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Housing In Canada

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Remarks – Mark Carney
Governor of the Bank of Canada
Presented to: Vancouver Board of Trade
Vancouver, British Columbia

Introduction
It is a pleasure to be back in Vancouver, a place often rated as the world’s most liveable city. Less frequently is it viewed as the most affordable. In the past three years, the average Vancouver house price is up about 30 per cent, making this city an extreme example of general developments in Canadian housing.
In my remarks, I will discuss the Canadian residential real estate market, consider some of the lessons from recent international experience and, finally, draw the policy implications.

Importance to Canadians
The single biggest investment most Canadian households will ever make is in their home. Housing represents almost 40 per cent of the average family’s total assets, roughly equivalent to their investments in the stock market, insurance and pension plans combined. In recent years, housing has proved a very good investment indeed. The value of residential real estate holdings in Canada has climbed more than 250 per cent in the past 20 years, vastly outpacing increases in consumer prices and disposable income over that period (Chart 1).
However, Canada is arguably no better off because of it. That’s because while homeowners may feel wealthier because of this rise in prices, housing is not net national wealth. Some Canadians are long housing; others are short. Housing developments can have important implications for equality both across and between generations. Though some people in this room may have been enriched, their children and neighbours may have been relatively impoverished.

Importance to the Bank of Canada
Housing not only meets a fundamental human need, it also has a wider economic significance. The Bank of Canada cares about the housing market because it can affect both price and financial stability. Let me address these in turn.

Price Stability
The objective of Canadian monetary policy is low, stable and predictable inflation, defined as a 2 per cent annual rate of increase in the consumer price index (CPI). Housing can influence inflation in three principal ways.
First, it is a major element of the CPI, accounting for more than a fifth of the basket of goods and services that makes up the index. The prominence of housing in the Bank’s target index provides an important advantage in that it ensures that the most important asset price in the economy is directly relevant to monetary policy.
Second, the real estate sector makes a significant, if volatile, call on resources and labour in our economy, thereby influencing wages and price pressures more generally. While residential investment has accounted for only 6 per cent of GDP on average over the past 30 years, activity in the sector has been four times more volatile than the overall economy over that period. Thus developments in housing substantially affect the business cycle and by extension inflation.
Third, while changes in housing values may not lead to changes in net wealth, they do influence consumption by affecting households’ access to credit. Through this “financial-accelerator” effect, homeowners can borrow more against increases in home equity to finance home renovations, the purchase of a second house, or other goods and services. Such expenditures can accelerate the increase in house prices, reinforcing the growth in collateral values and access to borrowing, leading to a further rise in household spending. Of course, this financial accelerator can also work in reverse: a decrease in house prices tends to reduce household borrowing capacity, and amplify the decline in spending.1,2

Financial stability
A home purchase triggers the biggest liability most families will ever take on. The value of housing-related debt in Canada has nearly tripled over the past decade to $1.3 trillion. This debt is also the single largest exposure for Canadian financial institutions, with real estate loans making up more than 40 per cent of the assets of Canadian banks, up from about 30 per cent a decade ago (Chart 2).
This unprecedented exposure exists in the context of a Canadian mortgage market that is subject to more stringent checks and balances than in the United States. For instance, almost all Canadian mortgages are full recourse, mortgage interest is not tax-deductible, and high-ratio lending standards are generally prudent. These factors help instil responsibility and discipline on both homeowners and lenders.
Nonetheless, the central position of housing assets and liabilities on the balance sheets of both households and financial institutions means that any housing excesses could generate important vulnerabilities in the financial system.

