December 2016 - Newsletter

To promote the understanding and appreciation of colored gemstones
Greetings from the ICA
          Below is our monthly newsletter, offering original content and very important colored gemstone news from around the globe.


Changes in the Japanese Jewelry Market Over the Past 20 Years
by Noboyuki Horiuchi 
The Murder of an African Miner - And His Son's Quest For Revenge - Men's Journal

Changes in the Japanese Jewelry Market Over the Past 20 Years
by Noboyuki Horiuchi
ICA Special Advisor,  Japan
The share of the mid-range market in Japan has shrunk faster than the high and low ends following the country's financial problems in the 1990s. While the race for the smaller share of the pie intensified in the first decade of this century, jewelry consumption only declined by 23% compared with more than 50% in the 1990s.

The global financial Lehman crisis in 2008 delivered another blow and led to a further 11% decline in jewelry consumption in Japan, leading most foreign gemstones and jewelry suppliers to withdraw from Japan. Since then, there has not been a decline in the jewelry market - despite a consumption tax hike in 2014 - nor any huge gain from Chinese tourists. Gradual growth in jewelry consumption is expected in Japan, as clearly observed in the graph in this link (, led by both new domestic rich Japanese customers and foreign consumers looking for sophisticated merchandise as well as Omotenashi, the art of selfless hospitality which is a cornerstone of Japanese culture.

Japan remains the third-largest jewelry consuming nation in the world and has entered a new and steady era of marketing. In the last 20 years, new channels such as satellite shopping or e-commerce have been recognized as consumer sources which have seen continuously increasing annual sales despite traditional retail forces facing difficulties.

There has been a change in consumers' tendency to purchasing 'something new' to rather obtain valuables or upgrading their fashion. The new rich can enjoy both and display strong demand for both diamonds and colored gemstones. Millennials in Japan have the same buying patterns as the rest of the world, and Chinese tourists, who are regular visitors to Japan but are increasingly from a younger age group and the same education experience and information levels as the rest of the world, are also showing a similar change in consumption patterns.
It is right time to reenter the Japanese market for three reasons: consumption is steady - meaning they are buying, the players in the industry have changed and that means new buyers are in the market, and there are many informed consumers, meaning new and different stones can be sold. The final point is very important point in our industry in the Far East. Informative and sophisticated consumers from Asia, including the largest market, China, visit Japan as the most reliable source and the most fashionable shopping destination. It is a great source not only for sophisticated consumers, but also for industry players.

The International Jewelry Tokyo show will be taking place from January 23 to 25 - right before the Tucson Show. Why not start 2017 in Tokyo! We always have great ICA gatherings in a wonderful dining atmosphere, so why not join us.


New Dates for the 
2017 ICA Jaipur Congress
Congress Moving to October
         (New York, Dec 16, 2016)  In a special meeting on the 2017 ICA Jaipur Congress, the Jaipur Congress Steering Committee decided that the 2017 ICA Jaipur Congress will be moved from April to October.
The new dates for the 2017 ICA Jaipur Congress are 
October 21st through October 24th, 2017.

These dates immediately follow Diwali, India's most important holiday of the year.

"As a result of demonetization, the Indian markets are observing a slow-down, and the current situation is not very clear as new policies are surfacing every other day. In such an environment, we felt that Indian, as well as international delegates, would not participate in good numbers," says Congress chair, Rajiv Jain. "The currency challenges are expected to change for the better in the next few months. The weather in Jaipur will most certainly be better in October, and our Programme Committee shall be working on events prior to the Congress for our participants to have a wonderful experience of Diwali."

Start making plans to be in Jaipur in October!
You can not only enjoy the Congress, but you can celebrate Diwali, India's biggest and most important holiday of the year!

From right to left the pictures shows
Prof. Henry A. Hänni ( Senior Research associate, in Basel
(right), with Ibrahim Rashad (, mining engineer in Peshawar, and Ahmad Shah ( gemstone dealer in Hong Kong, showing their feature story about Sannan Skarn from Pakistan, InColor Magazine, issue #32.


ICA Director, Bruce Bridges - Standing Tall


The Murder of an African Miner - And His Son's Quest For Revenge

Bruce Bridges was born in Kenya, where his family built a life - and a small fortune - pulling gems from the ground. But when his father was ambushed and his mine seized, he was forced to face a new Kenya - volatile, corrupt, and with no use for its colonial past.

Indian Gems and Jewelry Trades Still Feeling Shockwaves from Demonetization 
          Gemfields Delaying Higher Quality Emeralds Auction due to Indian Financial Issues
Gemfields plc has rescheduled an auction of predominantly higher quality emeralds from the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia to February 2017 from December 2016 due to the problems associated with the new demonetization program in India. The India government last month announced it would be withdrawing the 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation in a bid to tackle money laundering. That has hit the gemstone and diamond industry since most transactions are cash based.
Ian Harebottle, CEO of Gemfields, commented: "The majority of our customers for rough emeralds hail from India. As has been widely covered in the international media, the new demonetization program will require an adjustment period to allow industries and stakeholders to adapt to the new policies. For this reason, we have decided to delay our forthcoming emerald auction by approximately two months, until February 2017. This decision has been well received, and appreciated, by our auction participants."
Gemfields added that its auction of predominantly mixed quality rubies from the Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique will proceed in Singapore in December 2016 as originally planned."Our ruby auction will proceed as planned given that rubies have a diversified customer base dominated by Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China. There is no change to our revenue guidance for the 2016 financial year," Harebottle added.

ICA member Kobi Sevdermish (center) along with brother-in-law Andy Gerstengaber (left) of Advanced Quality, visited us on a recent trip from Israel to New York.
Kobi noticed Hayley Henning's new book "Tanzanite, Born from Lightning" here in the office
and mentioned having rare natural color (no-heat) Tanzanites in his collection.

Next time we hope he brings a few to show!
Laurent Cartier 
Investigates Mogok for National Geographic

Dr. Laurent E. Cartier of the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) & University of Lausanne describes the Mogok Stone Tract in Upper Burma (Myanmar) in an article published by National Geographic. He writes how the area has been known to produce exceptional rubies for several centuries, with records of mining activities dating back to at least the 16th century. He also writes that the Mogok Stone Tract is also an important source of other gemstones such as sapphire, spinel, peridot, spessartine, zircon, topaz and others, and the source of many rare gemstones, such as painite. Apart from emeralds, nearly all gemstone types have been found in the Mogok Stone Tract .

Proud Promotion!
Here are just a few business cards we picked up
in Hong Kong, Tucson, and Las Vegas,
members proudly promoting their ICA membership!
Advertising logos can be used on business cards,
in magazine advertisements, as well as on parcel papers, letterhead and invoices.
If you do not have already, please contact the ICA office for logo artwork.

With Main Markets Declining, Chow Tai Fook Opens First Store in US

In a significant move, Hong Kong-based jewelry retailing giant Chow Tai Fook has opened its first store in the US, inside the Macy's department store in Flushing, New York. The move appears to be the first step in an overseas expansion program, due to falling sales in its key markets in the Far East. The new store opening follows shortly after rival Luk Fook announced the opening of a second location in America, also in Flushing, after it opened its first shop in Manhattan. Luk Fook's new outlet is located in New World Mall, one of the largest indoor Asian malls in the northeast of the United States, and a popular shopping and entertainment center for Chinese-Americans in Flushing and Queens.
Chow Tai Fook has more than 2,000 sales outlets in Mainland China, in excess of 100 altogether in Hong Kong and Macau, and close to 20 in other countries in the Pacific region, such as Taiwan, Malaysia and Korea.
Al Gilbertson
2017 Bonanno Award Winner 

The Accredited Gemologists Association is pleased to announce that Al Gilbertson is to receive the 2017 Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology.

The Bonanno Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the gemological field. Recipients of the award are selected by a majority vote of the AGA membership.

Mr. Gilbertson is Project Manager, Cut Research at the GIA Carlsbad Laboratory, continuing an extensive career with contributions in appraisal science, color communication and cut research. Al is also an accomplished gem cutter having grown up in the lapidary business.
Earlier in his career, Al lobbied members of the board for the American Gem Society to establish a new firm designation for independent jewelry appraisers. In 1992 Al and Jim Coote (former instructor for GIA) were the first to receive, and helped set the standards for the Independent Certified Gemologist-Appraiser Firm (ICGA) designation. They were also the first i ndependent appraisers to be awarded the title of Certified Gemologist-Appraiser by AGS.

Al is well-published and has presented numerous lectures and workshops for jewelers, gemologists and appraisers. He is an inventor, with several patents pertaining to aspects of gem cutting and light performance. Al was on the gemological committee that helped set up the AGS lab. Tools he developed became the core of the AGS ASET light performance model. GIA hired Al in 2000 to be part of GIA's team researching diamond cut evaluation. Al was an important part of the team that created GIA's cut grading system for the round brilliant. He is currently studying the influence of proportions and other factors on the appearance of fancy shape diamonds, working towards a cut grading system for fancy-shaped diamonds. His book, American Cut -The First 100 Years is highly regarded as the standard work on the subject.

"Al Gilbertson continues in a career that has already made an incredible impact on this industry. The generous manner in which he shares his knowledge with both students and veteran industry members alike is clearly appreciated by our members," stated AGA president Stuart Robertson. On notification that he was to receive the award, Al expressed his appreciation while noting, "This is certainly unexpected. I am fortunate to know and have worked with more deserving gemologists. I'm humbled by this recognition and thank the members of the AGA."

Previous recipients of The Antonio C. Bonanno Excellence in Gemology Award include: Dr. Cigdem Lule, Dr. Thomas Hainschwang, Dr. John Emmett, Dr. Emmanuel Fritsch, Thom Underwood, Stuart Robertson, Richard Hughes, Christopher Smith, Dr. James Shigley, Shane McClure, Richard Drucker, Alan Jobbins, Antoinette Matlins, Dr. Henry Hanni, The late G. Robert Crowningshield, John Koivula, C. R. Beesley, and Alan Hodgkinson.
The Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology will be presented at AGA's Gala Dinner Dance at the conclusion of its Tucson Conference, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, from 6:30 - 11:00 PM, at the Marriott University Park Hotel. The award includes a personalized plaque and $2000.00 research honorarium funded by the AGA membership. For additional information or to attend the conference or gala, go to or call 619 501-5444.
ICA vice president Damien Cody (right), of Cody Opal, stopped by to talk ICA business, and we got a nice peek at a few magnificent Lightning Ridge black opals as well. Thanks Damien!

Where to Buy a $20,000 Jewelry Set? Try Cheetos

You might not think that the most obvious place to buy a $20,000 jewelry set would be on the web site of Cheetos, the American maker of cheese snacks. And, incredibly, the snack brand's holiday collection featuring 18K gold earrings and a matching ring - called the Chestora Collection and of which only one set is available - was bought, according to the snack's site.
"Despite all the options that are out there, a lot of times the gifts that we give can be uninspired and run of mill," Ryan Matiyow, Senior Director of Marketing at Cheetos told Mashable. "This year, we sought to change that by creating a collection of truly unique items that really deliver against the playful and fun personality of the Cheetos brand across a variety of categories, including jewelry." The Cheetos Holiday Collection was supposedly designed by Chester Cheetah, but Kimberly Scott, Director of Communication for Cheetos, revealed that a ghost designer helped the cheetah out.
"The 'Eye of the Cheetah' 18K yellow gold ring and earring set features matching orange sapphires, as well as more than 190 black and white diamonds. The Cheetos site is offering other holiday gift ideas for those who missed out on the jewelry, including Cheeteau Perfume (with a cheesy scent), Chester Cheetah's Cheesy Cufflinks and Colour de Cheetos Bronzer.

Read more here ...

Australia Set to be Kimberley Process Chair in 2017, EU in 2018
Australia will take over as Kimberley Process (KP) Chair on January 1, 2017, from Dubai which is this year's Chair. It was agreed at the KP's Plenary meeting in Dubai in mid-November that the European Union (EU) will be Vice-Chair next year, and Chair in 2018.
The EU last chaired the KP in 2007. Its Vice-Chair will be India, which will then be Chair in 2019. The EU and Indian chairpersons will be announced at a later stage. In 2017, the KP will be chaired by Robert Owen-Jones, who currently serves as assistant secretary of the Australian competitiveness branch in the nation's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 


1.91 cts. Brazilian Alexandrite - fabulous color change shown here.
ICA member, Justin Zaroovabeli, Esq., The Rare Gem LLC
50 West 47th Street, Suite#1518
New York, NY 10036 Tel (212)382-1314

Photo by Brian Moghadam 

Total U.S. Jewelry Sales Rise Sharply in September

Total sales of fine jewelry and fine watches in the U.S. market rose by an estimated 6.7 percent to $5.4 billion in September 2016, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This gain was above forecasts by IDEX Online Research which published the report. IDEX had been predicting that jewelry sales would be up by three percent or so in the final half of 2016.

After weak sales earlier this year, specialty jewelers in the American market posted estimated sales of $2.1 billion, a gain of 6.2 percent in September, while other multi-line merchants who sell jewelry generated sales about $3.3 billion, a gain of 7.0 percent. The strength of jewelry demand was almost equal between specialty jewelers, who hold about a 40 percent market share, and multi-line merchants who hold about a 60 percent market share.


Fancy Vivid Pink Pear-Shaped Diamond Center of Attention at Christie's Auction

Christie's sold a fancy vivid pink pear-shaped diamond of 9.14 carats for the second highest price ever achieved for a pink pear-shaped diamond sold at auction. The diamond was sold for $18,174,631, or $2,000,000 per carat, at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva on November 15 which generated sales of $97,117,588 as the auction house marked the conclusion of its 250th anniversary season.

LOT #123 - Another highlight was an Art Déco ruby and diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels which sold for $1,294,857, four times its pre-sale estimate.  



Image by Robert Weldon/GIA

Rare Star Emerald 
up for Auction at Guernseys 

The Marcial de Gomar Collection   
Manuel J. Marcial de Gomar, Founder of Emeralds International, LLC, has spent 55 years of his life in the precious gemstone business, beginning with the exploration and mining of emeralds in the Guavio Region of Colombia in 1955, until the present day as owner & president of Emeralds International, LLC in Key West Florida.
The "Marcial de Gomar Collection," is a one of a kind collection of emeralds and rarities that represents Manuel's life's work, and to be sold by Guernseys in April of 2017.  This is a stand-alone auction to be held on April 12th in New York City. The 12+ carat star emerald looks to be a major highlight of the collection.

For more information on the star emerald, read here ...

EU Providing $400,000 in Funding to Zambia's Gemstones Sector

Zambia's Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development has received a grant of $400,000 from the European Union (EU) to help develop the country's gemstone and semi-precious stone sector. The ministry says the money will be used to help small-scale miners around the country to become self-reliant and for the government to include them in the country's tax base.



Coober Pedy's Secret Underground Life Revealed

A series of absolutely stunning photographs show the underground life of miners in the Australian opal mining area of Coober Pedy. These images include homes, a church and a museum, all built beneath the surface of the ground.