A Cut Above

May 1998


A Cut Above

At a time when jewelers are emphasizing the more subjective "C," one company responds with a branded cut and a tangible sparkle

When Glenn Rothman was investigating ways to distinguish himself in the diamond market, he latched on to some emerging trends that would soon transform the business. His idea: combine a brand name with a sparkle that speaks for itself, and throw in an exclusive partnership with jewelers to help them make the sales.

The dream-come-true for Rothman and his Boston-based Di-Star Inc. is the Hearts on Fire diamond, which after a year on the market has captured the vital organs of more than 150 jewelry retailers. Like other recent introductions to the diamond arena, the branded product is promoted as an improvement on the Ideal Cut. So many diamond manufacturers offer versions of the Ideal Cut that companies such as Di-Star saw a way to compete against idealism with sheer perfection. "We want to give consumers something so pretty they can't shop it anyplace else," says Rothman.

 Perfect proportions in the Hearts on Fire diamond create the illusion of firebursts (left) and hearts (right) in the top and bottom views of the stone.

Rothman found his inspiration when he visited Antwerp, Belgium. In that diamond-cutting capital, he saw a perfectly proportioned diamond – a "zero" cut with "excellent" polish and symmetry – with a magnificent sparkle. Viewed through a microscope, the proportions created a ring of hearts inside the bottom of a diamond and a circle of spears at the top.

Cutting and polishing the diamond took four times as long as usual. Such care allowed it to gain size without extra weight, so it was the same diameter at 0.85 carat as an ordinary 1-ct. diamond.

The cut was already being marketed as Hearts and Arrows in Japan, where it shot from 0% to 65% of the market share in only a few years. Rothman adopted the concept and brought it to the U.S., where the hearts stayed hearts, the arrows became shooting flames and the overall effect provided value consumers could grasp visibly.

"You take the customer out of the realm of having to trust the jeweler's word and put him in a situation where he can trust his own eyes," says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts, the retail consulting firm that recently engaged Hearts on Fire jewelers in a two-day sales training seminar.

Training is part of Di-Star's commitment to its retailers, along with limited distribution and a marketing package with TV and radio commercials, ad slicks, store signage and packaging. To get salespeople excited, Di-Star foots cash and points-for-prizes incentives.

To rally consumers, Rothman sought advice at a sales and marketing course at Harvard University. "An ad guy from Madison Avenue told me the only way I was ever going to make money in this area is to make a branded diamond," he says. So he packaged the Hearts on Fire name with a magnifier (the Proportion Scope), a laser inscription on each diamond's girdle and a trademarked motto: "The difference is perfection. It's a difference you can see."

The challenge is now to help Hearts on Fire jewelers overcome the instinct to discount by teaching them to sell value. "If the diamond exceeds their expectations, and then they pay less for it than they think it's worth, customers see value," says Peterson. "You've got to get the 'Wow! I love it! I'll take it!' before you address the 'How much is it?'"

Formula for Success

  • Emphasize cut
  • Develop a brand
  • Partner with vendors
  • Create value

by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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