By Olivia Quiniquini and Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Digital platforms are growing in significance for diamond manufacturers as technological advances and greater client confidence bolster online sales of diamonds. Apart from e-commerce opportunities, digital tools also enable suppliers to offer experiential services, from the virtual inspection of stones to tracing a diamond’s distinctive journey from mine to market.
Online platforms are proving an increasingly pivotal distribution channel for diamond manufacturers. The sophistication of current technology coupled with the clear terminology and grading scales governing the gem enable diamantaires to implement innovative sales and marketing initiatives online.
But while extensive inventories, comprehensive product details, high-resolution pictures and videos, technological advances and user-friendly tools are all essential for an effective online strategy, the key to e-commerce success is the trust between client and supplier, according to leading diamond manufacturers.
"The transparency is not limited to mere diamond detailing but also covers the processes involved in a business transaction, from customer login until the final delivery of goods. " – Rajesh Lakhani, director, Kiran Gems Pvt Ltd
J. B. And Brothers Pvt Ltd
Online sales constitute a substantial portion of J. B. And Brothers Pvt Ltd’s business. According to the diamond manufacturer, 60 to 65 percent of its sales are derived from
“We were one of the first companies to implement an online platform for diamonds. Our customers buy our stones without seeing them first because they trust our grading system. Our portal includes in-depth detailed information on each stone along with photos and videos so that customers can visualise the diamond without laying eyes on it,” the diamantaire explained.
J. B. And Brothers’ portal enables registered customers to buy diamonds in all colours and clarities, with stones from 0.18 carat to 10 carats moving well, the company said. It also offers special services online such as its Proposal Sales System, Put Your Expected Price function, Trade Show Request, among others.
“Once you have built up trust and confidence with your clients, as we have over many years, they will be willing to buy your diamonds online. They know they will receive exactly what they purchased,” the diamond manufacturer continued.
Understanding client needs is crucial to ensuring success on e-commerce platforms, J. B. And Brothers noted. Companies should also continually apply the latest technology and tools to their online platforms and educate their clients on the various services available online so they can truly benefit from the portal, it added.
Kiran Gems Pvt Ltd
Kiran Gems Pvt Ltd is reaping impressive returns from its e-commerce efforts, thanks to its extensive online inventory and strong reputation in the market as a leading and premier diamantaire with international reach. Its online portal lists over 85,000 solitaire diamonds from 0.18 carat to 2 carats and up in D to M colours and of IF to SI2 clarity grades in round and fancy shapes. The company also offers fancy colour diamonds on its digital platform.
“More than 65 percent of our sales happen online. As our e-commerce platform is user-friendly, comprehensive and easy to navigate, our online customer base has grown significantly thereby enhancing our brand recognition,” revealed Rajesh Lakhani, director of Kiran Gems Pvt Ltd.
Besides the parameters given by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Kiran Gems provides additional parameters for each diamond that fuels client confidence in online purchase of diamonds. “The transparency is not limited to mere diamond detailing but also covers the processes involved in a business transaction, from customer login until the final delivery of goods,” he added.
Along with the detailed information on each diamond and supporting these with high-definition pictures and videos, Kiran Gems’ website has an automated system that proposes inventory based on clients’ purchase history. The company’s digital inventory can be accessed through mobile apps (Android and IOS), and New Arrival Stones lists are sent to customers every week.
The diamond manufacturer’s online portal now caters to over 5,000 customers in more than 60 countries. Buyers range from retailers, wholesalers and jewellery manufacturers to big and small traders. Demand is particularly robust from mainland China, Hong Kong and Asia Pacific countries, Lakhani pointed out.
“With people getting more tech-savvy, it makes good business sense to promote business through our digital platform. Our portal enables us to effectively connect with customers anywhere in the world at any given time,” Lakhani remarked. “To maximise our exposure on the digital platforms, we study and research where our audience spends their time online, what websites and social media channels they use, and we run our digital campaigns accordingly. We also redesign offers as per client requirement and occasion.”
Venus Jewel has been blazing a trail in the virtual world of diamonds, going beyond online sales to introduce interactive ways to engage customers on the journey of special stones. The diamond manufacturer first created its online presence in 1997 and now offers its entire inventory online. Over 60 percent of its diamonds are sold through its digital portal without any physical inspection, said Mahiar Borhanjoo, managing director of Venus Jewel International.
“We are one of the largest online sales portals. The tools we provide our customers allow them to confidently buy our diamonds online, knowing they will get exactly what they purchased. Our e-commerce platform is our global office to the world,” he remarked.
All of the company’s diamonds come with a Venus Grading Report (VGS) that customers use as a platform for comparing the stones’ other grading documents. Venus Jewel sells FM, International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research, AGS Laboratories and HRD Antwerp diamonds. “Our customers have however come to trust the VGS as their primary ‘go to’ certificate to really understand the unique characteristics of the diamonds we polish and sell,” Borhanjoo disclosed.
Venus Jewel uses a patented 21 parameter and 400 sub-parameter system to describe every diamond it sells. Gleaning current prices and trends from its online auction system, the company sets fair market prices for its goods, Borhanjoo said.
