At the De Beers forum at this year’s JCK Las Vegas show, CEO Philippe Mellier surprised attendees by declaring that one of the industry’s biggest problems was diamond trade-ins. When consumers receive low prices for their used gems, he pronounced, that adds to a low opinion of the product.
Just two months later, De Beers launched the International Institute of Diamond Valuation (IIDV), which is nothing less than an attempt to reinvent diamond buying. The service is built around a New York City lab that will value trade-ins for retailers. So far, it’s signed up four jewelers, representing 14 stores — R.F. Moeller, the three-store chain in Minneapolis; two out of nine Rogers Jewelers stores; some Reeds stores; and Padis Gems, San Francisco — in what it stresses is only a pilot project.
And while the stores JCK spoke to caution the program is still in its early days — Padis hasn’t even started yet — the owners hoped that it just might make diamond selling a less painful experience for consumers.
“I think it will stop bastardizing the jewelry business,” says R.F. Moeller owner Mark Moeller. “There is a lot of value it’s adding back into the equation. If the consumer has something to sell and doesn’t get a lowball number, that won’t undermine the value of the diamond. The consumer is going to be much better served dealing with the world’s largest diamond company.”
Bart Marks, CEO of Rogers, feels that for many consumers, selling their diamonds “is a depressing experience. They are getting pennies on the dollar. A lot of the places that say ‘we pay the most’ actually pay the least.”
Part of the problem is in the nature of the transaction, he admits.