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“Every Forevermark diamond has a unique inscription number which is an assurance that the diamond is beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced,” says Sachin Jain

02 july 2018

sachin_jain_xx.jpgSachin Jain, President-Forevermark, joined the company - a wholly owned subsidiary of the De Beers Group - as the Head of Retail in 2010. He was swiftly promoted to the Managing Director in 2011… to later become the President in year 2013.

Sachin started his career as a young business graduate with Monks Italia that had only just launched in New Delhi. Next, he joined Benetton in 1999 as it made an entry into the Indian market. He left his position here as the regional manager, to join the Swatch Group as they were launching Tissot in India in 2002. He worked with the Swatch Group till 2007, and later spent 3 years at Lladro playing a pivotal role in the overall growth of the brand.

With a career spanning 17 years at luxury goods and retail companies, Sachin is driven by his love for building businesses, teamwork and creating lasting relationships; and considers himself an entrepreneur at heart.

Now, at Forevermark, Sachin effortlessly juggles multiple responsibilities whilst spearheading the business affairs of the brand.

In an Interview with Rough & Polished, Sachn Jain speaks at length about Forevermark-the brand, its successful presence in India, and other industry related matters.

Some excerpts:

For the benefit of our readers, can you walk us through the Forevermark Brand, when & why was the brand conceived, and the journey of the brand from inception to the present.

Forevermark is the diamond brand from The De Beers Group of Companies which has a history of diamond expertise spanning more than 130 years.

To give you a gist about the brand, Forevermark Diamonds are the world’s most beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced diamonds. Every diamond is evaluated no less than five times to meet the Forevermark standard which goes beyond the traditional 4Cs of Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat which is why less than 1% of the world’s diamonds pass the Forevermark Quality test. Each Forevermark diamond holds a unique inscription number which is invisible to the naked eye and is 1/20th of a micron deep – 1/5,000th the depth of a human hair.

The brand launched in India in the year 2011 and has seen well-paced growth ever since.

India is one of the most important markets for Forevermark and is currently the second largest market. Over the past few years, Forevermark has expanded its presence to over 40 cities across India in nearly 250 retail doors and today the brand is established not only in the key metro cities but also in Tier 2 and Tier 3 locations.

In 2017, we launched the first exclusive Forevermark Boutique in the world in Bangalore and the next one is set to open in May 2018 in Kolkata. So, the journey has seen many milestones and we will continue to grow significantly in the current market.

Can you elaborate on your marketing campaigns? Currently, which countries are you focusing on? Are your Ad. campaigns country-specific? By running parallel with DPA’s generic promotions, does it help Forevermark? What are your plans for the future in this regard? Your thoughts…

When Forevermark was launched in India, we understood that jewellery in India has been seen as an investment but at the same time is intrinsic in cultural traditions. Focusing on the qualities of the Forevermark diamond and understanding the concerns of a diamond buyer, we released the Credential Campaign recently which addresses the concerns of potential buyers and reassures them, that when they purchase a Forevermark diamond it is a beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced diamond. Every consumer looks for a validation while purchasing diamond jewellery and Forevermark provides this validation, with the brand promise and the unique inscription number on each diamond. With this campaign, we have reinforced consumer confidence and created brand awareness by highlighting the benefits and differentiating factors of Forevermark, thereby creating trust and loyalty for the brand in the minds of our audience. We are also in the process of developing another popular category in India which is the mangalsutra.

The modern Indian woman looks at purchasing jewellery that is simple yet traditional and can be an everyday wear. Delving into this sentiment, Forevermark created a unique product specially designed for the Indian woman, the Capricci Nose Pin collection. Through our research we found that after a ring, nose pins are the most popular form of jewellery worn by women across the country. This Collection is a reinterpretation of this traditional piece of jewellery bringing modern concepts to the way it is worn as an adornment. We also launched two extensions of this line- The Four Seasons collection and Color Therapy to add variety to the designs. Apart from this versatile collection, Forevermark has also partnered with ace fashion designers like Bibhu Mohapatra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee to launch the Artemis and the Zanyah Collections respectively which are exquisite lines of couture diamond jewellery. These are not just designs in isolation but are based on global trends, consumer research and apt visual merchandising.