“Trust, convenience and transparency are crucial to e-commerce success. An online platform is a lucrative revenue stream if you’ve mastered how to sell your diamonds using a web portal. But eventually, you’ll realise that the only way to sell effectively through the Internet is to gain the trust of your customers,” he commented.
"Trust, convenience and transparency are crucial to e-commerce success. An online platform is a lucrative revenue stream if you’ve mastered how to sell your diamonds using a web portal. But eventually, you’ll realise that the only way to sell effectively through the Internet is to gain the trust of your customers. " – Mahiar Borhanjoo, managing director, Venus Jewel International
Digital solutions are however extending beyond sales. Diamond manufacturers are increasingly relying on technological innovation to reinvigorate the market with novel services revolving around the romance of
Venus Jewel, for one, has a vast digital repertoire that includes paperless exhibitions and 3D holographic machines. Last year, it launched its mobile app that lets customers easily bid, view and purchase any of the company’s diamonds.
In addition, its passion for the virtual yields innovative ways to market its products and interact with consumers through fresh marketing angles. According to Borhanjoo, the goal is to use the technological advances of the 21st century to endear diamonds to future generations so they will view the stones as more than a commodity.
Three years ago, it introduced the diamond journey programme, which traces the journey of special diamonds from rough stones to facetted gems – engaging its clients through an educational and interactive initiative long before experiential retail became an industry buzzword.
“Let us give consumers a different story, not one centred on the diamond being a G SI1 but one that takes them back to where this natural and beautiful diamond originated. It is time for us to tell the story of the diamond, not just focus on its characteristics,” Borhanjoo explained. “Tracing a diamond’s journey allows consumers to understand the stone from its natural form to the beautiful polish by artisans who have decades of experience in this rare art form. Our holographic system is just the starting point to share this story with our customers and for them to share it with consumers.”
Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt Ltd
Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt Ltd (SRK) is likewise strengthening its commitment to promote transparency in the diamond trade through technological advancements.
At the 2017 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, SRK launched Digiplot, a modern digital diamond tool that gives a detailed representation of a diamond’s inclusions and other critical information, including videos and photos, with a simple swipe of the screen.
“The idea is to provide transparency to our customers by matching these details with a real image of the diamond. With Digiplot, they will be able to clearly see inclusions upon inspection of a diamond,” said SRK Director Shreyans Dholakia. “This is the kind of transparency that we want to give to our buyers.”
The SRK website, meanwhile, offers a step-by-step shipping notification so buyers can trace the movement of their diamond purchase. Other details such as the origin or where the diamond was mined, and how it was mined are also available on request.
SRK's e-commerce business accounts for 74 percent of its annual sales of US$1 billion.
“The e-commerce business is a significant part of our overall operations so as much as possible, we want to give our buyers a high level of transparency and confidence to help them make informed buying decisions,” continued Dholakia.
He also underscored the importance of education, particularly among millennials, who are more vigilant when making purchases.
“Millennials want to know the diamond’s story. More than its financial value, a diamond is also an emotional tool. Millennials are after the emotional value of the diamond. They want it natural and personalised,” he added.
"Millennials want to know the diamond’s story. More than its financial value, a diamond is also an emotional tool. Millennials are after the emotional value of the diamond. They want it natural and personalised. "– Shreyans Dholakia, director, Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt Ltd
Vipul Sutariya, director of Dharmanandan Diamonds, said today’s consumer has a heightened awareness about diamonds, particularly the manner in which the stones were mined.
“A buyer’s ultimate concern is if the diamond is natural and its dignity is intact, which means it was sourced from a legitimate manufacturing company,” noted Sutariya. “We wanted to help the industry, and the perfect solution is to trace the diamond back to its origin with the Diamond Time-Lapse Report.”
The Diamond Time-Lapse Report, launched by the company at last year’s September Hong Kong Fair, is a Diamond Traceability Programme that ensures that each diamond sold by Dharmanandan is natural, conflict-free and ethically sourced.
The report, which is easily accessible through the website www.diamondtimelapse.com, provides vital information about a diamond’s journey from mine to market. It specifically gives the buyer a glimpse into the origin of the diamond, how it was chosen, the planning (what kind of shape or cut), cutting, as well as various stages of polishing to ensure quality control. Most importantly, the report gives detailed information about the artisans and the experts who worked on the stone. It also includes a gemmological report.
“With Diamond Time-Lapse, we are doing our part in ensuring that the integrity of a diamond is protected and preserved. This is our commitment to promote confidence in the trade,” added the company official.
Providing the diamond’s story and journey appeals more to millennials or next-generation consumers who are looking for a unique buying experience, he continued.
David Skuza, chief marketing officer of Dharm International, described this new service as “extraordinary and unheard of in the industry.”
“There have been some boutique programmes that trace very special stones but what we’re doing is opening up the market so anyone who can afford a diamond can see its unique journey and the decades of experience that go into its manufacture,” Skuza remarked. “It goes from a blind purchase to a very personal process. We are bringing back a lot of romance to the diamond itself.”
He added that the Diamond Time-Lapse Report goes beyond a laboratory certificate because this report shows every aspect of the diamond’s creation while demonstrating the company’s social responsibility.
“Consumers are interested in social responsibility and the origin of what they’re buying. They want to know if they can feel comfortable and proud to wear something, knowing that the people that laboured on it were treated well and wanted to do a good job,” added Skuza.