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15 june 2020

pavel_barannik_xx.pngPavel Barannik, the founder and head of the Moscow Gemological Laboratory, the founder of the Gemological Institute and president of the Moscow Diamond Club, graduated from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

He is an expert and consultant. He has been in the field of the precious stones expert evaluation and grading for more than 15 years.

Diamonds and diamond jewellery were in demand even in the most difficult economic situations. So, two months ago, you launched your new project, the Moscow Diamond Club. What is the core of its significance and novelty?

In principle, in previous years, the polished diamond reputation has been greatly undermined. However, for our business it is important to prove and remind you that despite all the crises and current events, a polished diamond also includes its investment attractiveness in addition to being beautiful and unique.

Did you decide to return the confidence in diamonds?

We decided to contribute to this and launched a project - the Moscow Diamond Club. Those who consider a diamond an integral part of the jewellery joined our Club, as well as those who believe in a polished diamond that has been an investment tool for many centuries. As for the diamond jewellery beauty and exquisiteness, everything is quite clear - everyone likes it, but from the point of view of investments, a number of questions arise.

The first thing to understand is that polished diamonds are not stocks and you should not consider them as an opportunity to capitalize on a rapid rise in there prices. They do not show rapid growth. The advantage of a polished diamond lies in the conservation of its value over the centuries, in the maximum concentration of the value per unit mass, and in high liquidity in case of selling it. You can always get money for a polished diamond, and the time required for this directly depends on the price you want.

The main problem is that the purchase is made the wrong way, at a very high price compared to that on the real market. Sometimes, it can be 100-200% higher. It is a so-called emotional purchase. There are few who want to buy an apartment without studying the market and consulting with a realtor, and people do buy polished diamonds without doing so! Still, some polished diamonds cost as much as an apartment, and some are much more expensive. Do not blame a polished diamond if it was bought three times more expensive than its real price in the market was. What to do? Consult with a professional - us or anyone else whom you trust. Just one opinion is not enough. It is advisable to collect a few opinions, and then form your own one.

When you know the main characteristics, you can find out its value in the international market using the RAPAPORT price list. There is a Rapnet platform - one of the largest in the world. The characteristics of the stone are introduced in a special application – its weight, color and purity - and it is easy to see that a stone weighing 1.31 carats can be bought in Hong Kong for $ 7,627, in Mumbai - for 7,754, in Dubai - for 8,143 and so on. This is a global market, they play fair and square, professionals are trading here and you can rely on their opinion.

Why should a buyer prefer the services of your site?

Our prices will strictly correspond to the main world exchanges’ ones (and this is two times, or more, cheaper than the prices in Russia). We have a price of about $ 6,445 for the same stone (mentioned above), with the same characteristics, and it will be extremely difficult to find it for that price anywhere else - it is easy to check now. The buyer having a choice sees guaranteed right characteristics, prices and makes his decision. In addition, our stones are not on the of Ramat Gan’s or Mumbai’s exchanges, but here. All diamonds undergo mandatory testing before their sale, they are certified or verified at the Moscow Gemological Laboratory (MGL), the main arbiter of the Diamond Club. We ensure the most stringent jewellery quality control. The MGL’ report is considered as complete as possible in our country. In addition, the members of the club have the opportunity to buy back at a minimal discount or even for the same money. The orders are fulfilled without prepayment, delivery is currently provided in Moscow only, but is planned to be made to any place in Russia. In addition, a lifetime warranty will be provided.

How long have you been in the secondary market?

I have been engaged in the secondary precious stone market for over 20 years. Unfortunately, this market is not mature although its prospects are huge. According to the US-based Blue Nile, the value of the polished diamonds on hand exceeds one trillion dollars (Rough&Polished, 2017). While the polished diamond turnover in Russia is disproportionately small compared to the global one, it is still a lot of money. And what we are doing is just small steps towards structuring and restoring the order in the secondary market in our country.

