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Building A Brand: THE DE BEERS STORE CASE STUDY


McCormick: The positioning of the store and the target customer is confusing. The merchandise contains some very special, expensive fashion pieces which is exactly what one would expect from De Beers. But there appear to be a disproportionate number of basic items such as stud earrings, solitaire necklaces, and engagement rings. The demographic seems to be all customers. It's quite broad in its approach and not the top echelon of luxury jewelry buyers I anticipated. There are many expensive pieces in the assortment, like the "Sun Grand" medallion for $600,000, but price points seem to be all over the spectrum. Perhaps it was designed with this in mind to appeal to a broad group. If that is the case, then De Beers has achieved its goal.

Peterson: I would describe the position of De Beers as trying to be all things to all people—sort of a department store concept of diamonds. For a boutique concept, this just doesn't work. By trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

How does the De Beers brand stack up against its neighbors (such as Cartier, H. Stern, Tiffany, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston)? Does the store's message meet your expectations?

DeGarmo: It would be difficult to replicate the elegance and presence of Cartier's and Tiffany's stores. The exterior of the store is a bit of a carbuncle on the St. Regis. Though the interior is elegant and conveys a sense of modernity, it also is a bit generic. What is the De Beers equivalent of Tiffany's blue? The architecture does not incorporate any overt sense of a brand. The advertisements are not well shown on the zebrawood walls. The exterior signage appears to be ordered from a standard catalog.

Jacullo: The De Beers store has a point of view that distinguishes itself from the other big name jewelry houses. Cartier and Bulgari take a very serious approach to their environments, while H. Stern has a more playful image. The De Beers store makes a noticeable attempt to make the shopping experience comfortable. There is an open and approachable feel. You can walk entirely around display cases, the merchandise is at a level that makes for easy viewing, and the lighting is tasteful. The environment is not stuffy and attempts to be more modern in approach than most of its neighbors, but H. Stern still has the strongest message as a more playful, younger jewelry brand.

McCormick: The message did not meet my expectation. The difference between the De Beers store and the others is that the luxury component is missing, qualities that an industry leader provides: the impossible-to-find-anywhere-else iconic merchandise, brand identifiable decor and store design, a unique shopping experience. What is needed in the U.S. jewelry market is a fabulous diamond salon, one that's a destination.

Peterson: At this point, De Beers is no match for the legendary houses of Harry Winston, Bulgari, Tiffany, or Cartier. Give De Beers credit for trying to forge a new path and I think the executives are thinking out of the box, but the interpretation of their goals is just not being realized in the store or in the current merchandise mix. Selecting Neil Lane as a designer is a brilliant move and I am very optimistic that his collection will be well received.





diamond ring
The new De Beers LV store in New York City presents engagement rings at the "Bridal Bar," and often displays signage with price and carat size ranges.
interior of DeBeers store NY, NY
De Beers' contemporary New York City store was designed by Italian architect and interior designer Antonio Citterio, who has also designed stores for Damiani, Valentino, and Ungaro.
ring by Neil Lane
De Beers LV will open its second U.S. store, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, this month. It will feature a new jewelry collection by red-carpet favorite Neil Lane.
Renaissance jewelry
Renaissance model
Modern or Renaissance? Our consultants have mixed opinions on the new De Beers print magazine ad campaign, which shows a Botticelli beauty and uses a "Forever, Now" tagline.
Talisman collection rings
Merchandise at De Beers LV ranges from engagement rings to unique, cutting edge designs. The "Talisman" collection includes textured signet rings with rough diamonds.
Todd DeGarmo
Todd DeGarmo
Jean Jacullo
Jean Jacullo
Ilia McCormick
Ilia McCormick
Paula Peterson
Paula Peterson
Spiral Rose brooch
De Beers LV has a lot of potential, and competition, to become the diamond jewelry destination. This "Spiral Rose" brooch is from the store's new "Talisman" collection.