Welcome to our most recent news roundup; covering the relevant stories you may have missed during the month of April 2019. Now that the Brexit deadline has been further delayed until 31st October 2019, many are taking a break from what has seemed like an exhausting news cycle of late. April also gave us a sunny Easter bank holiday weekend, which provided a welcome distraction from current events. Check out our summary of the April stories you may have missed below:
UK Finance News
Bank of England to hold rates over Brexit ‘fog’
The Bank of England are to hold rates at 0.75% this week, it was announced on 29th April. This latest decision on rates is thought to be down to the effects of the current Brexit process, which has led to precautionary stockpiling and a relatively uncertain future. Mark Carney, the governor of the BoE, has made warnings about the ‘fog’ of Brexit in the past and this rate hold suggests a continuation of the ‘wait-and-see’ approach that many policy-makers, businesses and individuals have been forced into.
While it’s still uncertain exactly what will happen if and when Britain leaves the EU, and the global economy continues to show concerning patterns, the BoE is erring on the side of caution and keeping rates where they are for the time being.
Largest ever cut diamond revealed by Graff jewellers
In big news for the diamond industry, Graff jewellers revealed their latest creation on April 10th - the world’s largest square emerald cut diamond. The ‘Graff Lesedi La Rona’ diamond is the largest, highest clarity, highest colour diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America. This truly amazing stone is 302.37-carats and holds a high ‘D’ colour grade (colourless).
It’s exceptionally rare to find any diamond which achieves this colour grade, let alone a diamond of this size and clarity. It’s so big, in fact, that the original stone it was cut from did not fit into existing analysing equipment, and a custom scanner had to be built to assess how it could be cut. Graff jewellers have declared the Graff Lesedi La Rona is for sale, but did not disclose the price.
Second-biggest uncut diamond in history discovered in Botswana
Hot on the heels of the news about the Graff Lesedi La Rona, it was revealed on 26th April that the second biggest uncut diamond in history has been discovered in a Botswana mine - by the same company who found the Lesedi La Rona stone. The uncut Lesedi La Rona weighed in at 1,109-carats, whereas this new discovery weighs an incredible 1,758-carats and is roughly the size of a tennis ball. These larger discoveries are being attributed to new technology which has been introduced in the last few years. We’ll have to wait and see if this stone can yield a single diamond large enough to topple the Graff Lesedi La Rona.
Poor credit score statistics revealed
New research conducted by comparethemarket.com has revealed a widespread lack of awareness about credit scoring. According to this latest survey, around 55% of Brits don’t know what their credit score is and 43% have no idea how to improve it. The report focussed on misconceptions surrounding credit scoring and credit cards, and found that as many as 90% of Brits didn’t know that closing a credit card can negatively impact your credit score.
If you want to know more, check out our simple Credit Score factsheet.
Bank of England discuss future of credit assessments
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke about the future of finance at Innovate Finance’s Global Summit in London on 29th April. Carney identified credit assessment, fraud analysis and cyber security as some of the areas which will most benefit from new Artificial Intelligence technologies in the coming years. It is not known exactly what kind of AI will be developed in these areas in the future, but some credit decisions are already made by computer algorithms. However, there is a concern that a computer may ‘amplify biases’ and make discriminatory decisions, so any new technologies must be developed and tested carefully before being rolled out.
Resilience of gold at Notre Dame
No matter how much you’ve been avoiding the news this month, it’s safe to say that you will have heard about the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but some important history was lost. In the aftermath of the fire, many news outlets published a photo which shows the unscathed golden altar cross shining through the ashes and smoke.
While many believed this was a sign of divine intervention, it’s more likely to be down to the unique properties of gold – the properties which made it the obvious choice for money. Gold is a resilient metal which can withstand fire (wood burns at 600°c and the melting point of gold is 1064°c), and it doesn’t rust or corrode, yet it’s soft enough to be shaped into ingots, coins and jewellery. Seeing the resilient nature of gold in Notre Dame reminds us why it’s seen as such a precious commodity during times of financial disaster.
Students discover 1,600-year-old gold coin
A lucky group of four students were out orienteering with their school in the north of Israel this month and stumbled across a near-pure gold coin from the Byzantine Empire, which was in effect part of the Roman Empire. This amazing 23-carat gold coin is the first of its kind found in Israel and is a type of Roman coin called a Solidus. It is thought that these coins were used to pay Roman soldiers, and that the word ‘Solidus’ is where the word ‘soldier’ originates from.
The coin found by the students was minted between 420-423 AD and despite its age was still in fantastic condition. The coin is now in the possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority.