The absence of De Beers as the driving force behind the promotion of diamonds has been described as a void, a vacancy and a vacuum, one the industry has not been able to cohesively fill.

062512_Graff,-Michelle-new-blog-shotA couple of years ago, you may remember a close-but-no-cigar attempt by the industry’s largest mining companies to create a body that would promote diamonds globally, called the International Diamond Board (IDB). Stymied by a leadership shift at Alrosa, the IDB never got off the ground, representing a missed opportunity for the industry.

And while the consumer-facing promotion of diamonds and diamond jewelry is on the agenda for next month’s World Diamond Congress in Mumbai-- recognition of the fact that this is an area that still needs to be addressed--the industry’s largest diamond miners already have hatched their own plans for generic advertising.

During the Las Vegas jewelry shows earlier this year, Rio Tinto launched “Diamonds with a Story,” a marketing campaign designed to tell consumers about the positive impact Rio Tinto has on the communities where it mines diamonds.

One retailer that’s an early adopter of the storytelling: Sterling Jewelers, the U.S.’s largest jeweler. Sterling is launching “Shades of Wonder,” a line of brown and white diamond jewelry created with diamonds from Rio Tinto’s mines and backed by the Story marketing campaign.

The Indian diamond industry also has its own plans for promoting diamonds at home and in China, with the announcement in August that it is earmarking $8 million for consumer promotion, split equally between the two markets.

In launching the campaign, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council Vice President Sanjay Kothari called on leaders in Israel, Belgium and Dubai to join its efforts (read: pitch in money) so the campaign could reach other markets. He added that the formation of an international coordination committee is needed.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, De Beers took a small step back into the marketing void that it created by announcing the launch of a nationwide television campaign this Christmas. The campaign is solely to promote its new halo-design Forevermark jewelry but the diamond miner, which still controls more than 30 percent of the world’s supply of rough, admittedly wouldn’t mind if the ads stimulated diamond jewelry sales across the board.

As Charles Stanley, who runs Forevermark here in the U.S., stated, now is a “key time” to elevate consumer confidence in the United States, which remains the world’s largest consumer market for diamonds.

It’s difficult to forecast what will come of the conversation when the industry convenes next month in Mumbai.

Will they attempt to resurrect the IDB in some form?  (Rio Tinto’s Jean-Marc Lieberherr has said that he doesn’t think it’s possible to regain that same momentum though some of the IDB’s goals may be salvageable.) Will an industry leader step up to propose an entirely new vehicle for the generic promotion of diamonds, one upon which all parties can agree (fat chance)?

It doesn’t seem like the industry’s biggest mining companies are waiting around to find out.

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