‘Diamonds Do Not Sell Themselves’

Success leads to arrogance and arrogance to failure.” Devotees of Trout and Reis’s work know this line comes from their book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Those unfamiliar with their work should pick up a copy, and while you’re at your favorite bookseller’s shop, pick up their other books as well. They are quick reads and contain practical and useful thinking as the jewelry industry ponders the future without advertising support from the Diamond Trading Company. The reference to success, arrogance, and failure apply to much of the DTC’s efforts of late.

The newest effort is the development and implementation of the Forevermark as the next campaign in the jewelry marketing wars by De Beers. The luxury marketer LVMH and the DTC have combined in a joint venture to use the De Beers name at retail and now to use the new Forevermark brand as another differentiator to the ultimate consumer.

The Forevermark provides an icon inscribed on the table of the diamond along with a serial number, which can be seen only with a special viewer. The symbol and number signify adherence to minimum color, clarity, cut, and carat weight standards and are supported by a Forevermark grading report. Additionally, there may be a special mounting to hold this new branded diamond. Last but certainly not least is the requirement that the diamonds must be untreated natural stones that are ethically mined and cut.

Oh, have I mentioned the license fee for retailers to use the viewing device? No? It’s a $50K royalty fee per store for the privilege. Are they serious? Is this some new version of British humor? And the logic used to justify this royalty fee is “most of the profits were at the retail end.” At least they got the verb tense correct—were!

Jeff Fischer’s line, which I have used with Jeff’s permission as the title of this piece, must be key to the industry’s thinking. But I’m not at all sure that the direction of the thinking needs to be a carbon copy replacement of the old De Beers national advertising campaigns.

De Beers/DTC has for years effectively employed the divide-and-conquer philosophy in ruling the diamond business. The truth is that all advertising is local. There are 24,000 retail jewelers in the United States, and their advertising messages are the most important. De Beers built the importance of diamonds in consumers’ minds, and diamonds are firmly entrenched as symbols of the expression of love for engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other life events.

Perhaps the way to deal with this current advertising void is to work with the retail community to promote diamonds there, where it matters. Diamond dealers and manufacturers all have their clients. Rather than start a new campaign by bringing together the disparate elements of the diamond community and figuring out what each member’s share is, let alone a creative theme, go directly to your customers, the retail jewelers, and put the promotion dollars to work there.