Wine Intoxicates, But Diamonds Are the Real Hidden Gem

Wine and art seem to be the flavour of the moment in alternative investment markets with a considerable rise in cash inflow into these tangible assets over the last year. As new wine and art funds have come to the market, there has been a tremendous increase in the exposure of these assets in the financial press and consequently in the minds of investors and their wealth managers. This obviously bodes well for the investment diamond market. However the puzzling question is why has investment diamonds not yet gained the same coverage recently enjoyed by other tangible assets such as wine and art.

The main reason may be the seemingly impressive spike in fine wine prices during 2010. Leading wine market price trackers point to a +40% rise in the price of leading fine wines in 2010. Returns such as this obviously grab the headlines and are somewhat intoxicating to market pundits and followers. Not to detract from these unequivocally strong returns, these wine market trackers are somewhat skewed towards the very upper-end of the wine market tracking the most sought-after wines and vintages whereas the returns on a more diversified portfolio of ‘investment-grade’ wines were around 13%-18% as evidenced by the annual returns of some leading wine investment funds in 2010.

Although the annual return in the art investment market was also considerable in 2010, with the Mei Moses® Fine Art Index rising 16.6%, the significant exposure this market has received of late is perhaps more due to the whopping sales prices achieved for significant pieces rather than the art market’s return on investment figures. For example earlier in the year the ‘L’Homme qui marche I’ sculpture by Alberto Giacometti sold for $104.3 million USD at Sotheby’s London making the sale the world record price for any work of art sold at auction. This record was broken in May by the sale of the Picasso ‘Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’ painting which fetched $106.5 million USD at Christie’s New York. Throughout the second half of the year there were also significant +$60 million sales of important pieces by the likes of Modigliani and Warhol which captured the attention of the alternative investment market as well as the press.

2010 was a stellar year for investment diamonds with an overall return of 20%. At the very upper end of the market the Special Diamond sector posted +35% percent returns with some items almost doubling in value much like the wine market and world record diamond prices were reached on the international auction market much akin to the art market. Taking into account the continued outperformance of investment diamonds on a risk-adjusted basis combined with the diamond market’s superior market liquidity, price transparency and trading infrastructure compared with those of other assets such as wine and art, it is only a matter of time until asset and wealth managers penetrate the surface of the investment diamond market to discover it really is a gem of an investment. diamond painting eigenes foto

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