De Beers is expected to announce early in 2001 details of a major alliance with a jewelry retailer. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story today, indicates France's LVMH Moet-Henessey Louis Vuitton is the strongest candidate. Other reports suggest the retailer may be Tiffany & Co., Bulgari or Companie Financiere Richemont of Switzerland.
Earlier this year, following completion of a strategic review, De Beers announced an aggressive move toward branding diamonds and shortening the diamond pipeline. But the company remains coy about reports of a retail partnership. "We cannot comment on them at this time," says Andy Lamont, a De Beers spokesman.
Speculation about a partnership grew after De Beers indicated it would reserve its potent brand name for higher-end diamonds and then announced Dec. 14 it would soon announce a strategy to sell branded jewelry. (See related story - DTC Announces Record Diamond Sales and Branding Strategy)
- by Robert Weldon, G.G.