Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The $80 billion diamond industry is preparing to woo America’s millennial generation after a decade of promotional silence that has seen the gems lose out to other luxury goods.

The Diamond Producers Association, which was established last year to promote the stones, will unveil a new advertising campaign in Las Vegas Friday as it seeks to rally younger consumers. It will focus on the U.S., the biggest market for diamonds.

“Diamond demand doesn’t come out of the ground, it has to be sustained and supported,” Jean-Marc Lieberherr, chief executive officer of the DPA, said in a phone interview. “We’re in a long-term game.”

Demand for diamonds in the U.S. has come under pressure as consumers’ appetite for other luxury products, such as high-cost electronics and fine wines, has grown faster. Prices for polished gems are near a six-year low and global diamond demand slipped 2 percent last year.

De Beers’ monopoly on diamond supply in the 20th century led it to heavily promote the stones, including funding iconic slogans such as “A Diamond is Forever.” As the new millennium brought the end of the monopoly, other suppliers were able to sell their gems piggybacking on De Beers’ advertising. The company cut its marketing budget in half to about $100 million a year through the 2000s.

Lieberherr, the former managing director of Rio Tinto Group’s diamond unit, will unveil the “Real is Rare. Real is a Diamond” slogan at the JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show today. The DPA’s board, which includes miners such as De Beers and Rio, have agreed to double a $6 million budget this year to support the campaign starting in September, he said.

That’s still a drop in the ocean in the advertising world and the lobby group will seek more funding from others in the industry.

“We need to play a leadership role, we need to show the way, and then have constructive discussions with the rest of the industry to see how to have maximum impact with this idea,” Lieberherr said.

The DPA has a long way to go to replicate the success of De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever” phrase, voted the best slogan of last century by Advertising Age. The propriety slogan is still used by the world’s biggest diamond producer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net, Nicholas Larkin, Tony Barrett

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