“When there’s a smell of inflation,” says New York fancy color specialist Raphael Maidi of Maidi Corp., “people go to hard assets. For diamonds—at a time when retailers are no longer making margins on the average white stones—fancies are key. When I first got into diamonds, I thought people were crazy, paying fancy prices: half a year’s salary for a 30-point green. I was wrong.”
“I think the industry’s movement downstream into jewelry has helped the public’s love of fancies and acceptance of price,” says Jordan Fine, vice president of New York’s Amgad Natural Diamonds and president of the Natural Color Diamond Association, which has done much to promote these rarest of stones. “After all, what do you do with a 30-point vivid green? If it’s two carats, you mortgage your house. But what about the smaller green, that has a color you’ve never seen before and never will again? We have a lot of smaller fancies that are unusual and very beautiful.”
In the past year, Amgad has moved strongly into fancy color diamond jewelry, taking the lead “from more and more jewelers who either requested outright, or strongly inferred the demand from their clients. It’s a very real trend. Independent jewelers and designers are putting their stake in the fancy ground.”
Amgad’s catalog includes the fancy yellow pieces that have become an industry standard, but many more hail from Fine’s love of assembling rare color combinations. “We’re working on eternity band concepts that mix capes, light pinks, greens, intense yellows, even blacks in the same ring, 24 stones at 20 points or so apiece, or combining two rare fancies for a one-of-a-kind cocktail ring.” He shows me a stunning $16,000 ring that accents a .48 point fancy light yellow of highest make with an exceptionally rare .40 point fancy light blue with a carat or so of melee.
And you have no worry about sitting on that piece? “None whatsoever. There’s been a 70 percent increase in blues over the last two years alone,” he says. “It’s name your price for blues.”
How does a retailer get started in the fancy game? “Probably with yellows, which is probably the only color most retailers have seen, and I think every door should have one or two in stock. The question then is: How do you get past yellow? I think, by working backward. Look at what your customers are spending on their big annual buy. If it’s, say $45,000, there will be so many choices in fancies—some not so obvious,” he adds, showing me a stunning 24 carat champagne emerald cut. “This would be over budget, but it gives you an idea of how wide the palette is. I’d also suggest showing color for something typically white, the diamond engagement ring—an expression of love for someone who loves pink, for example.”
ENTERING THE MARKET
Many jewelers start in yellows with the same supplier they use for their whites. New York’s Abe Mor has made a successful business from fancy yellow diamond jewelry priced on a strict cost plus labor formula.