De Beers: US Diamond Jewelry Demand Hits High of $41 Billion

(IDEX Online) – Total diamond jewelry demand from US consumers increased 4.4 percent in 2016 to exceed $40 billion for the first time, according to industry insight data published today by De Beers Group.

 

While slower US GDP growth in the first quarter of 2017 is likely to have impacted diamond jewelry demand in the short term, the US has recorded five years of consecutive demand growth. US consumers now account for roughly half of all diamond jewelry purchases globally – a level not seen since before the financial crisis.

 

Although bridal diamond jewelry continues to be the foundation of demand in the US, more frequent acquisitions and a higher value of spend from single women helped drive demand. Meanwhile, self-purchase trends increased among both single and married women.

 

Fifty-seven percent of self-purchased diamond jewelry is acquired by married women, while a third is from Millennials. Retailers also reported high levels of consumer interest for multi-diamond pieces.

The data showed that consumers are spending more per piece on diamond jewelry, with retailers reporting an increase in the $1,000 to $4,999 category, De Beers claimed.

 

Globally, demand for diamond jewelry in 2016 increased marginally in US dollars (at actual exchange rates) to $80 billion, with demand growth from the US offsetting a contraction in India.

 

  • Demand from Chinese consumers grew 0.6 percent in local currency and has continued to improve in early 2017, with robust sales around Chinese New Year contributing to the positive performance in the first quarter.

 

  • Demand from Indian consumers started to return to more normal levels in 2017, following an 8.8 percent contraction (in local currency) in 2016 due to the jewelers’ strike, demonetization and exchange rates.

 

  • Demand from Japanese consumers declined 2.9 percent in local currency in 2016, but growth in US dollars reached 8.1 percent due to the strength of the yen.

 

  • Demand in the Gulf was impacted by a challenging macro-economic environment, driven by continued oil price weakness.

 

Further marginal global growth in diamond jewelry demand (in US dollar terms) is likely in 2017.

 

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “American consumers continue to express strong desire for diamonds, but their purchasing habits are changing rapidly. While bridal diamond jewelry remains fundamental, we are seeing both single and married women buying for themselves more frequently and more purchases being made online. Meanwhile, products such as multi-diamond jewelry are becoming more popular.

 

“However, while US demand drove global growth in 2016, it is increasing demand from emerging markets that is behind the last five years being the strongest on record. Despite some markets facing challenging conditions last year, we see this trend continuing, with improvements in demand from China and India, in particular, emerging in 2017.”

Post Falls High School student gets new car for GPA, attendance

School’s out for summer and for seniors graduating high school the next chapter of their life is about to begin.

To help make that transition a little easier, some seniors who maintained a 3.5 GPA and had perfect attendance competed for a new car.

The winner was Robyn Robinson from Post Falls High School.

Image result for Tesla’s Original Designer Created a New Car and It Charges in Just 9 Minutes

Findlay Nissan in Post Falls held a reverse drawing, meaning they would draw names until one person had not been picked.

Robyn told KHQ she was surprised she won.

“Well I don’t have very good luck I’m still in shock,” Robinson said, “and it’s kind of surprising but I was going to have my piano teacher come with me and she was sick this morning so she said I hope you win.”

Robinson says she plans on going to North Idaho College for two years and then transferring to the University of Idaho to pursue a degree in advertising.

 

The High Cost of High Fashion

The high cost of cheap fashion”: there’s no greater cliché in the popular discourse about ethics and fashion. Countless books, articles, documentaries, and online social spaces are devoted to presenting and reinforcing this idea.

For its purveyors, the phrase is meant not only as a wake-up call but a call to action. “The high cost of cheap fashion” alerts consumers to the degrading labor conditions and environmental practices that are involved in the production of cheap trendy clothes, or so-called fast fashion. It implores consumers to quit shopping at fast-fashion retailers, to stop being duped by cheap prices and the short cut to fashion trends.

What may feel like a fashion steal, we’re told, is actually robbing workers of a living wage and safe working conditions, and robbing legitimate designers of their creative property. Like fast food’s convenient but empty calories, fast fashion offers a quick but ultimately empty fix. Paying more for clothes, fast fashion critics insist, is not only the ethical thing to do — it is the fashionable thing to do.

Opposing fast fashion is intuitively appealing. It often springs from a genuine desire to make the world a better place, to limit exploitation, and foster creativity.

But it’s critically flawed. To decry this low-level, already stigmatized market is to either misunderstand or intentionally ignore the structural relationships and realities of the larger fashion system. Anti–fast fashion stances give rise to racist, class-biased, and ahistorical myths about garment workers, budget fashion consumers, and luxury fashion. And in doing so, they leave intact the very practices they’re intent on decrying.

 

New York, NY. purpletwinkie / Flickr

Fast fashion is only one market within a massive apparel industry. While it’s undeniably a commercial powerhouse, its cultural influence is negligible. Its business model is based on seeking out — not defining — cultural trends and then producing and delivering them months or sometimes days before peer and upmarket competitors. In this way, fast fashion markets play an important, if under-recognized, role in sustaining the larger apparel industry. Mass-market versions of luxury designs compel elite consumers and brands to search for new trends in order to distinguish themselves from the mass market.

Despite their crucial role, however, fast-fashion designs generally don’t capture headlines or public attention unless: (1) they’re accused of copying a luxury brand; (2) a luxury brand is caught replicating a fast fashion garment (as with Saint Laurent’s recent knockoff of a Forever 21 dress); or (3) they’re the subject of an anti–fast fashion news story.

The central myth of anti–fast fashion discourse is that low prices signify low standards of production (and a lower-quality product), while high prices indicate high standards of production (and a high-quality product). This is what economists call “the Veblen effect,” named for Thorstein Veblen, who in 1899 theorized that expensive goods appealed to elites as status symbols.

