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NJ Exclusive: Forevermark reveals U.S. plans

2011-03-17

The Forevermark diamonds in these diamond stud earrings are both a little more than two carats. Forevermark diamonds and diamond jewelry will be available in the United States by the end of the year.

Stamford, Conn.—De Beers has selected diamond suppliers and is in talks with retailers to get its Forevermark branded diamond off the ground in the United States with the goal of the stones being available in stores here in the fourth quarter, De Beers tells National Jeweler.

Forevermark is De Beers’ first foray into branded diamonds, a realm already occupied by a few well-known names including Hearts on Fire and The Leo Diamond. Like other branded stones that set themselves apart via their cut or color grade, all Forevermark stones must be, at the minimum: very good cut, L color or fancy colored and SI2 clarity. The stones originate with De Beers’ rough supply arm, the Diamond Trading Co. (DTC), are purchased by a handful of selected manufacturers and then sold to the program’s authorized retailers.

In an exclusive interview conducted Wednesday, Forevermark U.S. Inc. President Charles Stanley said his group already has started meeting with potential U.S. Forevermark retailers. He said Forevermark presents jewelers a significant opportunity in a time rife with consumer price aversion and continued commoditization of diamonds. Forevermark can “hold up a brand” that allows retailers to set themselves apart from competitors, he said.

Although Stanley declined to provide details on specific stores under consideration for the program or the fee involved in becoming a Forevermark retailer, the branded-diamond program is aimed at Couture-level jewelers, those that carry brands such as David Yurman, Rolex, Cartier and Patek Philippe. “We need to be talking to retailers that want to achieve premiums and recognize brands,” he said. 

Those interested in the program can contact Forevermark U.S. Vice President of Sales Kevin Lane (kevin.lane@forevermark.com), an industry veteran who has worked for companies including Lazare Kaplan and Mikimoto.

The 11 U.S. Forevermark Diamantaires are: Crossworks, Dali-Alink, Diarough, Eurostar, Julius Klein, Leo Schachter, Pluczenik, Premier Gem, Rosy Blue, Trau and Venus Jewel. Although all the diamond companies on this initial list are DTC sightholders, it is not a requirement, Stanley said.

He said under the program, selected retailers can work with as many or as few sightholders as they choose, buying Forevermark loose stones with which to create their own custom designs or finished jewelry incorporating Forevermark diamonds. “You’re not tied down to a particular assortment mix,” Stanley said. “But, more importantly, you can incorporate Forevermark into designs that are yours.” 

Although Forevermark is new to the U.S. market, De Beers launched the program in 2008 into Asian markets.

All Forevermark diamonds are graded and inscribed with a unique identification number and the brand’s icon at the Forevermark Diamond Institute in Antwerp. Stanley said Forevermark diamonds are essentially traceable from mine to market and verifiable as conflict-free stones. The diamonds come from established sources that are “true to the brand,” and De Beers uses a third-party auditing firm to verify each stone’s journey.

“The consumer now more than ever is becoming more selective about how they buy, especially high-value goods,” Stanley said, when asked if the promise of a non-conflict diamond is growing in importance amid all the problems in Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast. “They’re looking for increased transparency in the purchase and they’re looking for people to guide them in that.”

After launching Forevermark in the Far East, De Beers announced in September that it was bringing the brand closer to the United States, with the launch of Forevermark at Diamonds International stores in the Caribbean and Mexico. One month later, De Beers revealed its plans to launch the brand here.

The U.S. launch of Forevemark represented the end of an era in diamond jewelry marketing and promotion in America. De Beers once served as the catalyst for all generic diamond jewelry marketing in the United States, with its annual holiday campaigns and “beacon” programs, such as the three-stone ring and Journey diamond jewelry.

With the launch of Forevermark, however, De Beers closed its traditional U.S. publicity and advertising arms, the Diamond Promotion Service (DPS) and Diamond Information Center (DIC), to shift focus to Forevemark.

“It’s a completely different model than that which existed before,” Stanley acknowledged.
De Beers will no longer be pushing the entire category of diamond jewelry but instead will be putting its energy into promoting Forevermark and the retailers that sell it. Stanley said Forevermark U.S. will supply all marketing materials for the program and will take a multi-media approach.

“There will be a whole social media component in our marketing,” incorporating tools such as Twitter and Facebook, he said. Also included in the campaign will be print and online advertising as well as public relations work, which already has begun.

Forevermark jewelry graced the necks, wrists and ears of a number of celebrities during this past awards season, including young Modern Family star Sarah Hyland and big-screen stars Uma Thurman (below, left), Gwyneth Paltrow (below, right) and Academy Award winner Melissa Leo. “That was part of a deliberate strategy to start seeding early,” Stanley said.




Photo credit: Randall Michelson/Wire Image (Thurman) and Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images (Paltrow)

Forevermark marketing plans are still in the works but an unveiling of the campaign is planned for the Las Vegas jewelry shows this summer, he said.

Forevermark U.S. will operate out of headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Joining Stanley on the Forevermark U.S. team are some familiar faces from the former DPS and DIC teams: Sally Morrison, who will serve as chief marketing officer, Vice President of Marketing Colby Shergalis, Emmy Kondo, director of strategic planning, Lisa Cochin, director of partner relations, and Director of Public Relations Jamie Cadwell.