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“The volume of Forevermark diamonds that we drive through Indian partners is much higher than in other parts of the world,” says Sachin Jain

31 may 2021
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Sachin Jain has been a part of the Indian arm of De Beers that dates back to 2010 when he came on board as Head of Retail. In year 2014 he took over as President of Forevermark and today he is the Managing Director of De Beers, India. His single-minded focus, leadership skills and sharp vision have led to the phenomenal growth and expansion of the brand. Today, Forevermark Diamonds is one of the most trusted brands in the industry.

As Managing Director of De Beers’ India operations, Sachin is responsible for the Forevermark business in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East GCC business. He is also a very respected and invaluable member of the jewellery trade helping shape the future of the diamond business.

Throughout his two-decade career, Sachin’s steely determination to succeed against all odds, his strong sense of ethics and eternal optimism has held him in good stead in the business of building and establishing global brands in India.

Here, in an Interview with Rough&Polished, Sachin Jain sees immense potential for further growth of the Forevermark brand in India.

Please walk us through the Forevermark brand and its journey in the Indian industry since its launch in 2011. Also, tell us about the initiatives, expansion programs and growth of the brand over the years for the benefit of our readers.

Forevermark is the diamond brand from the De Beers Group that has over a decade of history in the business of diamonds in India. The brand was launched in 2008 to focus on the Asian market and made its debut in India in 2011. It has grown on a massive scale in the last 10 years expanding to over 62 markets across India. We are present in both urban, Tier I metro markets as well as in Tier II/III locations, where we partner with select authorized retailers who share the same brand ethos as us. Indian consumers can buy Forevermark jewelry by walking into any of our partner stores that have a dedicated Forevermark brand corner.

Recently, based on extensive market research and consumer feedback that tells us there is an increasing demand for our rare and responsibly sourced diamonds, we’ve set up nine exclusive Forevermark boutique stores in Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Delhi, Noida and Gurugram. At these stores, a customer can get expert advice on the diamonds they want to buy, they can learn about the diamond grading system, they can choose the carat weight or even find the perfect diamond cut for their piece of jewelry.

We’ve seen some very interesting shifts in the Indian diamond market since inception and have constantly innovated and come up with new concepts, designs and campaigns for ever-evolving consumers. We currently have 270 doors in India and aim to reach 275 by the end of 2021 along with our retail partners.

India is a very important market from a global perspective as well.

Any expansion plans on the horizon? What promotional support does Forevermark offer the associates? Are they required to follow Forevermark’s protocols to run their business?

Currently, we are present across 62 markets in India at present with a total of around 270 doors, which we are looking at expanding shortly. We also retail through our nine exclusive Forevermark boutique stores.

We offer 360-degree support, including national and local marketing, visual merchandising, exclusive product design, sales training and retail sales support to all our partners.

In terms of designs, do your franchisees decide their styles or Forevermark mandates its designs to be followed? What designs does Forevermark prefer its partners to offer consumers ... contemporary, ethnic or both?

Every year, Forevermark launches the Spring/Summer and Autumn / Winter jewelry trends across markets based on market research. The designs or inspirations that come through this research are further conceptualized / curated by our design team in Milan. These trends form the backbone of every jewelry piece our retail partner’s craft.

When customers walk into any of our partner stores in India, they get the best of both our worlds — the elegant, intricate designs and craftsmanship that our partner brand brings to the table basis the trends and the natural, rare and responsibly sourced beauty of a Forevermark diamond.

In terms of customer preferences for jewelry designs, that varies from market to market. India is a vast and culturally very rich country. Women in South India love traditional, intricate jewellery pieces while in North India we see the preference for large pieces of jewellery. We are also seeing young women being drawn to classic, elegant diamond jewelry designs that are informal, playful and experimental. Women today want jewellery that is versatile and can be worn daily. Keeping this sentiment in mind, we recently launched the Forevermark ICON collection which symbolizes a woman’s individuality.

