As the creator of the 4Cs, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) taught an entire generation of consumers how to understand the inherent characteristics of a diamond, dramatically changing the way that consumers shop for diamonds. GIA is once again about to reinvent the way consumers shop for diamonds with the launch of its new Mine-to-Market (M2M) pilot program.
Not only will this program engage a younger demographic through a new mobile application, some believe it has the potential to change the way the entire jewelry industry views the process of selling diamonds. The GIA has spent more than 80 years educating the trade and the public in the science of gemology.
Part of this education has involved sharing the compelling stories about diamonds and gemstones that make our products so captivating. As consumer attitudes and behaviors have changed, and in keeping with the extraordinary access that modern shoppers have to information, it’s a natural evolution for GIA’s gemstone storytelling to enter the digital environment.
Conceived in July 2015 and soft launched in November 2016, this year the GIA is recruiting retailers to test their new M2M diamond storytelling app. As the app’s name suggests, GIA’s new digital format is capable of telling the story of a diamond from mine to market. In fact, by scientifically matching rough to polished, GIA is approaching traceability in a fundamentally different way relative to other diamond origin reports on the market. However, this program is about more than just the origin of polished diamonds.
While the app can be used by any consumer to review and confirm grading report information, these users can also create their own account to engage directly with the retailer. When a retailer shares a particular gemstone from their inventory with a specific consumer the full story of the diamond is displayed in the “Provenance” section of the app. This section’s intuitive dial interface has a number of “chapters” that can be tailored to the retailer and their customers.
The chapters cover everything from basic branding elements of the retailer to additional information on the diamond. Retailers have the ability to provide customers with diamond specific information that can include where the diamond was sourced, a history of the manner in which diamonds are recovered, polished, and brought to market, and perhaps most important, a detailed story about the retailer that now stocks the diamond.
The app even contains an area for the purchaser to personalize the last part of the diamond’s journey with images and videos that can be uploaded directly from an iPhone or Android device. Consumers can even upload information to popular social media platforms from within the app.
The app also allows the consumer to view video of the actual rough stone from which the polished diamond was derived. It’s like having family pictures of the consumer’s diamond’s lineage. The app also has a unique sharing feature that allows users to share the pictures, information about the diamond, and the jewelry store selling it with the user’s entire network of family members and friends.
“For years retailers have used the 4Cs, grading report and diamond plots to educate consumers about diamond quality,” says Matt Crimmin, GIA’s vice president of lab operations who’s been overseeing the development of the M2M program. “Although these are important chapters in telling the story of a diamond, we recognize that consumers are looking for a personal purchasing experience, which might include romancing other information about the stone to complement the technical information.” This, in part, was the impetus for creating the M2M app.
Last year was a busy time for GIA. In addition to launching the M2M app, GIA is also using the pilot program to test a new Smart Card grading report. Although each is a unique product, the Smart Card and M2M app work together synergistically to create a modern, digital shopping experience for today’s all-important millennial buyer.
The Smart Card is a credit card-sized diamond grading report that contains two types of state-of-the-art technology – RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication), allowing easy access to critical information at both the supplier and consumer level. Imagine simply holding the card near a consumer’s smartphone, and instantly having access to the GIA report information.
Finally, a retailer can also order a coffee table book that includes reformatted information from the app. If the book is produced after purchase, both retailer and customer content can be included. The book is then delivered direct to the retailer and might be used as a gift with purchase.
Fernbaugh’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry store owners Brian Van Duyne and his wife Laurie were one of the first retailers to sell a diamond using GIA’s M2M app. “My initial interest came from what Jared’s [The Galleria of Jewelry] was doing with their ‘Chosen’ diamond program,” says Brian. “Although the app itself has some innovative customizable features, the printed companion book is what intrigued me most as it’s something a competitor, in this case a chain store, is not offering in my market.”
At press time, the Plymouth, IN retailers have sold one diamond using GIA M2M app and have plans to take advantage of this powerful new tool. “Although the app could be used for a variety of diamond gift-giving occasions such as anniversaries, we’re going to leverage this as part of our bridal sales,” says Brian. “The [added] cost (about 50 dollars to upload a 1 carat diamond into the app) is negligible in a diamond sale. The M2M app and printed book options are a better way to romance diamonds from start to finish.”
While the M2M program is still in a pilot stage, Matt is already looking ahead toward the next generation marketing of the M2M app. “Customer analytics are part of where the M2M will go, to help retailers identify consumer behaviors,” says Matt. “But the real value for the M2M app won’t just be found in increased sales for the retailers using it. We see incredible applications for the data we will provide back to the retailer. Hopefully, access to this data will transform the way retailers use information to cultivate lifetime relationships with their customers.”