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Miri Chen: Fancy color diamonds, owing to their extreme rarity, tend to maintain their value even when resold on the second-hand market

06 november 2023

Miri Chen 3.jpegMiri Chen, CEO of Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), leads the foundation, setting its vision and strategy roadmap, developing its dynamic products and services, and providing its members with innovative solutions that enhance fancy color diamond proficiency. Seasoned senior hi-tech executive Miri Chen joined the FCRF more than six years ago.

Before heading the FCRF, Miri served as Head of Business Operations and Chief of Staff at global technology companies. Her close interactions with top authorities in the diamond industry provided her with valuable expertise and made her even more passionate about the field.

Miri is no stranger to corporate community involvement and outreach. She has a long record of incorporating social responsibility and volunteering for charities in Israel and around the world.

Here, in an exclusive interview with Rough & Polished, Miri Chen explains FCRF's stand on coloured diamonds as an investment vehicle for now, as well as for years to come...

Some excerpts:

 

The Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF) recently announced that the average price of all colors and sizes of fancy color diamonds has climbed to 1.3% in Q1 2023. However, the current demand has dipped drastically in global consumer markets. How do you perceive the price and demand pattern of colored diamonds changing, going forward?

Historically, the price of fancy color diamonds has been less volatile than that of colorless diamonds for various reasons. For instance, natural color diamonds are unique and rare. The rarity factor plays a significant role in price stability since it's difficult to find a substitute in most cases.

Moreover, inventories are distributed in relatively small portions among many wholesale diamond companies and do not pose a significant financial burden and the need to liquidate. Furthermore, demand for fancy color diamond jewelry remains steady across most markets.

How do colored diamonds fare in terms of being an investment vehicle? Are investors now looking at colored diamonds to invest?

When analyzing the price behavior of fancy color diamonds over the past decade, we can clearly say that these diamonds have exhibited minimal price volatility while maintaining a slow and steady increase.

This pricing behavior makes them particularly suitable for wealth preservation. In case investors seek to generate a fast profit on this alternative investment they should partner with wholesale professionals who have access to the source and can trade these rare gems efficiently.

Apparently, investors are not keen on colored diamonds as reselling is difficult due to the premium prices. White diamonds are preferred as they are easier to liquidate. Your views?

It's important to remember that all diamonds are, first and foremost, symbols of success and celebrations of life, by wearing them, collectors say who they are without having to speak. While diamonds can be perceived as a traditional investment, the absence of a regulated platform for non-professionals has rendered this aspect to be merely incidental.

Colorless diamonds, being more common, often face significant discounts in the second-hand market. In contrast, fancy color diamonds, owing to their extreme rarity, tend to maintain their value even when resold on the second-hand market.

The investment consideration comes into play when collectors seek ways to preserve wealth and pass it on efficiently to their next generation.

Your recommendation to a new investor in color diamonds? What aspects should one be careful before investing in a high-end color diamond?

The FCRF cannot provide a formula for investing in fancy color diamonds. The primary factor to consider is the beauty of the diamond relative to its price. The rule of thumb is: "If you fall in love with it, in the future, others will too."

In certain instances, natural color diamonds - even with characteristics like low clarity or strong blue fluorescence - can still prove to be a good investment over time, if they are visually attractive and purchased at the right price. When considering the investment potential, it's crucial to determine where in the supply chain the diamond is being bought. Purchasing a fancy color diamond at the retail level typically reduces the immediate investment potential but preserves long-term wealth for future generations.

FCRF has been a guiding force for investors in colored diamonds. What new strategies has FCRF built of late, to retain confidence of consumers or investors?

For the past decade, the FCRF has been producing reports and offering services to a wide spectrum of stakeholders: from mining companies and large international jewelry brands to mid-sized retailers and savvy collectors, thereby bolstering confidence and transparency in this luxurious segment.

Recently, we introduced two reports designed to enrich the buying experience for jewelry enthusiasts and heighten the investment allure of any natural color diamond. Jewelers who incorporate these reports find them extremely valuable.

The 'Diamond Diary' report provides a meaningful content experience that no expert can replicate on-site, while the 'Rarity Report' reveals the detailed story of a diamond's rarity. Together, these resources create a compelling experience for both jewelers and collectors. Jewelers report that these two resources have dramatically improved interactions with interested collectors, resulting in a higher rate of sales.

After Argyle closed down, pinks/reds have been the most sought after. According to you, which colored diamonds are moving fast now in global auctions?

Traders observe that the current favorites among Argyle diamonds are pink diamonds ranging from 0.20 to 0.50 carats, with a diverse range of saturations and clarities. Their current popularity can be attributed to the relatively affordable total cost, making them especially appealing to novice collectors.

Multimillion-dollar diamonds, like red diamonds and vivid pinks, are sold at a lower rate, as owners of these rare gems often prefer to retain them in their collections rather than part with them at market price.

Generally, in which consuming markets are natural fancy colored diamonds most popular? And, in demand terms, what is your forecast now for color diamonds in comparison to white diamonds?

In terms of consumption, natural fancy colored diamonds are most popular in the US, Far East, and Europe. These regions are teeming with collectors seeking unique color diamonds; however, demand can be found nearly everywhere globally.

These days, we see a correlation between the economic situation in China and a lower diamond demand. As the economy in that region improves, we will see a significant portion of fancy color diamonds gravitating towards the east.

Color diamonds are likely to maintain their strong standing, mainly because the disparity between supply and demand is substantial. The robust wholesale layer allows it to weather price fluctuations without the necessity to off-load inventory during challenging times.

Regarding white diamonds, the long-term impact of lab-grown diamonds on mid-range natural white diamonds remains to be seen.

Color diamonds have shown immense inflation in prices since the ‘90s, where do you see demand for color diamonds or jewelry, say in the next five years?

In prosperous economic times, fancy color diamonds are purchased to celebrate life, while in challenging times, they are acquired as a form of secure and portable wealth. These two factors contribute to the stability of this niche market. Our best projection is that price stability will likely persist.

Given the unconventional nature of the fancy color diamond market, how can the FCRF help those interested in understanding its complexities and secrets, such as the actual size of the market and other topics?

We are about to release the first ever market review about fancy color diamonds. This review not only gives insights into the actual size of the market but also uncovers many layers of this sector.

From the dynamics behind the auction platform, to price behavior, client and retailer profiles, and even rarity and mining, our aim is to provide a new perspective and comprehensive understanding of this unique market for both newcomers and seasoned stakeholders. We believe that the findings of this market review will empower those in and around this fascinating world.

Interested companies are welcome to acquire the review at www.fcresearch.org

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished