Alternative Investment News Round-up: Monday 28th July 2014

World’s nine largest gemstones for sale

The nine largest gemstones in the world have been made available for sale.

The Ophir Collection includes the Ophir Sapphire. Weighing 31,308 carats, the blue stone is roughly the size of a dinner plate and is recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest faceted Sapphire in the world – one of nine gems to have been awarded a Guinness World Record title.

The collectin spans 40 rare and exquisite gemstones, which have been certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority on diamonds and colored stones.

GIA, and several other leading authorities on gemstone identification, were unable to identify one gemstone in the collection, suggesting that it is a new mineral. The Ophir Collection has named this unknown gemstone the “Ophir Mystique”. The Ophir Mystique has the distinction of being both the largest – and possibly the only – specimen of its kind in the world.

The entire collection can be viewed online at OphirCollection.com.

Repatriation fuels Chinese art investment

Repatriation is fuelling Chinese art investment according to Bonhams.

Speaking to SF Gate, the auction giant’s VP and Director of Asian Art, Dessa Goddard, says that investors are increasingly looking to take antiquities back to CHina.

Indeed, Chinese art trading now accounts for 24 per cent of the worldwide market, driving over $15 billion sales this year. Calligraphy is more typical of the kind of commodities snapped up by buyers, compared to other nationalities, who traditionally favour luxury items such as watches and cars.

Traders go online as Pakistan gem market slumps

The Pakistan gem industry has slumped in the last year, thanks to the combined impct of Taliban violence, a power crisis and outdated production methods.

“I have been in this business for the last 25 years but the slump that we are witnessing these days because of unrest and Talibanisation is unprecedented,” one trader told the AFP in Peshawar. While foreign exports traditionally account for 95 per cent of activity, foreign buyers from Thailand, France, Germany, Dubai and the USA have now been scared off.

“The bomb blasts and suicide attacks have turned our businesses upside down, leaving us no option but to interact with our buyers through the Internet,” he added.

Gold sentiment improves among investors

Investor sentiment in gold is improving, while confidence in UK property falls, according to LLoyds Bank. The lender’s Private Banking Investor Sentiment Index shows that UK property sentiment dipped 6 per cent in June 2014. While it remains the highest-scoring asset class, gold saw a more favourable 1 point swing upwards, the only asset class to hit a nebw high score this year,.

India gold and silver exports up

Silver and gold jewellery exports have both increased in June 2014, according to the latest figures from the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

Exports of silver jumped 25.06 per cent year-on-year to $134.52 million, while gold experts jumped 24.96 per cent year-on-year to $664 million. The boost in jewellery trade has offset a decline in other assets, such as peals, coloured gemstones and medallions and coins.

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Chinese demand for gold bars and coins down

Chinese demand gold bars and coins has decreased, according to the China Gold Association. China surpassed India last year as the world’s biggest buyer of the precious metal, notes Bloomberg, but both countries have seen a similar trend in trading, as jewellery demand rises against a slump in bar and coin sales. Indeed, Chinese demand for bars dropped 62 per cent, says the CGA, while gold use in jewellery jumped 11 per cent.

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German investment scheme allegedly defrauds buyers

A German investment scheme in ethical products has been accused of fraud by the company’s insolvency administrator. The renewable energy developer Prokon raised almost €1.4 billion in profit participatoin certificates, reports Breitbart, but filed for insolvency at the start of 2014.

“Consumer advocates had long argued that wind farms could not support such a high rate of return, and some had expressed suspicion that the company was a Ponzi scheme,” says dw.de. “Forensic accounting will be needed to shed light on the matter.”