Being a quality-conscious brand Forevermark would be definitely more expensive than the other brands. Millennials, in general, are said to prefer entry-level, everyday diamond studded jewellery. How does Forevermark deal with pricing strategies, to grow demand in India as well as other the Asian consumer markets?

Forevermark is an exclusive ingredient brand. Given the fact that we are diamonds, they will always fall under the luxury category which tends to be a little expensive. However, we actually like the term ‘Accessible Luxury’ as we make diamonds more accessible to the consumers. Buying a diamond is a not just a jewellery purchase but an emotional one.

Millennials believe in the stories and emotions that the product offers but at the same time consumers find it hard to understand the 4Cs and how to purchase a diamond. Keeping this in mind, we released the Credential Campaign which addresses the concerns of potential buyers and reassures them, that when they purchase a Forevermark diamond it is a beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced diamond. Each Forevermark diamond is genuine, untreated and natural which reflects the qualities of millennials today. Every Forevermark diamond has a unique inscription number which is an assurance that the diamond is beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced. This inscription is from 10 pts upwards which allows jewellery to be created for every day wear as well.

We have also looked at this from a product perspective, the ‘Twogether collection’ is one such example of everyday wear jewellery which features two sparkling Forevermark diamonds at the heart of each piece. Set in 18k yellow, white and rose gold, this exquisite mid-priced range includes rings, pendants and earrings that is perfect for work or a night out and targets the younger generation. We see the needs of the current generation as an opportunity to offer our unique products and everyday wear jewellery.

Being an ingredient brand, we are not involved in the pricing of the pieces and this is left at the discretion of the jeweler who will value it based various parameters. We do work closely with jewellers and manufacturers to create an offering that is attractively priced.

What are the requirements for a jeweler to become an associate of Forevermark? What support do you offer associate jewelers in promotional activities? Currently, how many associates you have in India and how many in Asia and where? Future expansion plans?

At Forevermark, we not only select our diamonds with utmost care, but we do so with our retail partners as well. We partner with those retailers who share similar values and brand ethos. There is mutual trust and a bond that we share with our retailer partners.

We are always looking at new collaborations with like-minded people as well as strengthening the relationships with our retailer partners and will continue to do so in the future as well. The Trust value of a retailer intrinsically increases in the consumers eyes while they partner with Forevermark due to their stringent grading processes. We do a lot of promotional activities with the retailers like organizing advertising campaigns spanning print, TV, outdoor and digital, instore events which are celebrity lead as well as collaborate with them to be visible at the biggest Red Carpets and Award functions globally.

The brand in India is present in nearly 250 doors and currently working with 91 retailers across 40 cities in the country who share similar values and provide fashion forward jewellery to its consumers. After the opening of our first exclusive boutique in Bangalore, we will soon launch our second Forevermark Boutique in Kolkata.

Exclusively for the Indian market, does Forevermark mandates its own designs or you leave it to your franchisees to decide? According to you, do the Indian consumers of Forevermark prefer contemporary, ethnic or both in terms of design?

At Forevermark, we believe that change is the only constant. Forevermark works on several levels to keep pace with this change. In terms of product and design, every year Forevermark’s Design & Innovation centre in Milan, conducts an in-depth research to forecast the four key themes significant for diamond jewellery trends in the year ahead. We create jewellery based on this. Apart from this, our retailers also design excellent jewellery pieces crafted with Forevermark Diamonds. In fact, this year in collaboration with 19 of our prominent Indian retailers and trusting partners from across the country, including Anmol Jewellers, Khurana Jewellery House, KirtilalKalidas Jewellers, Hazoorilal by Sandeep Narang and Rose to name a few; we presented over 37 unique pieces of jewellery, which made its mark at the 90th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

