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McCormick: The stores should be both free standing and in upscale malls in locations such as: Las Vegas; Miami; San Francisco; Palm Beach; Chicago; Houston; Dallas; Boston; Troy, Michigan; Manhasset, New York; Short Hills, New Jersey; Atlanta; and Aspen.

Peterson: If the goal is to be a boutique, then De Beers belongs in locations like Rodeo Drive and Worth Avenue, as well as resorts like Aspen, Vail, Naples, and Palm Springs. But the merchandise mix then needs to be fresh and exciting to appeal to sophisticated customers. The decision to bring Neil Lane in as a designer would indicate that it is trying to move in this direction. If the mission is to become a department store for diamonds, the company should be in high traffic areas such as Michigan Avenue in Chicago and the Forum Shops in Las Vegas. It seems as if the current merchandise mix reflects this type of strategy.

What are the biggest challenges De Beers LV stores will face? Do you see a need to change the brand strategy, product, or environment?

DeGarmo: One associates De Beers with quality diamonds, a good point of departure. They have a challenge to develop an image for the brand. Is it design, a personality, a lifestyle? Can they redefine and expand the market? The ad imagery needs to have a stronger connection to some current perspective and certainly needs to be more thoughtfully integrated into future store designs.

Jacullo: The biggest challenge continues to be an association with conflict diamonds. The industry has made attempts to allay this negative association, but I think there's been so much publicity that De Beers LV cannot get away from the De Beers name being linked in consumers' minds with conflict diamonds. The brand strategy we have seen so far is unclear. The product is good but the advertising is confusing to the modern woman. Of course, De Beers LV has a large budget and can keep spending as long as they want.

McCormick: If De Beers were just another jewelry store, the challenge would not be as great. As the leader with a brand name synonymous with diamonds, it is their obligation to provide customers with the ultimate diamond jewelry shopping experience. The branding strategy should remain, it is the merchandise and store design that should be reevaluated. Diamonds are romantic, aspirational, and emotional. The challenge is to create an environment that captures all of these elements while realizing the creative vision for the brand. De Beers should become the destination for diamond jewelry.

Peterson: The primary question continues to be who is the target customer? Until they send a clear message, their success remains dubious. Once the customer is clearly defined, the environment can be evaluated. If De Beers wants to establish itself as a luxury brand, it must focus quickly. Antonio Belloni, group managing director of LVMH, acknowledged in the Wall Street Journal that De Beers LV has made some mistakes: "There is a broad expectation of what De Beers is and we have to find our niche." Affluent consumers aren't very forgiving when it comes to brand launches, especially when expectations have been raised to anticipate a new global luxury jeweler in the market. Time is running out for De Beers LV to clarify the brand position, rethink the marketing strategy, and energize the merchandise mix, if the brand hopes to succeed in North America.

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.