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Devika Gidwani

Director | 16 Mar 2004

"Diamonds were originally perceived as ‘a stone with no return’. Our campaign for ‘Nakshatra’, the mother of all branded diamond jewellery, gave legitimacy to diamond jewellery and built consumer confidence".

Greek legend has it that diamonds are splinters of stars that have fallen to earth. “Diamonds are a girl's best friend,” crooned Marilyn Monroe in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. Elizabeth Taylor, the owner of the sensuous and sparkling 33.19-carat Krupp diamond, said: “Big girls need big diamonds.”

Though India is sold to the glitter of gold since centuries, it has not prevented Indians from flirting with the lure of sparkling diamonds. Explaining the genesis of the recent trend of diamonds attracting both the top and the upper middle section of society, Devika Gidwani, Director, Diamond Trading Company talks to Jasmeen Dugal about the Centre’s initiatives in increasing consumer knowledge about diamonds, how the ‘Nakshatra’ campaigns changed jewellery fashion trends, and more …

Q. How does Diamond Trading Centre (DTC) propose to increase consumer knowledge about diamonds?

Through our brands!

And, apart from mainstream advertising, we have built brand equity through events and associations. Rajmata Gayatri Devi launched the premium ‘Arisia’ range; ‘Asmi’ is sponsoring the women’s cricket team, and we have also built brand awareness through our associations with haute couture designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Ritu Beri by accessorising their shows with diamond jewellery.

Q. Over a previous conversation, you said:

Diamonds were originally perceived as an investment, though diamonds were looked upon as ‘a stone with no return’. Our campaign for ‘Nakshatra’, the mother of all branded diamond jewellery, gave legitimacy to diamond jewellery and built consumer confidence.

Today, diamonds have come out of the locker. I believe it is the massive ad campaigns that have made people realise there are diamonds to suit every budget. Moreover, rising income and better awareness among the people has resulted in good sales of diamonds this year.

Q. What is the genesis of the ‘Diamond Is Forever’ campaign?

The ‘Diamond Is Forever’ campaign is based on the emotions of love and bonding and shows occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and the birth of a child, in which the diamond has been depicted as the most valued gift of love. Since diamonds are universally acknowledged as the ultimate symbol of love, we decided to choose the emotional route to reach out to our consumers.

Q. How did the in-film placement of diamonds in ‘Boom’ help sales and branding?

Since ‘Boom’ is a film about fashion, the objective of in-film placement was to showcase our diamond jewellery through the film. Diamond is an aspiration, and films have great influence on people, so we thought associating with films could be an effective way of promoting diamonds.

For ‘Boom’, we sponsored 400 carats of diamonds for the glitz, glitter and glamour in the opening scene where a fashion show, against the backdrop of the Gateway of India gets unruly as a fight breaks out among the models over stolen diamonds. The entire story was built on these stolen diamonds. Not alone ‘Boom’, the protagonist of ‘Joggers Park’, Perizaad Zorabian, who is also the ‘Asmi’ brand ambassador, plays an ‘Asmi’ model in the film. She also performs in a song for an ‘Asmi’ fashion show in the film, which showcases our new designs.

Q. How is sponsoring the women's cricket team and signing on Mandira Bedi as brand ambassadress going to help in building the brand image of ‘Asmi’?

‘Asmi’ in Sanskrit means ‘I am’, and stands for the woman who has a distinct identity of her own. We believe that women have the fire within to achieve excellence in whatever they undertake, and in this case it is ‘cricket’. Parallely, the Indian women’s cricket team has been at the forefront of international cricket; they have recently beaten the world champions, New Zealand. As part of their squad, they have Neetu David and Mithali Raj, who are world record holders. So it’s a perfect brand-fit.

Mandira Bedi is the perfect brand ambassadress. She epitomises the different strengths that an ‘Asmi’ woman is identified with – independence, confidence and goal-oriented. She has ‘the inner fire,’ which the ‘Asmi’ brand of jewellery stands for.

Q. What is the marketshare of ‘Asmi’?

It is too early to determine marketshare, but ‘Asmi’ has 97 per cent recall.

Q. Tell us about your premium range of solitaires, ‘Arisia’. Who is the target client?

Research showed us that diamond ownership and acquisition among the super-rich segment in India was the highest, and there was no branded diamond jewellery product targeted at this segment. To fulfil this lacuna, we decided to launch an exclusive brand of solitaire diamonds: ‘Arisia’.

Q. Why did you choose Rajmata Gayatri Devi to endorse the brand?

Similarities are often drawn between the elegant Rajmata and the most precious of gemstones: the diamond. Diamond has always been an object of wonder and awe; a symbol of strength, courage and invincibility – just what the revered Rajmata stands for. The select few women who will purchase pieces from this exclusive collection are sure to radiate the aura of royalty that each piece of diamond exudes impeccably.

The collection is a limited edition of 200 of the finest solitaires, and comprises six ring, two earring and two pendant designs. The solitaire in each of the designs weighs one carat and is set in classic yellow gold with an antique finish.

What is special is that initials of Rajmata are engraved in the girdle of the solitaire diamond. This range has been inspired by the royal patterns and motifs from the Victorian, Edwardian and Mughal eras, which have been incorporated into the shank/gold band leading up to the solitaire in each design. Each piece from this collection is uniquely packaged in a sterling silver jewellery case with exquisite filigree work and comes with its own certificate of authenticity.

Q. How are you promoting ‘Arisia’?

‘Arisia’ will be available only at select retail outlets in the metros, and will be promoted through niche high-end publications and direct mailers. Since our brand positioning for Arisia is the aura of royalty, we have got a royal couple from Jaipur to endorse the brand.

Q. Did the post-9/11 recession spell ‘alarm’ for the jewellery market?

Though the recession did spell alarm initially, 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 disaster, they are now more interested in investing in jewellery. We have had a successful festival season last year. Moreover, with the marriage season following soon after, along with our traditions that compel us to buy jewellery during weddings, there is no reason for the market not to do well.

Q. Has the awareness of ‘affordable’ diamonds hampered the gold market?

Yes, the awareness that diamonds are affordable has resulted in a sharp decline in the popularity of gold jewellery.

In terms of designs, consumers have a wide selection. Fusion jewellery, for instance, is more popular for informal get-togethers, while for weddings, consumers can choose from a plethora of traditional diamond jewellery. In fact, the consumer today prefers to buy diamond-studded gold jewellery, instead of plain gold jewellery.

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