With regards to the consumer preference, the Indian consumer today, is globally exposed and well aware of the international trends. There is also an increasing awareness, in the marketplace for buying the right diamonds. Solitaires are gaining prominence, and in bigger pieces too, people want to ensure that they have invested in the most brilliant and the best diamonds. More and more women are going for lighter contemporary pieces with better quality diamonds as these are more wearable and can be worn through the year. Forevermark as a brand is about stunning yet simple jewellery. Our collections exude subtle elegance and sophistication and are created keeping in mind the tastes and values of our consumers.

The aftermath of the PNB scam has seen demand for diamond studded jewellery going ‘south’ due to reports of synthetic/CVDs being used in studded jewellery. Is demand for ‘Forevermark’ in anyway affected currently?

Forevermark has a set of protocols and parameters that we have always followed to ensure complete transparency between the consumers and the brand. We as a brand not only maintain the trust of the consumer by keeping complete clarity but also give back to the society and community from where the diamonds come from. Due to this we have not been affected majorly.

We have also started developing a blockchain initiative which is a pioneering effort that De Beers is undertaking so that the consumer knows exactly from where their diamond is mined and the entire process that the diamond undergoes.

The coming Festival season in India is going to be very challenging for the jewellery sector on the whole. What’s your plan to mitigate the effect of the slowdown? Any new ‘collections’ on the anvil?

We as Forevermark do not perceive a slowdown. We believe that there continues to exist a customer out there seeking to buy the best quality, ethically sourced diamonds that come with a promise. We have a slew of new product offerings coming up in the latter half of the year. Our trend collections will be introduced in the Autumn Winter season along with festive and bridal collections.

With the exception of US, China, the world diamond industry is going through a rather precarious stage. And with the recent unfortunate Nirav Modi/Gitanjali episode, how do you see the Indian diamond industry overcome this period of uncertainty?

India continues to beat the global trend on diamond consumption and I don’t see this slowing down in the near future. The Indian diamond industry is a well-connected community rooted in a strong foundation of cutting, polishing, manufacturing and retail.

While it’s completely right that the issue has been brought to light and that actions are being put in place to ensure that any fraudulent activity is protected against, I think it’s just as important here to stress that generalisation would be wrong – any industry in any country can suffer as a result of the actions of isolated individuals. And just like the historical perceptions of the Indian polishing industry and its perceived limitations, it would be doing a disservice to India and her economic prospects to generalise with the current situation. The practices of a few companies cannot be applied to the rest. There is much to learn from what has happened and I believe the diamond community which is anyway heavily regulated will continue to be so.

Forevermark is a sought-after brand worldwide, but is the demand consistent in all countries? At present, how is the brand faring in overseas markets; as well as in India? In which country does Forevermark peak in sales? What is ‘Indian vs Chinese market’ demand position now for Forevermark jewellery.

Forevermark is doing exceptionally well globally. In fact, the brand has recently launched in Indonesia which means Forevermark is now available in 26 markets globally. America and China are the top performing markets for Forevermark followed by India. There is no India vs China for Forevermark, both regions are performing extremely well as the product is well tailored for each markets.

Cannot avoid asking this … but, what’s your opinion on the threat perception with regards to synthetics and natural diamonds? Synthetics are here to stay… so, what steps should the natural diamond industry take to retain consumer confidence? Any suggestions?

In this world of balance for everything that is ‘real or natural’ there is a counterpart that is ‘artificial or cloned.’ Synthetic diamonds are a product of technology and made by man. The markets for real, untreated diamonds and for synthetic diamonds are vastly different. Buying genuine diamonds is an emotional experience and a celebration of love, achievement, or now purchased by women as an expression of self-worth. Diamond buying consumers look for authenticity and the promise that a natural diamond holds. With this assurance, consumers are aware of their purchase and make informed decisions on whether they want one of nature’s most sparkling gifts or a man-made synthetic one.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished