Everyone’s Branding Diamonds!

Branding, when it?s successful, evokes immediate recognition and positive emotional responses. Names, slogans, images, and celebrities are used to imprint the brander?s message on consumers? neural circuits, where it can be plucked back to consciousness by the next sight or sound of the name, slogan, image, or celebrity.

Jewelers can brand their store name or their own line of jewelry, and they can sell branded products, including branded diamonds. Selling a ?Hearts and Arrows? diamond or a ?Millennium? diamond is likely to be more profitable than selling a ?round diamond.?

So far, diamond branding has been primarily a wholesaler-to-retailer phenomenon. Wholesalers market brands to retailers hoping they?ll persuade consumers that the brand is worth more money. But branding can?t be deemed successful until a customer walks into a store and says, ?I want an XYZ diamond.? By that standard, Keepsake is a success. Another sign of true branding is major advertising. A variety of diamond brands are available to the retail jeweler. The firms that market these brands are using several different strategies to sell their products.

Branded Ideal cuts. All Ideal-cut diamonds are not alike. The original Tolkowsky Ideal is not a universally accepted model, and debate over ?Ideal? still rages. Meanwhile, cutters experiment with ways to maximize yields while maintaining proportions that maximize fire and brilliance. Branded Ideal cuts often are accompanied by a ?0? cut grade on an American Gem Society laboratory report. Retailers who promote and sell branded Ideal cuts generally report better profits and less competition. The first branded cuts to hit the market often acquire the highest name recognition. That?s why so many in the industry are familiar with names such as Hearts and Arrows, Hearts on Fire, and Eight Star.

Branded shapes. The trademarked Radiant cut was patented in 1976 by Henry Grossbard and was one of the earliest branded cuts to be recognized. Other cutting styles were patented or trademarked earlier, but the Radiant was the first ?branded? cut to surge in popularity.

Some branded shapes are variations of the round, created by adding or rearranging facets. Examples include the 144 Cut, the J.C. Millennium, and the Gabrielle. The Gabrielle name also is used for variations on some fancy cuts.

In 1986, De Beers commissioned Gabi Tolkowsky to create five new diamond cuts to improve the look of off-color diamonds. To encourage others to use the cuts, they weren?t patented or trademarked, but the names?Marigold, Fire Rose, Dahlia, Sunflower, and Zinnia?are considered a way to promote branded cuts. Other branded shapes include the Quadrillion, Millennial Sunrise, Criss Cut, Flanders Brilliant, and Lily Cut.

Branding a name for diamonds. When a jeweler buys a Hearts and Arrows diamond, he or she expects an Ideal cut diamond. When a jeweler buys a Quadrillion-cut diamond (from Ambar Diamonds in Los Angeles), he or she is buying a patented and trademarked shape?a square diamond cut to specific standards with specific facet arrangements. In addition to branding based on the cut or shape, there?s another kind of diamond branding?that based on a name along with the requisite marketing support.

Jeff Pancis of Pancis Inc., for example, has branded his inventory of rounds ?Gemologically Correct.? Dealers willing to spend a minimum in diamond purchases will get free laser inscriptions (?GC? plus the serial number) on the girdle of each diamond. A plastic card about the size of a credit card will accompany the diamond and will contain a photograph of the laser inscription. The shape and weight of the diamond will be listed, and some diamonds will have a laboratory grading report. Although the diamonds have ?near Ideal? proportions, the cut isn?t the feature stressed in the marketing plan. Rather, the marketing angle is based on the branded name and on what Pancis calls ?an increasing concern for synthetics and treated diamonds in the industry.? The popularity of laser inscribing diamonds with serial numbers, logos, and other markings will inspire other companies to attempt this type of branding during the next several years.

How branding helped the Canadians. Diamond mining in Canada?s Northwest Territories is expensive?the area is frozen most of the year, and the mining season is short. But the deposits are rich, and they produce gem-quality diamonds.

Prior to the Canadian find, diamond origin, especially with respect to marketing, had never been an issue, since determining where a diamond was mined is not practical. (Exception: diamonds from certain countries suffering civil war. See ?The Fight Over Dirty Diamonds,? JCK, February 2000, p. 94.) The Canadians made origin an issue. Diamonds from Canada?s Ekati mine are marketed as coming from North America. They?re laser-inscribed with a polar bear logo and a serial number and come with certificates of authenticity. Inventory typically includes diamonds from Ideal cut to class 2 (AGS ?0? to ?2? cut grades). These diamonds are marketed through Sirius Diamonds in Canada and Barker & Co. in the United States. Prices are similar to those of equivalent cuts from other companies.

