wilson quarterly

Blue Diamond Auction Brings in Asian Markets

Isaac Mostovicz writes that a diamond fetched a mighty price...

Yesterday a rare 5.16 carat blue diamond was sold at auction in Hong Kong for $6.4 million, half a million more than the top price that Sotheby’s estimated. Terry Chu, deputy head of Sotheby’s jewellery department for China and Southeast Asia, said:

There have been a lot of new diamond buyers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and elsewhere in the region. I think after the financial crisis, the Asian buyers realized that the prices of diamond are relatively stable compared to other types of auction items.

It’s interesting that Asian buyers are so interested in diamonds (though it should be noted that the eventual buyer was Moussaieff Jewellers of London) — we’ve seen other markets beginning to heat up in Asia. This auction and the auctions for other diamonds from the De Beers Millennium Collection that will surely follow are yet more signs that economic recovery is underway.

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Lux Populi

Isaac Mostovicz writes that ...

This week I came across an excellent essay by James Twitchell from the Winter 2007 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, a publication by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. Lux Populi describes the commodification of luxury in an interesting and throught-provoking way.

Twitchell says that as Americans have developed an increasingly strong desire to associate themselves with recognized objects of little intrinsic but high positional value, they’ve been increasingly able to afford some form of luxury–it’s the “Twinkiefication of deluxe.” Twitchell argues that as everyone aspires to luxury, “luxury” is no longer something that differentiates.

There is very little cake a rich person once gorged on that a ­middle-­class person can’t get on his plate. You name it; I can taste it. So I can’t afford a casita on Bermuda, but I can get in on a time-share for a weekend. No, I can’t own a stretch limo, but I can rent one by the hour. Maybe Venice is out this year, but I’ll go to the Venetian in Vegas instead. I can’t afford an Armani suit, but what about these eyeglasses with Giorgio’s name plastered on them? Commodore Vanderbilt said that if you have to ask how much a yacht costs, you can’t afford one, but check out my stateroom on my chartered Majestic Princess. True, I don’t have my own Gulfstream V jet, but I can upgrade to first class on Delta with the miles I “earn” by using my American Express card. Is that my own Lexus out front? Or is it on lease from a used car dealer? You’ll never ­know.

Twitchell goes on to say that the very wealthy only have two genuine luxury items left: time and philanthropy. Overall it’s an interesting argument, and it certainly fits in with many of the trends we’ve been tracking on Janus Thinking. You can read the whole article here.

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