Diamonds still a girl's best friend

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2013
Custom-made wedding rings
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
DOUBLE DAZZLERS: Jay and Anna Reeves had their wedding rings custom made.
Custom-made wedding rings
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
PERFECT FIT: Jay and Anna Reeves show off their custom-made wedding rings.

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Diamond sales are on the up as New Zealand women splurge on luxury goods with a personalised twist.

They are being spurred on by the arrival of "engagement season", which kicked off around the world last Thursday - Thanksgiving Day in the US - and runs through until Valentine's Day, February 14.

The value of raw diamond imports into NZ increased 16 per cent from 2009 to 2012, mirroring a global rise in diamond jewellery sales and other luxury goods.

Global diamond sales have tripled in the past 25 years and are worth in excess of $88 billion every year.

The latest must-have is the ashoka diamond, made famous by Hollywood actor Reese Witherspoon, as buyers ask for a more unusual sparkle.

Sole Australasian stockist Partridge Jewellers has sold three of the rare stones since introducing the cut to New Zealand last month. "The way it's cut makes it look a third bigger than the emerald cut," Partridge director Grant Partridge said.

Sales of unusual cuts and rare gems, such as Argyle pink diamonds, are also rising, he said.

And as the hunt goes on for a ring to seal the deal, it's not just women who are getting creative.

Jewellers say more men are opting for unusual designs to keep up with their wives.

Wellington's Village Goldsmith owner Ian Douglas said an increasing number of engaged women are requesting the traditional engagement designs with an added edge.

"There's more independent, self-confident women who have their own careers and lives," he said. "When these [women] make a commitment. they want a statement that says ‘this is me'."

A new generation of blokes are also moving away from the gold-band standard design of their father's generation, he said. "We have now got hundreds of styles. Men want a masculine ring but customised to the women's ring."

Online design tools, 3D modelling and a deluge of diamond websites allowed women to shop with greater knowledge of what they want, he said.

PR professional Anna Reeve and husband radio host Jay Reeve wanted personalised wedding rings. Reeve chose a row of diamonds in a basket setting while her husband designed a gold ring with a shield of black diamonds.

The couple approached Auckland jeweller Naveya & Sloane after struggling to find the right wedding ring, and wasn't disappointed. "I love it. I get comments on my rings all the time saying they are beautiful."

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Her husband's black diamond ring also attracts comments.

"He loves it. He said to me, ‘if you get diamonds, I get diamonds'."

STATISTICS

Value of diamond imports (not set in jewellery) into New Zealand:

2012: $37.0 million

2011: $29.3 million

2010: $31.4 million

2009: $31.8 million

Source: Statistics NZ 

- Sunday Star Times

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