How branding helped Argyle. Australia?s diamond mine produces more diamonds than any other country in the world, but the ratio of industrial to gem-quality is high. A small number of Australian diamonds are rare pinks that command astronomical prices at auction, but most are brown.

To market brown diamonds at a premium, Argyle turned to branding. Ten years ago, it tried marketing its browns as ?Champagnes.? A color chart with grades of C1 to C7 incorporated names such as ?Light Champagne,? ?Medium Champagne,? ?Dark Champagne,? and ?Fancy Cognac.? Argyle?s biggest challenge was, and still is, convincing jewelers that brown diamonds are worth the premiums.

Pricing branded cuts. Pricing publications such as my own (The Guide) can?t price every branded diamond cut. With dozens on the market and more on the way, keeping up with pricing is a monumental task for jewelers and appraisers. But buyers will learn how these cuts figure into pricing. For example, all Ideal cut diamonds carry a premium. Premiums will vary among the various cuts, but prices will be consistently close because there?s a similar added cost factor based on decreased yields.

Fancy cuts are more difficult to price. Each company will maintain its own unique pricing structure. Whenever possible, contact specific companies for pricing information. While not all companies are helpful when appraisers call for prices, it?s in their best interest to cooperate. Accurate information about their branded cuts can only lead to more sales.

Richard B. Drucker, G.G., is the president of Gemworld International and publisher of The Guide, a pricing periodical he began in 1982. An international gemstone consultant, he has published numerous books on the jewelry industry.

Branded Ideal Cuts

  • Hearts and Arrows. Sold by Gary Wright Co., 352 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85012; (800) 428-0700.

  • Hearts and Arrows of Brilliance. Alpha Inc., 6222 Richmond Ave., #630, Houston, TX 77057; (800) 343-9021.

  • Hearts on Fire. Hearts on Fire Co., 333 Washington St., Suite 430, Boston, MA 02108; (800) 343-1224 or (617) 523-5588.

  • Eight Star. Tolkowsky proportions (table: 53-57%; crown angle: 34.5º; girdle thickness: 1% to 3%; pavilion depth: 43.1%), but smaller tolerance (table: 54%-56%). Richard von Sternberg, Eight Star Diamond, P.O. Box 7077, Cotati, CA 94931; (707) 793-7960.

  • LK Ideal. Laser-inscribed girdles. Also offers the limited-edition ?LD 2000? (.30 ct. to .99 ct. in one series, 1 ct. and larger in a second series). Lazare Kaplan International, 529 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017; (800) LK-IDEAL or (212) 972-9700.

  • Cut by Gauge. Girdles are inscribed with ?CBG? and a registration number. Promoted as AGS ?0? and ?1? cuts with hearts and arrows. Ernest Slotar Inc., 29 E. Madison St., Suite 1112, Chicago, IL 60602; (800) 621-6537, e-mail: cutbygauge@aol.com.

Other Branded cuts

  • J.C. Millennium. Round diamond with 88 facets, 16 sides, and a break line in the pavilion. Sizes start at .30 ct. Comes with HRD certificate. Laser inscription on girdle. Pricing is similar to a standard round brilliant, but manufacturer claims the brilliance rivals Ideal cuts. H.B.S. Diamonds Inc., 2 W. 46th St., New York, NY 10036; (800) 220-7890.

  • 144 Cut. Additional facets along girdle upper and lower to provide more brilliance. Proportions are stated to be ?nearly Ideal.? Pricing is similar to that for Ideal cuts. 144 International Inc., P.O. Box 178, Elgin, IL 60121; (847) 428-1447.

  • Gemologically Correct. ?GC? and serial number are laser-inscribed on girdle. Includes plastic card with weight, shape, and photo of laser inscription. Co-op advertising available. Pancis Gems Inc., 26 Battle Ridge Rd., Morris Plains, NJ 07950; (800) 426-4435 or (973) 285-9084, www.pancisgems.com.

  • Canadian diamonds. Laser-inscribed with polar bear logo; certificates of origin and registration; rough weight, date of mining, and quality grading. Sirius Diamonds, 1303-510 W. Hastings St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V6B 1L8; (800) 665-4377 or 604-687-5711, www.siriusdiamonds.com. Barker & Co., 7745 E. Redfield Rd., Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85260; (480) 483-0780.

