Champagne Campaign to Rise Again

Argyle is reactivating its once-dormant campaign to promote brown diamonds as “champagnes.” Officials at the mine’s marketing agency, Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Market Vision, are launching a new Web site (www.champagnediamondcouncil.com), preparing new purchase material for jewelers, and conducting consumer research. Consumer advertising also is under consideration, says MVI’s Elizabeth Chatelain. “We are not sure where we are going with this,” she says. “We simply noticed there was more interest on the trade level and wanted to respond.”

The first “Champagne Diamond” campaign in the early 1990s, which featured heavy consumer advertising, had a mixed track record, many say. Its high—or low—point came in the 1996 movie Beautiful Girls, when a character was upbraided for giving his girlfriend a “brown” diamond and calling it “champagne.” (Organizers say this was a sign that its message was seeping in, but the girl in the movie threw it back.)

Chatelain says most of the resistance was from the trade, not consumers. “The consumers always loved it,” she says. “The trade had mixed feelings. Everyone said that, based on [their] GIA training, a brown diamond can’t be good. Now after we’ve had a decade of colored diamonds being sought after, the trade is more interested. Retailers are looking for what’s new, what’s different, what they can sell the consumer besides a tennis bracelet.”