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September 2006

Almost every large diamond cutter and jeweler has introduced a brand name for their diamonds. There are diamond brands based on first name (like the “Leo”), there are some based on attributes of diamonds, and there are brands from established jewelers (like Zale, Gordon’s, and Tiffany’s).

Now a lot of this is because of De Beers and “Supplier of Choice.” In the last 6 years, sightholders have spent millions of dollars establishing brands. Yet, despite all these millions, according to a recent Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council survey, only 18 percent said that a diamond brand name is “extremely” or “somewhat” important. 47 percent were indifferent.

In the end the most important brand in the diamond industry is the word “diamond” itself.

De Beers has for the last sixty years spent hundreds of millions advertising generic diamonds. They represent romance, eternity, and strength. There is a reason why a Spanish company markets an anti-aging cream call “Diamond Extreme,” or why the “Diamond” card is higher than the American Express Platinum Card. Diamonds have the reputation as the ultimate, extreme, and the finest. That’s why there are currently more than 2400 new trademark registrations for products with the word “diamond” in it, according to the U.S. Patent Office. Most of them are not gems. They just want to prove they are the best.

So we must ask: Are diamond brands helping or weakening the image of the word ‘diamond’?
Take the brand image of Einstein. You can call him “professor Einstein” or “German Einstein” or “physicist Einstein,” but the word that really matters is “Einstein.” When you attach something to Einstein, you are not really adding anything.

One of the reasons that diamonds have been a successful product is they have a focused message. Now, you go through a magazine, and there are ads with 16 different messages about diamonds, rather than just one. De Beers may be right, and this may be increasing diamond desire in the consumer’s minds. But for now it’s more likely that all this is simply confusing the consumer, and taking away attention from the intrinsic value of diamonds.

Retail Brands Still Score Highest

Even after all this talk about brands in the industry, the most known brands are still retail brands. For example, in a recent Jewelers Consumer Opinion Council, Zale was considered the most popular brand of diamond jewelry, even though it’s not really a diamond brand, it’s a retail store.

In other surveys, companies like Tiffany have also scored high.

If you think about this, it makes sense. Brands are about giving an assurance to consumers that they are buying a quality product. Diamonds have certain assurances, like certificates, and the Four C’s. But, as we have seen, these can be compromised. Certificates can be forged and have been “upgraded.”

So the most important consideration in the consumer’s mind is the company selling it to them., and how long they have been in business.

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