De Beers Forevermark cuts loose, riling retailers

Rob Bates

Starting next year, the De Beers Forevermark brand will take over distribution of its loose diamonds and require that its gemstones be sold only in its bridal designs—a change some retailers and suppliers are not too happy with.

Until now, “the retailer selected a [loose Forevermark] diamond and put it into some form of mounting and one of the choices was our mountings,” Forevermark USA president Charles Stanley tells JCK. “Now, we’re saying, the choice is going to be only our mountings, our designs.”

The new plan, which has a target date of Jan. 1, 2023, stems from the brand’s “desire to meet consumers where they are,” Stanley says, “and where we see them evolving, which is to much more branded offers.

De Beers’ most recent market survey found that 65% of diamond jewelry buyers believed they bought a “branded” gemstone—and that number is even higher for millennials, he says.

For us, to look and feel like a brand, it is important that we are able to manage all aspects of our brand, including the distribution of both finished and loose Forevermark diamonds.

The new plan will enable Forevermark “to deliver a consistency of brand across all touch points,” Stanley continues. “It allows us to align the product that we promote in our marketing with what is available in stores…. [It] is no different than how any other full diamond jewelry brand does it. That’s how De Beers Diamond Jewelers does it, Tiffany, and others.”

The new Forevermark “fully branded offer” will help its retailers “defend [their] margin,” Stanley says. “It offers them consistent pricing for themselves and, importantly, for their clients. It’s efficient, as it allows the partner to have a curated selection and rely on us to back stock inventory of loose and designs.”

The brand’s retailers weren’t necessarily buying that, arguing that this fundamentally changes how the brand is run.

Forevermark was always about the [loose] diamond,” says one, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Finished jewelry is not what retailers signed up for.”

The jeweler described Forevermark’s design collection as “limited” and not suitable for all tastes.

Stanley responds that “our bridal offer is curated, but it’s a customizable finished bridal solution. It does not overwhelm clients with an abundance of choice—and all our research shows that consumers don’t want to be overwhelmed.

Forevermark’s current offerings “cover 99% of people’s known desire for designs,” he adds. “We are not going to meet everybody’s needs, which is important. As a brand, it’s important that you know what you’re not going to do, in addition to what you are going to do.

Clearly, De Beers Forevermark’s DNA is rooted in diamonds, and our designs lean toward uplifting the diamond with the design, and that will always be central to the design ethic of both of the De Beers brands. [We are also] cognizant that consumers do want to feel they have selected a diamond and a ring that is unique and special to themselves.”

Read full article 

Source JCK Online