019, driven by increased sales in Asia Pacific and Western Europe. Revenue from houses other than Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta jumped 20% to EUR 1.23 billion ($1.37 billion). The category includes jewelry and watch brands such as Boucheron, Pomellato and Qeelin, as well as couture and leather goods, ready-to-wear, and shoes. Read More
***** 64th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair
The Ministry of Commerce by the Department of International Trade Promotion is ready to hold the 64th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair under the theme of “Thailand’s Magic Hands: The Spirit of Jewelry Making” where the nation’s best gems and jewelry product will take the spotlight, showing the unique precious traditions blended with modern craftsmanship. This event also aims to promote Thailand as one of the key hubs for gems and jewelry trading and manufacturing in the world . Read More