From The Desk of Rajesh Bajaj

Disruption, embrace or embarrass 

Recently in the month of April, Forevermark, the diamond brand from The De Beers Group of Companies, had organised a customised programme on ‘Leadership in the Disruptive Era’ at the Cambridge Judge Business School, with 35 select leading partners.

Later in the month of May end De Beers Group announced the launch of a new company called Lightbox Jewelry that will begin marketing a new brand of laboratory-grown diamond jewelry under the Lightbox name in September.

Not that customised programme of Cambridge but the announcement of Lightbox move disrupted the $80bn diamond industry!

Immediately global diamond leader said: “GJEPC expects that with the introduction of branded, synthetic diamonds De Beers will drive clear differentiation and categorisation in the Diamond product category amongst the consumers. Customers and owners of real diamonds across the world will be able to differentiate the synthetic diamonds from the Naturals.”

In the row Ronnie Vander Linden, President-DMIA reacted & gets expressed, “De Beers' decision to enter this market segment is not necessarily bad news. By defining LGDs as belonging to what we can broadly name the fashion jewelry market segment, we're finally seeing how the market is differentiating between diamonds and Laboratory Grown Diamonds (LGDs).”

“Differentiation also means different pricing. I expect - and note that I am not the only one who has been contending this for quite a while now - that the price difference between diamonds and LGDs will continue to widen, to the benefit of diamonds” Ronnie added.

In the Row Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the DPA commented on the announcement: “Element Six will set a new standard in disclosure and marketing of synthetic diamonds, which will in the end benefit consumers and bring much needed clarity to this new category. It is clear from the Lightbox positioning that they will market synthetic diamonds for what they are – low cost pretty stones and not for what they are not – real diamonds, rare, precious and inherently valuable.”

Now industry dilemma is to believe which of the speech if Bruce Cleaver would say: ‘live up to diamond’ on one hand & on the other hand he would say, ‘Leave up diamonds, go Lightbox’ way’?

I think with over an experience of century, De Beers has survived, sustained from the Cartel era & up to the era of disruption. Extensive strategic thinking & a strength to move accordingly with persistence kept two things timeless in DeBeers, 1: Its global leadership stature & 2: Balance sheet. They not only maintained but also grew over the time.

De facto Lightbox is not the first step, their retail foray, to Brand a diamond as Forevermark was also a part of disruption! No diamond mining company is spread like DeBeers across the pipeline! They are influencing mining, sealing their buyer against undisclosed mixing threats through a branded diamond! They cannibalised mined diamond industry. Difference between Lightbox & other initiatives which was taken before Lightbox was a cannibalising in the different sectors & now, clearly  cannibalised with quite different category!

And here is a dilemma for industry, what to do, to live up to or to leave up? How to handle both at a time a dealing of Mined diamond & manmade diamond? Even if it is manages, how to keep up buyer trust that what have delivered is as per discloser in the era where every player is suspicious about undisclosed mixing! Don’t just embarrass, DeBeers is ready to take a Leadership even in this disruptive era!

In the row of Lightbox launch announcement, Stephen Lussier, Executive Vice President of Marketing for De Beers Group said as a Chairman of the DPA, “De Beers Group’s commitment to the Diamond Producers Association is stronger than ever. I am looking forward to working with my fellow DPA Board members and with the DPA team for many years to come on the promotion of the Diamond Dream.”

Now tell me what if being a Vice President of Marketing for De Beers Group if he start marketing of Lightbox on one hand & on the other hand talk all about mined diamond promotion...is possible? Can He? Yes!