Bigger Than Three-Stone?

De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company recently unveiled its newest product concept, called Journey, with heady predictions that it could prove even bigger than its blockbuster, “past, present, and future” three-stone jewelry.

Journey pieces will feature diamonds arranged in a graduated fashion, from smallest to largest. The graduated stones are meant to “symbolize how a couple’s love grows stronger and more intense over time.”

JWT, DTC’s ad agency, said Journey pieces should be all diamond and have at least four stones, including one of significant size. The concept is being touted for bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, although not for rings, since JWT already promotes right-hand, three-stone, and diamond-engagement rings.

The product’s launch was accompanied by comparisons to JWT’s former promotional campaigns, particularly the one for three-stone jewelry. Like three-stone’s past, present, future positioning, Journey takes “an existing product and builds a compelling story around it,” says S. Lynn Diamond, executive director of the Diamond Promotion Service.

Colby Shergalis, associate director of JWT’s core program, noted that in consumer testing, Journey scored even higher than three-stone, with 71 percent of women finding the Journey concept appealing, versus 45 percent who said the same for past, present, and future. All this led Diamond to announce this “has the potential to be even bigger than three-stone.”

Whether or not that comes true, the two ideas are similar: They both use multiple diamonds to symbolize the trajectory of a relationship. In fact, they are similar enough that JWT felt it necessary to include a note in its presentation that 76 percent of consumers felt Journey “was different from existing diamond-jewelry product concepts.”

Richard Lennox, director in charge of the diamond marketing and advertising group at JWT, says the similarity was something the diamond group considered, but that having both products on the market gives consumers something new to buy. “We know consumers are in the market every three months, and we want to build a portfolio of strong concepts,” he says.

Journey diamond jewelry will be promoted by a TV and print campaign that will premiere this fall, as well as DTC’s standard efforts to get diamonds on celebrities at occasions like the Academy Awards.

Jewelry manufacturers reacted generally positively to the product’s launch, though some wondered how the concept would work with bracelets, considering there was no way to ensure the big diamond stays on top. Lennox noted that “bracelets will be a challenge” for designers, but he rejected one manufacturer’s idea that jewelry where the diamonds start small, get big, and then get small again should qualify as a Journey piece.

“That dilutes the idea’s power,” he said. “What the consumer is looking for is small to large diamonds. If you create pieces that symbolize that idea, we know that it will work.” Lennox notes that the idea can be successful at all price levels and doesn’t face supply issues. “The diamonds don’t have to be at the key size points, so manufacturers can go outside them,” he says.

DPS also launched a program to let manufacturers test which Journey designs work best with consumers. DesignMax, a new program run in conjunction with research firm A.C. Nielsen, will let consumers rate Journey design styles. Details are available at the DPS Web site, www.dps.org.