How effective were the India-specific marketing campaigns initiated in India to popularize the Forevermark brand? Are more campaigns on the anvil now?

All Forevermark’s India-centric campaigns were launched only after extensive market research and trends on the consumer buying behaviour and, therefore, very successful in reaching out to the customer base that they were targeted at. Through our campaigns over the years — via TVCs, outdoor marketing or digital and on-ground consumer connect activities we have seen the buying patterns in our consumers shift towards making more emotional diamond purchases that represent deep meaning in their relationships and lives, whether in celebrating milestones or achievements.

Our marketing strategies in India have been very region and consumer-specific and have worked well for the brand. We will continue to explore interesting and innovative marketing strategies for Forevermark in India in the future as well. To name a few India specific were Tribute Collection, Icon Collection, Traditional Setting and Circle of Trust.

How does Forevermark work with jewelers to maintain the quality and price of Forevermark brand jewelry? In which other area of business does Forevermark offer support to partners/associates?

We choose our partners very carefully. They must have the same brand ethos as us, with the same high standards of quality, precision and workmanship. Once they come on board, we become true partners to all our authorized retailers and assist them in every aspect of the business. We work together to give our customers the best of both our worlds. Forevermark diamonds are some of the most beautiful natural diamonds in the world.

The Forevermark Grading Process at the De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds offers consumers an unparalleled reassurance of this diamond. The institute’s world-class diamond grading process takes place in one of its global laboratories in Surat, India; Maidenhead, UK; and Antwerp, Belgium.

Combining over 130 years of expertise with cutting edge technology, the institute ensures that every polished diamond it grades is natural and untreated, and evaluated according to stringent processes. Only after the diamond has passed through each of these steps does the brand determine whether a diamond is eligible to be inscribed as Forevermark. Under such scrutiny, only less than 1% of the world’s natural diamonds are eligible to become a Forevermark diamond and are then available at the outlets of our trusted retailers.

The integrity of this process is ensured by using a ‘black box’ system where diamonds are distributed in anonymous boxes to gemmologists who impartially assess every diamond according to criteria based on the 4Cs: colour, clarity, cut and carat.

The pandemic has impacted the Indian G&J industry and the coming festive season will be challenging. Will the promotional campaigns be increased to help the partner retailers?

Despite the challenges thrown at us during the most unpredictable and uncertain 2020, we have kept going at a frenetic pace adapting and adopting new ways of efficiently running our business and reaching out to our consumers.

In the January-March quarter of 2021, the company recorded a 30% increase in sales over the same quarter of the previous year, largely due to pent-up demand. The brand is positive that this year, Akshaya Tritiya will be a positive and encouraging festive season as people who were unable to buy gold and diamonds earlier, will loosen their purse strings.

Forevermark is a sought-after brand worldwide, but is the demand consistent in India? Since 2011 how is the brand faring in the Indian market which is already crowded with numerous brands?

India, the USA and China are Forevermark’s largest markets globally. In India, we have shown a consistent upward graph since we launched here. The volume of Forevermark diamonds that we drive through Indian partners is much higher than in other parts of the world.

Wrapping up, we know that Gen Z is concerned about human welfare, responsible sourcing, environmental issues etc. But now, the lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) sector is being promoted as a protector of all the above-mentioned concerns. Will De Beers address these issues more effectively going forward?

Then I must say that Forevermark is the perfect brand for gen Z! Each Forevermark diamond is natural, beautiful, rare and most importantly, responsibly sourced. What we take from nature, we give back ten-fold through our various initiates and the extensive work we do for the communities we associate with.

We are already addressing these issues as we speak. De Beers has announced 12 ambitious sustainability goals for the coming decade that are based around four pillars — leading ethical practices across the industry; partnering for thriving communities; protecting the natural world, and accelerating equal opportunity. We aim to include gender parity throughout our workforce in our diamond producing partner countries. We are also working towards becoming carbon neutral within our operations by 2030. We’ve also recently extended our global partnership with UN Women for five more years and joined the newly formed HeForShe Alliance.

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