The Two-Stone Ring and the Industry’s Past, Present, and Future

Here are some of this year’s biggest diamond stories:

– De Beers is bringing back “A Diamond Is Forever.”

– It’s also reviving its “Seize the Day” ads as part of a (quasi-)generic campaign.

– Signet and (De Beers-owned) Forevermark are joining together to create a new beacon, the two-stone Ever Us ring.

We can see a clear pattern: As our industry struggles, the big players are looking to the past and resurrecting what worked (sometimes spectacularly). That isn’t a bad thing; these initiatives should never have been abandoned in the first place. In fact, if they had kept running, they might have evolved. The problem now is we don’t know if these old paradigms will still resonate. In the years since De Beers introduced its last beacon, the world has changed immeasurably.

Certainly the jewelry world has changed. Whereas De Beers was once the pacesetter for the U.S. market, today Signet is. Its two-stone campaign seems an attempt to create a new must-have product category almost by will. Teaming up with the Forevermark—the only other diamond seller with a large ad budget—is smart out-of-the-box thinking that should benefit both sides.

Of course, the two-stone idea explicitly calls to mind the three-stone ring, which was introduced around 2000 and was unquestionably De Beers’ most successful beacon. Like the “past present future” three-stone ring, Ever Us is noteworthy for its clever positioning—one diamond stands for love, the other for friendship. You can see the new ads here: They are sentimental but not syrupy, which is a line Signet has had difficulty navigating in the past.

Some were alarmed that the new product will be sold in all of Signet’s brands using the same advertising message. When Signet bought Zale, analysts raised questions about cannibalization, as Kay and Zales were in the same malls, targeting the same customers. (In some malls, Signet already owns two or three doors.) Post-purchase, Signet did extensive consumer research to help distinguish the two nameplates and found that the different brands draw different types of shoppers.

So how does this fit into that? Signet told me this new product will appeal to all the different kinds of customers—gifters, sentimentalists, and style-seekers. Yet, it does blur the line. One problem with the beacon campaigns is that they were all immediately adopted by jewelers, leading to a stultifying sameness at retail. That could be a danger again, given how mamy retailers are now owned by Signet.

Regardless, these initiatives have injected a bit of excitement at a time when the trade badly needs it. But it is a little worrying how much they hark back to the past. For the industry to thrive, we also need new templates for the future.

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JCK News Director