Housing Market Developments in Canada and Abroad
A review of the recent history is instructive.
A benign global macroeconomic environment and rapid financial innovation contributed to a global housing market boom through much of the past decade. In some countries, it went too far. Most prominently, in the United States, a substantial deterioration in underwriting standards turned boom to bubble and, ultimately, to bust. U.S. housing starts are now down three-quarters from their peak and prices have fallen by one-third. There have been over nine million foreclosures initiated since the cycle turned, and almost one in four mortgages is now in a negative equity position.
While some details differ, most notably in the scale of defaults, recent trends have been similar in the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland, where housing markets remain acutely challenged.
Elsewhere, however, the global financial crisis proved to be only a brief setback, with the growth of house prices resuming, or even exceeding, its former pace.3
Canada falls into this latter group. Nationally, our house prices have risen 31 per cent from their trough in early 2009, to stand 13 per cent above their pre-crisis peak (Chart 3).4 Here in Vancouver, the recovery has been even stronger, with prices up 55 per cent from their trough to a level 29 per cent above the prior peak. The rebound in housing market transactions and new construction, both locally and nationally, has been similarly robust.
The performance of Canadian housing during the recent cycle has been unusual. For example, it took nearly 12 years for real residential investment to regain its level on the eve of the 1990s recession; this time it took only a year and a half (Chart 4). This rapid recovery importantly reflects the evolution of monetary policy during the recent recession. In response to the sharp, synchronous global recession, the Bank lowered its policy rate rapidly to its lowest possible level, doubled our balance sheet, and provided exceptional guidance on the likely path of our target rate.
With the initial rapid narrowing of the output gap, the return of employment to a level above its pre-crisis peak, the highly effective transmission of monetary policy in Canada, and the sustained momentum in household borrowing, the need for such emergency policies passed (Chart 5). As a consequence, the conditional commitment was removed, our balance sheet was normalized, and rates were successively tightened until they reached 1 per cent last autumn, where they have remained.
These policies provided considerable stimulus to the Canadian economy during a period of very weak global economic conditions and major downside risks. The housing market, highly sensitive to interest rates, responded. The rapid bounce-back in housing activity was also supported by federal government initiatives, notably the Insured Mortgage Purchase Plan and the Home Renovation Tax Credit. As a result, the recovery in the housing market played an important role in ensuring that the recession in Canada, while sharp, was also short.
With this renewed vigour building on the decade-long boom that preceded the crisis, the average level of house prices nationally now stands at nearly four-and-a-half times average household disposable income. This compares with an average ratio of three-and-a-half over the past quarter-century (Chart 6). Simple house price-to-rent comparisons also suggest elevated valuations (Chart 7). While neither of these metrics reflect the impact of low interest rates, even after adjusting for these effects, valuations look very firm. For example, the ratio between the all-in monthly costs of owning a home and renting a home, as measured in the CPI, is close to its highest level since these series were first kept in 1949 (Chart 8).
Financial vulnerabilities have increased as a result. Canadians are now as indebted (relative to their income) as the Americans and the British (Chart 9). The Bank estimates that the proportion of Canadian households that would be highly vulnerable to an adverse economic shock has risen to its highest level in nine years, despite improving economic conditions and the ongoing low level of interest rates.5 This partly reflects the fact that the increase in aggregate household debt over the past decade has been driven by households with the highest debt levels (Chart 10).
There are some offsets. Debt is largely fixed rate and household net worth is at an all-time high. However, borrowers should remember that a fixed-rate mortgage will reprice a number of times over the life of the mortgage and, while asset prices can rise and fall, debt endures.
The fact that the “official” personal savings rate in Canada has remained consistently positive is of limited comfort.6 The personal savings rate has fallen to historically low levels, despite the fact that the baby-boom generation is entering its highest saving years.7 Adjusting for housing expenditures, Canadian households have now collectively run a net financial deficit for 40 consecutive quarters, in effect, demanding funds from the rest of the economy, rather than providing them, as had been the case through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (Chart 11).
How concerned should we be? To answer requires a deeper examination of the fundamental forces of supply and demand in the Canadian housing market.

