December 3, 1999
First GE/POL Diamonds Hit Retail Counter
GE/POL diamonds are now available to consumers at Borsheim's, Omaha, NE, the first store to offer the enhanced diamonds as part of a test marketing program.
Although the store hadn't sold any of the 30 diamonds earlier this week, salespeople showed them to several customers, according to Susan Jacques, G.G., F.G.A., president of Borsheim's. The diamonds are being sold under the brand name Monarch. Included with each one is a consumer brochure explaining the diamond was subjected to extreme heat and pressure to enhance the color. A warranty card indicates the GE/POL diamond was processed and engraved and has the same properties as an untreated diamond, including irreversible color.
"[Irreversible color] is why it's called 'processed' rather than 'treated,'" says Liz Chatelain, of MVI Marketing, the communications liaison for GE/POL in the U.S. "The word 'treated' implies something has been added or subtracted, while the word 'process' puts the diamond into its natural environment with nothing added or subtracted. In this case nothing has been added or subtracted."
Jacques disagrees. "We say it has undergone a specific type of process that altered the color. I call it a treatment," she says. Consumers who have seen the diamond "have shown no resistance," she adds. "I think in the consumer's mind, there's no difference between treatment and process." She says sales associates show consumers a Borsheim's brochure that provides an extensive explanation of various treatments, including color enhancement, and discusses the GE/POL process at length. "We sit down with customers and go through the brochure with them." (See an electronic copy of this brochure at www.borsheims.com.)
Jacques says Borsheim's is selling the color-enhanced diamonds at a slight discount from regular stones. "I do believe the main reason for a customer to purchase this is a price incentive," she says. "I don't feel the customer would be willing to pay a premium not our customers. We look at this purely as an option for customers."
Monarch may not be the final name. "GE held a focus group and the name Monarch rated high," says Chatelain. "A lot of tweaking will happen, maybe even the name."
The test program will be limited to a few key stores throughout the country. When the full roll-out occurs, 30 to 50 stores will carry the product, Chatelain says.
- by Jack Heeger