From THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, December 13, 2001


Are diamonds forever?

Ajita Shashidhar

TRENDY, exotic and an everlasting gift diamonds. What till almost a decade ago was considered exorbitant and unaffordable is now being positioned as the ultimate gift that one could give their loved ones, and that too, without paying a fortune for it.

With collections such as the Diamond Vivaha Jewellery, Celebration Diamonds, Nakshatra and the all-new Arisia, Diamond Trading Company (DTC), formerly known as De beers, is one of the leading players in the diamond jewellery market in India. Says Devika Gidwani, Director, Diamond Information Centre, the public relations wing of DTC, Diamonds are the preferred choice of jewellery in India. Gold jewellery is considered to be old-fashioned, and more and more consumers are expressing a strong desire to possess and wear diamonds.

DTC sells rough diamonds to various companies in the world and in India. We dont sell at the retail level ourselves, but we work with select retailers for specific programmes such as Nakshatra and Arisia, says Gidwani. As far as designing the jewellery is concerned, our clients have their in-house design cells which generate designs for this brand, she adds.

The primary task of Diamond Information Centre, according to Gidwani, is to increase the knowledge and awareness of the consumers about diamonds, with its three brands. We are trying to tell our customers that diamonds are not only exotic, but also affordable.

With research showing that 65 per cent of jewellery is bought in India during weddings, DTCs Diamond Vivaha Collection, says Gidwani, concentrates on wedding jewellery. We have diamond sets up to the price range of Rs 75,000 in this collection.

On the other hand, the Nakshatra brand, which primarily consists of the traditional seven-stone ear studs and pendants, caters to pre- and post-wedding purchases, and is therefore, says Gidwani, a more economical range. Nakshatra is available in 78 cities across the country and this has increased the in-store traffic by almost 70 per cent. One could possess a Nakshatra diamond pendant by spending just Rs 8,000, she says.

However, DTCs new collection, Arisia Solitaire Diamonds, is meant for a niche market. The collection, which consists of 10 solitaire designs, is available in the form of rings, necklaces and pendants. There was a huge segment of the super-rich in India with an annual income of over Rs 20 lakh per year. Research show us that diamond ownership and diamond acquisition among this segment in India was the highest, and there was no branded diamond jewellery product targeted at this segment. Therefore, to fulfil this lacuna, we decided to launch an exclusive brand of solitaire diamonds, says Gidwani.

Arisia is a collection of classic solitaire diamonds weighing a carat. Each Arisia diamond is certified by IGI, she adds.

The new collection, says Gidwani, will be available only at select retail outlets in the metros, and will be promoted only through niche high-end publications and through direct mail packages. Since our brand positioning for Arisia is aura of royalty, we have a royal couple from Jaipur who are going to endorse the brand, she says. The Arisia Solitaire diamonds are priced from Rs 2,00,000 onwards.

Advertising is key

With an ad budget of Rs 30 crore per annum, advertising is clearly the most crucial marketing weapon of DTC. The Diamond is forever campaign is based on the emotions of love and bonding and shows occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and birth of a child, in which the diamond has been depicted as the most valued gift of love. Diamonds are universally acknowledged as the ultimate symbol of love, therefore, we decided to choose the emotional route to reach our consumers, remarks Gidwani. Our advertisements have definitely changed the jewellery fashion trends in India. The younger generation has a clear preference for diamonds. They feel diamonds are more trendy and make a stronger fashion statement, she adds.

Indian trends

The awareness that diamonds are affordable, along with the variety of diamond jewellery available, according to Gidwani, has resulted in a sharp decline in the popularity of gold jewellery. What is really catching up in the Indian market is the concept of fusion jewellery. In this kind of jewellery, the core design concepts are Indian, but the styling, the finish and the metals used are Western. The preference for diamonds studded in white gold, for instance, is on the rise, says Gidwani. In terms of designs also, consumers have a wide selection to choose from. Fusion jewellery, for instance, is more popular for casual or informal get-togethers, while for occasions such as weddings, consumers can choose from a plethora of traditional diamond jewellery. In fact, the consumers today prefer to buy diamond-studded gold jewellery, instead of plain gold jewellery, she adds.

An upbeat market

Though the recession did spell alarm initially, Gidwani feels that the jewellery market has made use of the recession to its advantage. With the economy being plagued by the slowdown and people having cut down heavily on their travel plans after the September 11 bombings, they are now more interested in investing in jewellery. We have had a very successful festival season this year, says Gidwani. Moreover, with the marriage season having already begun, along with our traditions that compel us to buy jewellery during weddings, there is no reason for the market not to do well, she adds.

After carving a niche for itself in the jewellery market, by convincing consumers that diamonds are affordable and value-for-money, DTC plans to grow the diamond jewellery market substantially by launching more brands.

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