More than 32,000 shareholders have arrived in Omaha for the start of the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting weekend. While most are anxious to hear the state of the company from the Oracle of Omaha himself, Warren Buffett, many are also planning to shop.
With Berkshire’s A-shares going for $121,800 at Thursday’s closing bell and B-shares going for $81.26, those with stock in the company are likely shopping in a wide range of price points.
For the luxury seekers, the traditional Borsheims stop won’t disappoint. “I would say the most unusual item we have this year is the rough water diamond crystal,” said Marketing Director Andrienne Fay. “This is a stone mined out of Canada. When it is cut and polished, it will be the largest diamond cut, polished and mined in Canada. For $2 million, it can be yours.”
Patrick and Annette Kelleher, of Omaha, checked out the sparkling rock while shopping for a bracelet. “They do have a great inventory at this time, we know."
Their impressions on the 35.8 carat gem? “Beautiful, really, beautiful,” said Patrick. His wife added, “I like the cut one actually (as opposed to the giant unfinished rock.”
But Fay pointed out, whoever buys that diamond will also get a trip to Ontario, Canada to work with a master diamantaire to determine the final polished shape. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
Another one-of-a-kind item on display at the entrance to Borsheims, is a 400-pound bronze eagle sculpture by Omaha artist Matthew Placzek. "He did the sculptures in front of the CenturyLink Center and also Children's Hospital,” Fay said. “So when he came to us early and said, I'm thinking of something special and something grand, but I want to put it at Berkshire, we jumped on it."
The sculpture is number two in a series of nine. The first one is on display at the Social Security building in Pennsylvania. Omaha’s edition has a retail price of $62,000.
But there are more affordable options for shoppers, especially those who want a “Berkshire” marked collectible item. “This year, we have ladies and gents watches, both are $84 for the Berkshire Hathaway weekend,” Fay said.
A freshwater pearl bracelet is selling for $20 during the event. And there’s a wide range of other jewelry in middle-ranged price points, with a trend toward the subdued. “Some of our manufacturers now are looking at designs with rough diamond crystals,” Fay said, “as well as diamond slices, where the actual crystal has been shaved very thinly and then put into a bracelet or necklace. And that speaks to the consumer confidence that our economy is struggling with.”
She added, “There's still a sense that that conspicuous consumption, that very big, bold luxury pieces are not in vogue, and so these are ways that are a little more subtle, a little more price-conscious."
The Berkshire Hathaway weekend kicks off Friday evening with a cocktail reception at Regency Court, followed by Saturday morning’s meeting, with other events running through Sunday evening.