Professional Jeweler Archive: The Coming Diamond Branding War

October 2000


The Coming Diamond Branding War

De Beers’ recent decision to retire its name from consumer advertising and attach its “Diamonds are forever” slogan to a new Diamond Trading Co. hallmark is the beginning of a profound change you should plan for now.

DTC advertising will be generic initially, to acquaint consumers with the hallmark – called the “Forevermark.” But one day DTC will make clear the Forevermark guarantees only its own diamonds, assuring consumers they are not synthetic, not treated and not from conflict zones.

Who will get to use the DTC hallmark? Only companies that meet De Beers’ criteria: good marketers with proven abilities to increase diamond demand through branding and other value-added services. If you want to exploit the hallmark, you must prove to your suppliers who carry DTC diamonds that you’re increasing demand through your own efforts.

If you’ve done your job by branding your store name and consumers flock to you for diamond purchases, none of this news should worry you. Your regular suppliers should have no trouble obtaining DTC diamonds for you, and you’ll be able to profit from the DTC ad campaign and the good practices DTC diamonds represent.

But I worry about the branding war De Beers also hopes to create with its new policies. The company believes that as it spurs clients to create new brands and to spend more money advertising them, overall demand for diamonds will grow. This is great for De Beers, but what about retailers? Can enough of your customers pay the higher prices heavily advertised diamonds will demand?

High-end jewelry is a tougher product to brand than clothing or other popular consumer products. Though it’s easy to say Prada does a better job at branding than Lazare Kaplan, there’s a difference between a few dollars worth of cloth or leather and a precious gemstone. An obscene amount of the cost of designer apparel goes to pay for the consumer advertising women thrill to see in Vogue. Can we add such obscene costs to the already high price of diamonds and hope to find greater demand? I doubt it.

But I’m not a jewelry brand person, as readers of this column know. If I were a jeweler, I’d keep advertising my name and cultivating other products so I’d have options if heavily advertised branded diamond jewelry moves out of my core consumers’ price range. These options could include colored gemstones, unusual luxury gifts, offbeat watch labels and custom designs. I’d still sell diamonds, and customers would know me for diamonds with the DTC hallmark. But I wouldn’t necessarily sell one of the hundreds of “me, too” diamond jewelry brands that De Beers hopes will be unleashed on the consumer market.

It’s worth thinking about.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue


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