The Forces of Supply and Demand
Canada’s housing supply is relatively flexible, compared with other countries (Chart 12), and it appears to have grown at rates broadly consistent with underlying demand forces, the most important of which is the rate of household formation (Chart 13).8
Some excesses may exist in certain areas and market segments. In particular, the elevated level of “multiples” inventories (Chart 14), the ample pipeline of developments under way, and heavy investor demand (much of it foreign) reinforces the possibility of an overshoot in the condo market in some major cities.
Moreover, looking at the amount being spent on Canadian housing, rather than simply the number of houses being built, suggests that overall activity has been quite robust. Residential investment as a whole (including new home construction, renovations and ownership transfer costs) has consistently exceeded its long-term average share of the overall economic activity for more than seven years. Residential investment is now at levels that have previously proved to be peaks in Canada and, on a relative basis, in the United States (Chart 15). This partly reflects the generally strong performance of Canada’s labour market over the past decade, which has driven solid gains in employment and income. However, it also reflects historically favourable borrowing conditions, and potentially overly optimistic assumptions about future developments.
Lower interest rates reduce the cost of financing the purchase or construction of houses and increase the value of collateral, enabling more borrowing than would otherwise be possible. While monetary policy rates influence mortgage rates across the yield curve, mortgage rates are ultimately set in the market, where a broad set of domestic and global forces play a role.
Among these forces, the so-called “global savings glut” has been particularly important in underpinning the trend decline in long-term borrowing rates over the past decade. Flows of excess savings from emerging markets into the U.S. Treasury market have restrained the long-term U.S. interest rates that provide the benchmark for yield curves globally. Rough calculations suggest that the lower real rates from this phenomenon could justify a substantial proportion of the increase in house valuations across mature markets.9 The eventual rebalancing of the global economy from deficit countries, like the United States, to surplus countries, like China, should dampen this effect.
As in many other countries, cheap credit has been used to bid up the price of Canadian houses, a non-tradable good, rather than invest in expanding the productive capacity and export competitiveness of our businesses. For example, over the past decade, housing debt grew by more than 150 per cent, while business borrowing rose by only 40 per cent. As a result, the stock of housing-related debt went from less than business debt to almost two-thirds more.
Domestic demand factors are not the only forces at work. Some Asian wealth is being invested in selected international housing markets as those investors seek out diversification and hard assets. This has become a familiar phenomenon in this city. Partly as a consequence, the average selling price of a home in Vancouver is now nearly 11 times the average Vancouver family’s household income, a multiple similar to those seen in Hong Kong and Sydney—cities that have also become part of a more globalized real estate market. Such valuations are extreme in both Canada and globally (Chart 16).
Given such developments, one cannot totally discount the possibility that some pockets of the Canadian housing market are taking on characteristics of financial asset markets, where expectations can dominate underlying forces of supply and demand. The risk is that expectations become extrapolative, prompting the classic market emotions of greed and fear—greed among speculators and investors—and fear among households that getting a foot on the property ladder is a now-or-never proposition.

Policy Implications
The Bank manages policy for the economy as a whole, rather than any specific region or sector. In this context, what does the Bank of Canada expect for housing? In a word: moderation.
In the Bank’s view, Canadian housing market developments in recent years have largely reflected the evolution of supply and demand. While supply of new homes should remain relatively flexible, many of the supportive demand forces are now increasingly played out.
For example, while measures of housing affordability remain favourable, this is largely because interest rates are unusually low. Rates will not remain at their current levels forever. The impact of eventual increases is likely to be greater than in previous cycles, given the higher stock of debt owed by Canadian households. At a 4 per cent real mortgage interest rate—equivalent to the average rate since 1995—affordability falls to its worst level in 16 years (Chart 17).10 As I have observed, some markets are already severely unaffordable even at current rates.
Since 2008, the federal government has taken a series of prudent and timely measures to tighten mortgage insurance requirements in order to support the long-term stability of the Canadian housing market. These will reduce the possibility that prices are further driven up simply through higher leverage.
The Bank has been expecting moderation in the housing sector as part of a broader rebalancing of demand in Canada as the expansion progresses. Overall economic growth is expected to rely less on household and government spending, and more on business investment and net exports. Household expenditures are expected to converge toward their historic share of overall demand in Canada (Chart 18), with expenditures growing more in line with household income. In this context, the Bank anticipates a slowing in both the rate of household credit growth and the upward trajectory of household debt-to-income ratios.
There are conflicting signals regarding the extent to which this moderation is proceeding (Chart 19). While growth in consumer spending slowed markedly in the first quarter, housing investment re-accelerated, as did household borrowing, with mortgage credit growing at a double-digit annual rate (Chart 20). It is likely that some of this resurgence in borrowing is transitory, reflecting the lagged effects of the surge in existing home sales in the fourth quarter of last year, as well as recent changes in mortgage insurance regulations that may have resulted in some activity being pulled forward into the first quarter. Mortgage credit growth slowed in April, reinforcing the view that the particularly strong increase in borrowing in the first quarter was temporary. Nonetheless, at a 5 per cent annual rate, growth in mortgage credit in April was slower but not slow, particularly given the sustained above-trend increases of recent years.
As the Bank emphasized in its recent rate announcement, the possibility of greater momentum in household borrowing and spending in Canada represents an upside risk to inflation.

