April 24, 2000
Diamond Information Center
In the future, say some marketing experts, experiences will be economic staples. One example of how the entertain-me trend might affect the jewelry industry is the "Design Your Own Engagement Ring" feature on the Diamond Information Center Web site.
No, there's no diamond cutting, setting of prongs or any of the intense labor of actual jewelry designing involved. After filling out a brief and craftily worded survey, visitors are allowed to assemble a virtual ring from three elements: a center stone, two flanking stones and a yellow gold, white gold or platinum band.
A bona fide designer might cringe to think of this as "design." The point, however, is the process makes customers feel more involved than merely clicking on a manufactured ring. And
that involvement is, in itself, something consumers value.
According to the Yankelovich research firm, people now in their late teens and early 20s - and, therefore, moving into their marrying years as a group have an intense interest in self-invention. Baby Boomers tended to defy convention - often eschewing diamond wedding jewelry and getting married barefoot in a meadow - and tradition-hungry Gen-Xers embrace some establishment habits (even smoking cigars), members of Generation Y are open to tradition but want to help shape it to their own purposes.
So in sync with this trend is DIC's design-your-own ring feature that the
designer, Luminant Worldwide Corp., recently won an MC Magazine ICON Award
for excellence in technology marketing communications.
The site offers a variety of stone shapes emerald, round, princess - but definitely leans toward big rocks in terms of size. The finished rings' center stones all look to be at least a couple of carats.
Once the perfect ring is created, users can save the design to their desktops, e-mail it to their intendeds or print it and take it to a local jeweler to have the ring created. They can also save various designs in their own virtual online "jewelry box" or browse through a database of 7,500 pre-designed rings.
In addition, the site offers more traditional sections for those looking for gift ideas and information about the fabled 4Cs. There's a page where customers can post stories about how the question was popped, or read stories posted by others.
- by Mark E. Dixon