Among the main issues of this market is the diamond liquidity. What should be done if you have a polished diamond and need to turn it into money? Our banks (unlike the western ones) do not lend against precious stones. In thrift stores deluged with stones, it can take years to sell them. What, if you need money urgently? Second-hand shops or dealers give negligible money, it is almost impossible to get at least half the price. There are pawnshops, but most of them (95%) work only with gold as scrap, but not as precious stones. It is more beneficial to deal with gold: one gramme of gold bought today could be sold tomorrow for almost the same money. This is not the case with polished diamonds - there is a huge gap between buying and selling prices. A large number of fakes and synthetics add fuel to the flame - it is almost impossible to distinguish between a synthetic stone and a natural one without the help of experienced experts and reliable advanced equipment. The situation is, there are very few places where you can sell diamonds, and the prices offered are very low.

When I talk with polished diamond buyers, I see that many understand that they will not receive the full amount when would like to sell their stone. So, for example, the person who bought a polished diamond for ten thousand US dollars is ready to sell it for eight thousand only. If neither five nor four thousand dollars are given for the polished diamond, then the person will not buy it again. The buyer is already disappointed in the polished diamond as an investment. However, without the investment component, a polished diamond - the main stone in the jewellery business - is just a mere souvenir.

Have you foreseen this in your project?

The main thing in our platform’ project is that the gap in the polished diamond buying and selling prices should be brought down to a reasonable minimum. Today, the buyers must know at what price they will be able to sell their polished diamond tomorrow, and this is a mandatory prerequisite. We are not going to consider the coronavirus epidemic and other force majeure.

Second: both the buyer and the seller should be taken care of and be in comfort, but we are used to take care of the customer only. We have collected several convenient services on our platform. The main idea is that those who want to sell their polished diamonds can sell them at their own price. All of them will have their own personal account, in which they will display their polished diamonds and check how they are sold and at what price, and set their price. The market itself will dictate what will be sold and at what price. Many of us attend international conferences and exhibitions and know who offers what stone and at what price. The competition between the exchanges of Israel, New York, Hong Kong and Mumbai determines the prices. This is as it should be.

It is rather difficult to sell a loose stone, so we selected several jewellery companies - we will co-operate with those that are serious about the quality of jewellery. We offer some of the best designs, and a person who decides to buy a polished diamond he likes can get it in as an exquisite jewellery piece home-delivered in a beautiful gift box.

To advertize this project, we managed to conduct several promotion campaigns: we were polished diamond partners at the Cannes Lions performance in Russia, and in December, we made a presentation of our project at the International Gemological Conference in Moscow. In February 2020, a pilot version was launched. But the global situation, of course, is bringing about many changes.

Until recently, the secondary market was considered promising but now it is under the question, don’t you think so?

The pandemic and quarantine are already affecting the secondary market very much, just look at the response: in March, Rapaport lowered the prices for some items by 5-10%. Of course, this is disappointing, although it depends with what we compare this. The decline in the share prices of some world leaders exceeded 20%.

We launched our project at a difficult time. To be become distinctive, you need to fly to some height, and to do this, you need the most favourable conditions for a take-off. And even if you have the favourable conditions, a good offer, excellent service, everything is in question today. The site sessions reduced tenfold. Now everyone is in a slight confusion, and some are in a severe panic.

Perhaps a pandemic, on the contrary, will revive the secondary market?

The secondary market, of course, will be revived, at least, because everyone starts to count the money. And first, the same thing is very different in price in the primary and secondary markets. The main point is that the jewellery business, especially in Russia, has practically no safety net. Without it, we cannot even imagine what the future holds. It may turn out that most of the jewellery market ceases to exist at all, at least, because there’s nothing to ‘reset’ with - there are no those credit instruments, any policy at all that could support the jewellery business. All that was promised, for the most part, will not be implemented. However, the secondary market is here to stay under any cataclysms.

That is, the slack in the jewellery trade will affect your project, but it will be in a better position anyway, won’t it?

There are two points: people have not enough money and it will affect all businesses - the food, even a medicine one. The jewellery industry will suffer more - like tourism, for example. Recently, RBC, with reference to the Sberbank’s report, published the following figures: during the first week under lockdown, from March 30 to April 5, the Russians’ spending on jewellery fell to almost zero, namely by 97%, and this industry is the leader in the decline.

But there is another point, too: those who survive, to a greater extent, will survive due to their presence on the Internet, making the most beneficial offers and providing the best experience. There will be a big general failure, and we will do our best to direct our efforts to the e-commerce and to providing the best consumer experience.

Let's hope that during a perfect storm our boat will have a reliable safety buffer, and then, time will tell.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished