Professional Jeweler Archive:A Name Is Not Forever

September 2000

Diamonds: News

A Name Is Not Forever

De Beers makes sweeping changes in operations and identity

A diamond may be forever, but a corporate name is not. De Beers has decided to drop its name from generic advertising, a dramatic departure from its growing prominence in ads over the past few years. De Beers will now use Diamond Trading Co. as its public name.

DTC will use the famous slogan “A diamond is forever” accompanied by an icon known as the ForeverMark. The icon is in the shape of a diamond with a star at the center. “This icon, combined with the DTC identity and slogan, will be the glue that binds the DTC and [its] sightholders,” says Gary Ralfe, the company’s managing director. Consumers will see the DTC identity on the company’s generic advertising starting in January.

Dropping the De Beers name surprised many in the industry. But the name will remain as the corporate identity. Ralfe said it may be used in the future to brand an exclusive tier of diamonds.

Giving Up Control

De Beers also renounced its policy of buying excess diamonds to shore up prices. Gone is the Central Selling Organisation, which maintained control of diamond prices through manipulation of diamond rough sales to clients, called sightholders, for most of the 20th century.

Instead, DTC plans to stoke demand through marketing and branding ventures and through the development of cooperative initiatives with its almost 400 sightholders.

DTC will spend $170 million this year in an international consumer marketing campaign. A key to the whole concept is the development of competing brands by sightholders and others, say De Beers’ officials. “Our belief is that many brands competing will create a ‘noise’ and that the ultimate consumer will hear a lot more about diamonds,” says De Beers Chairman Nicholas Oppenheimer.

De Beers’ new “supplier of choice” strategy is said to depend on the development of four pillars. The change of identity from De Beers to the DTC is the first pillar. The other three are value-added services, best-practices principles and new above-board sightholder criteria.

Value-Added Services

DTC wants its sightholders to focus on the needs of its customers (mostly jewelry manufacturers and retailers). DTC plans to offer marketing training and support, including providing sightholders with market research. It also will maintain a sightholder intranet to exchange information securely online. But DTC also expects sightholders to take on some of the financial burden of advertising.

Best-Practices Principles

Sightholders are being asked to sign a contract, adhere to DTC business principles and adopt the new marketing philosophy. To maintain consumer confidence, sightholders must commit to the highest ethical standards, including offering correct information, disclosing treatments, not profiting from conflict diamonds and being aware of human rights and environmental issues.

Sightholder Criteria

Sightholders also must meet objective criteria, including the ability to distribute diamonds efficiently and the wherewithal to demonstrate and carry out a full marketing program. The criteria for sightholders will include eight critical points:

  • Solid financial standing.
  • Ability to distribute diamonds.
  • Marketing ability on their own or together with retailers.
  • Strong geographic market position.
  • Endorsement of the best-practice principles.
  • No dealing in synthetic goods.
  • Personal integrity.
  • Technical expertise.

What’s in it for the Retailer?

Oppenheimer says the new program will have industrywide benefits as consumers respond to marketing at the retail level.

Additionally, there will be a much more efficient flow of diamonds from the source to the market, says Andrew Lamont, a De Beers spokesman. “The convoluted system in use now will yield to a more efficient distribution system.”

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

The new ForeverMark will be on all of DTC generic advertising starting in January.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications