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Best of The Best

Best of the Best: Branding Your Own Diamonds

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Stores doing things right.

[h3]Foland’s Jewelry; Royal Oak, MI[/h3]

Best of the Best Logo[dropcap cap=W]hen Heather Kroot went to the Vegas shows last June, she was in the mood to gamble. Not at one of the dozens of casinos on the Vegas strip, but in the exhibition halls of the show itself, where Kroot began exploring the idea of creating her store’s own line of branded diamonds.

Kroot’s store, Foland’s Jewelry, opened only last November in the trendy Royal Oaks area. Her family has more than 80 years in the jewelry business, and formerly operated a chain of jewelry stores called Foland’s and Company with branches in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. The last of those stores closed in 1992. Since then, the company has been vendors in a chain of eight Michigan catalog showrooms. But when the agreement with those showrooms expired last June, the family decided it was time to go back to the past and re-establish their own independent jewelry store.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THE IDEA[/componentheading]

With such a long history, the Foland name still has clout in the Michigan area and Kroot wanted to take advantage of that name recognition. So, when considering what to call the new branded diamond, it seemed imperative to use the Foland name. “Foland’s Fire” fit the bill perfectly. To add additional punch to her store’s November grand opening, Kroot coupled the event with the launch of the Foland’s Fire branded diamond.  

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Foland’s Fire diamonds are supplied to the store by Overseas Diamonds, a Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sightholder with manufacturing operations in Antwerp. Overseas Diamonds is also the creators of Isee2 — a diamond grading system backed with a computer software and hardware that clearly lets customers see the difference in diamonds marked with the Isee2 quality label.  

Using Isee2 allowed Kroot to offer her customers a number of perks such as performance-based cut grading, ionized quality-labeling, unique ID number identification and completely transparent provenance.

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION[/componentheading]

Best of the Best: Branding Your Own Diamonds

Once Kroot had the diamonds in her hands, she had to figure out the best way to get her new brand onto the fingers of her customers. With a budget of $100,000, her first step was to redesign her new store with the Foland’s Fire diamond sales in mind. This meant providing such basics as tailored lighting, as well as a presentation area capable of accommodating computers, Internet connections and high-tech selling aids including Isee2’s diamond beauty and performance analyzing machines. Materials were also redesigned to give more prominence to the store’s new logo — a flaming diamond. These can now be found on in-store signage, business cards, letterhead, promotional materials and advertisements. “We even have a Foland’s Fire logo LED sign on the side of our building,” Kroot says.  

While many of Foland’s diamonds are graded by the GIA and AGS, Kroot says that Isee2’s diamond evaluation and comparison technology “further defines the specifications of a diamond’s cut that goes beyond these grading reports”. The average presentation consists of evaluating a Foland’s Fire ideal cut diamond next to a regular diamond. Kroot says that after the comparison is made, about 80% of customers select the Foland’s Fire diamond. Right now, the company is primarily promoting the brand for round brilliant diamonds used in bridal jewelry — but Kroot hopes there will be a trickle-down effect and that they can launch sales of the diamonds in other categories soon. “We’re finding that once people become familiar with the brand they want all the diamonds in their finished jewelry to be Foland’s Fire diamonds, as evidenced by some of the custom pieces we’ve done to date,” Kroot says. “Of course a natural extension of this is creating our own line of Foland’s Fire jewelry, which will come later.”  

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Foland’s Fire finished diamond jewelry has its own custom wood box and a special binder containing each diamond’s provenance report. The detailed birth certificate of a diamond not only adds credibility to the product, it also defuses the emotionally-charged issue of conflict diamonds. All rough is sourced from certified conflict-free areas including Canada, Russia, Australia and by documented DTC sources, and each diamond’s history — from mine to showcase — is thoroughly documented. Says Kroot, “In that way, we can give our customers the assurance that the Foland’s Fire diamond is ‘conflict-free’.”

[componentheading]THE REWARDS[/componentheading]

Kroot says that she’s seeing a lot more diamond sales in the $10,000 to $15,000 range now — but with the new store and new location, Kroot says that it’s still difficult to determine exactly how much the addition of a self-branded diamond has contributed to those sales numbers.  

Still, an encouraging sign came recently in the form of a customer who came in and said she saw a friend’s ring and asked for a Foland’s Fire diamond by name. More will surely come.

[span class=note]This story is from the April 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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