Conclusion
In conclusion, historically low policy rates, even if appropriate to achieve the inflation target, create their own risks.
Canadian authorities will need to remain as vigilant as they have been in the past to the possibility of financial imbalances developing in an environment of still-low interest rates and relative price stability. We continue to co-operate closely and monitor the financial situation of the household sector.
In the short term, economic growth in Canada is expected to slow to modest rates, due to a number of temporary factors. These include supply chain disruptions that will dampen automotive production and the drag from adjusting to higher energy prices on consumer spending in Canada and the United States. Overall, the Bank expects a re-acceleration of growth in the second half of the year, consistent with a renewed narrowing of the output gap.
While global uncertainties persist, to the extent that the Canadian economic expansion continues and the current material excess supply in the economy is gradually absorbed, some of the considerable monetary policy stimulus currently in place will be eventually withdrawn, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target. Such reduction would need to be carefully considered.
With monetary policy continuing to be set to achieve the inflation target, our institutions should not be lulled into a false sense of security by current low rates. Similarly, households will need to be prudent in their borrowing, recognising that over the life of a mortgage, interest rates will often be much higher.
Thank you.

 

  1. This finding is also consistent with reduced-form evidence of a correlation between consumer spending and housing wealth. See L. Pichette, “Are Wealth Effects Important for Canada?” Bank of Canada Review (Spring 2004): 29- 35. [←]
  2. Research conducted at the Bank of Canada and elsewhere suggests that the financial-accelerator effect is economically significant. See M. Iacoviello, “House Prices, Borrowing Constraints and Monetary Policy in the Business Cycle” The American Economic Review 95, No. 3 (2005): 739–64. See also: M.B. Roi and R. Mendes, “House Prices, Residential Mortgage Credit and Monetary Policy,” Bank of Canada, December 2004; and J. Campbell and J. F. Cocco, “How Do House Prices Affect Consumption? Evidence from Micro Data,” (Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers No. 2045, 2004 [←]
  3. This has been the pattern in many emerging-market economies, notably China, as well as in a number of advanced economies that were not directly implicated in the crisis, such as Australia, Sweden and Israel. [←]
  4. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Multiple Listing Service. [←]
  5. The Bank defines highly vulnerable indebted households as those with a debt-service ratio greater than or equal to 40 per cent. [←]
  6. The “official” savings rate refers to the personal savings rate as calculated in the Canadian System of National Accounts. [←]
  7. The calculation of the personal savings rate does not incorporate spending on housing such as ownership transfer costs and renovations, which are considered investments, even though it could be argued that they are more akin to consumption. However, regardless of whether such spending is classified as investment or consumption, it is often financed with borrowed funds. [←]
  8. A. Caldera Sánchez and Å. Johansson, “The Price Responsiveness of Housing Supply in OECD Countries”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, forthcoming, 2011. [←]
  9. S. Nickell, “Household Debt, House Prices and Consumption Growth,” speech delivered at Bloomberg in London on Tuesday, 14 September 2004. [←]
  10. The affordability index represents the proportion of the average personal disposable income per worker that goes toward mortgage payments, based on current house prices and mortgage rates. A decline in the ratio indicates an improvement in affordability. [←]

Source: Bank Of Canada www.bankofcanada.ca
 

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Northern Trust: Outsourcing Accelerates Through Pandemic as Investment Managers Seek to Improve Margins, Enhance Business Resilience, and Future-Proof Operations

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Northern Trust: Outsourcing Accelerates Through Pandemic as Investment Managers Seek to Improve Margins, Enhance Business Resilience, and Future-Proof Operations 1

White Paper Sees Increase in Managers Outsourcing Middle and Front Office Functions to Achieve Optimal Business Structures

According to a white paper published today by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS), investment managers of all sizes and strategies have been prompted to undertake a comprehensive review of their operating models as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has accelerated existing trends that are compounding cost pressures. This has led increasing numbers of managers to outsource in-house dealing and other functions, such as foreign exchange and transition management, hitherto seen as core.

While cost savings remain a core driver, and indeed are one outcome of outsourcing, costs are no longer the only focus. Far from being solely a defensive reaction to increased pressure on margins, the white paper (‘From Niche to Norm’) describes outsourcing as part of the target operating model, or moving toward the ‘Optimal State’ for many investment managers, and  explains how the focus “has expanded to the variety of other potential benefits offered – enhanced capabilities, improved governance and operational resilience.”

