By Michelle Graff
This week, the Diamond Producers Association, the group formed earlier this year by the world’s major miners, announced that it has tapped longtime jewelry industry marketer Sally Morrison as its new managing director of marketing, bringing her back to where she started in this industry. 

Michelle-blogMorrison spent years marketing diamonds at JWT during the De Beers’ days of A Diamond is Forever, Journey, the right-hand ring, etc.

After a short stint with Forevermark, she left in 2012 to head public relations for the London-based World Gold Council, doing much the same for the metal as she had for diamonds. While at the WGC, she developed what I think is one of the most forward-thinking initiatives in the jewelry industry, LoveGold.

To sum it up for those who aren’t familiar, LoveGold is a social media-centric marketing effort launched in 2013 to get consumers, particularly young consumers, interested in gold jewelry and to get them to understand the value of something that lasts in this very disposable age.

LoveGold has a beautiful, modern-looking website as well as a presence on all the major social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The photography is beautiful, the designs are on-trend and, perhaps most importantly, the conversation is taking place where millennials spend time: on social media.

The innovative initiative quickly caught the industry’s attention.

At the end of 2013, LoveGold found itself among the nominees for the 2014 Gem Awards but lost out to an entity with a slightly longer history, Tiffany & Co. That same year, LoveGold’s Academy Awards campaign generated more than 2 million impressions on Twitter and was highlighted as a success story on the social media site.

[caption id="attachment_3531" align="alignright" width="800"]LoveGold-Instagram For the 2014 holiday season, LoveGold did a campaign where they asked people to share meaningful pieces of jewelry using the hashtag #FutureHeirlooms. I shared this disc pendant that belonged to my maternal grandmother, set with diamonds that were once in a ring worn by my great-grandmother. The cross and “G” charms belonged to my paternal grandmother. I found the G in her jewelry box after she died.[/caption]

Gold jewelry demand also increased during this time but, then, the World Gold Council did an odd thing.

They had one of the best generic marketing initiatives going in the industry and they got rid of it, they “spun it off.” Though the WGC retains a minority stake in LoveGold, it now mostly belongs to a consortium of the original team and they have been shopping around for a new owner.

(As a side note, I have heard that the WGC cut jewelry marketing completely. I asked them about it and here’s the statement they sent to me: “The role of the World Gold Council is to stimulate and sustain the demand for gold, and one of the ways in which we do this is to act as a catalyst for ideas and initiatives, which brings gold to new audiences or develop greater access. The jewellery industry is just one of these avenues, and we continue to be involved in a number of marketing initiatives to support the sector.”)

Now, I understand there are some gold jewelry manufacturers who felt that LoveGold featured too many gemstone-set pieces and not enough big, bold gold jewelry. They felt it was raising the bar as much for jewelry in general as it was for gold jewelry specifically.

I can understand that, but I think people need to take a longer view of what the initiative was trying to accomplish: the creation of an online community of young people who are interested in, talking about and buying jewelry.

What’s more, LoveGold looks and feels modern, with a website that looks like it was created in 2013 instead of 2003 and a handle on social media. It’s exactly what this industry needs.

So many jewelry companies have logos, advertising and, sad to say, even product that appears to have been pulled out of a time capsule, and yet they are incredulous when young people pick trips, handbags and electronics over jewelry.

I know that it’s still somewhat up in the air how much marketing will be done by the Diamond Producers Association, which, in addition to Morrison, will be led by board Chair Jean-Marc Lieberherr of Rio Tinto, Vice Chair Stephen Lussier of De Beers and a yet-to-be-named executive director.

It already has been noted that the DPA doesn’t have anywhere close to the amount of money De Beers did in the halcyon days of A Diamond is Forever, and some have even suggested that the group is less about marketing and more about the diamond miners banding together against the diamond growers.

Yet social media has made it so companies today don’t have to spend $200 million a year to reach large numbers of people, which is exactly what LoveGold is doing.

If Morrison can create something for the diamond industry that looks like LoveGold, it will go a long way toward filling the generic marketing void.

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