Stepping Up to Moissanite

September 1998


Stepping Up to Moissanite

C3 takes a unique promotional position for its synthetic gemstone

Synthetic moissanite earned a triumphant sendoff into the retail world this summer with a group of committed jewelers and a promotional campaign aimed at working women.

C3 of Research Triangle Park, NC, which produces the synthetic gem, first tested the diamond lookalike in hand-picked stores in the Atlanta, GA, and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL, areas. Soon stores in other markets volunteered to participate.

An ad campaign in local radio, newspapers and magazines in these markets promotes moissanite as a "unique, new gemstone" rather than a diamond alternative. The campaign is geared toward women who buy for themselves, a market segment known to seek fashion rather than emotion in buying jewelry.

To appeal to this crowd, actress Hunter Tylo was named spokesperson. Tylo, formerly of "Melrose Place" and now starring in daytime drama "The Bold & The Beautiful," won a well-publicized lawsuit against producer Aaron Spelling, who was found to have fired her unfairly from "Melrose Place" because she became pregnant. "Hunter Tylo is an advocate for the working woman," says Jessica Blue, senior account executive for Richard French Associates, C3's marketing firm. Tylo appeared at events in participating retail stores in Atlanta and Miami in July.

Retail Positioning
Retailers had offered moissanite only a few weeks at Professional Jeweler's press time, so it was too soon to judge consumer interest with any certainty. Some were vaguely aware there was a new synthetic on the market; others called and asked for moissanite by name. One jeweler ran a videotape of a news program about moissanite on a TV at the front of his store to raise awareness; others planned to run co-op ads with C3 or use direct mail.

The retailers say that despite the marketing campaign to position moissanite as a new gemstone, it will still fall on the "diamond look" ladder, rungs above cubic zirconia but still beneath natural diamond.

"I'm not looking to sell this over diamonds," says Jeff Malvin, president of Beverly's, a three-store chain in the Ft. Lauderdale area. "We're known for diamonds and more upscale jewelry; we sell CZ but we don't promote it. [Moissanite] has a viable place in the market because of its brilliance." Beverly's sells moissanite in basic pieces such as solitaire necklaces and studs.

Malvin is impressed with the product's exclusivity. "C3 could have gone to the home shopping clubs and flooded the market with it," he says. "But they knew if they wanted longevity, they'd have to create mystique."

Other jewelers, however, do plan to sell synthetic moissanite to price-conscious customers. "It's definitely an alternative – you get the look of a diamond at a lower price, and it's harder than a CZ," says Bill Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Jewelry, Stone Mountain, GA. "Once people hear about it, I think it's going to do well."


– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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