Author Topic: Lapidary Industry Turmoil in the USA  (Read 745 times)

Aussie Sapphire

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Lapidary Industry Turmoil in the USA
« on: March 14, 2024, 06:38:18 PM »
Just letting people know about some happenings in the lapidary industry in the USA.

Things have been pretty difficult since the pandemic with supply chain issues but looks like the chickens are finally coming home to roost for some companies.

We have heard that MK Diamond has declared bankruptcy in February - looks like the situation got very messy indeed with an eviction from their business premises.  We have not been able to source MK blades for some time now as they wont keep stock on hand but make us place orders - that is not a problem in itself but when we place the order and PAY for it, they wont keep our order aside while everything comes in.  So if one size of blade arrives but they are waiting on another size, then the first lot of blades got sold out from underneath us.  Impossible to get an order sent.

Accordingly, we switched over to sourcing blades from UKAM in the USA for our premium blades - sourcing U303 (same as MK303) from the same factory in Korea or Smart Cut blades from Europe.  So far, they have been much better to deal with.  Plus our own sources of Silver Series and Economy blades so we have reasonable supply going forward. 

But MK Blades will be a problem from now on.  I think Kingsley North bought up all remaining stock but that will run out.

Secondly, we have just been informed that Doug Guthrie - the owner of Lortone - will be retiring at the end of this month.  They will attempt to fill current orders but wont be able to complete all on the books.  We recently got a small parts order but our machine order will be cancelled.  To be honest, this is not surprising to us as again they have had trouble with supply and labour since the pandemic.  We have not been able to get full container orders for quite a while now (since before pandemic) and recently almost nothing has been available.

This is why we developed our own version of the 33B with some important improvements over the Lortone design and we are just about to start production on a larger QT12 version (with slightly larger barrel and double speed motor).  We have reasonable supply of most Lortone parts and will work to source other items we need.   Lortone have said they are trying to find someone to purchase the business but I am sceptical that will happen - it may though so stay tuned for news about that.

Thumler is in trouble - they have refused to even answer our emails, faxes and other messages since the pandemic which we are putting down to lack of 230V motor supply.  But we did hear recently that one of the companies that makes a barrel component for them has gone out of business so they have temporarily halted production - we wait to hear if temporary turns into permanent.  But we have not been able to get supply from them for some years now.

Accordingly, we switched to Raytech for our vibe tumbler supply.  They seem to have better manufacturing capacity although there are some communication issues which have complicated orders so far.  But we did manage to get them to product a "NO-drain" bowl for the TV-10 tumbler so it is more suitable for rock tumbling.  Again, it took a while for them to understand what we were talking about but it ended up working out well.  We have good stock of raytech tumblers with another order in production now.

Diamond Pacific is one I am a bit concerned about.  We regularly place orders for Nova wheels from them and they are normally very quick to supply.  Unfortunately not so with our current order which is in the queue waiting for production.  They have not even invoiced us for the current order and have not yet been able to give an ETA. This is quite unusual which is slightly worrying in the current climate.  We will keep in touch with them and pass on any news as we find it. 

So some of the old recognised brand names will disappear from the lapidary world.  Life goes on and other companies will fill the gaps but just be aware that we are in a bit of a transitional phase at the moment.

Cheers from Aussie Sapphire (Leah and Andrew Lane)

Aussie Sapphire - The Lapidary Warehouse


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Re: Lapidary Industry Turmoil in the USA
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2024, 12:36:14 PM »
Thanks for the update guys, sad to hear about known brands going down the gurgler but glad you seem to be getting on top of regular supplies. Hopefully someone will pick up the Lortone business and continue on, like what happened to Facetron last year.
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Re: Lapidary Industry Turmoil in the USA
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2024, 02:48:04 PM »
Yep saw it coming, thanks for up date Andrew


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