Today, more expensive fashions are still associated with higher-status consumers whose tastes are not just “better” but also morally superior, ethically discriminating, and knowledgeable about the “high costs of cheap fashion.” Anti-fast fashion campaigns urge consumers to avoid budget retailers to show that they stand against the exploitation of fashion workers and intellectual property theft. Those who don’t heed their call and switch to buying more expensive goods are complicit in the horrors of fast fashion.

Yet it isn’t just fast fashion brands that copy other designers or use sweatshop labor. These practices exist across the industry, from budget to luxury fashion. It’s not uncommon to find workers in the same factory producing both fast fashion and luxury fashion garments, or to find them making both the “original designs” and the fast-fashion versions.

And severe worker abuses and health and safety violations have been repeatedly reported in factories making clothes for the likes of Prada, Burberry, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, and Tommy Hilfiger. The presence of a high-end fashion label does not automatically mean that labor rights have been observed.

In fact, the working conditions in some mass-market companies are actually better than those in some upscale companies. A journalist citing an online consumer resource called GoodGuide finds that “Levi’s and Nike got much better overall scores than Givenchy and Céline. H&M fared better than Donna Karan.”

What fast-fashion critics miss is that all apparel companies are enmeshed in a system of global capitalism, and all are subject to its profit-driven logic. Worker exploitation and health and safety violations plague the entire industry.

Invectives against the amorality or stupidity of fast-fashion consumers (predominantly but not exclusively working-class and poor people) misses this entirely, while giving a pass to elite consumers whose clothes are just as likely to be produced in deplorable conditions. Anti–fast fashion messages end up blaming poor people — the victims of global capitalism — for the ills of global capitalism.

Urging working-class and poor people to shop at Barney’s instead of Forever 21 suggests that the least powerful consumers are responsible for fixing the depredations of capitalism. But buying more expensive clothes based on some misguided code of ethics does nothing to reduce global capitalism’s racially gendered divisions of labor, opportunities, and rewards. Fashion cycles — crucial for turning the wheels of capitalism — will roll on even if poor people go into (more) financial debt.

Often, shaming fast-fashion consumers takes on a racist cast. In contemporary anti–fast fashion campaigns, black, Latina, and especially Asian women and girls are represented as passive and powerless victims of sweatshop fashion. This one-dimensional stereotype obscures the years of labor activism, organizing, and protest and replaces it with a savior narrative in which wealthy, enlightened, American and European consumers are rescuing poor, immigrant, and/or Third World women of color from the sweatshop — all just by shopping. But garment workers have never been just passive witnesses.

From the Triangle Shirtwaist Strike in New York City in 1909 (the largest work stoppage in the United States at the time) to the massive Chinese Ladies Garment Workers strike in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1938 (which lasted fifteen weeks) to more recent actions by workers in and from the Philippines, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, garment employees have long resisted oppressive conditions.

And as active agents, they’ve engaged with the very fashions they produce. Garment workers, the vast majority of whom are women and girls, are some of the first people to see fashion trends emerge, evolve, and die out. They’re structurally, if not socially, positioned ahead of the fashion cycle curve. Their embeddedness in the global apparel and fashion media systems also means they’re surrounded by the cultural meanings and significance of prevailing aesthetics.

The actual and promised pleasures of shopping, getting dressed, and feeling beautiful, sophisticated, and hip are not confined to the consumers of the advanced capitalist world or to elite fashion markets.

The Limits of Ethical Consumerism

My intention isn’t to defend fast-fashion brands. My point is simply that any critique of fast fashion’s exploitation, inequality, and abuse must indict elite markets as well.

Critics should also be cognizant of the limits of ethical consumerism. Calls for change that emphasize individual rather than systemic reform are, at best, empty gestures, and at worst, sanctimonious moralizing. Any meaningful consumer activism must work in solidarity with garment workers. It must organize its efforts around the explicit demands of garment workers themselves. Consumer activism that focuses on shaming fast-fashion buyers, or rashly calls for boycotts of specific companies, risks undermining workers’ organizing efforts.

International unions have been urging fashion brands around the world to sign onto legally binding agreements for living wages and worker safety. Two of these agreements are the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation), an initiative launched by the global union IndustriALL.

Who are the current signatories of both agreements? Predominantly fast-fashion brands (including H&M, ASOS, Inditex [Zara], Primark, Target, and TopShop). Luxury goods conglomerates Gucci Group and LVMH are conspicuously absent.

Apple announces a new operating system for the Mac: High Sierra

Image result for Apple announces a new operating system for the Mac: High SierraApple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi took the stage during Apple’s WWDC 2017 in San Jose on Monday where he unveiled macOS High Sierra.

MacOS High Sierra is the successor to macOS Sierra, which Apple announced last year. It offers plenty of new features.

Safari is faster, Apple said, and will prevent videos from autoplaying when you visit a page. It also has “Intelligent tracking prevention” to make sure websites aren’t invading your privacy and revealing your history.

Mail has also been refined with new search functions. Spotlight now controls search within mail. The app also now supports split view, so you can type out an email while doing something else, like surfing the web.

Federighi said the largest refinement in macOS High Sierra is in Photos, which now lets you search by keyword, favorites, type of photo and even by face with facial recognition (Apple has worked with this before.) Any edits made to photos in Photoshop sync right back to the Photos app, too.

Apple File System is also coming to macOS as the new default file management system. It was originally announced last year and helps Apple provide more secure storage.

macOS Sierra also supports virtual reality for the first time ever, which will be enabled by new powerful computers Apple is announcing during the show, such as its new iMacs.

macOS High Sierra will be available in the coming months.