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Ali Pastorini: Our customers want only natural diamonds

13 april 2020

ali_pastorini_xxz.pngAli Pastorini is the co-owner of Del Lima Jewelry and President of Mujeres Brillantes, an association which brings together more than 1,000 women working in the gold and diamond trading sector, mainly from Latin America, as well as from Turkey, Spain, Italy, and Germany. The mission of Mujeres Brillantes is to help women in the jewelry and watchmaking sectors consolidate their business in order to exchange professional skills and experience. In the immediate past, Ali Pastorini was also Senior Vice President of the World Jewelry Hub in Panama.

In this interview with Rough & Polished she tells about the situation in the jewelry industry in the context of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Any changes to MUBRI plans due to СOVID-19?

Unfortunately, yes, it is time to have more empathy for others and not think about profits or events at that time. Of course, we already have projects on paper ready to be executed once everything gets normal regarding the Covid-19, but we are aware that this situation can go on for months and for now we are only conducting virtual courses for our members.

Which of the following - the fast-growing lab-grown diamond sector, consumer demand from the supply chain, financing, excess inventory or any other issues - do you think are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed immediately in order to grow the natural diamond industry?

From my experience, excess inventory and the decrease of visitors at the Jewelry Shows is the current challenge to be tackled. How do we fight? Creating new models, renewing each edition, reducing inventory, providing new experiences, investing in technology, making alliances with industries of other segments to attract new consumers, being present massively on social networks and giving importance to this.

When will we see recovery in the diamond market?

In fact I have seen it since 2019, what is different now is that the speed of this change is not as fast as it was in the past, but as I always say, I see excellent opportunities for our industry to reach customers more effectively . What is needed is to have patience to study and understand what this new consumer needs and wants.

If you innovate your way to communicate and behave with the customers, naturally you will be part of that change and profit from the new client. If you insist on models from the past that no longer match the current times, your brand will become uninteresting.

Are there any successes in solving the problem of restoring consumer confidence in natural diamonds?

Absolutely! In Latin America, for example, the customers want only natural diamonds, nobody ask or look for lab-grown diamonds. As I said in a previous interview, 2019 was one of the best years for my brand, Del Lima Jewelry (@dellimajewelry). We have consolidated our business in the new markets that we have entered in the last three years without losing our identity as a brand, but respecting each country´s buying culture, which in my opinion is essential to increase the number of clients in so many different places as we are fortunately getting.

Consequently, 2020 it´s being a good year because we are stronger and more ready for any challenge that occasionally will come during the year (as the Coronavirus, for example). The key is you build a team that, together with you, anticipates the problems and opportunities. We know very well which pieces and collections most of our clients like and buy as we know very well until where we, as a brand, can take risks and innovate without losing our path. When you build a strong, real and honest brand, your customers do not look for lab grown or even price.

How do you assess the threat of coronavirus to diamond and jewelry trade?

I think we should prepare ourselves because it is something that will impact this first semester and the beginning of the second semester. I think it was smart that most Jewelry Shows and Fairs cancel or postpone, as it would not be positive for their image to insist on something at a time that the world asks us to think of everyone.

Anyone with products in stock will likely have a hard time selling everything this year. Those looking for new consumers are likely to be reluctant to find at this time that people will not consume with the same anxiety as before. On the other hand, I believe that when this Coronavirus situation passes, it is likely that consumers will evaluate more carefully what to consume and how to consume, and this will be essential for brands highlight and make the difference.

Do jewelry companies encounter synthetic diamonds, which are not disclosed? How does this affect the business? What can really protect it from the invasion of a synthetic diamond business?

I follow what my customers wish to buy, and as I realize it is because our brand educates and shows the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds that our customers do not even think about purchasing lab-grown diamonds. They want only natural diamonds.

I like natural diamonds, but this would not be enough to convince my clients to purchase natural diamonds. I have to show in practice why I prefer such stones and we hold various events together with our own customers, such as panels and lectures with gemologists explaining in an easy way the benefits of having a natural diamond instead of a lab-grown diamond. Once again, it´s about education and we do not pretend that lab-grown diamonds do not exist. If you are open to explain the difference to your customer, for sure she/he will buy and trust you, you should not expect that the client will “guess” what is the best, simply teach and guide her/him to the best.

Today, consumers want to know the origin of the diamond, its history. Has it been mined with respect for human rights and in ways that do not harm the environment? Do you see the need to adopt principles for responsible diamond sourcing framework?

For sure! We have to understand that the world has changed, the way people consume has changed, the way people communicate and inform themselves has also changed. I believe that the Millennial generation teaches us that we are all part of this planet and we must understand our role and how to act on it.

This means that the consumer wants to know the origin of the material, wants to know the history of your brand and how it position itself in the world, not only as a luxury product but also aware of the environment and the impact, positive or negative, of your actions.

I give an example of my brand, Del Lima, we have been working with recycled gold for some time, but since we started reporting that we worked this way, our sales have increased not only with young consumers but also with more traditional ones. I think it's great for consumers to be more aware and vigilant, for a brand like mine, it's encouraging to show that your product is made in a conscious way, respecting reality without harming the environment and generating jobs. As a brand, you feel more complete because you can give your customers a good example.

Alex Shishlo, Editor of the Rough&Polished European Bureau