Gary Paulin, global head of Integrated Trading Solutions at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The pandemic has challenged a range of operational assumptions. Working from home has, for example, questioned the need for a portfolio manager to be in close proximity with the dealing desk. Previously considered essential, the pandemic has effectively forced firms to ‘outsource‘ their trading desks to remote working setups and the effectiveness of this process has disproved the requirement for proximity, in turn, easing the path to third-party outsourcing. Many investment managers are actively considering outsourcing to a hyper-scale, expert provider as a potential, cost efficient solution – one that maintains service quality and, hopefully, improves it whilst adding resiliency.”

Northern Trust’s white paper compares outsourced trading to software-as-a-service stating: “instead of carrying the cost and complexity of running an in-house solution, firms move to an outsourced one, free up capital to invest in strategic growth and move costs from a fixed to a variable basis in line with the direction of travel for revenues.” 

Guy Gibson, global head of Institutional Brokerage at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The opportunity to deploy capital to build new fund structures, develop new offerings, focus on distribution and enhance in-house research has been taken up by several of our clients to the benefit of their investment approach, and to the benefit of their investors.  Additionally, in the last two months alone, many firms have recognized that outsourcing to a well-capitalized, global platform has enabled them to take advantage of cost-contained growth opportunities in new markets.”

A further development, which has echoes of the journey the technology industry has already undertaken, is the move towards ‘whole office’ solutions, which represent the next potential wave in outsourcing.

According to Paulin; “recently we have observed a growing number of managers wanting to outsource to a single, hyper-scale professional service provider who can do everything, everywhere. This aligns with Northern Trust’s strategy to deliver platform solutions for the whole office, serving our clients’ needs across the entire investment lifecycle.”

The white paper can be downloaded here.

Integrated Trading Solutions is Northern Trust’s outsourced trading capability that combines worldwide locations and trading expertise in equities and fixed income and derivatives with access to global markets, high-quality liquidity and an integrated middle and back office service as well as other services, such as FX. It helps asset owners and asset managers to meaningfully lower costs, reduce risk, manage regulatory compliance and enhance transparency and operational efficiency.

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How are investors traversing the UK’s transition out of lockdown?

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How are investors traversing the UK’s transition out of lockdown? 2

By Giles Coghlan, Chief Currency Analyst, HYCM

Just when we thought we had overcome the initial health challenges posed by COVID-19, the UK Government has once again introduced lockdown measures in certain regions to curb a rise in new cases. This is happening at a time when the government is trying to bring about the country’s post-pandemic recovery and prevent a prolonged economic downturn.

This is the reality of the “new normal” – a constant battle to both contain the spread of the virus but also avoid extended economic stagnation.

Of course, no matter how many policies are introduced to spur on investment, traders and investors are likely to act with caution for the foreseeable future. There are simply too many unknowns to content with at the moment.

To try and measure investor sentiment towards different asset classes at present, HYCM recently commissioned research to uncover which assets investors are planning to invest in over the coming 12 months. After surveying over 900 UK-based investors, our figures show just how COVID-19 has affected different investor portfolios. I have analysed the key findings below.

Cash retreat

At present, it seems that by far the most common asset class for investors is cash savings, with 78% of investors identifying as having some form of savings in a bank account. Other popular assets were stocks and shares (48%) and property (38%). While not surprising, when viewed in the context of investor’s future plans for investment, it becomes evident that security, above all else, is what investors are currently seeking.

A third of those surveyed (32%) said that they intended to put more of their wealth into their savings account, the most common strategy by far among those surveyed. This was followed by stocks and shares (21%), property (17%), and fixed interest securities (17%).

When asked about what impact COVID-19 has had on their portfolios throughout 2020, 43% stated that their portfolio had decreased in value as a consequence of the pandemic. This has evidently had an effect on investors’ mindsets, with 73% stating that they were not planning on making any major investment decisions for the rest of the year.

Looking at the road ahead

So, it seems that many investors are adopting a wait-and-see approach; hoping that the promise of a V-shaped recovery comes to fruition. The issue, however, is that this exact type of hesitancy when it comes to investing may well slow the pace of economic recovery. Financial markets need stimulus in order to help facilitate a post-pandemic economic resurgence, but if said financial stimulation only arrives once the recovery has already begun, the economy risks extended stagnation.

It seems, then, that there are two possible set outcomes on the path ahead. The first is a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, then an economic downturn as the markets correct themselves, followed by a return to relative economic stability. The second potential outcome is a second spike of COVID-19 cases which incurs a second nationwide lockdown – delaying an economic revival for the foreseeable future. At present, the former of these two scenarios is seemingly playing out with economic growth and GDP steadily increasing; but recent COVID-19 case upticks show that it’s still too soon to be certain of either scenario.

