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Oct. 2000

Fashion’s fickle finger is once again tickling the diamond market. After being hot, then not, then embroiled as the subject of a controversial treatment, brown diamonds–slugged champagne and cognac–are fashion’s flavor of the moment. The stones that just last year were being viewed as suitable for color enhancement are now the ones being demanded by jewelry designers in both the United States and Europe in its natural state.
Designers from Aaron Basha, New York, to Krieger, Idar-Oberstein and Rina Limor, New York, are rediscovering the stones for not only their natural beauty, but also for their higher profit margin than white diamonds. During the summer, for example, brown diamond lines emerged at the JA New York show. Women’s Wear Daily, the bible of the fashion industry, meanwhile, featured a brown diamond ring on its cover and an array of brown diamond jewelry inside.

Popular pieces feature either brown diamond pave, briolettes or other unusual-cut stones. Designers are touting the natural beauty of brown diamonds, echoing the sentiments of Argyle’s massive marketing of brown diamonds less than a decade ago. In 1992, Argyle sponsored promotional and advertising programs and initiated the C1 to C7 nomenclature for grading brown diamonds. Though surveys then indicated that recognition figures went from 6% to 90% among consumers, popularity dropped off and, by 1998, designers had stopped using the colored diamonds altogether.

The booming economy and desire for unique luxury goods is driving designers to dabble in unconventional stones. Last year, for example, pink and black diamonds were making a buzz within the jewelry industry. Welcome news to Diamond Registry, an early and continual fan and source of fancy colored diamonds, this year, it is browns. According to importers like Lauren B, New York, wholesaler of the Lepozzi line of brown diamond jewelry, browns have more fire than their black counterparts and are helped by the U.S. consumer’s familiarity with the term “champagne.” According to a spokesman for Krieger, based in Germany, the champagne and cognac stones are also becoming very popular among European consumers.

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