Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bank of Nova Scotia - BNS.t

Bank of Nova Scotia - BNS.t commonly known as Scotiabank, is the third largest bank in Canada by deposits and market capitalization.

Scotiabank serves more than 21 million customers in over 55 countries around the world and offers a broad range of products and services including personal and commercial banking, wealth management, corporate and investment banking.

On August 30, 2016 the company reported
Scotiabank reported third quarter net income of $1,959 million compared to $1,847 million in the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share were $1.54, compared to $1.45 in the same period a year ago. Third Quarter Highlights on a reported basis (versus Q3, 2015)
• Net income of $1,959 million, compared to $1,847 million
• Earnings per share (diluted) of $1.54 compared to $1.45
• ROE of 14.8%, compared to 14.7%
• Quarterly dividend increase of 2 cents per common share to 74 cents

Third Quarter Year to Date Highlights on a reported basis (versus YTD 2015)
• Net income of $5,357 million, compared to $5,370 million
• Earnings per share (diluted) of $4.20 compared to $4.22
• ROE of 13.6%, compared to 14.7%


Monday, August 29, 2016

Synthetic Diamonds - De Beers' DiamondSure

An HPHT press, which is used in the production of lab-grown diamonds.
Dating back to the 19th century, there have been many claims for the creation of diamond in a lab. For many years conventional wisdom was that diamond would form only under conditions of high pressure and high temperature (HPHT).
The first commercially available “manmade” diamond was produced at high pressure and high temperature by General Electric in 1956. HPHT growth imitates natural diamond formation, but with carefully selected input materials to catalyze crystal growth.

Today, billions of carats of diamonds are manufactured annually by the HPHT process, mostly for industrial applications.
In 1954 a patent was issued for another type of diamond growth: the CVD (chemical vapor deposition) process. In the late 1980s, scientists discovered how to reproducibly grow diamond using the CVD process.

The CVD process is quite different from natural diamond formation. It produces diamond from a heated mixture of a hydrocarbon gas (typically methane) and hydrogen in a vacuum chamber at very low pressures.

The inside of a CVD diamond chamber.
The CVD process produces gem-quality synthetic diamond of great beauty, with properties virtually identical to those of natural diamond. Because of their high purity, these CVD products are type IIa.
Detection has advanced to the point where any CVD-grown sample can be identified with certainty. The CVD growth process itself occurs under conditions that bring about readily detectable features, including:

1. a low-pressure, highly energetic hydrogen-rich environment
2. the presence of silicon from grower parts
3. the presence of residual nitrogen in the grower
4. the layer-by-layer addition of carbon atoms on the growing surface

Because synthetic diamonds have identical properties to natural diamonds, it is almost impossible to determine a synthetic stone through a visual examination alone.

The difference in the growth process of a synthetic diamond compared to natural diamond can be identified using either cathode luminescence using electrons to highlight the stone's structure, or a camera to view the fluorescence pattern created on the surface of a polished stone with intense short wave ultraviolet light. Most colorless HPHT synthetics show phosphorescence - an afterglow - when the ultraviolet lamps are turned off. An identification can then be made by observing the fluorescence patterns characteristic of near-colorless synthetics.

The DiamondView enables lab staff to view tell-tale growth patterns for synthetic diamonds. The regular striations visible in the middle of this round diamond indicate it is a CVD-grown synthetic.
De Beers is preparing a defense against undisclosed synthetics in the form of a mass-screening device to fast-check melee for synthetics.

The device is in production. The Gemological Institute of America has developed, and will sell to the trade, a screening device for the detection of lab-grown as well as high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) treated diamonds.

Unveiled to members of the trade press in January 2015, the table-top device, called the DiamondCheck, is about the size of a toaster oven and can be used to test diamonds from one point to 10 carats in size.

The machine gives users one of three results about the inserted stone: it is a natural diamond; it is a diamond but should be referred to a lab for further testing because it could be synthetic or treated; or it is non-diamond material such as moissanite or cubic zirconia, though the device does not specify the type of material.

Monday, August 22, 2016

'Gold Rush' for Italy's Tuscan truffle hunters

Truffles grow only in a few places in the worldWe are in the Tuscan town of San Miniato for the "gold rush," when the Italian white truffle comes into season. Truffles grow underground, close to the roots of oak, hazel, poplar and beech trees.

It's this rarity that makes it so prized. Truffles are one of the world's most expensive foods and the Italian white is the most valuable, with a market price of up to €4,000 ($4,400) per kilo.
The San Miniato Hills, with their mild Tuscan climate and soil rich in mineral salts, are the perfect breeding ground for top-quality truffles -- as well as the wine and olive oil for which the region is world famous.

There are 63 types of truffle found worldwide. But Tuscany's "King Truffle" is the most prized of them all.
San Miniato is on the ancient Via Francigena pilgrim route that stretches from Canterbury, England, to Rome. Today's pilgrims come for the annual truffle festival held here during the last three weekends in November, when the normally sleepy town fills with life.

White truffle season lasts from October to late December or early January. A truffle can be stored, wrapped in paper in the fridge, but only for up to 10 days.

It's a 25-gram golden-brown beauty, worth up to $100.
Salvatore Cucchiara kneels down to unearth a truffle, brushing at the soil with his fingers with the care of an archeologist.