  • Flanders Brilliant. Looks like a square emerald cut. Basically an octagon with four long sides and four short corners. Table is two perfect squares. Has 61 facets and occasionally 65. Developed by Belgian cutters in the late 1980s. Pricing is about 5% over the price of a round with the same quality grades. National Diamond Syndicate, 67 E. Madison, Chicago, IL 60603; (800) 621-5057 or (312) 782-0365.

  • Millennium. First rough sold about a year ago to 10 select sightholders. Table: 52.5%-64%; total depth: 58.5% to 62.9%; crown angle: 32.2º to 35.4º; girdle thickness: .95% to 2.95% (thin to thick); polish and symmetry: good or better. Most H-I color, 25% J-L, 15% F-G, limited D-E. Clarity VS or better, few SI. Limited distribution of 20,000 stones total; 75% are 1 ct. or larger. IGI is issuing certs and time capsules for Sun Diamond. Inscribed with ?Millennium by IGI? and identification number. ?Millennium Twins? (matched pairs in the capsule) sold by Gary Wright Co. Cutting options: fine, Ideal, Hearts and Arrows. Pricing is about 5% to 10% above prices for Ideal cuts.

  • Gabrielle. Highly brilliant 105-facet cut sometimes called a ?triple brilliant.? Cut in round, heart, oval, marquise, pear, and princess; all qualities; .5 ct. and larger. Introduced in 1998, cuts designed by Gabi Tolkowsky. Prices about the same as those for standard cuts, possibly 5% premium. Suberi Brothers, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010; (800) 223-0100 or (212) 979-9100.

  • Lily Cut. Looks like a four-leaf clover. Has 65 facets; all qualities; .15 ct. and larger. Patented in 1966. Pricing undetermined. Lily Diamonds, 1 Jabotinsky St., Ramat-Gan, Israel; (972-3) 575-0011.

  • Criss Cut. An emerald cut developed in 1996 that?s faceted to bring out more brilliance and fire; 77 facets, some crisscross; rectangular shapes or octagon cuts. Pricing: approximately 10% to 15% higher than prices for emerald cuts. Christopher Designs Inc., 42 W. 48th St., New York, NY 10036; (800) 955-0970 or (212) 382-1013.

  • Starburst. Modified rectangular brilliant (like a Radiant) with 88 or more facets. Developed in late 1980s. Priced same as emerald cuts. Louis Glick & Co., 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; (212) 259-0300. Also U. Doppelt & Co., 579 Fifth Ave., #1220, New York, NY 10017; (212) 644-9760.

  • Radiant. Modified rectangular brilliant with 62 to 70 facets. Developed in 1976 by Henry Grossbard. Priced slightly higher than princess cuts for the better makes and about the same as princess cuts for average makes. RCDC Corp., 15 W. 47th St., New York, NY 10036; (800) 783-7232 or (212) 382-0386. Also I. Starck, 8 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603; (312) 332-0265.

  • Quadrillion. Ideal-cut square diamond with 49 facets. Trademarked in early 1980s. Pricing: approximately 10% higher than princess cuts. Ambar Diamonds Inc., 624 S. Grand Ave., #2415, Los Angeles, CA 90017; (213) 626-1465.

  • Princette. Baguettes and tapered baguettes faceted like a princess cut with 48 facets. Trademarked in early 1990s. Pricing is unknown. Estimate 10% over price of standard baguettes. Mark Silverstein Diamond Import Co., 23161 Ventura Blvd., Suite 203, Woodland Hills, CA 91364; (800) 993-5900.

  • Royalcrest. Rectangular with an arched crown; facets vary depending on size of diamond. Introduced in 1993. Prices about the same as prices for round diamonds. Merit Diamond Corp., 1212 Avenue of the Americas, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10036; (800) 289-MERIT or (212) 391-2770.

  • Millennial Sunrise. Oval cut with seven tables and a total of 43 facets. Pricing is approximately the same as prices for round diamonds. USA Studs Inc., 42 W. 48th St., New York, NY 10036; (800) USA-STUD or (212) 302-1010.

  • Trielle. The world?s first and only patented triangular brilliant cut diamond, a modified triangular brilliant with straight sides, is an equilateral triangle that is cut with 50 facets?41 (including the table and culet) plus nine girdle facets. Trillion Diamond Co. Inc., 15 W. 47th St., #1106, New York, NY 10036; (888) 4-TRILLION, www.trillion-diamonds.com.