An Ounce of Prevention

I am sick and tired of the celebrity thing. Who anointed Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and writers arbiters of taste, morality, and political philosophy? The answer is: We did!

Recently, I had the opportunity of seeing the promotional clip for the film Blood Diamond, starring heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. As a fan of action/adventure films, I was disappointed in the film clip. As a member of the jewelry industry, I was happy to see that the promotional effort wasn’t terribly well done. In my view it was not a compelling reason to see the film. My hope is that Blood Diamond fizzles as badly as The Da Vinci Code. Only time will tell.

JWT and the Diamond Trading Company, however, were wise to take a proactive approach to Blood Diamond. They made a substantial effort to put the history of conflict diamonds into perspective in response to the release of this film. From a factual Web site to participation at trade shows, JWT and the DTC went all out and are to be highly commended for putting together a balanced story about the conflict diamond issue.

If there is a chink in the industry’s armor, it is retailers and manufacturers who did not attend any of the sessions at the trade shows. JWT’s and DTC’s efforts depend on retailers visiting to download information so that store owners and sales personnel are familiar with the correct way to answer questions that may be asked during the critical selling season. Both organizations, as well as Jewelers of America, have done everything possible to make the industry thirsty for the knowledge they have prepared.

The bottom line is that the retail community must act! Retailers should download the information, print it, and communicate it to their sales staffs. The communication shouldn’t be a onetime effort. It is said that people forget 80 percent of what they hear within a few hours of a presentation. This means that as a store owner or a manager you will have to hold a series of staff meetings to review and discuss the issue. Role playing is a particularly important part of the effort. Sales associates must be comfortable with the facts about diamonds so that they can communicate a balanced perspective to consumers who are legitimately interested in the issue of conflict diamonds.

The Christmas season is traditionally a time when the first significant jewelry purchases are made. It is a time when more engagement rings are sold than at any other time of the year. It is critical that bridal customers be informed of the facts now, because they represent another 30 years or more of profitable business. If you handle the issue correctly, you’ll realize that potential. If you handle it poorly, you’ll be stuck paying for the proverbial pound of cure.