Professional Jeweler Archive: Gemesis: The Retail Marketing Plan

February 2004

Diamonds/News


Gemesis: The Retail Marketing Plan

The synthetic fancy colored diamond producer begins selling through jewelers


Gemesis lab-grown diamonds are selling briskly, say jewelers who carried them this past holiday season. The stones, grown at Gemesis headquarters in Sarasota, FL, were introduced at five jewelry stores across the U. S. in the last few months of 2003.

“We just sold our 29th stone,” says an enthusiastic Alan Miller of Allan Miller Jewelers, Oregon, OH. Since his store launched the new product, these fancy intense to fancy vivid yellow synthetic diamonds have become a ray of Florida sunshine in his Ohio winter. In mid-December, Miller felt secure enough to predict he would easily attain his store’s goal of over $100,000 in Gemesis sales for the holiday season. The 29 stones were sold in custom-made jewelry in a little over six weeks, notching $94,000 in Gemesis-related sales.

Retail sales may have been helped by the attention the company drew from the mass media. “Ever since an article about a revolution in synthetic diamonds appeared in the September 2003 issue of Wired [in which Gemesis was featured prominently], we’ve been receiving literally thousands of inquiries from retailers and consumers,” says David Hellier, marketing manager at Gemesis. The most common question we get is ‘where can we buy these?’”

For now, the answer might be a little disappointing.

There, but Rare

There aren’t enough of the synthetics to allow them to be widely available. Speaking at the Rapaport Diamond Conference in October, Gemesis founder Carter Clarke explained his company produces a little over 7,000 carats a year. He said Gemesis has 24 operational diamond presses producing an average of 200 rough stones per month in the range of 3 carats. Clarke says these stones yield polished goods up to 2 carats in clarities ranging from SI to VVS.

Hellier says the yield obtained from the rough is encouraging. “Sixty percent of our rough cuts into stones that are 1 carat and above, which translates into a meaningful product for jewelers,” he says. For now, the company plans to keep its retailer partner program limited to a few stores. “That way we can keep our partners well-fed,” says Hellier. “For the foreseeable future we want to keep it to between eight and 12 retailers,” he says. Supplies are hard to come by even for these few participants. “We’re finding it harder to obtain larger stones, especially in the 1.25- to 1.50-ct. range,” says Miller.

“The article in Wired really did a lot to push curiosity and demand.” If the Wired article was too much of a good thing, however, it’s not intimidating Gemesis. The company says it has the capacity for 600 diamond presses when it’s fully expanded. But Gemesis wants jewelers to always make money on the product. “We expect jewelers to be able to make keystone profits,” says Hellier. “We also tell a lot of people we’re not interested in memo programs. We want only jewelers who are willing to commit to buying and selling our product. We look for jewelers of integrity, with ample trade references and financial ability who are members of associations.”

Controlled Local Marketing

For now, fancy colored Gemesis-created diamonds remain comparably priced with natural colorless diamonds. However, they sell for about one-quarter the price of a comparable fancy vivid color natural diamond, Hellier says. The focus will remain on fancy colors; in fact, Gemesis plans a fancy blue line for next year. Given consumer interest in colored diamonds, it’s a timely strategy.

Gemesis plans to help jewelers introduce and maintain their programs by funding product-launch events and public relations initiatives. “We’ve been on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ the ‘Today’ show, Fox and others,” says Hellier. Advertising will focus on local markets. Gemesis offers consumer-friendly brochures, generic displays for single stones and Duratrans™ light boxes.

Jewelers are learning the ropes with their new product. “We’ve found design is critical. Our jeweler mounts the Gemesis-created diamonds with white diamonds for accent and contrast,” says Alan Miller. “We also like to keep our stones in the VS clarity category. SI stones carry some metallic inclusions that we find a little distracting.”

Perhaps the most attractive aspect for jewelers is the chance to make a healthy profit. “I’m finding it easy to make keystone,” says Miller. “Compare that with 25% margins on our regular diamond sales.”

For participating retailers, profitable sales are already translating into requests for Gemesis to produce more goods.

  • Gemesis Diamonds, Sarasota, FL; (941) 907-9889, www.gemesis.com.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

An array of fancy intense to fancy vivid Gemesis lab-grown diamonds ranging from 0.66 to 1.06 carats. Photo by Robert Weldon.
The Gemesis facility in Florida operates 24 diamond presses producing about 7,000 carats a year. There is room at the facility for about 600 presses. Photo courtesy of Gemesis Diamonds.

IGI Provides ID
Laser inscription is included

Gemesis will submit all of its created diamonds over 0.25 carat to the International Gemmological Institute, New York City, for identification. Each stone will be laser-inscribed and documented. “Gemesis-created” will be on the stone’s girdle along with a serial number stored in IGI’s database and matching the lab’s identification report number. IGI developed a specific “lab-created” identification report for Gemesis, including cut, dimensions, weight and a photo illustration.

“Our customers rely on IGI to provide the correct identification of all precious gemstones,” says Jerry Ehrenwald, IGI president and CEO. “In today’s market, our clients cannot afford any erosion of consumer trust. By providing this service to Gemesis, we continue to assist and protect jewelers and consumers.”

Some jewelry retailers have sent back inventory for the laser inscription and certification. “Our retail partners are all disclosing the lab-grown origin of these diamonds, as required,” says David Hellier, marketing manager at Gemesis. “If a customer wants to have a Gemesis diamond they bought inscribed retroactively, we will address that request positively.”

Hellier says Gemesis carefully parcels out the diamonds under 0.25 carat (which are not laser-inscribed or certified ). “These are reserved exclusively for our retail partners on a selected basis,” he says. “Because our partners are fully disclosing each and every product they sell, we feel it’s not a problem.”

– R.W.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications