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In Search of Millennium-Sized Diamond Sales

Everybody’s Doin’ It, the Millennium Rag – September 1999

Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) has launched its limited-edition diamond, the LD 2000tm. The Zale Corporation division, Bailey Banks & Biddle, began offering the De Beers Limited Edition Millennium Diamond Collection on August 1. Tiffany & Co. will introduce the Lucida cut – a variation of the Princess and Radiant cuts – this September in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. in November, 1999 … just in time for millennium-based sales.

Exclusivity is the name of the millennium game and every company seems to have a different angle on capturing as much of the millennial sales pie as it can. Tiffany’s new cut is exactly that: Tiffany’s and no one else’s. And while similar stones are available from other sources, Tiffany can justly claim their premium by virtue of their name and packaging.

But although the words limited-edition and exclusive are appearing frequently in this dash for the millennium dollar, they seem to have lost a great deal of their original meaning. Take the LD 2000tm : With 4,000 stones being marketed – 2,000 under a carat and 2,000 of one carat or more – how limited is limited? The concept of the limited-edition is based on the rarity of the object: if one is the most limited, five are still limited, even 10 or 100. If there were only the De Beers 20,000 stones we might even then be able to call them limited as only those stones will bear the Millennium mark, but there are scores of cutters and manufacturers offering a general millennium product. If you add up all of these "limited editions," you’re left with one of the largest mass-market efforts ever. Even the large chain stores like Zale will be selling the De Beers Millennium collection.

Only a very few are offering what appear to be the genuine article when it comes to the exclusivity market. Harry Winston’s limited-edition watch, the Semi-Ramis 2000 from the Avenue Collection, is an example of the "real McCoy": the entire face and surrounding case of the watch is of baguette-cut diamonds. With only five of these being made available, Winston seems to have a head-start on the Millennium exclusivity market. But for a genuine limited-edition, the idea is still to have the only one in existence. v

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