What They’re Up To

De Beers’ Alan Campbell says there is “no right or wrong way” for sightholders to respond to De Beers’ initiatives. And sightholders are taking a variety of approaches. Consider the following:

  • One of the most ambitious attempts at brand-building is from Antwerp sightholder the Pluczenik Group, which last year approached German fashion house Escada about entering the diamond market. The result: An Escada jewelry line, featuring a Pluczenik-created “Escada cut.” De Beers is offering an unusual amount of support to the brand launch, including distributing its marketing materials and press releases.

  • Sightholder Leo Schachter has a “Leo” brand, a patented 66-facet gem recently written up by the Wall Street Journal (thanks to a PR firm). The company is keeping the brand low-key to the trade but told the Journal it plans a $5 million ad campaign-its first ever-in publications such as People and Sports Illustrated. The New York company also developed a new method of measuring diamond brilliance, working in association with Mequon, Wisc.-based GemEx Systems.

  • There are also gemological innovations behind the Rand Diamond, offered by New York’s Codiam. Using a proprietary computer program, the company has created “a zero tolerance precision cut” that it says increases fire, brilliance, and scintillation. Codiam’s Leon Cohen says the program also allows the company to choose rough with the best ability to reflect and refract light. An accompanying report notes the date and location the diamond was cut.

  • Then there’s “co-branding.” A program from New York sightholder Premier Gem allows retailers to co-brand their store with the “Premier” name. “The stores are buying into the branding concept, but they also want to build on their own equity,” says company spokesman Stuart Samuels. “We want to be analogous to an Intel chip inside of a computer.” Another New York sightholder, Hasenfeld-Stein, offers a similar program for co-branded Ideals. “Jewelers don’t want to sell an Ideal with some other guy’s name on it,” says Rudy Federman, the company’s director of marketing. “So instead of pushing the other guy’s brand, you create your own.” Federman does this by producing advertising material for the store. “Some mom-and-pops don’t have the budget to do an advertising campaign,” he says. “I do that for them. We are not just dumping merchandise, we are helping them sell it.”

Many efforts pre-date De Beers’ recent moves. “We’ve always been marketing-oriented,” notes Sheldon Kwiat of Kwiat, which has been advertising branded jewelry for the last two years. “We saw this as the way to go a long time ago.” So did Lazare Kaplan, whose “Lazare” Ideal brand was the unquestioned pioneer of diamond branding. The company is now boosting its campaign with in-store boutiques, a new slogan (“the world’s most beautiful diamond”) and a Web site (lazarediamonds.com). And since last year, William Goldberg Diamond Corp. has offered its Ashoka cut, a revival of an antique cut.