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
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.