It was in a dim room at a small restaurant down a narrow road somewhere in Latin America where I joined a selected group for lunch -- all men of course - of the world’s top jewelers and Presidents of federations. We discussed, among other things, the required efforts for raising public awareness surrounding diamond and fine jewelry purchases. The women (a minority in the room) did not enjoy the privilege of participating in the discussion as we were subtly uninvited, but maybe we are to blame considering we did not simply lean in and join; rather we sat at the edge of the table, quietly, as expected.
The Evolution of Marketing Diamonds
50 years ago, the married population in America was more than 70%. Therefore, the diamond ad campaigns focused on emphasizing the importance of purchasing a diamond to mark any occasion in the life of a married couple. But upon entering the 21st century, there was a significant decrease in the number of married couples to roughly half the population and climbing divorce rates changed the rules of the game.
The marketing efforts evolved to focus on convincing the liberated, independent woman to buy diamonds for herself. To promote that, De Beers launched a right hand finger campaign in 2001. You know… in contrary to the left hand finger… the one on which she might not ever have the privilege to wear a diamond (a decidedly un-clever statement, by the way.)
Throughout the years, there were many approaches and tactics to target the diversity of diamond consumers. Those who like to inherit the jewelry, the divorced, the single woman, the independent, the liberated etc.
But there was one thing they didn’t take into account.
The Missing Ingredient
I always astounded by the slim and blighted - almost submissive - women in the diamond and jewelry advertisements. They were posed demurely, seemingly effortless, almost coy: as if they have no worries or purpose at all, wearing an empty, shallow look in their eyes.
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Diamonds and gems pour down their tender necks in a delightful touch, embracing their shivering arms and resting in a declaration of love or ownership on their silky fingers.
None of my women friends wear this look on their faces or this persona on their character. They are empowered. Determined. Successful. Their beauty does not stem from submission or modesty. They do not wait for knights in shining armor bearing diamonds. Their bodies are as chiseled as roman statues. Their posture is solid, powerful and confident in the face of the winds of life's struggle. Their eyes are not gloomy, tilted downward demurely but instead looking up – straightforward - meeting their not so distant goals. Their features are adorned with an intelligent, profound look yet still tender, decorated with laugh lines of joy and love.
Their hands are textured with creases of tales that can hold a book or even (for crying out loud) write one! They are blessed with the divine gift of successfully managing the holy trinity of business, family, and home. Their shoulders are broad enough to provide kindness, courtesy and charity and compassionate enough to stroke and heal their love ones’ sad hearts. They are dedicated, devoted and diligent.
A Time of Change
We have come to an era where woman are finally coming forward. Women’s heroes are no longer ignorant, gaunt, spineless models and actresses. Instead, they are the independent, sophisticated entrepreneurs and executives, writers and poets, leaders of industry, groundbreakers and game changers who speak in a clear voice and stand up for themselves, their rights and their chosen paths. Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Chanda Kochhar, Ho Ching, Miuccia Prada, Maya Angelou.
If diamonds are a good investment, and they are forever… they should be embraced and showcased by the hands of real women. Let’s address the huge market segment of independent women who can afford investing cleverly in diamonds, rather then giving the (outdated!) impression that diamonds should only be poured over them. Awarded to them. Presented to them. Diamond and jewelry companies should lead a marketing campaign targeting, motivating and identifying with real women.
Back to Lunch
"We are a familia here," said one of the top industry leaders as we gathered in a small restaurant on a narrow road just across from the Presidential palace somewhere in Latin America. These gentlemen are my colleagues, my friends, my equals, and have earned my professional respect. He then asked us two independent woman to come sit down between the male leaders “to bring some color to the photo” when a photographer approached. Maybe we are “familia” but we are not color for a photo. And neither is our target market.
Intelligent, refined, successful gentlemen of my industry: it’s time to embrace and embody the change. We will all benefit.