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23 june 2022

Ali Pastorini: The jewelry consumer does not evaluate the brand only by price

06 june 2022

ali_pastorini_xxc.pngAli Pastorini is the co-owner of Del Lima Jewelry and President of Mujeres Brillantes, an association that 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 talks about the situation in the diamond industry.

Do you expect an increase in diamond prices due to the decline in global diamond production?

It is natural that this price increase occurs, it is the law of supply and demand. To compensate for your production and all the limitations for it to occur, the price will increase so that there is still profit, the consequence is that this affects the buyer who is looking for that product that is scarcer to find on the market.

Do you think that the demand for diamond jewelry will grow?

Probably yes, when a product such as gold and diamond, which are naturally high-value products, has a decrease in production, the consumer tends to look for this product as an investment( be it in rough, polished or even diamond jewelry).This is not the first time, and in my opinion it will not be the last, that our industry has experienced adversity, and we must learn from past events.

Scenarios like the current one have shown us in the past that the consumer seeks to buy diamond jewelry, because despite the low volatility in terms of investment, it is still a safe way to buy a product that will not devalue regardless of the consequences of an atypical scenario.

Is it possible to talk about competition between natural diamonds and LGD?

Whenever people ask me this, I always answer: "Why do you need to compete and not coexist?". I think there is a market for both, in fact we already see that there is a market for both.

Consumers of natual diamonds and LGD have different consumption profiles, from their lifestyle and financial condition,which means that in practice they are not opponents. So if they are not opponents I don't see why insisting on this idea that natural diamonds compete directly with LDG.

And I repeat once again what I have already said on this topic, if natural diamond companies feel threatened with LGD, perhaps it is time to evaluate and improve their way of communicating with consumers, educating them and showing them the advantages of natural diamond. It will not be by way of complaining and hoping that the demand for LDG will decrease that will improve your company's natural diamond sales. Your company's sales will only increase if you effectively focus on improving your company's marketing and service. The jewelry consumer does not evaluate the brand only by price.

Can the depletion of diamond deposits increase consumer demand for other types of precious stones?

It can, but I don't believe it's in the same proportion as the search for diamonds. Of course, when there is a shortage of a product, you naturally look for substitutes, but I don't think it will be more than diamonds.

Do you agree that too much emphasis on sustainability issues can be counterproductive and unprofitable for diamond jewelry sales?

I fully agree!

Before I proceed with my answer, it is important to make it clear that the environment and sustainability agenda are very important and must be constantly debated. That said, it is important for us to understand the importance of the free market and its advantages such as employment, fighting poverty and hunger, generating new opportunities, etc...

When we focus only on sustainability as a sign of virtue, instead of analyzing the scenario in a broader and deeper way, we fail to discuss important aspects of economic and social development that directly impact civilizations, especially in the poorest regions. What worries me are colleagues in the sector with some speeches that "demonize" natural diamond, diamond mines, gold mines, etc.

And when they do it, they are preventing us from having a serious and healthy debate about a subject that goes beyond the environment and well-being. I am not quoting in this answer colleagues from the sector who go to the field, or who have real and serious projects in Africa or Latin America on this topic.

Interestingly, these colleagues aren't radical and in the opportunities I've had to give my point of view, generally I´ve received a great feedback where we've been able to discuss what's the most viable way to resolve this issue. Even if at the end of the conversation we don't agree, there is still a deep mutual respect and understanding that both parties want the best for the world.

However, we cannot be afraid to debate this and see it from the angle of not being profitable, because if it is not profitable, the company loses investment strength, losing investment strength you decrease your number of employees which means increase the number of unemployment and consequently stagnating development of a region.

And when you stagnate the development of a region, it is not just those who work directly with our sector that lose, but all the people around them, even family members, such as parents who paid for their children's schools to have a better future full of opportunities, or small businesses that are opened when a region grows, providing more economic freedom and entrepreneurship to those who had no opportunity.

Again, this is a topic that should not be used as a political agenda or sign of virtue. There are deeper aspects to be analyzed than just beautiful speeches.

Can diamond cutting and polishing technologies eventually replace human hands?

I don't believe it fully. there are techniques that in jewelry are more beautiful with the human touch. So I think that technology comes as a strong ally, mainly for speed in production, but I believe that the identity and differential of a jewel is still thanks to manual work. I noticed many events and Jewelry Shows, mainly in Europe, aware that technology helps but cannot be the protagonist, it will always be and we must continue to encourage human beings with their creativity, precision and dexterity when transforming an idea into art.

Do recent events in Ukraine affect the situation on the jewelry market?

It is difficult not to affect, and on the one hand it has to affect so that we are aware of what world we want to live in and if we are going to continue pretending that things are not happening.

The current situation affects in the most varied situations, from sanctions that directly affect the production and purchase of Russian products, to offices that did business with Russia that ended up having to slow down their business speed. Even some events end up affecting all its dynamics, for example I was recently hired as a consultant for an event in West Africa, and before the war the main focus was business with Russia, in one month this whole dynamic was changed and we had to attract another type of visitors.

Russia is a strong and powerful player in our sector, there are many companies and people who depend on doing business with the country, and inevitably this affects everyone. This is another issue that as an industry we have to be careful to find the best way, before making quickly decisions that can harm people and segments that have nothing to do with it.

Could you, please, share the latest news from Mubri?

In 2021 we held events where it was already possible to do something, always with due health care. This year of 2022 we have practically returned to normal in all chapters and since then our regional and international actions have not stopped.The Brazil chapter is the most active with major partnerships and events such as Mubri at Casa Cor São Paulo and Mubri at Casa Cor Brasília, the largest design event in Latin America where Mubri will present at least 60 brands to the Brazilian consumer, and I am talking only two cities. Still have other brazilian cities to we reach out until the end of this year.

In addition, the newest Mexico chapter has arrived and has already provided several activities, including an International Jewellery Competition.

There are even older chapters such as Spain that participates in Madrid Joya Jewelry Show. There is also participation in other Jewelry Shows in Dubai, Enirates and Jaipur, India, a partnership with GJEPC India that Mubri has and will take members to visit and do business with the organization's members.

And that's just a small sample of what we're doing right now as I give this interview. Until the end of the year, there will be many actions of different profiles in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Аlex Shishlo for Rough&Polished