By Ya’akov Almor
I kept pushing it off, but last weekend, I finally got through the pile.
Almost of a month of newspapers to comb through, from September 21 to October 15. Short of wanting to make a pitch for the International Herald Tribune – alright, it is now called the International New York Times – I need to admit that it is a paper I cannot do without, that is, the print edition. But it also means that the papers pile up.
My goal: read up on jewellery and fashion, in that order. I am a guy, so fashion is not my ‘thing,’ but I have come to understand that fashion and luxury are very much connected. So I try and keep up.
September 22. Suzie Menkes reporting on Fashion Milan. Half a page of shots of what I thought to be ugly, shapeless but Italian fashion. Luckily the back page of the same paper section had a fabulous article on “Seeing the world from handlebars,’ about great bike routes in Paris, Vermont and Ireland.
September 29. The front page of the second fold of the INYT opens with a Ralph Lauren ad for a leather bag, but there was also a full page ad by Chanel Fine Jewelry inside. And on the back page — Weekend Travel, again — Russell Shorto took me on a nostalgic bike tour through Amsterdam, my home city of 30 years ago.
October 3 – Front page of the inside fold: Fashion Paris, by Suzie Menkes, naturally. Attractive, even wearable clothes by Miu Miu, Vionnet and Hermes, but Louis Vutton, Alexander McQueen and Moncler Gamme Rouge are invited to join the real world. Full page ad by Cartier of, thanks heavens, a great piece of jewelry.
Lauren’s full page ad of September was remunerated by INYT on October 15, with a 2/3 page article about Ralph Lauren by Menkes. This day’s paper carried full page ads by Graff, featuring the Graff Butterfly diamond–set watch; Cartier, with a fabulous diamond bracelet; Chanel, with a bag; a furry Ralph Lauren creation; and three ad pages of watches by Longines, Breitling and Bulgari.
On October 22, Suzie Menkes celebrated the 400th anniversary of Mellerio, Paris’ oldest jewellery house and on October 23, the 8-page “A Cut above – Watches” supplement indulged in luxury watches.
As I was getting to the bottom of the pile, I had stopped counting watch ads, as throughout all the pages I scanned in my one-month-pile, the luxury watch ads – 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/3, half and full pages had become too numerous to keep counting them effectively.
Are you still with me? Hang on. I’m getting there.
Obviously, all these advertisements, costly as they are, are worth the companies’ efforts. These ads are directed at the very rich, those who afford to spend many tens of thousands of dollars, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury watch or an exclusive piece of jewelry. The global distribution of INYT guarantees the advertisers that their target audience will be reached, as small as this elitist segment of the consumer market may be.
So what is my point?
What is missing among all these ads are generic ads for diamonds and diamond jewelry directed at the overwhelming majority of INTY readers, the middle class masses, the consumer market that is the foundation of our success during the past generations.
Why are these ads missing? Because there is no company or organization that has taken up itself to fill the void that has been left open after the De Beers pulled back its global generic advertising campaigns and closed their diamond promotion services worldwide.
When will that change? It will change when the industry players throughout the supply pipeline will rally behind a new, industry-wide initiative that aims to fill the void left open by De Beers.
Who will do that? After a number of false starts, a new initiative was undertaken by the World Diamond Mark Foundation (WDMF), an organization created under the auspices of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), but which operates independently. The WDMF has created the World Diamond Mark.
The World Diamond Mark’s (WDM) global objective is to ensure the health and future growth of the diamond and jewellery industry in the luxury market sector.
It is based on three fundamental principles:
1. Education of jewellery retailer about diamonds;
2. Confidence of the public with an accreditation program;
3. Generic marketing to promote diamonds and diamond jewellery based on the Authorized Diamond Dealer concept.
The Authorized Diamond Dealer concept is the cornerstone of the program. The international diamond business community, represented by the WFDB, will accredit jewellery retailers as Authorized Diamond Dealers. This will lead to greater and wider brand recognition of diamonds as a luxury product and to the increased visibility of diamonds in jewellery shops. Worldwide marketing campaigns will add to greater consumer confidence and enlarge the slice of diamonds in the luxury spending pie.
While in many respects, the WDM is still in the basement, the WDM’s legal structure is now in place, and the first financial sponsors have come on board. On January 1, 2014, the WDM website will be launched.
The World Diamond Mark will initially focus will be on growing markets in China and India, followed by the major U.S. market. Success will be measured by increased diamond sales by Authorized Diamond Dealers (AuDD) – i.e. jewellery retailers – to consumers, increased market share of diamond jewellery to other luxury categories in core markets, increased consumer desirability, and improved profitability of the sector. WDM invites all interested parties through the diamond supply chain to participate.
The WDM differs from previous generic promotional initiatives for diamonds as it is consumer-focused and retail-driven. The AuDD retailer pays a basic annual membership fee plus additional contributions based on the number of diamond showcases in each store. The average cost of membership will be around US$1,500 per store. The retailer must be recommended to join, and must adhere to the AuDD Code of Practices, based on a simple but important set of core principles (see below). The global list of AuDD retailers will be published on the WDM website, which will also demonstrate accreditation documentation.
Retail contributions to the WDM will be matched on a 1:1 basis by other stakeholders in the industry: producers, sightholders and manufacturers will pay a small levy on sales, and diamond dealers can contribute through local diamond bourses and jewellery trade associations.
A major global credit card company will be the official partner of World Diamond Mark, significantly reducing transaction fees for AuDD retailers, partially offsetting membership fees. In many cases, the cost of WDM membership for successful AuDD retailers will be self-funding through these reduced transaction fees. The credit card company will further enhance WDM’s promotional activities through its own international promotional campaigns for diamonds, referencing the AuDD retail network.
By the end of year 2016, we plan to have 50,000 Authorized Diamond Dealers selling diamond jewellery around the world. During the same period, the diamond segment in the luxury industry should regain its pole position that was lost during the past 15 years.
When will we see the first generic diamond and diamond jewellery ads in the INYT and other renowned publications that reach the consumer at large? It will take some time, that’s for sure. While the core team at WDM is working hard to propel things forward, it will very much depend on the support of the international gem and jewellery industry at large.
We’ll keep you posted.