A cautious approach, therefore, will evidently remain the most common investment strategy looking ahead. But investors must remember that, even in the most uncertain times, there are always opportunities for returns on investment. Merely transforming a varied portfolio into cash savings risks a long-term decline in value.

High Risk Investment Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. For more information please refer to HYCM’s Risk Disclosure.

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Hatton Gardens 5 top tips for investing in Diamonds

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Hatton Gardens 5 top tips for investing in Diamonds 3

By Ben Stinson, Head of eCommerce at Diamonds Factory

Investing in diamonds can be extremely rewarding, but only if you know what to look for. For investors who lack experience, finding your diamond in the rough can be quite daunting.

For even the most beginner of diamond investors, the essentials are fairly obvious. For instance, you need to ask yourself will the diamond hold its value over time? What’s the overall condition of the stone and the jewellery? Is there history behind the item in question?

Although common sense plays a big part in investing, people often need insider tips and tricks to go from beginner to expert. Tony French, the in-house Diamond Consultant, at Diamonds Factory shares his professional knowledge on the 5 most important things to look for when investing in diamonds.

1: Using cut, weight and colour to determine value

Firstly, consider the shape, colour, and weight of your diamond, as this can play a pivotal role in guaranteeing growth in the value of your item. Granted, investing trends change with time, but a round cut of your diamond will almost always be the most sought after. The cut of your diamond is incredibly important, as it can influence the sparkle and therefore, the overall value. It’s a similar story for the intensity of some colours, such as Pink, Red, Blue, Green etc. Concerning weight, the heavier (bigger) stones will generally increase in value by a bigger percentage. Collectively these factors also contribute to the supply and demand aspect, which will determine their high price, and will ensure your item is re-sellable.

2: Provenance

Looking for significant value? Well, aim to own jewellery or diamonds that come from an important public figure. If you’re lucky enough to own a piece that has significant history, or was owned by a celebrity or person of interest, it’s an absolute must to have concrete evidence of this. Immediately, this proof will increase an item’s overall value, and there’s a good chance the stardom of your item might drum up interest amongst diehard fans, increasing the value even further…

Equally, it’s possible to proactively bring provenance to unique diamonds of yours. For instance, you can offer to loan bespoke, or unusual pieces for film, theatre, or TV performances – then it can be advertised as worn by xyz.

3: Find the source

Ben Stinson

Ben Stinson

Establishing your diamond’s source is one of the most important things you can do when investing in diamonds. If you’re starting out, try to purchase diamonds that have NOT been owned by too many people, as the overall value of the diamond will reflect multiple ownership. Alternatively, I’d always recommend buying from suppliers like ourselves or other suppliers and retailers, who buy directly from the people who have had them certified.

Primarily, this will allow you to have a greater degree of transparency, which is crucial when buying such a valuable item. Next, you should immediately see an increase in value of your diamonds, as identifying a source will allow traceability and therefore, market context.

4: Certification

Linked closely with my previous point, is the requirement to ensure that your diamonds are certified by a credible lab, and you have the evidence to prove so (a written document with specific grading details about your diamonds) – this will remove any doubts of impropriety.

It’s essential to remember that not all labs are the same, and many labs are better than others. Both the AGS (American Gem Society) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) have great reputations and are world renowned. I’d recommend doing your own research into the labs, and when you’ve found the pieces that you’d like to invest in, then make an informed decision based upon your findings. Ultimately, proving certification will make your stones easier to insure, and deep down, you can have peace of mind knowing you have got what you have paid for.

Don’t forget to keep this paperwork in a safe location as well – you’d be surprised how many people we’ve met who have lost, or forget where they’ve placed it.

5:  Patience is a virtue…

If the market is strong, it might be tempting to look for an immediate sale once you’ve purchased a high value item. However, I suggest holding onto your diamonds for some time before even thinking about selling. More often than not, an item is more likely to increase in value over a few years than a few days – try and wait a little longer!

Equally, I would encourage having your diamonds, or jewellery professionally valued regularly. If you don’t have the knowledge to make a rough judgement on how much your pieces are worth, a consultant or expert can provide both a valuation, and contextualise that amount in the wider market. From there, you should be empowered with the knowledge to decide whether to keep or sell.

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By Jeff Carlson, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4 and Take Control of Your Digital Photos suggests “the product you’re creating is...

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