By Michelle Graff
Lab-grown diamonds, engagement ring trends and a $1.8 billion bank scandal in India that rocked the diamond industry nationwide were among the most popular stories published on this year.

While there are a few important stories that did not make the cut—I was surprised, for example, that the article announcing De Beers would begin selling gem-quality lab-grown diamonds did not land in the top 18—I would say this year’s list is a fair representation of what’s important to the industry right now.

The increasing prevalence of man-made diamonds. The decreasing availability of financing. What kind of engagement rings consumers want. Beautiful and unusual gemstones.

I am currently on vacation, visiting my parents in the land of alligators and golf over the Christmas holiday, returning Dec. 27 to finish out the last few days of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy this blog post as well as Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator’s annual tribute to those to whom we’ve said goodbye over the past year.

Happy holidays to all.

1. Thieves Snatch 20-Carat Diamond at Vegas Show
Shortly after the Las Vegas jewelry trade shows ended, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance released details on this crime, which involved two men and an unlocked showcase housing one big diamond. This case of jewelry theft remains unsolved as of press time.

2. 5 Engagement Rings Trends for 2018
WP Diamonds, the division of White Pine Trading LLC that buys and sells from the public, released its predictions early in the year and the forecast aligned with that jewelers had been telling us: While halos remain popular, there is a trend toward simple solitaire rings.

3. Here’s What Tiffany’s New Engagement Ring Looks Like
The jeweler debuted “Tiffany True” in the fall, its first new engagement ring style in seven years. Readers who commented on the story didn’t love the style.

20181218 Yazzie squashA modern example of a squash blossom necklace crafted by Lee Yazzie in 2012 using silver and Lone Mountain turquoise. (Image courtesy of the Smithsonian, National Museum of the American Indian)
4. The History Behind … The Squash Blossom Necklace
This installment of our popular antique and estate jewelry series, “The History Behind …” dug into a style that first emerged in the southwestern U.S. in the late 1870s.

5. Glued-Together Diamond Turns Up at GIA
The Gemological Institute of America reported in August that graders at its Carlsbad, California, lab spotted a 1.38-carat colored diamond that had broken in half and been glued back together, then sent to the lab with nary a mention of this fact.

6. Samuels Jewelers Files for Bankruptcy
The 120-store chain was having a tough time before owner Mehul Choksi, and his nephew Nirav Modi, were implicated in a $1.8 billion bank fraud in India that caused it to lose access to product and funding, and eroded vendor confidence. Samuels Jewelers filed Chapter 11 in August.

20181218 Rainbow LatticeRainbow lattice sunstone is found in Australia’s Northern Territory and possesses the rare quality of displaying both aventurescence and adularescence.
7. 5 Things to Know About … Rainbow Lattice Sunstone
Senior Editor, Gemstones Brecken Branstrator taught us all about this striking stone found in northern Australia.

8. There’s a New Mineral and It’s Called Crowningshieldite
Researcher Evan Smith announced the discovery of this new mineral at GIA Symposium, held in October in Carlsbad.

9. The 1.34-Carat ‘Alpha’ Diamond in Rio Tinto’s Tender
Our annual recap of the top purple, red and pink diamonds to emerge from the Argyle mine always lands on the most-read list, and why not? They’re real and they’re spectacular.

10. Nirav Modi Case Is ‘Another Nail in the Coffin’
Published in February when news of the Modi/Choksi billion-dollar bank scandal first broke, my blog post breaks down the scandal’s implications for an industry already struggling to secure financing.

20181218 Danat insertA gemstone identification report from grading laboratory Danat. In this year’s The State of the Majors report, National Jeweler’s senior editor covering the gemstone market examined the lack of cohesion among labs when it comes to color nomenclature and origin reports for colored gemstones.
11. State of the Colored Gemstone Market: All Together Now?
Branstrator’s piece on the lack of cohesion when it comes to labs and their colored gemstone reports sparked much discussion online and was the only article from the 2018 State of the Majors report to land on this list.

12. A. Jaffe, Firestar Diamond File Bankruptcy
The U.S. companies connected to Modi went Chapter 11 in February. A. Jaffe was eventually sold and is still operating while Firestar Diamond and Fantasy Inc. were liquidated.

13. Current Jewelry Trends: The Holiday Forecast
Fashion Editor Ashley Davis outlined three timeless-yet-modern styles that she says consumers will want this holiday season.

14. De Beers Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry Line to Launch Thursday
Interestingly, the article published in September just before went live outperformed the original story on De Beers getting into the lab-grown business. The company dropped the man-made bomb on the industry just before the Las Vegas trade shows.

20181218 Hendler earringsSarah Hendler’s “Ballet Slipper” spear earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with rhodolite illustrate one of the holiday trends detailed by Fashion Editor Ashley Davis—enamel.
15. 8 Key Changes the FTC Made to the Jewelry Guides
Guidance on how to talk about lab-grown diamonds and the elimination of a minimum fineness threshold for use of the terms “gold” and “silver” were among the major alterations.

16. Going Deep: What the GIA Just Learned About Blue Diamonds
I love writing about the science behind gemstones, and our readers must like it too. This is the second story of this type to land on a year-end list of the site’s most popular stories.

17. Sears, Macy’s Announce Even More Store Closings
This article from early in 2018 (Jan. 9, to be exact) detailing hundreds of department store closings nationwide had staying power.

18. Sterling Suing Alex and Ani for Breach of Contract
Not only was it popular among readers, but this story takes the prize for Best Abstract of the Year on National Jeweler: Alex and Ani went to Jared, and it didn’t go so well.

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